Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire

Conventional wisdom would say that this should be a column about the massive hammer that fell down Monday in Major League Baseball regarding the 12 players who were suspended for performance enhancing drug (PED) use.

After months of buildup, and names being leaked to the various media outlets, it finally became clear Monday who the accused were and what the penalties would be for their transgressions against baseball. Under the collective bargaining agreement the players were given penalties ranging from 50 game suspensions all the way to the granddaddy of all suspensions a 211 game one.

While the suspensions were a long time coming, and I agree that the game of baseball needs to be as free of cheaters as possible, the thought of giving the cheaters any more press really does not appeal to me.

One could go so far as to say that I have lost the passion for the PED story.

And as one of the players caught with their hand in the banned substance cookie jar plays through his appeals process it is clear that the start of at least one of current suspensions will drag out for the remainder of the season meaning that the PED story will not go away any time this season.

So while my passion for the PED story has left me, there was another story in the news from Monday involving an athlete getting injured while following his passion that caught my attention.

Tony "Smoke" Stewart is a three-time NASCAR Champion and ambassador for all forms of racing. But as owner of a million dollar racing empire some mat question why he still races on dirt and risks injury or worse.  Photo R. Anderson

Tony “Smoke” Stewart is a three-time NASCAR Champion and ambassador for all forms of racing. But as owner of a million dollar racing empire some might question why he still races on dirt and risks injury or worse.
Photo R. Anderson

I am of course talking about three-time NASCAR Champion Tony “Smoke” Stewart.

Stewart broke the tibia and fibula of his right leg in a sprint car crash in Iowa Monday night and will need a second surgery on his right leg in the coming days.

The injury will force Stewart out of his NASCAR ride for the first time since he joined the Cup Series in 1999. How long he stays out of the car remains to be seen.

I have been a Smoke fan pretty much ever since he entered the Cup Series for Joe Gibbs Racing.

While he has certainly had a bumpy relationship with the media at times, I enjoy his passion for the sport and the fact that he speaks his mind and seems to genuinely care for those around him.

Those are the same traits that I find in Kyle Busch who is a former teammate of Smoke and another driver that I follow.

I certainly wish Smoke a speedy recovery from his recent injury since I think the garage area and racing in general is certainly better off with him there than not.

As is the case any time an athlete is injured away from their main sport, there are those who say that athletes should not compete in areas other than their main job because of freak injuries just like this.

Tony Stewart broke is leg in two places Monday night putting the rest of his current season in jeopardy.  Photo R. Anderson

Tony Stewart broke is leg in two places Monday night putting the rest of his current season in jeopardy.
Photo R. Anderson

I don’t really share that particular point of view. Athletes by their nature, especially the ones who make it to the highest levels of sport, are highly competitive people.

That competitive fire cannot be turned off and only show up on game time or in Stewart’s case whenever the green flag drops.

And yes that is the same competitive fire that causes some athletes, such as the suspended PED using ballplayers whose names shall not be named here, to break the rules to gain any advantage that they can in their quest to be the best.

The competitiveness needs to be fed and for Stewart and many other drivers that fuel comes through racing on dirt tracks like the one he was injured on.  Race the same course hundreds of times and there are likely to be no injuries but roll the dice, or the car enough times, and injuries will occur.

That does not mean that people should never take chances or feed the passion and the competitive fire that burns within.

A few years back Stewart’s teammate at the time, Denny Hamlin, blew out his knee playing basketball. While Hamlin’s injury occurred on a court and not a track it still meant that he missed time from is “day job.”

The competitive spirit that drives Tony Stewart to risk his career on the race track is described in his biography. Stewart, like many drivers on the circuit simply put were born to race. Or has Ricky Bobby would say, "They wanna go fast." Photo R. Anderson

The competitive spirit that drives Tony Stewart to risk his career on the race track is described in his autobiography. Stewart, like many drivers on the circuit simply put were born to race. Or as Ricky Bobby would say, “I wanna go fast.”
Photo R. Anderson

The world of sports is full of stories of athletes missing time due to freak injuries so saying that NASCAR drivers cannot race in other non NASCAR sanctioned races, as some will likely suggest, is clearly not the answer since injuries can happen anywhere.

The fact is people are injured all of the time in day to day living so risks are not limited just to the track and other “high risk” scenarios.

I could just as easily turn an ankle by tripping over something on the way to the fridge to get some iced tea.

Granted that is an extreme example, but I would much rather be the type that has a cool story to share about any potential injury incurred than being the type to say, “I tripped over my cat and sprained my back.”

