Nothing Special, Really

Friday, March 23, 2007

More Workplace Productivity Down The Drain

Two posts in one day? A double dose of blog greatness? What's the occasion, you ask?

This is:

Carry on.

I Roole Teh Internets

Nothing demonstrates "TGIF" better than insinuating on a public internet chat that a former NBA player is gay:

Paul Shirley's Chat on ESPN

I'm bored and I want to go home.

Edit: ESPN has made this Premium Content, probably because I am so cool. Here's what I told the former Phoenix Suns player in regards to his statement that he's seen Shaq naked:

Matt (Seattle, WA): How is it that you saw Shaq naked if you've never even been on the same team with him? Is there something in your new book you'll be declaring, a la John Amaechi?

Paul Shirley: (Training camp - LA Lakers, released in November, 2001 or 2002. It's getting fuzzy.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wish List

My life is good. There isn't much that I want that I don't already have. I've got a wonderful girlfriend, an incredible apartment, a well-paying job, a sweet car, an adorable kitten, a group of great friends, and a hot body. OK, most of that is true. My car is only average, at best.

But the trade-off is that, while my life now is quite good, I'm not in a position to maintain this great life for a long time. There are things that I will need to change pretty soon if I want to keep living the good life. So, here's my wish list of things that I want to change (no order of importance):

1. Eating habits.

I am overweight. I have been for most of my life. Eating has been one of my favorite activities, and it ranks up there with sleeping and not being very active. I'm your typical overweight American, but I really don't care how anyone else feels about this.

But one thing that I have been thinking a lot about lately is the fact that I am at a great risk of getting Diabetes. It runs in my family, and I'm almost certain that if I continue down this path, I will get it myself.

I need to improve my eating habits, but that's so difficult when I've made a habit of eating unhealthy for so much of my life. If the possibility of getting a life-threatening disease isn't enough to help me change my ways, then I'm probably a lost cause. I'm fine with being fat for the rest of my life as long as I'm relatively healthy. But what once was an aesthetic concern is now a physical health concern, and I need to start doing something about that.

2. Hobbies

I spend a lot of time online doing random things, but none more often than playing online poker. This became an issue last summer as I blew through a lot of money playing poker, which put me into a bad spot financially, a spot that I am still working my way out of. You'd think that the logical answer would be to stop playing poker. But I haven't stopped. I've limited how much I spend when I play, but I've been playing often for the past couple of months now.

I've been hosting poker games at the apartment on a monthly basis, and quite frankly I've had more fun at those games than I ever have playing online. I do believe that I have an ability to become very good at poker, but the fact is, I'm not at a point where I can invest the time or the resources to improve my poker skills significantly.

Furthermore, my online poker hobby takes away from time I can spend doing so many other things; reading one of the 8 books I've bought in the past year, going outside (when the weather is nice), catching up with overdue phone calls to friends and family.

I've made many declarations that I'll stop playing online poker, but I think it is best for my to make an honest attempt to put online poker on a hiatus. I'll play out the rest of the money that I have in my account until it's gone, or until I win X amount of money, whichever comes first. As much as I really enjoy it, I need to realize that it's not the best way to spend my time right now.

3. Personal Hygiene

This isn't about showering, I shower daily. Well, almost daily. I use deodorant, I keep my fingernails clean. I'm not some slob. But after what the dentist told me today, I need to start taking better care of my teeth.

Within the next couple of months, I will need to have the following procedures done: four wisdom teeth pulled, a filling put on another tooth, and cleanings so extensive that they will require anesthetics. I know, it's gross, but oral hygiene was never really prioritized when I was younger, and like my eating habits, it's not really anything I think about until I notice the affects it has on my health.

So going forward, I'll be flossing MORE often than I masturbate.

4. Finances

For a number of reasons (poker, DUI, excessive spending) I have dug myself quite the financial hole. I've got dreams of buying a house and planning for retirement someday, but I'm probably looking at a minimum of 5 years before I can even begin to start saving for that. My DUI will be paid off next month, and my car has less than a year and a half left, so that will give me some wiggle room. But then I'll have to start paying on my student loans again, so it's not going to be much.

There's a couple of ways that I can cut down on expenses. I'm driving A LOT less these days, so I'm probably spending about $20 a month on gas. I'm getting a sweet deal on cable, but once the special is over I'll be canceling that and probably moving to DSL cable. But I can cut down even more if I start getting in the habit of bringing my lunch to work and cooking meals at home. We eat out more often than we should, and it's mostly due to getting so caught up in other things that we don't make it a priority to plan our meals and actually cook them. And we're good cooks too, so it's not like we're forcing ourselves to eat ramen noodles and mac'n'cheese everyday.

So, consider this a list of New Year's resolutions, albeit a couple months late. Except this isn't about just trying to accomplish a goal, it's about making significant lifestyle changes. As happy as I am with my life right now, I could be happier; more importantly, I can't guarantee that this happiness will last. Not unless I start making some wishes come true.

Monday, March 19, 2007


On Thursday, I broke from my superstitious tradition and boldly declare that "this is the year" for the Suns.

