#WATWB – Your Monthly Shot of News That Doesn’t Suck

The normal way this monthly shot of good news is supposed to work is I say some witty things and point at a story I found in the news that’s uplifting and then everyone goes away happy.

I’m going to shake things up a bit this month because reasons.

I don’t have  feelgood story to share this month. That’s not necessarily because there’s nothing good going on in the world, I’m sure plenty of people had great days, many kisses were exchanged, and at least one person decided to not scream at that jackass in the Prius who was going way too damned slow and get in the slow lane that’s what it’s there for jerk. Instead, he took a deep breath, turned up the music, and sang along with the Hilltop Hoods.

I’d like to point something out. There’s this prevailing philosophy among Americans that things were better in “the good old days”, back when everything was shiny and new and things were just better, gosh darn it. It’s utter hogwash, if you ask me. The “good old days” were really only good for a certain pale-ish, male-ish segment of the population; everyone else got the shaft. Those days were marked by a lot of social upheaval and violence. Go back even further and you’ll find pestilence, war, famine, crime, disease, you name it.

The point is, it’s easy to look around and say everything sucks. There certainly is a large amount of suck still lurking in the alleys and under the beds of the world, but there’s less suck now than there was. So, why do people pine for the “good old days” when things really aren’t that bad right now?

When I worked at Kinko’s (yes, I did once answer the phone with, “Thank you for calling Kinko’s, your new way to evil), we had to go a week-long brainwashing training session in the basement of the main Albuquerque Kinko’s. I remember two things about that: 1) I hate basement corporate brainwashing events, and 2) people tend to focus on the negative things.

That’s why we like to think things suck ass nowadays, because we perseverate on the bad stuff and ignore the cool stuff going on all around us. We live in a magical time where you can access all the information in the world from your phone, or reach out and communicate instantaneously with people on the other side of the planet, or learn a new language in your pajamas.

So, to help focus on the good things, here’s a list of bad stuff that’s not as prevalent as it used to be. Sure, the world’s not a perfect place, but it gets better bit by bit as long as we let it.

Just to shake up WATWB a bit further, you’re gonna get some homework. Spend a little time thinking about some good stuff and leave it in a comment. Rather than finding the traditional feel-good news story, let’s create our own feel-good stories.

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our co-hosts for the month are the lovely and talented:
Peter Nena, Andrea Michaels, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Shilpa Garg and Damyanti Biswas

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

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And now, your moment of Zen.

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A Short Bit Of Horror

The best bits of horror are the ones that don’t come and go in a flash. It’s easy to look at most slasher films and yawn because the idea of a guy in hockey mask killing teenagers after they have sex is not only trite, it’s over too soon. Real terror is the stuff that sticks with you and running some kid through with a knife takes more or less about the same amount of time it just took the same kid to have sex with the hot cheerleader (or football player, whatever floats your goat) a few minutes of on-screen time ago.

At least they went out doing what they loved.

Dude, flossing actually feels good. Try it sometime.

Even something like “The Thing” – a classic horror movie if there ever was one – derives its best scares not from the weirdly shifting alien creature, but from the growing sense of unease and paranoia that permeates the movie like rancid popcorn butter on your fingertips and the roof of your mouth. You’ll likely get over the head sprouting spider legs, but the gnawing worry that everyone around you is a thing will hang out with you in your house for a few days, drinking cheap beer on your couch.

Sure, you could say there’s a creeping horror that some knife-wielding maniac is going to kill you after you have sex, but if you’re really worried about that after nookie time, you’re doing it wrong. Besides, after you’ve dealt with a few knife-wielding maniacs you realize they’re just regular Joes looking for a swift kick in the balls.

Bring it, sucker.

Now, I get it, horror is different for everyone. Some people get squeamish about blood, others don’t like needles, still others – like me – have a thing about teeth. For my money, any horror movie involving root canals is gonna haunt my dreams for weeks. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a horror movie. That scene in “Marathon Man” where the Nazis are giving Dustin Hoffman an impromptu root canal without anesthesia still freaks me the heck out.

But the best horror stories are the ones that actually happened. They don’t have to involve witches or devils or Nazis with dentistry fetishes. The most terrifying thing I ever heard of happened on a soccer field in bright daylight.

