So I just went through my favorite station #AltNation fan page’s entire photo album. First off, those guys have an incredibly cool job and meet some amazing artists/rock stars. Whilst doing so, I finally got to see what my favorite DJ’s look like. It’s a weird thing hearing someone’s voice for several years, then finally putting a face with the name.
My last observation was this….ALL ROCK STARS ARE SKINNY. How is that possible? Not one of them was even the slightest bit portly. How do they manage that? I need to discover the Alt Rock lifestyle diet, write a book, then sell it to the fatties that listen to pop.
I imagine a world where the inventor of the spoon got it wrong. What if the concave utensil was more square? The round sides becoming rigid and points serve as the barrier in which the food is contained. Would my tongue welcome the underbelly as happily and dance underneath its friend like a puppy waiting for its treat to fall to the floor? Could my lips close around it as if they were the arms of an embrace? Would the food we prepare today be made to fit in the spoon? I enjoy spoons. I enjoy the food we eat with spoons. I enjoy saying spoons. Spoons.
Realizing a mentor, colleague and friend will no longer be serving in that capacity (well the mentor and colleague part). It’s strangely a bittersweet feeling. Bitter from the cavity that will need to be filled with such talent and inspiration. Sweet to know that I can find such respect among a person in my job. Today I came a little closer to identifying myself inside of my career.
I am on the phone with a college graduate in the class of 1954. We speak about the difference between our college experience (50 years to be exact). Granted he didn’t have quite the assistance with financial aid that I had. He complained to me about having $600 of student loan debt over his head when he graduated. I laughed. Then he spoke to me about how he got his Masters paid for by the government. Room, board, tuition and all.
You see, this gentleman lived in a delicate time. A time with a great deal of fear, but also a time of great motivation and solidarity among the government. I learned in my moment today, just what a country can do for you during a time when it’s leader was preaching “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” I see our President today, invoking these words and truly wanting to put them to use. I finally understand today, what he means about our generation’s “Sputnik Moment” through listening to how this man on the telephone reaped the benefits of his generation’s Sputnik Moment. What started it? Well, Sputnik.
The government needed educated leaders in the fields of Math and Science and “Paul,” as I’ll call him, just happened to be a Math Major. Paul pursued the opportunity and was awarded with free education. What did he do with it? He decided to get the most use out of it by becoming a teacher himself.
Now, I reflect on my generation’s “Sputnik Moment” and ask is there really one? Are we really all together striving to one achieve one common goal? Do we have a Russia to challenge us? Put fear in us? It seems more complex today. It’s as if our worst enemy is ourselves. In a time where everything is customized, including politics, we struggle to have a clear example of achievement.
I remember the first thing I heard on the radio this morning. I woke up to story that pertained to major cuts to educational funding in my state. I remember this and become upset as I compare my generation to Paul’s. I selfishly sit in my chair and ask “what can my country do for me?” I envision what they are doing right at this very moment and I picture them griping and politicizing anything and everything to a point where time is no longer on their side and we face another federal government shutdown next week. Finally, I ask, with a broken spirit, “what can I do for my country?” Being a citizen of the world has always seemed to make more sense to me. If I practice random acts of kindness. If I volunteer, or spend my money responsibly. If I pay my bills and debts, am I helping my country or my world?
My shoulder slumps. It has just encountered the contoured impact of a heavy hand.
“Do you know what that means?” Mike, my co-worker asks me.
“Sure don’t,” I answer.
“From an older man, if the hand is open and on the shoulder it means approval. If it is closed,” he punches me in the same shoulder, “it means doubt.”
“Well thanks Mike,” I respond hesitantly. He pats heavily on my shoulder twice more, then continues around the corner looking down. It’s subtle but I find the opportunity to ask, “Sounds like you can use one on your shoulder too?”
“You’re not an old man,” he grumbles. “Just remember what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
I smile, “Mike I prefer, ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, but don’t forget….it tried to kill you.’”
The disadvantage of having large hands is when you have to wrap them around the handle of any garden tool. Rakes for instance. Shovels , axes, even sledgehammers cause a problem. The disadvantage comes when the hand is larger than the circumference of the handle, the excess skin bundles up and the friction caused by the usage of the tool begins to callus and blisters form. Such is the case on day 2 of my intense hammer workout.
Why does one feel it necessary to swing a 12 lb hammer up and down onto a large tractor tire? Well, it conditions not only the larger back muscles, the deltoids, the lats, but it works it works its way around to the shoulders, tri’s, bi’s, chest, forearms and hands and even some core and hips. If that’s not enough, doing it repeatedly works in a butt load of cardio. My session leader knows this. Some know him as Coach Smith, Juniata’s strength and training coach. The guy used to condition NFL players so I thought he’d be good enough to whip me into shape. So far, he hasn’t let me down. Seeing a hammer in his hand, one can’t help but envision Thor himself barking orders to the rest of the team struggling to keep up with him. He’s built like a “v,” well a capital “V.” He has a shaved head and a beard that appears to have gone through a couple strength and conditioning sessions itself.
“We’re gonna start off light today, just stay with me,” he begins the session. “Light,” according to him is starting the session with 230 reps. Then we “rest” as we do 25 inclined pushups on the tire. Next we work in the legs by doing step ups on the tire. Right foot first-30 reps, left foot- 30 reps. Then right foot-25, left foot-25. Then it’s back to right foot-50, left foot 50. Then we “rest,” then we start again with the hammers by trading off 25 fast with 25 inclined push-ups. My body is winding down. I know I did this a day before, and I’m capable of doing it, but mentally, I begin to break. My back hurts, my legs are shaking and my hands burn as they try to grip the hammer.
My day’s moment comes when the base of my right ring finger suddenly bursts open and the gelatin padding that formed my blister leaks onto my hand. Instantly, I feel a rush. Before I would have thrown the hammer down in defeat, but this is the moment of my day today and weeks of conditioning have strengthened my mind and spirit. I say to myself “you see how hard you are working?” My body answers with a second wind. I grip down on the hammer and pick up the pace to finish as fast as possible. I am thankful for that inner cheerleader. He’s been dormant for far too long and he pops in moments that aren’t even athletically oriented, but speaks the same message and he speaks it with the same steadfast conviction.
Those of you that don’t live in Central PA probably don’t know what a Hoss’ Steak and Seahouse is. Those of you that do, not only do you consider it an abomination of grammatical correctness, but also an abomination on the digestive system. It’s like Bieber-fame – it is inevitable. So when my one room mate wanted to get some Hoss’ last night, the night before his birthday, I thought I’d treat him and we’d make a little sport of it. Here are the standing for the Inaugural Pre-Kevin’s Birthday Hoss’ Challenge:
3rd place – me. A whopping 30 seconds after getting home.
2nd place – Kevin. Approximately 10 minutes after getting to the office.
Grand Poo-bar – Pat, whom has us convinced he has the stomach of a ninja and you know you can’t inja’ a ninja.
Congrats to Pat and Happy Birthday to the big guy Kev-Kev. I’m sure no one’s ever given you diarrhea for your birthday so I bet this one will be memorable.