The Suns then proceed to lose the next two games by a combined 40-something points.

I officially retract my statement. I will now go sacrifice a live puppy to appease the basketball gods.


To retort to Sandy's comment (shout out, what?!) about Amare - I completely agree. He's still not flawless, and rebounding is the one area of his game that needs a lot of improvement. To Dampier's credit, if there's one thing he does well, it's rebound on the offensive end, but there's no way that Dallas, or anyone, should get 27 offensive rebounds in a game. That's all about intensity and desire, and Amare doesn't have it defensively yet. What impressed me about that game was how hard he was taking it to the basket, consistently.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Declaration

I've been trying to figure out what to post about the past couple of days. Not much has really happened that's been "blog-worthy." I was going to post about the Bloc Party show from Sunday, but when it comes to writing about music, I'm not eloquent enough to write well. Most everything just comes out like "it rocks!" or "it sounds like (plug mainstream band) and (some random indie band, just to give me street cred) had a baby!". So I scratched that idea.

I was going to post a funny story from Friday, when Wac and I had date night. We went to this Vietnamese Bistro, Bambuza. I ordered Sugar Cane Shrimp, which is just as it sounds: shrimp (minced then reformed) wrapped around a sugar cane. The first one was pretty good, but the dish got better by the second one when I realized that you weren't supposed to eat the sugar cane. Yes, I am an idiot.

But there just wasn't anything that was burning inside me that compelled me to write.

Then something happened last night. Something so amazing, so exciting, I knew right away that I had found my inspiration to write, my muse.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you obviously don't know me.

I'll give you a hint:

If you caught last night's game, consider yourself privileged, because what you witnessed last night was one of the best regular-season games EVER. It doesn't matter that I'm not a baskeball historian (or that I'm a die-hard Suns fan), it doesn't get any better than this. Two teams, quickly becoming not just fierce, but hated rivals the two top records in the league, two teams with 17-game win streaks, the top two MVP candidates, the past two Coaches Of The Year, and it turns into a see-saw, double-OT nailbiter? How can this NOT be in the top 10 regular-season games of all time?

So about the game....

I actually had my attention continually being drawn away from the game most of the night. I was trying to start dinner when the game came on, but I caught most of the first quarter when the Suns came out en fuego. We jumped out to a 16 point lead at one point, and it looked like the Mavs were clueless. Maybe they were still dejected after losing to FUCKING Golden State two nights before, but they were clearly stunned and befuddled. But, to their credit, they got their shit together and made it a game by halftime, only down by 7.

Then the Mavs turned it up. Big time. At this time, I had sat down to play my weekly Wednesday night poker game, but every time I looked it seemed like the Mavs were increasing their lead. Before I knew it, THEY were up by 16. What the fuck just happened? Where was our defense, or better yet, our offense? We shrivled up like a bunch of pansies, either because we were too comfortable with our lead or we were playing too scared.

This was the one thing I've been afraid of all season - our ability to handle adversity. We really haven't had that many big games, very many must wins. The voice from the critics have been that we can't win against the best teams (apparently, beating San Antonio and destroying Houston ALL YEAR went unnoticed). Utah has owned us this year, Dallas got us twice (in close games)...even the fucking Lakers were trying to claim their dominance over us (but who really counts them as a top team, anyways?). For the most part, this has been my biggest concern too - how resilient is this team? Can we slug it out with the best of them?

Well, according to Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash...abso-fuckin-lutely.

They tore it up in the fourth quarter! Amare went on a tear and left no doubt that he is 100% completely back. Look at his numbers - 41 points on the night on 16 for 19 shooting. That means lots of baskets around the basket, and lots of vicious dunks. It wasn't until the final minute though that the game looked within reach, and even down by three with just seconds to go, when Nash missed that three, it looked like this comeback was all for naught.

But he's not the 2-time MVP for nothing, and when he nailed that second three, you HAD to know that the Suns were going to pull this thing out. If there's anything we know about the Mavs, it's this: they're the league's biggest chokers in big games. It's not a title that was just handed to them, it's something you earn, which they did by choking 4 straight games in the NBA finals. They fought hard for the first OT, but they just couldn't handle more Amare and Nash. Final score: 129-127.

I've been impressed with the Suns all year long. 17 game win streak, three All-Stars, the emergence of Leandro Barbosa, the scoring, the improved defense, but despite all this, I was skeptical about how we would play in big games. Yeah, we took down San Antonio, but that was at home and San Antonio wasn't running on all cylinders yet. I was skeptical about whether we could beat one of these teams, one of the elite, on their home court when they're playing at their best.

I'm not skeptical anymore. In fact, after last night, I'm ready to make the declaration. No more jinxing, no more superstitions.

This is our year.

I'll see you in June.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Stereotype, Personified

I finally went out drinking this past Saturday night. I don't think I had been out drinking since New Year's. Wait, I did go out once a couple of weeks ago, but I was so full from dinner, I got four beers deep and still didn't feel a thing.

