The Perceived Arrogance of Boston and the Political Elite

 

perceived arrogance

 

I think that  even the most ardent of Red Sox haters would agree that Fenway Park is a pretty cool place to watch a baseball game. It’s a national treasure, one of the most recognizable sports venues in the world. Fenway is the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball, opening in 1917, and also one of the smallest, a full capacity of just over 37,000.

Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones has a much less positive opinion of the park, having been subject to racial taunts and a thrown peanut bag during a game on May first.

It was an unfortunate incident, an embarrassment for the Red Sox and it’s fans, but not one that I found overly surprising. Not because of any prejudice that might be held by the people of Boston, but because anytime that you put 37,000 people in one place and give the majority of them copious amounts of watered down beer, there are going to be some that behave poorly. This just seems a mathematical probability, something that happens in all sports and in all stadiums.  According to the Society for American Baseball Research, 36.3% of major league players were something other than American born and white, but just 6.7% were African American.  As reprehensible as it is, it stands to reason that these players, being such a minority, would be singled out by ignorant, intoxicated miscreants.

In any city or stadium.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the narrative in the three weeks since the incident. What should have been a discussion about efforts made to try and discourage this type of behavior, both in the stands and everywhere else in society, has instead turned into another opportunity to label the city and it’s fans as racist. Players from other teams, CC Sebathia, Torii Hunter and others have been trotted out to tell stories of abuse hurled their way by unruly Bostonians. Once again we are reminded that the Red Sox were the last team in the league to field a black player, a signing that occurred in 1959 and hardly seems relevant to current perceptions.

So why won’t this story, this perception go away?

I think that for many it’s simply an easy way to insult, as lazy and unimaginative as the slurs yelled by the occasional bigoted jackass. Boston’s teams have been among the most successful in all of sports and their fans aren’t afraid to remind others of this. The city is home to elite colleges and hospitals. Thought to be among the most progressive in the nation, Massachusetts is squarely “blue state” in a time when that seems to have become synonymous with “elitist arrogance.”

A lot of people seem to think that we think that we’re better than them, and there is nothing more satisfying than finding ways to prove somebody like that wrong.

 

Its a lesson that I think politicians would be wise to learn. I’m convinced Al Gore, John Kerry, and Mitt Romney all lost their Presidential elections in part because to a large segment of the population they were just too unlikable, they presented themselves as arrogant and smug, smarter than anybody else in the room.  When Hillary Clinton rolled her eyes and smirked at Donald Trump’s incoherency during last year’s debates she was perceived as inferring that he was beneath her attention. She helped make an elitist narcissist appear relatable, a limited vocabulary and knowledge of the issues suddenly a benefit to his popularity, a stark contrast to her attitude of superiority.

Take a moment and think about the people you dislike the most, be they athletes, celebrities, politicians, co workers or the fan bases of certain sports teams. The majority of them are people that you feel hold themselves in higher regard than they do you.

 

Later this evening the NBA’s Boston Celtics will host the Cleveland Cavaliers in game one of the Eastern Conference finals.  In the stands will be plenty of people in brand new Kelly Olynyk jerseys. Olynyk was the improbable hero of the Celtic’s victory over the Washington Wizards, the reason why the team was able to advance to face the Cavaliers. A gritty reserve player, Olynyk came off the bench to score twenty six points, twelve of those over a pivotal three and a half minute stretch in the fourth quarter.  Undoubtedly there will be inferences about his new found popularity in Boston being in part due to the fact that he is a white player.

Boston will be huge underdogs in this series. The Cavaliers are led by Lebron James, considered by most to be the greatest basketball player on the planet right now. No matter who he was playing I’d be among those rooting for him to lose, aggravated by my perception of him as somebody that has no problem putting himself onto that pedestal.

I hate people like that.

 

Conquering the Chore Chart

 

I’ve mentioned this before, but when I was a freshman in high school I spent a weekend at The united States Military Academy in West Point, New York.  It was a trip organized by the Boy Scouts, with a camp out, a running of the obstacle course, and orienteering lessons. For me the trip served a secondary purpose, a chance to look around and talk to some Cadets. A chance to determine whether or not I should seriously pursue my ideas about applying there.

It was an eye opening experience, quickly convincing me that I probably didn’t possess the drive and self discipline that would be required.  One of the things that helped me come to this conclusion was hearing from some of the students that they slept every night on the floor next to their bunks rather than in them.  The standard for how their beds were prepared every morning was so strict that it simply wasn’t worth going through the process every day.

It’s a story that I was reminded of last night, shortly before my daughter’s bed time. She had gone upstairs to clean her room before brushing her teeth and settling down and as I headed in to check her progress I instead found her at the hallway closet, removing a spare pillow and sheet set.  She was so proud of the job that she had done making her bed that morning that she was insistent that she be allowed to sleep in a small tent set up in the corner of her room so that she wouldn’t mess it up.

