Random Acts of Machismo

27 Oct

Last night en route to a little gathering, I witnessed a number of men come to the aid of another for what has the appearance of kindness, but I know is “machismo” in action.  A car stalled half a block from the gas station and was blocking one lane.  If that was all, no one would run to help the stuck man.  It’s not that people aren’t helpful, but we all know that you can call a tow truck or, if necessary, push the car a half block on your own.  Pushing a car on flat land isn’t that difficult once you get it moving.

The problem here is that the car stalled on a hill and yes, the guy was trying to push his car up said hill.  He was making it move a little, but it was a struggle.  From all points, north, south, east, and west men came running.  Six guys got behind that car and through brute strength muscled it the 250 feet up hill to the gas pump.  It was quite a feat to behold and very kind of all the men to help, but it was machismo and not their heart that moved them.

Machismo is defined as an exaggerated sense of strength or toughness and I have to say any time I know for me, if I present myself as physically strong or tough, it’s probably an exaggeration.  You couldn’t ask for a better circumstance for men to flex their muscles and prove they were MEN.  We know that we can’t get that car up the hill on our own, but with one or two other guy’s help we certainly can and in our minds, we’re doing the work.  There is a sense of teamwork that’s appealing, but I  guarantee every one of those guys relived that moment last night with some friends, family, or maybe just in their head, and celebrated their machismo.

Helping someone push a car is great for displaying a little machismo, but I find I do a little of it every day.  I have a family.  Three little women in my life.  My beloved wife and two baby girls.  It is my job to protect them and though I would lay down my life for any of the three at any moment, I don’t usually have to go to those lengths on a day-to-day basis.  Typically, I have to walk on the outside of my group of gals to put myself between any passing vehicles and my precious damsels.  I also happily respond to bumps in the night, or 2am knocks at the door, with dog at my side.  Nevermind that the dog is a girl too, we’re both displaying a little machismo.

So, when you’re wondering what you can do for the man in your life, maybe give him a chance to revel in a little machismo.  That jar just a little too tight to untwist?  We’d be happy to take care of it.  Can’t move a box full of books?  We’re on it.  Looking to vacuum under the sofa and want it lifted?  Hercules is ready to help.  Need the trash taken out?  Well, we’ll get to that later.

Traveling in the Age of the Net

26 Oct

“You don’t have to know anything anymore” exclaimed my brother this past Saturday as he asked his phone a question and quickly had a string of websites to read with correct answers.  Never mind that he knew the correct answer and without a basis of education, you will be quickly led astray on our world-wide web.  That being said, I spend a lot of my time researching on the internet and you learn quickly the language of veracity.  Some websites and authors are trustworthy, others are paid or looking for retribution for a wrong.

I absolutely love using the net for travel research.  No longer do you have to pick a destination, a hotel, a flight, a restuarant, or a particular drive on a little guesswork and that two-line review in the AAA guide.

“Yay, the hotel has a swimming pool and HBO!”

That was about the extent of the reviews available to you twenty years ago.  Now with sites like Tripadvisor I can easily find out that the pool has four slides, but the height requirement on all of them is 40″ and my two-year old couldn’t ride.  There are two pools with one heated and the other one closing annually on November 1st for the winter.  There are three restaurants across the street and I can easily read reviews on all of those places.  Plus, a major grocery store is within walking distance with a RedBox so I can cheaply rent movies while I’m there.  I can also read that the hotel is getting a remodel and when checking in, I need to ask for a renovated room so I’m guaranteed a 42″ HD TV and a DVD player.

Road trips are no longer a mystery either.  I remember taking family trips where we ventured randomly from one city to the next on no particular route, just seeking out each specific destination.  It was fun and rewarding, but all you really had was word of mouth reviews on where to go and what route to take.

I had my first significant road trip a few years ago with a drive to Lake Tahoe.  I tried asking around and seeking friends and strangers’ advice on whether to take the 395 or the 5 up from San Diego.  Generally with mixed reviews, most were in favor of taking the 5 and not getting stuck on the 395 with our newborn.

Thank God for the Road Trip America forum.  With the conversations and information in the forum, I chose the more difficult route up the 395 with suggestions for a great places to stop plus advice from hundreds of parents on tips for traveling with little ones.  Although the ride up the 5 was faster, the ride up the 395 in April, just as the snow on the mountain tops melted, meant that not only was the route unbelievably gorgeous, we had rushing rapids right next to the highway for several hours during our last leg of the drive.  It was beautiful and a great road trip, because I went into it prepared.