I have little doubt that once the leg is healed Smoke will go right back to racing on dirt tracks across the country since it is in his nature to do so and it fuels his passion for racing.

We should all be so lucky to find things to be passionate about in our daily non dirt track racing lives.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to attempt an injury free walk to the fridge to get some iced tea, wish me luck.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Putting a Round With Porcelain Dreams

For some time now I have considered taking up the game of golf.

And there is certainly no shortage of golf courses around to allow me to partake in that new hobby. Unfortunately I just have never seemed to find the time in my busy schedule to hit the links and have felt that my dreams of chasing golf glory shall remain just that.

Of course there is also the idea of golf as a “good walk spoiled” in the words of Mark Twain so my I often thought if I really would want to spend hours outside chasing after a little white ball in an under powered golf cart.

Then a beacon of hope arrived in the form of a commercial while I was watching a show about a man who build tree houses for a living.  Yes, boys and girls we have reached the place in society where a man who builds tree houses gets his own show on a network focused on animals.

What you ask could bring such hope to a time crunched golfer wannabe? I am of course talking about the Potty Putter. That’s right I said Potty Putter.

According to one as seen on TV product this sleeve of golf balls belongs right next to the deorderant and toilet paper in bathrooms far and wide. Photo R. Anderson

According to one as seen on TV product this sleeve of golf balls belongs right next to the deodorant and toilet paper in bathrooms far and wide.
Photo R. Anderson

I first heard of the Potty Putter about a decade or so ago but never really believed that it was real. I guess I had too much misguided faith in the human race to think that the nation that put a man on the moon would be the same nation to encourage a man with a moon to play golf. But with the commercial once again hitting the airwaves it appears the joke is on me and society is not as advanced as I would like to think that they are.

Yes as the name suggests the Potty Putter is supposed to be used in the bathroom while one is sitting on the toilet. And the commercial goes on to state that the Potty Putter provided health benefits by encouraging people to take their time on the throne since in their words, “rushing can be unhealthy.”

Call me a killjoy but I always heard that taking too much time sitting on the porcelain easy chair caused hemorrhoids and other painful side effects up to and including feet falling asleep. But then again who am I to question something called the Potty Putter dishing out medical advice.

As I was watching the commercial I kept waiting for some indication that the commercial was fake. Sadly, no indication like that ever arrived. After 30 seconds I realized that it was a real commercial and that the Potty Putter was in fact a real product.

Once I stopped laughing at the sheer absurdity of people playing golf in the bathroom I realized that as crazy as I thought the product was there were probably people out there who would buy it.

I further concluded that if people were buying it than someone was making money off of it. Maybe those marketing majors aren’t so stupid after all.

Playing golf in the bathroom is not something that I want to try. For starters years of Putt Putt golf has already honed my short game. And for another thing, eww.

So while the Potty Putter is not for me I figured I could come up with some other ideas for the growing bathroom athletics demographic to try.

Knowing that I would be spending many long hours of research time perched on the toilet I started on a training regimen high in fiber so that I could authentically recreate the bathroom recreation environment.

The first idea for bathroom recreation activities that came to me was Potty Darts. I have always enjoyed playing darts and I figured that much enjoyment could be derived from tossing darts across the bathroom.

Then I remembered how bad some people’s aim is at darts and that it probably wouldn’t be fun to have holes in the shower stall.

Darts seems like the next logical bathroom based game to take off until one considers that wayward throws could damage shower stalls. Photo R. Anderson

Darts seems like the next logical bathroom based game to take off until one considers that wayward throws could damage shower stalls.
Photo R. Anderson

After the failure of Potty Darts my number two idea was Bathroom Basket Weaving. Turn bathroom time into arts and crafts time with the timeless fun of wicker. After a few minutes of picturing people trying to wrestle with wicker and toilet paper at the same time I realized that this too was an idea that should be flushed.

With two failed bathroom recreational ideas behind me, my thoughts turned to Toilet Time Table Tennis. Then I remembered that Table Tennis is best played as a two-person game and that it probably would not be feasible, or socially acceptable to have two people playing a game of table tennis in the Casa de Commode.

Realizing that despite my best efforts I could not come up with a better idea than the Potty Putter I did what any other man would do when he realized he was defeated, I dialed the 1-800 number and ordered two sets.

Chalk it up to those marketing majors, they really know what people like to do in their bathrooms. Scary isn’t it?

Now if you’ll excuse me, all of this talk of toilets has caused me to have to go do something. Has anyone seen my newspaper?