The only way that she finally became agreeable to getting under her covers was if I agreed to take a picture of the bed so that she would know how to replicate her hard work the following day.

 

chore chart conundrum
too perfect to sleep in

 

Both the room cleaning and bed making are new daily jobs, two of the five that she must now complete every day in order to be in compliance with the chore chart that she helped put together at Daisy Scouts.

 

almost done for the day

 

On the surface this seems like a great idea, a way to start encouraging responsibility and introducing her to the idea of expectations regarding the sharing of household duties. Habits formed now that hopefully will continue in the future. An avoidance of the endless nagging that seems necessary to get her older sister to perform even the simplest of tasks.

Instead what we have is a new obsession, an extra half hour added on to our morning routine and the potential for a stern scolding if I get caught filling up the dog’s bowl.  The nearby chart offers no room for discussion regarding who’s job that now is.  I’m fairly certain that she is now purposely throwing her dirty clothes on the floor next to her hamper so that she will have something to clean up after her shower,  a way to clean a room that otherwise may not have needed cleaning that particular day.

Fortunately there doesn’t seem to be any real anxiety involved, something that her competitive nature always has me nervous about.  To her this is just another challenge that once accepted, must be completed. Every day.  No matter how late it makes us for school.

I still think a chore chart is a great idea. Still admire her drive, her willingness to help around the house, and the ferocity with which she attacks anything new.  A slight decrease in intensity once in a while would probably be OK though.

 

chore chart conundrum
Another day on the job

 

 

A Dad’s Guide to Disney

 

We’re back, flights to and from Florida completed without incident. The 2017 family vacation to The Happiest Place on Earth now nothing more than memories.

Upon returning home we found that our time away had been approved, a letter from the kindergarten’s school administrator informing us that because of her previous attendance history a few days missed would’t adversely affect her learning progression. This was a great relief as we had neither asked permission nor intended to alter our plans in any way had we been denied.

This is in no way meant to imply any lack of respect for scholastics or educators and in that spirit I have decided to pass along some of my own knowledge, a dad’s moderately constructive guide to surviving Disney, minimizing stress and helping you have at least as good a time as I always have.

 

1.    Regardless of whether or not this trip is a surprise and when the big reveal comes, that initial excitement wears off quickly and the plane ride becomes a torturously long and tedious exercise in patience. Alaina spent both rides contentedly watching movies and munching chips while all around us families bickered about who’s responsibility is was to make sure that kid’s electronics were charged. Pack snacks and remember that if you guess wrong about your child being responsible enough to charge their own device, you will now be responsible for their on-board entertainment.

The youngest was so content and excited about her first plane ride that after landing in Orlando she thanked us for her surprise and asked if we could stop at a restaurant for dinner on the ride home. It wasn’t until we pulled into the hotel that she started believing that we hadn’t just flown in a big circle and landed at the same airport.

 

A Dads Guide to Disney
Ready for “blast off”

 

2.  Spend some time researching and thinking about what you are looking for regarding accommodations. One of the recommendations that most Disney bloggers make is that by staying on-site, you remove the need for a rental car, are able to enter the parks earlier than the general public, and have a place to take an afternoon break before returning in the evening. These are all very valid points, but they are also staying for free in exchange for these “tips.”

For roughly the same amount of money as a moderately priced room for four at a Disney Hotel, we stayed in a three bedroom, two bathroom suite about twenty minutes away. The car was an added expense and we definitely would have gotten more of our dollar’s worth out of the park tickets, but we did have a pool with a kick ass pirate ship water slide. Also, did I mention that it had two bathrooms? Decide on what to prioritize in order to keep your family happy.

 

A Dads Guide to Disney
Now that’s a water slide

 

3.  If you have a family member or members that take an excruciating amount of time to get themselves ready at home, don’t think that it will be any different on vacation.  A lesson that I learned a long time ago that I will reiterate here is that the fastest way to start your day off wrongly is by appearing anxious to get going or trying to rush somebody out the door. Get ready, get out of the way, and tell them how beautiful they look. This tip is transferable to any time or any place you are ever going for the rest of your life.

 

A Dads Guide to Disney
My lovely ladies

 

4.  Have a plan.  Don’t make it a supremely detailed, step by step plan for what you want to do every minute of the day, I’ve done that before and was surprised to find that it wasn’t as appreciated as I thought it would be.  Have a plan for the rides and attractions that are your “must do’s” and make an effort to do those things first. There may be backtracking and added distance walked later as you go back and hit your secondary targets but this will ensure that nobody leaves disappointed if you leave sooner than you had expected or if longer lines and time constraints leave you unable to do everything, an impossible task to begin with. Little feet get tired, flip flops break, hunger and heat lead to crankiness.  A full day at a Disney park is a grueling test of endurance that can break even the strongest of wills.

