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June 23, 2005

We're 2-2

After Monday's awful blowout of a game, I'm sure my teammates were as motivated as me to play hard and get back to our winning ways last night.

Our opponents scored twice, both by men, to jump out to an early 2-0 lead. But despite the score, we were playing much better -- playing a much more coordinated and communicative defense, and our forwards were putting together better runs. Sure enough, we scored to make it 2-1, and then kept scoring until we had six unanswered points, finishing the game 6-2.

Last night I learned the value of talking on the field, though I find myself wondering sometimes what the right words to say are. "Switch?" "I'm wide?" "Marking in the middle?" I'd like to find a reference to in-game soccer lingo. It must exist somewhere on the Net...

June 21, 2005

We're 1-2

On Sunday, my soccer team had a good practice. Instead of just scrimmaging, we worked on defensive drills, practicing bringing the ball out and working together to push attackers to the outside. It was good. I felt like we all learned something. At the end of the practice, I said, "I think we're going to have a great game tomorrow."

Um, no.

Last night we lost 11-0. I went back through my blog entries, and our worst loss last summer was by two points, which happened only twice (we were 7-2-2 that season). The other team beat us in every way they could beat us -- they beat us to the ball and to the net; they beat us on offense, in the midfield, and on defense. We spent the entire game backed up on our heels. It wasn't our goalkeeper's fault -- he played well. It was that we let shot after shot through.

After the game, I had conflicting feelings. Part of me lay on the grass, looked up at the sky, and calmly thought, "Well, this is going to happen every so often. Maybe it's a good thing. And besides, there's nothing I can do about it now, so I just need to accept it and come out and have a fun game on Wednesday." But another part of me was angry with myself for the mistakes I made, and couldn't think about anything but getting back out on the field and playing better and harder and winning hugely.

Now? I'm not exactly calm about it, but I'm not exactly angry, either. Calmly angry? Angrily calm? I'm not sure.

June 17, 2005

"I'm Getting Frozen Now!"

Mr. Cranky nails things with the best comment I've yet read on Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith in his review of the film:

Ask yourself: What was the most memorable line in the entire "Star Wars" series? If you can even think of one, good for you, but if you think hard, the answer is obvious (and it wasn't Jake Lloyd's "Yippee!" from Episode I). It occurs in "The Empire Strikes Back." Han Solo is about to be frozen and shipped to Jabba the Hutt as Princess Leia looks on in horror. "I love you," she tells him. Han looks at her and responds: "I know." Well, that line was improvised by Harrison Ford. Lucas didn't write it. If Lucas had insisted on it being performed as written, it would have been something like: "I love you too, my darling. I'm getting frozen now!"
This reminds of me the old joke that if IBM bought KFC, they'd market their product as "hot, dead chicken". I suppose this means that George Lucas comes from the IBM school of screenwriting.

June 16, 2005

"A Smash-Mouth Culture"

This is from Peter King's weekly NFL column for Sports Illustrated:

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"The signs of disrespect are all around us. We are living in a smash-mouth culture in which extremists dominate public debate to the point of hijacking it."

-- University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann, in a speech to the graduating class at Wesleyan (Conn.) University, as quoted by the New York Times.

I wish I'd said that.

Me, too.

We're 1-1

My soccer team won 4-0 last night, making us 1-1 on the season so far.

In the first half, my inexperience nearly cost us. In the summer league, we play on a short field, and the keeper isn't allowed to kick past the midfield line on goal kicks. Early in the game, the keeper kicked it to me to kick back to him. This had never happened to me before, and my r-brain said something roughly like, "Giant lizard coming! Panic!" I kicked it back to him, but far too hard, and it was very nearly an own goal.

However, I redeemed myself in the second half. I had my first save ever while guarding the goal. And two of my kick-ins indirectly led to our two goals of the game -- both great to watch, by two of the talented group of women we're so lucky to have. So it ended up being a good game, both for the team and for me.

June 15, 2005

Altruism

I find myself explaining this so often in life that it probably belongs here.

One definition of altruism is:

Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.
And a definition of selflessness is:
Having, exhibiting, or motivated by no concern for oneself; unselfish
I contend that, by the definitions listed above, there are no such things as altruism and selflessness. I believe that every action we take, we take because we believe it to be in our self-interest.

Having said that, different people can have extremely divergent views of what their self-interest is. Some people seek the emotional pleasure they derive from being good to other people. I like them. Some people avoid the emotional pain they would feel if they weren't good to other people. I like them, too, though I think it would be good for them if they could motivate themselves more based on positive rather than negative outcomes. But in either case, I would argue that this is what we perceive as altruism. It's still all based on self-interest.

Then you have people who don't derive pleasure from being good to others, who don't feel pain when they're not good to others, or both. They're no more self-interested than the perceived altruists, but because their emotional pleasure and pain are tied to their own direct experiences rather than the effect their actions have on others, we perceive them as egoists.

June 14, 2005

"My Beloved Sorceress"

Over lunch the other day, I mentioned that the summer movie I was most looking forward to -- even over Batman Begins or War of the Worlds -- was Bewitched, about which I blogged when I first heard about it a year and a half ago. The conversation went something like this:

Me: I'm really looking forward to Bewitched. Christophe, you're French, so you wouldn't know about it. It's an American sixties sitcom thing.

Christophe: No, no, I know this show.

Me: That can't be.

Christophe: No, really, we had it in France. It was called... Ma Sorcière Aimée.

And here I thought that it was just an American thing. Who knew?

We're 0-1

My summer soccer team got off to a bit of a slow start with a loss last night, 5-3. But at least two-thirds of the team was new, so we were getting used to one another, and we only had two substitutes, so we were all dragging in the heat. We need more players!