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Expert Warns of Rising Seas, Just Not Sure When They Will Rise

Yesterday I was scanning the local news, as I often do, and I noticed a particular headline that got my attention.

The headline basically said that according to a researcher, rising sea levels will put Galveston, TX 25 percent underwater.  Since I live near Galveston, I decided it was an article that I needed to read to find out if I needed to pack the Jeep and head for higher ground, or perhaps invest in a house boat, to avoid the coming flood waters.

Experts are divided regarding just how high the sea level will rise in the coming centuries. Photo R. Anderson

Experts are divided regarding just how high the sea level will rise in the coming centuries.
Photo R. Anderson

Now I should know by now that the local media in this part of Texas, and perhaps everywhere now, tries to raise the level of sensationalism to epic levels in every story that they post.

So, the headline should have been a huge red flag to me since this was the same paper that just the day before had sensationalized a traffic stop involving a man legally carrying a gun by saying “Man pulled over by police in north Texas with gun in car.”

Of course in Texas I am sure that people with the legal right to carry a concealed handgun or rifle are pulled over every day by police without incident. The gun laws state that a concealed gun owner must alert the officer to the presence of the concealed firearm, and the traffic stop continues as normal just as it would were there not a gun in the car.

What made this particular gun in car police stop more  tasty for the “if it bleeds it leads” newspaper was the fact that the man in the story pulled over with the gun was none other than George Zimmerman who was recently acquitted by a jury of his peers in Florida of manslaughter charges.

Had it been any other man with a gun in the car getting pulled over it would not have been news. And the officer did not even issue a ticket as Zimmerman was left with just a warning.

So with that and many other examples of poor reporting from my local media I should have taken the rising sea levels story as another example of Chicken Little the sky is falling reporting and nothing more.

And of course after reading the article that was exactly what it was. Basically according to the expert quoted in the article in 87 to 100 years, when most of the people reading this article will no longer be alive, the oceans are expected to rise and cover 25 percent of the current land along the coast.

After that more and more land will be covered every few decades until at some point Dallas, which is around four and a half hours from Galveston, becomes a beachfront town.

Actually, Dallas as a beachfront town might not be a bad thing since the only thing I really don’t like about Dallas, aside from the high occurrence of tornadoes, is the lack of a decent beach nearby.

Views like this could be coming to cities that are currently inland if theories on sea level rise are to be believed. Photo R. Anderson

Views like this could be coming to cities that are currently inland if theories on sea level rise are to be believed.
Photo R. Anderson

So as has been the case for years the rising waters of the future are being blamed on polar ice melt caused by man made greenhouse gases, etc.  While it is certainly important to do what one can as a society to ensure that climate change is not heightened through the efforts of man, there is tons of evidence showing that the change has little to do with man’s activities.

I am certainly a believer that the climate goes in cycles of change and there was another article in the paper that had me less concerned about the rising sea levels (beyond the comfort of knowing that I won’t be alive to see it).

There is a beach near Beaumont, TX that has arrowheads and other primitive tools wash up on shore from time to time.  The items tend to wash up after a big storm churns up the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

It is believed that the items come from long submerged villages about 25 miles out to sea. So that stands to reason that there has been ocean encroachment for centuries if not eons.  And it is highly doubtful the early residents were emitting massive amounts of greenhouse gases leading to the flooding of their villages.

Get you beach front property complete with pelicans in Dallas while you can. Of course you will not be alive when the beach gets there but your grand kids can take advantage of your thoughtfulness. Photo R. Anderson

Get your beach front property complete with pelicans in Dallas while you can. Of course you will not be alive when the beach gets there but your great great grand kids can take advantage of your thoughtfulness.
Photo R. Anderson

The seas will rise and fall again as they have before. As Eugene Levy’s character in the American Pie movies would say, “It’s a perfectly, ah, natural kind of thing.”

So despite headlines announcing pending doom and despair brought on by rising waters along the coast, the effects are centuries away from reaching the level of devastation seen in the Hollywood disaster films.

And who’s to say that the Earth doesn’t get destroyed by a huge asteroid before the oceans gobble up the shoreline since according to some people in the United States space industry that is the real threat facing the third rock from the sun.

And while I hold little faith in NASA’s asteroid lassoing efforts ever getting off of the ground, I certainly believe that technology will exist by the time the seas are rising to coast swallowing levels to pump the water inland for irrigation and desalination or find some other way to win the battle at the shoreline.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go put a down payment on some future beachfront property in Dallas in case I live to be 150.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson