The huge experience of going off to college

Recently, I got a news notice from my alma mater and the main topic was “Welcome Week”. Nearly every college in the country has this week which is a basically just another term for orientation week. A whole new group of new students will be entering various campuses and for many of these students, it will be the start of a new chapter in their lives. It will be the first time that many will be living on their own for any extended period of time. A huge and brand new experience awaits many young adults in this country.

I once had that experience myself; it was time to move off to a 4 year school and I can remember that day like it was yesterday. I had many mix feelings of that day when it finally arrived. In some ways, I was extremely excited to have that much-needed freedom of living on my own and not under the tyranny of my parent’s home. However, I had many good friends who I would be greatly missing and the thought of being extremely homesick really crossed my mind. Sure I would be coming home frequently to visit, but leaving my girlfriend back home would be extremely difficult.

One of the major adjustments that I had to make was adapting to the lack of privacy that living in a college dorm brings. Many incoming freshman come from homes where they have their own rooms and plenty of access to any bathroom. That is not the case with a typical college dorm. You are required to share a bathroom with several people along with the showers. The dorm I was living in had 2 shower stalls for 10 people. As you can imagine, their was a little jam in the morning to use the showers. And of course, the idea that you will have complete peace and quiet in a dorm is a far-fetched dream. There are always those individuals who feel the need to stay up late at night and create some noise due to an overindulgence in alcohol. Looking back at my college years, I don’t know how I ever survived living in those dorms! But do not be alarmed. Eventually you get used to the lack of privacy. I know I did.

If someone who is going off to college came to me for advice, I would tell them a couple of things. First of all, get involved with many activities. There is a lot more to college than just going to class and studying all the time. Get involved in groups that share your interests. By doing that, you will meet many new and exciting friends. While on the meeting new people topic, don’t be afraid to take the initiative. Invite those new dorm mates of yours to dinner at the dinning hall. Or get together to play some touch football or other games. Little social activities can really go a long ways in developing deep friendships. I also think that it is very important to keep an open mind in meeting new people. Just because that person down the hall from you has a weird poster in their room doesn’t mean that they are to be avoided like the plague. You never know, that individual could end up being your good friend for life.

Going off to college is definitely one of the top moments in a person’s life. Some people handle it better than others. Many young adults get a bad case of home-sickness.  That is very common and can be a major problem. Sometimes going off to college and the school you picked out is not what you thought it would be. I would definitely give it a chance though. Wait for a least a semester before making a decision to leave. The first school that I attended was not what I wanted and I decided to transfer the following year. Ideally, you want to stay at a school for 4 years but why waste your time and money for such as huge investment if you are not happy.

I want to wish any young person who is going off to college this fall the best of luck and may your next 4 years of school be the best years of your life. With the right approach and attitude, it will be.



The only poll that matters

There is simply no way to escape it! If you have been following the presidential race, the p word comes up nearly every day. That p word refers to polls as in presidential polls. The media in their bid to appoint Hillary Clinton to the White House seems to be obsessed with these stupid polls. Sometimes I wonder why even bother having a race between Donald Trump and Clinton. From what I keep on reading in the newspapers, online and watching on television, Clinton has this race completely locked up. She is so far ahead according to some pundits that it will take a miracle for Trump to even prevent a landslide. Well it that were the case, we should all just stay home on election day. Why bother? Furthermore, why even have those debates this fall? Let’s just make Hillary Clinton the next president and the first female president ever. It’s over folks! Well maybe not so fast!

I am absolutely flabbergasted when I hear or read this kind of nonsense. Is this some kind of conspiracy to discourage people to get out and vote for Trump? This race is far from over. I have seen a few polls that indicate this race is nearly a dead heat. The election is still many days away and a lot can happen in that time frame. Furthermore, there a some critical debates between Trump and Clinton that will be critical in determining who will be the next occupant of the White House. I don’t know how anyone can seriously call this race over before the debates even happen. Trump won nearly all of the Republican debates handily and Clinton and her fans have to be extremely nervous about facing Trump in a live debate in front of the American people. Trump will no doubt put Clinton on the defensive about her rather dismal record and that could make things interesting and possibly expose Clinton.

