Sunday, October 10

Solomon Burke - R.I.P.

Solomon Burke - R.I.P.
King of Soul

Friday, July 2

Shoes 4 Life

The following is a semi-paid (I think I get a t-shirt.) advertisement for SoccerPro.com and their efforts to help Shoes 4 Life.:
The World Cup being hosted in South Africa is a big step forward for the nation of South Africa and the entire continent of Africa. Billions of South African Rand are entering the country, and it is getting a lot of media exposure. The World Cup is a great celebration that unites the world.

Soccer equipment retailer SoccerPro.com is celebrating in their own way. They're raising awareness of those who are less fortunate in Africa (and throughout the world) who do not have shoes. When a family barely has enough more to eat and provide shelter, the purchasing of shoes can be missed if funds aren't available. The lack of shoes can lead to injuries and infections which are amplified by the poor ground conditions and lack of urgent medical treatment.

SoccerPro.com has launched their Shoes 4 Life charity to raise money to buy shoes for those in need. $1 buys one pair of shoes. But the pair of shoes gives more than just foot protection: it prevents future health risks, expands the potential of the individual to get more done, and it provides hope. Please think about donating.

In return to those who donate, SoccerPro is giving away free soccer shoes. There will be multiple winners who get free shoes of their choice over the next four years.

We're all celebrating the World Cup in our own unique ways. Donating to Shoes 4 Life is just one way to be able to feel good about yourself and make a real difference in the world - and who knows, even win some free gear.

Friday, June 4

Real Men Love Shoes

No, I'm not into Manolo Blahniks - although I do appreciate a woman in a nice pair of heels. I am talking about men's shoes; men's dress shoes, men's outdoor shoes, and men's athletic shoes. I love them all even when I have nowhere close to the money to afford or justify a new pair and anybody who knows quality shoes knows I'm talking quality price tag too!

I think it started with my dad. Although I most often saw him in work clothes (khaki pants and short sleeve shirts), they were meticulously maintained clothes. He had his pants and shirts laundered and pressed, even the ones he kept for yard work and fishing. He shined all shoes except his "working in the yard shoes". When he did get dressed up he looked crisp and clean with a just enough style elements to show you that he really knew what he was doing.

My first encounter with shoe envy came when I played football as a 6th grader. I desperately wanted a pair of off-white on white Puma cleats. Why? I don't remember. I imagine it was because one of my team mates I admired wore them. I didn't get them. I got white on black Pumas and I was sorely disappointed. Fast forward to Boy Scouts when all I wanted was the best hiking boots but boots then as now are insanely expensive. I never got the Vasque boots I wanted. And so on, into my adult years where I am still pulled between the same poles...

I don't play sports but I happen to love soccer shoes - the most shoe centric of pro sports. I am still searching for the perfect hiking boots but I have settled on good hiking shoes because I don't do much backpacking or off trail hiking where the ankle support would come in handy. Last but not least are my adult dress shoes. I never would have imagined I, like my father, would enjoy wearing and caring for dress shoes. I don't have the $800+ to drop on the ones I see in Esquire but I have no problem putting down $200 on a solid pair of locally owned Johnston and Murphy.

When it comes to shoe shopping I start with brand and then style. I know which brands are quality and I stick with them. I see quality in manufacturing process, materials and detail, I see quality in consistency of fit, and I see quality in corporate philosophy. I want to support mega-, overseas manufacturing-, possibly child abusers-, probably exploitative- companies as infrequently as possible. So, for many years I have clung tightly to Adidas and Puma (did you know they were started by brothers?). Out of the primary outfitters for soccer teams worldwide it is those two companies and Nike who dominate the market. There are plenty of other brands but they are either too small to make an impact in America or their gear is just plain boring.

So, what a surprise when I found my funkiest pair of soccer shoes yet made by Nike. I hesitated. I searched soccerpro.com over and over hoping there would be something as funky available by one of the other brands but as fortune would have it I would be "forced" to support the evil - yet improving (Listed as one of the MOST ethical corporations by Ethisphere) - empire of Nike. This is not my first pair of Nike just my first in a long time. This is not my only Nike brand item since I first heard about their overseas manufacturing plantations facilities. So, I am not perfect and I am easily tempted by any shoes that combine purple with another color.