I think, in the end, that’s my favorite thing about the internet and travel.  I can go prepared.  There’s still adventure in trying new things and new places and I don’t seek out reviews and research on every place we stop, but gathering info on at least 50% of our activities ensures an enjoyable trip.

Right now I’m planning and preparing for a trip to Las Vegas with two little girls.  Most people would think that a waste of time and money, but with a little research you find out which places to avoid (the Bellagio pretty much hates strollers and may bar you from entering), there’s beautiful places for day trips and hiking (Red Rock West, and oh yeah, The Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam), and where the best playgrounds are in the city.  I’m going to go prepared and it’s all because I have the wealth of knowledge and experience at my fingertips.  I love living and traveling in the age of the net.

GRAND THEFT AUTO 5 Just Announced

25 Oct

Rockstar Games just posted on their website Rockstargames.com, a banner for GRAND THEFT AUTO V with a the new trailer debuting next week on November 2nd.  Excited?  I kind of am.  I buy every GTA game (since 3) and never complete more than 10% of the game, but always have a blast with them.  The open world, gameplay, and impressive visuals always make it a blast.  Without any details yet, though, I’m wondering where they’re going with this one.

We were an inner city gangbanger in GTA3.  We reveled in the Miami Vice soaked 80’s in Vice City.  We really got to know a flawed hero in Niko in GTA IV.  Where does 5 go?  LA NOIRE had a different development team, but still under the ROCKSTAR brand so are we going to see some of that style of animation and reading the details in body language?  Will GTAV be set in current times, the 30’s, the late 80’s Wall Street, or something set in the distant future?  Actually, I’m banking on being a good guy type of gang member looking to take down the rich and powerful and dirty Wall Street type kingpin.  Top bad guys nowadays in movies and video games are Muslim Terrorists, The North Korean Government, and the group everyone can hate, Big Bank Tycoons.

I’m also curious about the content outside of the single player campaign.  With GTA IV, Rockstar tried it’s hand at multiplayer online and then refined the concept a great deal for RED DEAD REDEMPTION.  What did they learn from both of those outings that will prepare them for something truly great this time?  I only really tried my hand at the racing in GTAIV‘s online mode and the gunfights in RDR, but they didn’t pull me away from my addiction to FPS’s.

The first trailer hits next week and then maybe we’ll know more.  Until then, all we can do is speculate which always lots of fun.

The CNN.com Comment Section and My Addiction

25 Oct

Hi, my name is Ryan and I have a problem.  I cannot stop reading the comments at the end of any article I find on CNN.com.  I don’t know why I do it or exactly what my sick obsession is, but I believe it has something to do with keeping myself aware of how disturbed and sad people behave at times.

The two things that stand out the most in the comments are one, their political affiliation so overwhelms their life that a story on any random news event solicits an “It’s all Obama’s fault” reaction or “Bush created this mess!”  The second is the complete disregard for human decency.    That’s the biggest one.

After reading some of the horrific things people post, I’m struggle with wondering if there is such a thing as human decency.  You’ll read an unbelievably sad story about a kid that’s been kept in a cage all his life and died without ceremony because of a lack of personal contact and food, and the first comment says he probably deserved everything he got.  CNN.com will lead with stories of abduction and people show absolutely no regard for any of the family members as they put forth their dark ideas of what probably happen to the child.  It’s sickening.

And yet I still read the comments.

Maybe I’m searching for material to write about.  Perhaps I examine the sick comments in the hopes that I’ll find the deep, thoughtful, and genuinely insightful analysis that the article was lacking.  I have to believe that for all the demented people out there that post sick and disturbed thoughts in the Comments section, there are plenty that are kind and caring individuals who don’t want to post.

The good news, for me, is that I trust that though people explore their darker side on the internet, they are still good at heart.   Even if their words and actions show otherwise, I have to trust that a person, at their core, is good.  There are certainly exceptions to every rule, but even a villain is the hero of their own story and believes they are doing right through whatever flawed logic they are embracing.  So are they demented people in this world posting on the internet?  Yes.  Do I think most of them are as dark and disturbed as their words suggest?  Nope.