And what about this Wikileaks scandal that could get interesting come October? This could further damage Clinton in this race. What October surprise will there be that people of this organization have promised? Suppose this scandal grows even bigger and Clinton is at the center of it? This scenario also has to cause many restless nights for Clinton and her army.

I pretty much take these polls for granted when I hear about who is in the lead in the latest polls. Who are these pollsters polling anyways? Are they polling the appropriate ratio of Democrats and Republicans in these polls. And how can they determine how many people will actually get out and vote? I have seen several polls to be proven wrong in the past. They are just some unofficial pulse on how a few people feel about some candidates. Even if some candidate is up by 5 points in some poll, that margin can change quickly overnight. On November 8th, millions of Americans will go to the polls to determine the next president. Later on that night, numbers will be released indicating who won the race. That is the only poll that I am concerned about. Those who say this race is over are extremely foolish. The only poll that matters is on November 8th. This race is far from over. I believe it will be an extremely tight one.


A few final thoughts on the Olympics

In a very short time from now, the 2016 version of the Summer Olympics will come to an end. So what will you remember about these games? What has really stood out in your mind? For this blogger from Minnesota, it was a combination of many things. We had the privilege of seeing a couple of once in a lifetime athletes take part in their final performances. We also saw an athlete put a capital L in the word lying. Of course, no Olympics would be complete with a little outside controversy, right? I have put together a list of few thoughts that really symbolized these games.

1) The greatness of Micheal Phelps and Usain Bolt. Every so often, a once in a lifetime athlete will emerge who simply dominates their respective sports. Phelps and Bolt could arguably be considered the greatest Olympians ever. What a treat it was to see a couple of great athletes like these guys perform and achieve Olympic gold for the final time. The number one thing that I will remember from these games is the final images of Phelps and Bolt standing on the podium with a gold medal around their neck. Very few athletes have dominated the Olympics like these guys have.

2) Knucklehead of the year. Every year around Thanksgiving, I come out with my Turkey of the Year award. A particular Olympic athlete has quickly jumped to be the leading candidate for this award. It would be none other than Ryan Lochte. I was thought that Hillary Clinton was the worst liar in the world, now I believe Lochte has overtaken her! You have a certain responsiblity as an Olympic athlete to represent your country both on and off the playing field. Lochte failed miserably with his made up story about being robbed. Totally classless act! It is very unfortunate that his actions seemed to overshadow so many great and inspiring performances in these games.

3) Greatest performer of the games. Here is a question that will certainly involve much debate. Who would you say should win the ultimate gold medal of the games as being the best performer of the games? Bolt, Phelps, Simone Biles? My pick would be swimmer Katie Ledecky. She absolutely dominated her events like no other athlete did in these games. It was she was swimming against a bunch of grade school girls! This is a tough choice to make with so many great athletic performances, but I give my nod to Ledecky.

4) Golf returns to the Olympics. The final round of the Olympic gold competition was about as exciting as any major that I have seen this year. I will never forget the emotion that Justin Rose showed after winning the gold medal. It was extremely disappointing to see many top players bypass the games. The Olympic golf competition might just grow into something huge in the future. What player would not want to win the gold and have the label as the best player in the world?

5) True grit award. I know there were many moments of grit for several athletes, but the one that really stands in my mind was when distance runner Mo Farah tripped during his race and fell. Many runners might just have packed it in at the moment and given up. Farah got up and not only finished the race, but won it! True champions are the ones who can handle a little adversity and Farah proved exactly why he is a true champion during that race. 

I will certainly miss watching these games and look forward to seeing the next games coming up in a few years. Also you have to give much props to the folks of Brazil for their hard work in putting on these games. A job well done! And last but not least, NBC did a fine job of covering these games. I especially liked their little segments on the athletes. It gave us a better idea of who these athletes are and what they had to go through to get to Rio. See you in a couple of years with the Winter Olympics! 