As usual my contacts at soccerpro.com were ace customer service. I'm telling you, you need to order something from them just to see how they explain return policy...there's something in it for you. My box arrived super fast and inside was that iconic orange shoe box with a white swoosh stripe on top. I was scared to wear them outside of the house for a couple of days b/c they are really white but finally I did and I love them. They are made for playing indoor soccer or futsal but they are working just fine as a pair of "walking around town shoes". Most people are a little stunned by the neon green that, along with the white, predominates the shoe. They are the boldest pair of shoes I've worn in a long time and I am getting a kick - no pun intended - out of being noticed. I like the snug fit so really, what more can you ask?

If you can handle supporting Nike and you want to capture the eye of everyone around you. Go to soccerpro.com and check out the shoes. Not only will you find a huge selection but you will see some serious discounts. I've been quite happy dealing with these guys.

They have all sorts of World Cup gear too. It is that time, right? Support your favorite nation (I love the US but I'm going with Spain) or support South Africa's World Cup T-shirts and World Cup Balls, as well as the lower priced replicas. I got myself a T-shirt and I got Julia (ha, ha...someday) a Jobulani replica. And who doesn't like the Samba Kings, you can pick up Brazil World Cup Jerseys too.

DISCLAIMER: All specific gear mentioned in this post was gifted to me by agents representing soccerpro.com. With that in mind please understand that the words are mine, I was not guided by soccerpro.com or representatives thereof about the content of this post. My opinions are my honest opinions.

Soccer Shoes
World Cup Ball
World Cup T-shirts
Brazil World Cup Jerseys

Sunday, May 9

Happy Mother's Day 2010!!

To all the mothers of the world let me take a minute to say that I am awed by you, each one. You don't get the credit you deserve.

To my mother...
Thank you for everything you did for me while I had you. I miss you so much!

Jai

Sunday, May 2

Video Games Belt Loop/Activity Badge (Cub Scouts)

I was a Cub Scout. I was a Webelo. I was a Boy Scout. They are different age groupings of the same institution but no matter how young or old you were you were always encouraged and trained to be a kid who did things outside. There are some more cerebral activites or functions like citizenship and religion but in a pinch there is nothing you couldn't translate to the out-of-doors.

Reading? Check.
Basketweaving? Check.
Leatherwork? Check.
Theater? Check.

But now in an effort to keep the kids coming they have added Video Games! This makes me almost as mad as the culture of discrimination and homophobia the BSA continues to perpetuate.

I know people will say that the games promote healthy competition and togetherness, or that kids who play video games a lot develop good hand-eye coordination but give me a freaking break Scouting is filled with activities that promote all of that without gazing into a TV screen for hours on end. Scouting is about broadening the horizons of the participants, allowing them to learn about themselves via controlled, challenging activities. Video gaming does not fit into that core value set as stated on the Cub Scouts website:
Since its beginning, the Cub Scout program has been a fun and educational experience concerned with values. Besides providing a positive place where boys can enjoy safe, wholesome activities, Cub Scouting focuses on building character, improving physical fitness, teaching practical skills, and developing a spirit of community service.
Go here for even more details.

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Saturday, March 27

Post-racial America Redux

Same woman, same reaction. The difference? I had Julia in one arm and a diaper bag in the other. This time, as the woman got closer I ask Julia to say "hi" to the woman. Julia just stared and the woman just ignored.

Am I a Liar?

I talk a lot of cuss (Fantastic Mr. Fox reference). Its usually factually based but I talk a lot of BS. I have a talent for gleaning knowledge from slivers of information. I am also blessed with a curiosity level that allows requires me to be interested in all sorts of random stuff, very little is uninteresting to me. On the surface that's all pretty harmless but I am discovering that it is actually quite ego driven which isn't so harmless.

I am reading a book that is forcing me to evaluate my actions and their motives. The book is The Lost Art of Compassion. The premise is that some Buddhist thought and some western psychology agree that when you are truly compassionate you are happier. I buy that and I want to be that. The book gives some instruction on how to become compassionate and one thing it stresses is that narcissism drives most of us more than we can imagine. Narcissism as the author tells is stealthy and this is where I come in.