I went out with Wac and some friends to a Kareoke bar in the International District (for AZ folks, it's like our Chinatown) called Bush Gardens. The kareoke was at times awful and at times bearable, but always entertaining. I even thought about getting up there myself, but it takes more than 3 Asahi's to break my nerves.

For those interested, I was going to do Whoomp!There It Is.

Anyways, before we headed home, I convinced Wac to stop by McDonalds, as I was a little bit inebriated and a little more hungry. We stopped by the McDonalds near the Space Needle, and it was jampacked this Saturday night, to the point that cars were entering the drive-thru from both sides. But it looked like everyone was being respectful and no one was trying to force their way in.

We wer about two cars from the speaker box when I hear someone yelling "Move your car, you're blocking the driveway." It sounds like they're talking to us, but we're at least two cars away from the street, so it couldn't be us. Wac mentions that I should just go inside, but I felt that we weren't doing anything wrong. The only thing that we could be blocking is the line running perpendicular to our car, but I'm not about to let her move just so some asshole can cut us off in line.

Then it becomes obvious that they're talking to us when some dude comes up and taps on our window. We roll it down just a bit and he says "You need to move your fuckin car, you're blocking people." We roll the window back up. What the hell does he mean we're blocking people? We pull forward when the line advances, and that's when people come to our windows from both sides.

"Move your damn car! You're blockin the fuckin driveway! If you don't move your fuckin car, we're gonna have problems."

I tell the guy we're in line for the drive thru, we're not blo...

"I don't fuckin care! Move your God damn car!"

We move up our car alongside the one in front of us, and it then becomes apparent to us that the SUV that was perpendicular to us wasn't in the drivethru line, but was a friend of these guys who was trying to cut through the drivethru line to get out of the parking lot.

Wac and I are shaken up. Wac firmly says "Next time, you're going inside." I feel awful. My girlfriend's upset, and I'm in a position where I can't react - the stupid but "macho" thing to do is to get out of the car and confront these people. But I know that's not the smart thing to do. I try to tell Wac that we should just leave. I don't need McDonald's that badly. But we're already in line and she decides to stay. I'm so flustered I try to order a 10 piece McNugget meal (yes I like those) and instead I order a Number 10 - the Filet O'Fish meal. I'm nearly sent over the edge.

Obviously, the issue here is that these people were completely out of line. If they would have said "Hey, can you let my buddy through, he's tryin to get out", the issue ends right there. No problem, we let them on their way, I'm calm enough to order the right meal, everyone ends up happy. But these guys resulted to yelling verbal assaults and aggression to get their way.

And they were black. Young black males, dressed in a hip-hop fashion, screaming obscenities at us, being overly hostile.

Wac and I were frustrated. We've been involved in this group called Core Audience. We're invited to select theatre presentations at the Intiman Theatre, and afterwards we meet with others from our group and discuss the issues of the play in context relevant to our society. It's been amazing and interesting, a way for us to meet people and understand other perspective that, in most other scenarios, we wouldn't even bother to consider. It's been primarly because of these discussions that I've tried to become more aware of my own prejudices. I've still got a lot of room to improve, but I felt like we've made steps in the right direction.

Yet it's so easy to consider this situation and take a couple steps backwards.

I have friends who, if I told this situation, would flat out say "See, that's why I hate black people". How am I supposed to NOT think the same way? How am I not supposed to think about this situation the next time I see any one of the black teenagers running around Downtown Seattle. Why shouldn't I retreat to my white, indie-rock, college-educated, lower middle-class safety zone?

Why shouldn't I just view this as the stereotype personified?

Because it's not about them being black and me being white.

If that was a bunch of white, Polo-wearing, collar-popped, forearm-bulging frat boys, I would have been just as flustered. It could have been a group of 40 year old fishermen from Ballard or some coked-out club sluts, but in a McDonalds parking lot at 1:30am Saturday Night\Sunday Morning, if anyone starts tapping my window, yelling obscenities at me to get me to move my car without explanation, then yes, I am going to feel threatened, regardless if I have the upper hand physically or not.

As easy as it is to make the connection between young black males wearing hip-hop clothes and the ignorance of these individuals, it's absolutely critical that I don't. What bothered me about these individuals, what put me on edge, was their actions, not their skin color. It's just as easy for someone to be white and ignorant as it is for someone to be black and ignorant. Why is it that when we see a black person dressed up like that, they're ghetto, but when we see a white person doing the same thing, they're "trying to be black."

I have no problem saying that I hate most elements of hip-hop culture today. 90% of the music is redundant, it lacks creativity, and it promotes ignorance, selfishness, misogyny and material possessions over intelligence, respect, and common decency. That doesn't mean it doesn't have value as entertainment, but that's where the value of it ends, and I dislike people who get caught up in a culture that would rather spend their time on smoking weed and tricking out their cars than actually being a respectful, decent citizen.

But none of that has anything to do with skin color.

After Saturday night, I could get caught up in hating black people, but the truth is I don't - I hate people who are ignorant and agressive for no reason. If they happen to be black, wearing a sideways Lakers hat and Sean John attire, or white with a red Mossimo sweater and a pair of Chuck Taylors, it really doesn't matter. Either way, they're still an asshole.