They do, however, give me plenty of ideas for my next short story, screenplay, or novel.

The Greatness of being a Daddy on the Weekend

24 Oct

My weekend was long.  Long in that it was exhausting.  I’m going to ache for days exhausting.  But it was good.

Being a Daddy changed my life considerably over the last few years.  At first it seemed that the change meant a lot of what I loved in life was going away.  Watching sports, playing video games, hanging out with the guys, and watching movies in the theater all had to suffer.  Truthfully,I sacrificed the movies in the theater almost completely.  Hanging out with the guys is less weekly now and more quarterly.  Sports are now on the DVR or via NFL Rewind.  The video games get played once or twice a week around midnight.  And yet my life is better.

You see, I get to do things that the single, childless me never got to do.  I get to completely embrace the kid in me.  Take Saturday night for instance.  My wife really wanted to take our girls to the Del Mar Pumpkin Patch and so off we went.  It wasn’t cheap, ($30 I think) but had a ton of rides and attractions for little kids.

There was the carousel that my daughter didn’t want to get off.  “I just want to ride the horsey Daddy!”

There was the rocket ship that went around and around and she slapped high-five with the operator every lap.

There was the tea-cup type ride that she loved spinning around and around in with Daddy on board.  Dizzy fun.

There was the little train that she road for about 10 minutes and smiled for the entire time (except when I was taking pictures.)

There was the bouncy house and little inflatable slide where she expended as much energy as possible and giggled non-stop.

And there was the petting zoo, which we never made it to.

Why, might you ask, did we miss the petting zoo?  A petting zoo is gold with little kids and she had asked to go, but something else grabbed a hold of her and would not let go.  The GIANT inflatable slide.  Huge.  At least two stories high and probably closer to three.  And she had to ride it.  Since it was a little high and all the kids on it made it a bit dangerous for a tiny two-year old toddler to get tossed around, Daddy had to go.  The steep climb to the top required me to carry her up over and over and over and over.  And over and over and over.

“Again Daddy!  Again!”

The upside to carrying her to the top time after time was that I got to ride the giant slide over and over.  My back was killing me afterwards, my legs burned, and I was totally exhausted, but I was a kid again.  I had the wonderful opportunity to slide as fast as I could, laughing aloud, because I had my toddler in my arms.  At almost 40 years old, I did something I’ve probably wanted to do every time I saw one of these giants slides over the last 30 years, but it just seemed socially unacceptable then.  Now, I’ve got a kid, so it’s okay and endearing when I play with children.  It was great.

To balance things out, there was Sunday’s slide.  Family photo day at the railroad park in Poway and of course, the two-year old getting some time in on the playground was a must.

“Daddy, will you go with me?”

“That’s okay Beautiful.  I’ll watch you.”

“Please Daddy.”

She knows how to get me to do almost anything and that simple elongated please does it every time.

So, I climbed up into very cramped quarters and a half covered slide gave birth to me.  Yep, it was a tight fit and I think that one ride down hurt more than the twenty the night before.  That’s a little lesson to first time parents.  Playgrounds are meant for people under 4 feet tall and 80 lbs.  How does the weight come into play?  Remember that the “M” means mass in E=mc squared and in this case the increased mass meets the low resistance of the slide and you gain speed.  Some serious speed on some slides.  Sunday I didn’t find myself airborne, but it has happened coming off a kiddie slide before.

By 5pm Sunday afternoon, with my eldest daughter’s weekend completed, she, my wife, and my baby girl all drifted off for a little nap.  Finally, I got some NFL action.  I love my DVR.  Without it I would’ve missed nearly every minute of my Mavericks winning their first ever championship this summer and I’d miss almost every minute of the Chargers’ every Sunday afternoon.  Then after 9pm, when I was folding clothes, I had the laptop propped up in front of me with NFL Rewind giving me the Cowboys’ game replay.  Granted I have to stay away from my phone, TV, and the internet all day on a Sunday to watch the games like that, but at least I get to watch them.

So, the weekend concluded with rocking the exhausted two-year old to sleep at 10pm.  She’d fought sleep after dinner for about 90 minutes and since my wife drifted off again, I got the “closer” opportunity.  There really is very little that’s more rewarding than being the closer at bed time.  You have a child tired beyond words and all you have to do is answer a few random two-year old questions, hold her, rock her slowly, and see her eyes flutter shut.  The over the top benefit last night was that when she closed her eyes, I got a simple, sweet, “I love you Daddy.”  And she snuggled in real close and was done.  So was I.  Heart melted.  I love being Daddy, especially on the weekends.