 

Dads Guide to Disney
Space Mountain, our first stop of the day

 

5.  Know the height limits of the various thrill rides and decide on their appropriateness.  Disney roller coasters have a shorter minimum than most other amusement parks but some of these rides might be too scary for children able to reach the mark.

The highest threshold and the only one that my five year old couldn’t meet is 48″ at Hollywood Studios Rock N’ Roller Coaster, a ride that starts off by launching you from 0-57 mph in 2.8 seconds. The minimum for Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror is only 40″ but features a 130 foot free fall at 39 mph.  Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom has a minimum of 44″ and moves at a relatively slow 28 mph, but is very dark with flashing strobe light effects.  Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom is also 44″ and features a main drop of 80 feet and reaches speeds of 50 mph. There is also a Yeti chasing you.  It was my daughter’s favorite ride of the weekend, but she is a complete lunatic and probably a bad example.

 

A Dads Guide to Disney
This is a “big girl” roller coaster

 

6.  This will probably be less of an issue after Pandora – The World of Avatar opens in a few weeks, but for now I continue to hear people describe Disney’s Animal Kingdom as being nothing more than an expensive zoo and the park to skip if that decision needs to be made. I strongly disagree. Besides being home to the previously mentioned Expedition Everest coaster, the best in all the Orlando Disney parks, the Kilimanjaro Safaris offer a guided, motorized animal watching experience I have yet to find anywhere else.  Along with The Magic Kingdom I think these are the two “must hit” parks for those burdened with small children.

 

A dads guide to Disney
I just need five more minutes

 

7.  If you are staying off site and have access to a rental car, take a quick ride into Kissimmee for a dinner show. There is an Al Capone themed one, another based around the story of the Titanic, magical comedy, several mystery dinners, and three different pirate shows, one of which is adults only and on the list for the next time we are down there without kids.

We stuck with the classic Medieval Times and it was as fantastic as I remembered. With all the knights, princesses,  falconry, jousting and sword fighting I was surprised that my daughter actually ate her meal. She loved cheering on the Red Knight, the hero who’s section we were seated in, and booing the others.  The first time in her life that I’ve seen her speechless was after catching a rose thrown her way by that dashing fellow and I’m fairly certain she may have developed her first crush. It was one of the highlights of our trip.

 

A Dads Guide to Disney
won the tourney, defeated the bad guy, stole my daughters heart

 

8.  Pick accommodations that have a pub within walking distance.  If you can manage to have children twelve years apart, start working on that now in order to have your own babysitter for after the youngest crashes for the night. If this is unrealistic, consider bringing somebody else along for that purpose. It may greatly increase the overall cost of your trip, but can you really put a price on a nice, cold pint and watching the game in peace after a long, hot day surrounded by thousands of children?

 

a dads guide to Disney
last stop of the day

 

9.  Prepare yourself the night before for the inevitability of check out.  It’s OK to feel melancholy but a full tantrum and locking yourself in the bathroom because you don’t want to go home is a horrible example to set for your children. Pull yourself together, gather your belongings and don’t look back. Spend the entire plane ride home daydreaming about your next visit.

 

A Dads Guide to Disney
The Mouse Himself

 

10.  Know ahead of time that this isn’t a cheap, relaxing vacation, and be OK with it.  Take lots of pictures, cherish every smile and make lots of memories.  Expect to come home broke, a few pounds heavier, and even more tired than when you left. If you aren’t than you’re doing Disney wrong. Try harder next time and re read this before you go. Tell anybody you know that is planning a trip to Disney World that they should probably read this too.

 

 

 

Two Tiny Hands
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Holding Her Hand, Picking Her Up

 

I was surprised this  weekend to realize that it had already been three weeks since my daughter’s ugly fall on the balance beam of our favorite park and playground.  The stitches are out, blood washed from our shirts and the future scar barely visible, but what really surprised me was that it had been that long in between visits. Softball practices, a few days out of town and untimely rain conspiring to keep us away.

Today we went back. We went back and within minutes she had found some friends to chase, a game of tag at full speed with no hesitation at any obstacle that needed to be hurdled, climbed or slid down. It didn’t take long before she decided it was time for a few walks across the beam, gingerly at first, but slowly regaining some of her pre-fall confidence.  She didn’t ask but I was there to hold her hand when it was extended.

 

getting back up
always climbing something

 

Upon returning home she decided that it was time to practice her “two wheel bicycle” riding, her term for her bike since demanding that the stabilizers be removed.

It was a productive session, each time I let go her peddling taking her further down the gravel road that passes by our home. Ten, fifteen feet at a time before her balance failed or nerves forced her feet back onto solid ground. Frustration turning to pride as it seemed that a corner had finally been turned.

Unfortunately, we all know what cometh after pride.