He talks about things we do that seem compassionate but they aren't working for the good of yourself or the good of others as it appears they would. I have actually used one of his examples before when someone was asking me about my understanding of karma. This person asked if I believed good things can come back to you just like bad things do (a very simplistic but common understanding of karma). I said yes but the good things have to be true. For example, if you donate to the charity to get the tax deduction or if you were you to someone b/c you want them to be kind to you at some point in the future? Those are not honestly good/kind motivations even though the acts were and therefore, you cannot expect good to come back to you from them. It gets tricky when you believe your motivations are honest. For example, I have a friend who often calls me for counsel. I oblige with my sagest advice, much of it is very good advice but some of it is me pontificating. I get agitated when I see this friend's number on caller ID but I answer anyway. I tell myself I am doing it b/c I know this person has few others to turn to. I feel obligated to listen even though each conversation is filled with the complaints as the last time and it is filled with his inability to let the past be the past and all of the other issues that are repeated time and again. I have realized that I continue to pick up the phone b/c of narcissistic reasons and for my sake, the sake of my family I need to do something different.

How is this narcissistic? Well, I get to assert my illusion of mental and emotional stability on someone who doesn't know the difference. I get to sound smarter than my friend and I know that he won't call me on it b/c he doesn't know the difference. I have continually participated in an illusion that I am happier and healthier than I am and better than him b/c I am happier and healthier than him. I have allowed his dysfunction serve as the reference point for my lesser dysfunction. I have been unfair to him and me.

As I have reflected on this and as I have started to catch myself during and after interactions with others I have discovered that I do this often. I am not malicious and it is not always in a mental/emotional health arena but I often assume a high road as I dispense my knowledge on the lesser beings. I have trouble allowing people to feel what they feel and believe what they believe even as I tell them they have to let others or themselves feel what they feel and believe what the believe.

With all of that, I am here to say that I have been a narcissistic liar. I would like to present this as an impersonal yet public apology. I would like to also present this as a declaration to myself and the people I interact that I will be more viligent in my efforts to correct my actions and change my motivations.

Friday, March 12

Post-racial America My Cuss!!

Many of you know that I live in the same house I grew up in. The street was racially mixed when I was a kid but now it is predominantly black. There are a couple of transitional housing places that tweak the "white" end numbers a bit but overall this is a black neighborhood.

I just went to my front yard to get mail and retrieve the trashcan. As I got to the mailbox an unfamiliar (a resident or friend of someone in the transitional housing on our street) woman with white hair - white skin too - was walking down the street. I said "Hello, how are you?" but she didn't verbally respond. Instead she went to the opposite side of the street AND put her purse on the opposite shoulder only to come back to my side of the street when she was a full house or so past me. As she did this I wished her a good day, got my trashcan and came back inside.

I am not overly concerned about racism; I tend to see the individual more than the group but it is instances like this that remind me why black folk seem obsessed with racism. We cussin' can't get away from it.

PS: Notice my "Fantastic Mr. Fox" version of foul language.

Friday, February 26

Are you a pants folder or a pants hanger?

This is an oddball observation.

For the past 4 years I have worked hard to get Tara to fold my pants the way I have folded pants my entire life (Tara does most laundry in the house). I learned to fold pants in what I believed was the only (and proper) way, as a prep for hanging. You fold them front to back so that a crease is kept in the front and back center, perpendicular to the side seams. Tara folded my pants like she folded her own pants, the opposite way. She folds along the side seam. I was under the impression that this was a female thing b/c every man I knew well enough to see them fold their pants folded them the way I do.

A few weeks ago my brother-in-law moved in with us and he wears - almost exclusively - urbanwear jeans. You know, the jeans that are pressed board stiff and have the fancy embroidery on the back pockets. Well, he folded some of my pants the other day and, to my surprise, they were folded like Tara does it. Now, as I started writing this post I thought it was b/c Joel folds his jeans but as I write I realize that he hangs his pants and he folds them. My whole premise was blown out of the water.

Where do we learn stuff like this? I realize that I probably learned from my Dad, a career military man whose pants were meticulously folded and hung. This method is the seen in men's stores and other places you buy men's "trousers". I don't know where Tara and Joel learned and now this seems only slightly interesting.