June 13, 2005

Summer Soccer Again

Summer has definitely arrived here in North Carolina, which means it's time for Summer Heat, the laid-back version of adult soccer -- no off-sides, no throw-ins, no slide tackles, 25-minute halves.

I played soccer for the first time in last year's Summer Heat, and had a great time. We started and finished well, and ended up near the top of our division.

I didn't find a team last fall, but did make it onto a new team for the spring season. Spring and fall leagues are a bit different, adhering more closely to the rules -- slide tackles aren't allowed, but throw-ins are throw-ins, and off-sides are definitely called. My spring team played at a higher level than my summer team, and to be honest, it was difficult and frustrating at times. In fact, it was so frustrating for me -- feeling like I wasn't doing my part for my team -- that I didn't blog about it at all. But my teammates, all of whom have many years of experience, were kind and gracious, tutoring me when I needed it and putting up with my rookie mistakes.

I decided to rejoin my old team for this summer, mostly just because I missed the people, but I'll go back to my spring team for the fall season and beyond. I'm hoping to be ready for the fall much better prepared to play than I was when spring started.

I wrote last year that soccer is like meditation for me -- when I'm playing, I'm completely focused on the moment. I feel the same way when I'm skiing at or near the limits of my ability, but soccer is quite a bit cheaper and more readily available.

I'll post updates here during the course of the season.

June 10, 2005

Spam Haiku

Something random reminded me of Spam haiku (haiku about Spam, the alleged food product) this morning. It's easy enough to find -- Googling the phrase in quotations turns up 11,200 hits. The originals have been floating around for years now; I'm not sure of their provenance. Anyway, there are a few that always make me laugh, no matter how many times I read them:

Pink tender morsel
Glistening with salty gel
What the hell is it?

Old man seeks doctor
"I eat Spam daily", he says.
Angioplasty

Pink beefy temptress
I can no longer remain
Vegetarian

June 01, 2005

Compare and Contrast

For fun, compare and contrast the following.

From the script for Team America: World Police:

Kim Jong-Il: Hans Brix? Aww no! Oh, herro. Great to see you again, Hans.
Hans Blix: Mr. Il, I was supposed to be allowed to inspect your palace today, and your guards won't let me in to certain areas.
Kim: Hans, Hans, Hans, we've been through this a dozen times! I don't have any weapons of mass destruction, okay, Hans?
Blix: Then let me look around so I can ease the UN's collective mind.
Kim: Hans, you're breakin' my balls here, Hans, you're breakin' my balls!
Blix: I'm sorry, but the UN must be firm with you! Let me see your whole palace, or else!
Kim: Or erse, what?
Blix: Or else we will be very, very angry with you, and we will write you a letter telling you how angry we are.

From The Onion:

US Intensifies Empty-Threat Campaign Against North Korea

WASHINGTON, DC -- During a recent press conference, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued another warning to North Korea, escalating the U.S. empty-threat campaign against the nation. "Make no mistake, if Kim Jong Il does not put a stop to the manufacturing of plutonium in his nation, we will come down on him quite hard," Rice said. "We demand compliance, and if we don't get it, then watch out." Rice went on to say that noncompliance would result in some action that "would be very bad indeed," adding that North Korea does not want to know what it will be in for.

And finally, from President Bush's most recent press conference:

Q Good morning, Mr. President. This morning you reiterated diplomacy as the way to deal with North Korea. With all due respect, some people say that's precisely the wrong approach because diplomacy has produced nothing, while at the same time it has allowed North Korea to progress in its nuclear program.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

Q How do you -- what do you say to them?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, then let's see -- if it's the wrong -- if diplomacy is the wrong approach, I guess that means military. That's how I view it -- it's either diplomacy or military. And I am for the diplomacy approach. And so, for those who say that we ought to be using our military to solve the problem, I would say that, while all options are on the table, we've got -- we've got a ways to go to solve this diplomatically --

Q How long --

THE PRESIDENT: -- well, let me -- let me finish. No, I always get asked that, how long? How long are you going to do this? How long is that going to happen? Why don't you give us a timetable? I'm not giving timetables. I am going to say that we are -- and it's very important for our partners to understand that I believe the six-party talks can and will work. We're constantly in touch with our Chinese counterparts. Sometimes people move a little slower than American society in the world. And sometimes expectations around the world are maybe different from ours. But, fortunately, we've got everybody on the same page that says that the idea of North Korea having a nuclear weapon isn't good.

And by the way, that started with, as you know -- might recall, the visit I had with Jiang Zemin in Crawford. And we came out of that visit with a common declaration that said it's in our interests that North Korea not have a nuclear weapon. And that was a positive step forward because once you get a country to commit to that goal, then it makes it -- enables us to work together to achieve that goal in a peaceful way.

The other thing is, is that it's clear from the other five parties there -- the other four parties in our five-party coalition dealing with the sixth party, which is North Korea -- is that people do want to solve this issue diplomatically. And so it's a -- it's a matter of continuing to send a message to Mr. Kim Jong-il that if you want to be accepted by the neighborhood and be a part of the -- of those who are viewed with respect in the world, work with us to get rid of your nuclear weapons program.

Has It Really...

...been almost a month since I last blogged? Yes, I suppose it has. I have been in the midst of a move into a new house, and it's not so much that I've been so busy that I haven't had time to blog -- after all, I've found time to play World of Warcraft -- but more that the move has thrown my daily routine into disarray. I haven't blogged in weeks, I've worked out once in the last 10 days, you name it.

On the other hand, I've made four batches of ice cream in my new Cuisinart ice cream maker. And one of them (peanut butter banana) was actually really good. So I've got that going for me.