ESPN on the Xbox Doesn’t Make Any Sense

24 Oct

I get that Microsoft is trying to make the Xbox 360 and whatever the Next Generation Console will be, the center to our entertainment, but ESPN on the Xbox simply doesn’t make any sense.  The most glaring and obvious problem is that most people who have the ESPN feature activated on their Xbox already have ESPN via cable.  I have ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN News, and ESPNU, so do I really need more ESPN?

Secondly, though I know there are people out there without cable or satellite who just use Hulu, Netflix, and media streaming boxes like the Xbox for their video entertainment, but even there I think it fails.  Though I find the lack of 5.1 audio on the HD videos a real problem for Hulu Plus and Netflix, the Xbox is a worthwhile delivery system for that content.  Comparitively, the ESPN tool definitely ranks below Netflix and has about the same crappy level of interface that Hulu Plus does with significantly less content.

The interface is a big problem.  It’s so clunky and appears completely disorganized, that even if there is good content there, I haven’t found it.  I think that’s the biggest issue.  We have a desire to watch movies and tv shows on a larger screen than our laptop and to share the experience with family or friends.  Sports highlight, which is what it appears 99% of the content on ESPN on Xbox is, isn’t something I really need to share with anyone else or watch on my 50″ TV.  Besides, if you stream that “HD” content, you’ll possibly become nauseated by the jittery delivery of the video.  If I want to share it, I’m probably going to find the highlights online and post the link to Facebook or Twitter and therein lies the largest problem.

Sure, most of us have ESPN, but even if we don’t, we have the internet for seeking out highlights, scores, and news in a much more efficient manner that yields far better results.  GOOGLE beats my Xbox every time when trying to find something, unless it’s playing the video games loaded on the hard drive.

The day that ESPN starts streaming live games via the Xbox (maybe they already do, but I’ve never found any) and then gets the picture quality to look better than plugging my laptop into my TV, I’ll be interested.  Until then, I’ll stick with cable, my laptop, and my cell phone for my sports updates.  Thanks for trying though.

Revis Situation About Ego and Not Substance

22 Oct

Darrelle Revis, the Jets shutdown corner, is all the rage this week in New York for ending an interview.  Sports Talk Host Mike Francesca on WFAN pestered Revis continuously about his 100 yard interception return this past weekend and whether or not he was guilty of interference on the play.

You can read elsewhere about what happened in the interview in detail, but essentially, the host (Francesca) was enjoying getting Revis riled up and eventually the Jets PR man directed Revis to hang up.  Not surprisingly, Francesca doesn’t have a great relationship with the Jets, but his fan base was loving it.  Francesca knows that and kept pushing the agitated player to try to get more emotion out of him.

The problem, in my mind, with this is that Francesca was just feeding his ego and not pursuing substance.  As a radio producer and a host in my previous life, this is one of the types of circumstances that would most annoy me.  As entertained for the moment or the day Francesca’s fans were by the exchange, so much more could have come from a different approach.  Allowing Revis a more comfortable, non-combative environment, could provide an opportunity for him to share more about his insight on the upcoming game for the Jets and even better, a chance he could join the show again later in the season.

Granted most player and coach interviews don’t amount to anything and even some of the guys that give you their cell number and say, “call anytime” don’t really pan out, you always have the chance of developing a rapport with a player, coach, PR person, or other team insider that may give you more (on or off the record) than you could ever expect to get otherwise.  Or you could go for the moment of entertainment like Francesca did.

Yeah, I’ve made that choice too.  Anyone who knows my history knows that I personally killed any chance that Rick Sutcliffe will ever join Scott & BR again on XX 1090 in San Diego.  That being said, I hope I’ve learned some lessons over the years and though entertaining hosts are nice, I prefer mine to provide a little substance too and when you operate from all ego it’s hard to really give your listeners the information I think they really want.  Really want if they’re really fans of a particular team.  If they’re just listening for the entertainment, then you’re serving your clientele properly by focusing on the shallow end of the pool, but you probably won’t catch me tuning in anytime soon.