The pure sports of the Olympic games

I don’t know about anyone else, but doesn’t it seem like watching sports these days resemble watching some sort of day time soap opera? The actual sports competition is often overshadowed by meaningless side shows. This is especially true in the word of professional sports. Many of the athletes are more worried about their image or how much money they make as opposed to actual performing well. As a sports fan, I am often turned off by such utter nonsense. You can only take so much of it before it wears thin. That is why I enjoy watching amateur sports so much. It truly represents the purity of what sports should be all about. The current Olympic games represent exactly what that. Just pure good sports competition with so much at stake. A majority of the athletes are not out to win any mega rich contracts; all they want is a chance to stand on that podium with a gold medal hanging around their neck and their country’s national anthem playing.

A typical Olympic athlete often performs in complete anonymity from the sporting public outside of the Olympic games. I have to admit that I have never heard of Katie Ledecky until these Olympic games. Of course, she doesn’t play in the NFL or NBA! Now she is an instant word-wide celebrity for probably a few weeks. Then her name will get brushed aside until the next Olympic games. A large majority of the Olympic athletes are completely unknown to the general public. I highly doubt that an average American on the street could name more than 10 Olympic athletes. These athletes could care less if they receive any attention. Their biggest concern is performing to the best of their ability in representing their country. In many sports, the ultimate dream is to compete in the summer or winter Olympics. There are no professional sports to go onto after competing in the Olympics. The games are their Super Bowl and many have put in long hours for years preparing for that one race or event. After the event, it is on to a regular life like many of us have.

When sports was invented many thousands of years ago, the model of amateur sports had to be in mind. Athletes compete against each other in either team or individual sports with a prize at stake. Those athletes train diligently and hard for the chance to win that prize. Chances are many individuals do not win that prize or prizes. But that does not stop them from trying the next time and the next time. In my opinion, that is what sports should be all about and the Olympic games represent exactly that.

Is golf really a dying sport?

There are many reports out there concerning the future of golf and those reports do not paint a very rosy long-term picture for the sport. Courses are closing up left and right and rounds played have decreased in recent years. Golf merchandise sales have also declined. Just yesterday, Nike announced that they will no longer make golf equipment like clubs and balls. It certainly appears that the game of golf in this country is dying a slow death. Will it ever recover and be as popular as it was during the Tiger Woods days of the late 90’s? That is anyone’s guess. I have a few ideas that might put some new life back into the sport.

Golf is a huge passion of mine. I have a membership at a local golf course and being at the course brings me joy like few other things in my life. It is a great outdoor activity that I have been hooked on for several years. There is nothing like going out to play a round on a warm summer morning or evening. The smell of the golf course and the sounds and sights of nature make it a very enjoyable experience for me. Of course that is if I am playing well! Those reports have me thinking that I will not be able to enjoy this great game during my retirement years. Will there be anymore golf course left when that time comes?

Things change in our society from year to year and the game of golf has to change as well too. Golf is simply not appealing to many folks in this new day and age of our society. For one thing, people these days do not have the time to play golf. Name one person you know who complains about having too much time on their hands? We all seem to be strapped for our time these days. I personally have to carefully plan my schedule so my golf does not interfere with other things in my life. And I am a single guy! I just don’t know how a person with a growing family can play that much golf. A normal round on a Saturday usually takes about 5 hours. Who has time for that?

On top of the time issue, golf is a very costly sport and in some cases, too costly. The green fees along with the equipment is out the range of most people’s budgets. In these difficult times, an average person simply cannot afford to be playing numerous rounds of golf per year. There are far cheaper sports or past times that people can purse without breaking the bank.

The difficulty of golf is another thing that keeps people away. I see numerous courses which an average player has no business stepping on. In order to be good at golf, you have to play a lot and most folks do not play enough to get enough satisfaction in their own game. It is simply not fun to go out and hack the ball around.

I believe golf can increase in popularity again by addressing these issues. The time issue is very easy to deal with. Just play 9 holes! Most course have that option where you can just play 9 holes. I often just play 9 holes at my course and it usually only takes me about an hour and a half. That is a perfect amount of time for a round. Courses could have 6 holes options too. It would be nice if more shorter 9 hole course were built that especially cater to the younger golfers.

On that note, I think many courses are simply too difficult for the average player. I see so-called family courses that might strike the fear into some golf pros. There is no need to have fancy slopping greens and sand bunkers on every hole. In addition, these courses would be cheaper to maintain and the green fees would be lower.