Tuesday, February 2

Soccer clothes hounds unite and win!

Those who know me well know that I am a bit of a clothes hound. Those who know me really well know I have no money to buy what I like. Well, I've just found one way to possibly get some soccer jerseys on the cheap...free actually.

soccerpro.com is having a "Jerseys for Life" sweepstakes to celebrate the 2010 FIFA World Cup. If you connect to soccerpro.com on Facebook you automatically enter to win your favorite team's new jersey every year for the next 10 years, crazy huh?!?!?! If you don't win you will at the very least you get a $10 coupon for soccerpro.com.
**Be sure to follow the link here or at the end of this post to get to the right spot.**
soccerpro.com has a wide selection of soccer gear for fans, players, trainers and coaches and as far as I can tell, pretty darn good prices. It is to my eyes a great online soccer gear store. If you are a coach or are involved in an organized league of some sort I think it would be worth your while to check it out.

Go here for details: http://www.soccerpro.com/World-Cup-2010-c549/

**BTW and in the spirit of full disclosure, soccerpro.com asked me to post something about the contest and they are giving me a soccerpro.com T-shirt for posting.**

Thursday, January 21

POTUS and my dad

There are so many things about my dad that come to mind in relation to Barack Obama. I am constantly struck by the similarity of body movement. Every time I see the President walk I am reminded of my dad, every time I see the President sit or speak I am reminded of my dad. The photo here is from the White House flickr page. I think it is a wonderful photo but looking at the man in the photo I think of my dad.

In life and lifestyle Papa and POTUS are very dissimilar but they carry themselves in a suprisingly similar way.We know about Barack Obama's life so I won't repeat it here but I will tell more about my dad. He was born in rural Middle Tennessee, oldest of two boys, his mom was a domestic and his dad a carpenter. If I understand correctly, some of his great grandparents were slaves (I think one of his grandmothers was a Cherokee and one of his grandfathers was a white man). My dad completed high school (Pearl High School, class of 1936) and at most, a year of college (Tennessee A&I). My dad was about 45 when he was allowed to vote for the first time which means he was voting for the first time at about the same age as Barack Obama was being elected as President of the United States - wrap your head around that for a second. It also means he lived over half his life in a legally segregated America where he could serve in the military and where he was required to pay taxes but he could not vote or shop certain stores or eat at certain restaurants or use certain bathrooms - again, wrap your head around that... this is not a history book, this is my father! My dad did serve in the military (30ish years US Army) and he did about the same amount of time as an employee of the US Postal Service).

So, on paper, these two men couldn't be more dissimilar but I see my dad every time I look at Barack Obama and every time feelings of great pride and sadness rise. Pride because a man who is president reminds me of my dad and that is a wonderful thing and considering the America my dad lived in I feel pride because of the magnitude of Barack Obama's accomplishments. Sadness because it took America so long to get where it is, sadness because my dad never got to see or hear Barack Obama, and sadness that I don't get to share this pride with him.

I know he would be proud and I think he would get a kick out of what I see as similarities considering he took a perverse joy in sharing a last name with Deion Sanders.

Thursday, January 7

2010...the year of PBS?

I've loved PBS as long as I can remember, going back to ZOOM, Sesame Street, etc. I can always find shows on PBS I love. Austin City Limits helped me keep sanity through the 90s. I haven't paid a bunch of attention to what was on other than Tavis Smiley and Volunteer Gardener but in this first week of 2010 I have seen two of the most enjoyable and interesting documentaries I have seen in a very long time.

First was "The Human Spark", Alan Alda hosts this three part show on what makes humans human, not Neanderthal or chimp or whatever. The first episode was great. He went to archeological sites and discussed what made us, homo sapien sapiens, different from Neanderthal. Why did they die out and we are still here? Really cool stuff.

Now I am watching "This Emotional Life" which explores how and why we feel what we feel. Using case studies and interviews, including interviews with lots of entertainment folks. Its narrated by Daniel Gilbert, the guy who wrote one of my fav books from a couple of years ago.

We are astonishing creatures and thanks to PBS for exploring these different aspects.
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