This is a story that a buddy of mine in Kenpo told me. Apparently one of the guys he knew was a field doc for a soccer team and was working when one of the players got the ever-loving snot smashed out him. He got hit so hard it dislocated his hip joint – just popped that sucker right out of the socket. That’s scary, sure, but it’s apparently not an uncommon injury in soccer. When you get your hip popped out, you writhe around on the ground until someone pushes your leg back into socket and you move on. I gather it hurts, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. Not as bad as, say, having Nazis fuck with your teeth, but still not fun.

Yeah, do yourself a favor and don’t look up this scene on YouTube. It’s at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-OviftusB8

So, this player gets his thigh bone pushed out of socket and the medics rush over, check things out, and do what they need to do to get it back where it belongs. A few tweaks, a mighty shove, and the leg bone pops right back into the socket.

The player immediately starts screaming bloody murder and rolling around in obvious agony like someone just crushed his teeth in a vise or he just got some wicked paper cuts on his nipples. The docs, needless to say, were perplexed. They felt around and it seemed like the leg went right back where it should have.

The human body is a cool thing, but it also doesn’t take kindly to getting  slammed around. The player had gotten hit so hard that it not only dislocated his hip, but it shifted one of his testicles. That testicle wound up in the empty hip socket just before the docs slammed the dude’s leg back into place.

Yes. This actually happened. Enjoy your next soccer game.

If It Was Easy…

My son will be testing for his Jr. 1st Black Belt in Kenpo in a couple of months. Part of the test – actually, a large part of the test – is just physically surviving the damned thing. I’ve been through it twice and it nearly wrecked me back when I was in my 30s. At some point, I’ll be doing it again for 3rd black and, let me tell you, I’m not looking forward to it.

At any rate, part of the prep for the test involves three-hour-long Saturday classes where we run through the techniques and katas in the system, spar, do hands-on work with partners – more on that in a little bit, I’ve got a cool story – and run and do push-ups and run some more and then do some sit-ups and then more running and yada, yada, yada. Someone did some estimating based on Fitbit calculations and a normal one hour class can burn up to 1100 calories, so you can imagine what we’re burning off in three hours. Actually, there’s probably not much need to imagine, it’s simple math: in three short hours we’re burning off more calories than one of those Baskin Robbins Oreo shakes.

2500+ delicious calories in one small package.

So, “tired at the end” barely covers it. It’s a rough workout and the final test will run over the space of a few days. In the end, you feel like you’ve earned that damned belt. Which is a good feeling. My kiddo will probably be wasted after the test, but he’ll have his first black belt and that’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Sure, there are plenty more to go – including testing for the adult versions – but earning that first black belt will only ever happen once.

Getting to that point has been a multi-year process. I started teaching him Kenpo was he was about three or four and dragged him kicking and screaming into the school when he was five. That was six years and two schools ago (our old teacher retired) and he’s now on the cusp of finishing the first step into a much larger world.

It’s a long process to get to that point and I have to applaud his determination. Even though there were several times he wanted to quit, he kept going. That was partially me telling him he couldn’t quit, but it was also him working through the system and struggling to get better at it even when he really didn’t want to be there because the siren song of video games was too loud in his head.

Just like writing that book, or finishing that degree, or any of the myriad other  long-running things people do, getting to the first black belt takes determination. It’s hard work. But, let’s face it, if it was easy everyone would be doing it and getting handed a reward for doing something easy is a total waste of everyone’s time. Hooray! You managed to make it to work on time! Here’s your trophy. While I could wax philosophical for days about just how stupid it is to hand out meaningless trophies for trivial things, I’ll save that for another post. For the end of this one, I’ll just say two things: a) I’m really proud of my son right now and b) whatever it is you’re working on that seems like it’s taking freaking forever to get done, keep going until it is done. You’ll thank yourself for it at the end.

Need a little motivation to keep going? Drop a comment. I’m usually fairly good at yelling at people to keep going. 🙂

Now, as for that cool story I was going to tell. If you’ve never hear of Walter Jon Williams, he’s a sci-fi writer here in Albuquerque. He’s also a long-time Kenpo student (let me just say, he’s got a lot of stripes on his belt). Mr. Williams has been coming to our black belt prep Saturdays and I’ve had the opportunity to work out with him over the past couple. Let me tell, it’s not often you get to meet a writer you like, but also get to kick him. He’s a nice guy with a wicked elbow strike and potent punch. If you’d like to see more about his writing, go check out his website/blog. I suppose I should also tell him Google thinks he’s been dead since the 30s.