I honestly think golf will always be there. Far too many people play for it to suddenly die. Many people overestimated the popularity of golf about 20 years ago. It was a booming sport and new golf courses were not being built fast enough. Today is a totally different story. How will the golf industry adapt and make the game more appealing is the big question going forward. It is critical that they target the youth of our country and make golf a cool thing to play. Is that possible in this day and age? Or are kids more interested in playing Pokemon for 2 hours?

For the sake of the sport, golf needs some simple changes right now before it just becomes some exclusive sport played by a bunch of rich people belonging to a private country club. Unfortunately, that trend is happening  and a huge group of players like myself will be affected. Golf is not yet dead, but there is a lot more that can be done so more people can enjoy playing this great outdoor activity.



Connecting with your ex again

One of the great things about social media sites such as Facebook is the ability to reconnect with many people from your past. It could be an old grade school buddy that you have not seen in 30 years. Or it could be some gal/guy who you dated in high school and have many fond memories of. Yes, just when you think that old girlfriend/boyfriend of yours has vanished out of your life, they reappear and it can be a rather pleasant or not so pleasant surprise that you have to deal with. Suppose you were dumped by that person in the past and ended up being very hurt. You still have strong feelings for that person, but you moved on and just recently, you found a new flame. Your new flame is nowhere near as special as that old lover of yours. What if that old special person wants to get together just as friends and have dinner or a drink after work? How do you handle a situation like that?

During the last few months, a couple of old girlfriends of mine contacted me via Facebook. One of them was a very recent girlfriend of mine from just a few years ago. Our relationship ended on rather bad terms and we had not talked since we broke up. Suddenly one night, I got an instant message from her on Facebook messenger. I nearly fell out of my chair! We chatted for a while and have continued to chat every so often since then. She initially talked about wanting to apologize for treating me poorly and how she has really grown up in the last few years. My respect for her completely changed after those conversations. I no longer have those bitter memories of our past. As much as I hated the way our relationship ended, I just wanted to talk to her sometime. That moment came very unexpectedly and who knows what might happen to us in the future. She lives many miles from me now but I just feel of sense of relief that we are on good terms again.

The other gal that I mentioned was from several years ago and our initial conversation was very similar. It was about patching things up. She is now married with children. I know many people feel this way, but isn’t it weird sometimes to think that you actually dated and had strong feelings for a person back then, but not anymore? I enjoyed chatting with my old flame but deep down, I was thinking to myself, “Why did I even fall for her?” It is just a classic example on how things change as you get older. I did not feel an ounce of jealously in the fact that she is married. I think a lot of folks can relate to what I am saying. Those old flames were hot back then but not so much now. Maybe your old ex has put on a lot of weight or lost a lot of hair and only look a fraction of what they used to. Or maybe they have really changed inside for the worst. You find out that they are getting treated for some mental illness or something of that nature. The thought comes to your mind that breaking up with them was actually a huge blessing in disguise in your life.

I think you always have to have an open mind when connecting again with some special person of the past. If the feelings are still strong after being apart for several years, maybe that is a sign that you guys are meant for each other. Remember too that people do change especially through their 20’s. Many times it is for the better. Both of you are now more mature and maybe things will work out this time around. Perhaps both of you have moved on and are married to other people. I don’t think it is totally wrong to become friends and chat or text occasionally although that is a delicate situation in itself. Far too many marriages have been ruined due to the so the called “ex factor” Suddenly those old feelings towards your end start to surface again and that usually leads to disaster.

Unfortunately for many people, it is far from easy to become friends with your ex. Those breakups and broken hearts can never be mended even after many years. Many folks want to get some kind of revenge on their ex and make their lives a living hell. Some try hard to break up their exes marriage or relationship due to extreme jealously. Others use Facebook and other social media sites as ways to stalk their exes.

Whenever I meet an old girlfriend from my past, I try to be as pleasant as possible no matter what has happened in the past. A warm hug or a pleasant online message can go a long way in healing a possible deep wound of the past. And who knows, maybe it is time to reignite that flame again. If not, you just might have a good friend of the opposite sex for the rest of your life.