Determined to show mommy how well she was doing, we moved to the backyard where my wife was occupied with spring yard work.  A back yard that features a long, gradual decrease in elevation before culminating in a line of trees separating our property from the neighbors.  A long, gradual decrease that she of course was able to transverse like she had been riding a bike for years, a distance I was unable to cover on foot before the inevitable ass over teakettle ending to her ride. It was a nasty spill but fortunately resulted in nothing that required medical attention this time.  A few more scratches and bruises added to her collection.

 

Getting back up
rough rider

 

A lot has been made of the “bubble wrapping” of today’s children. The idea that we are too protective, too risk adverse.  I don’t think its a coincidence that the rise of “helicopter parenting” coincided with the explosion of the internet and the ease at which armchair quarterbacks can second guess every decision made. The judgement of the masses forcing us to justify every bump and bruise.

A popular lament is  that when we were kids we did all sorts of dangerous things all the time and turned out just fine. It’s a valid point, even if there is a tendency to forget about all the kids who didn’t turn out quite as fine. I’d never advocate for the return of rusty metal slides, riding in the back of pick up trucks or playing lawn darts at our next birthday party, but kids need to be outside. They need to run, to climb, and occasionally to fall down.  They need to know that a skinned knee or a bloody lip doesn’t have to slow them down.

I wonder now what percentage of our parental duties should be spent trying to keep them from falling, whether it’s sometimes better to simply be there to pick them back up.  Maybe the most important thing we can do is to make sure they know we are there to hold their hand when they need it.

 

 

 

Run Jump Scrap!

#ISleepTo Be Better

                                               

Within the next few weeks my daughter will be celebrating her sixth birthday, her transition to “big girl” pretty much complete.  They’ve been six of the happiest of my forty two years. They’ve been six of the most exhausting of my forty two years.

It’s better than it used to be, obviously.  Restless nights on the living room floor as her motorized swing finally rocked her asleep and semi-conscious diaper changes aided by fine motor memory and moonlight are far in the past now.  A slight discoloration of the carpet the only remaining evidence of the path I traveled so many nights between crib and wife in a feeble attempt at lightening her burden.

That nocturnal nightmare has been replaced with an insanely independent  “big girl” who is asleep by eight and is often found dressed for school and enjoying a bowl of cereal when my alarm goes off in the morning. Weekend wake ups no longer occur as soon as the first ray of sunshine hits her window, but when this sixty five pound bucket of energy can no longer contain her enthusiasm to get our adventures started.

 

sleeptracker review

 

It’s energy that I wish I could borrow, because one thing that hasn’t changed much is how tired I always feel.

My day starts around 6:30, giving myself a half an hour for a quiet coffee and quick shower before preparing the kindergartner for school, and ends around 11:00, a few hours spent with my wife after the girls are shipped off to nod.  This seems like it should be plenty of sleep, yet I never feel rested.  I know that I wake almost every night around 3:30 to tinkle and my wife claims that my snoring is loud enough to keep any animals from the surrounding woods away from her vegetable garden. Maybe I just wasn’t getting the right kind of sleep?

I teamed up with Life of Dad and Beautyrest to find out, using their new Sleeptracker monitor to turn my bed into a “smart bed”, monitor my sleep habits, and try and find some actionable information I could use to improve my energy levels throughout the day.

 

 

Set up was remarkably easy. There is a powerful processor that plugs into any wall outlet, a sensor that is placed under the mattress, and an intuitive app that is downloaded onto any device to translate the data. There is nothing to be worn, no wires attached to your brain, nothing that ever needs charging.

The amount of information that it records is amazing. Like most things technological, I have no idea how it works, but it monitors your average breath rate, average heart rate, time spent in each of the three sleep cycles, how many times you were awakened, and even how long it took to initially fall asleep.  From this you are assigned a daily sleep score and insights are given as to how that can be improved and sleep efficiency enhanced.

 

 

One of the biggest advantages I found was simple awareness,  a new appreciation for the effects that sleep had on mood, work, and overall performance as a dad.  The amount and quality of my sleep had a lot more variance to it than I had thought, my bedtime and after work habits not as regimented as I believed.

I’ve talked before about how important mornings are here. I’m often not home from work until after bedtime so it’s an important hour for us.  I can’t be groggy and impatient. Can’t have this time be spent drinking coffee and arguing over outfits.  It can be a hectic time, but I need to be better than that.

Part of this campaign was a prompt to talk about my passions or interests and about how I’m working to improve my sleep to enhance my performance.  For me it’s simply about being better.  A better dad, a better husband, better person and a even a better employee. Better every day.  Feeling well rested is an important step towards achieving that goal.

#ISleepTo be better.

 

sleeptracker

 

I have partnered with Life of Dad and Beautyrest for this campaign. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

Adventures with girls, from preschool to proms