Curing 30 Years One Month At A Time

March 15, 2009

Sorry Dickie V….. I Am Listening To The Physicist When Filling Out My Bracket This Year

Filed under: indecisiveness — Tags: , , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:50 pm

 

Dickie Vitale = Duke Homer

Dickie Vitale = Duke Homer

 

 

If I devoted as much time and energy to studying in college as I do in filling out my March Madness brackets, I would of graduated Magna Cum Laude instead of Praise The Lord-e. Chugging a combination of Mountain Dew and Red Bull in order to stay awake, I was the guy hunkered down in the computer lab at 4 in the morning just starting his introduction statement for the 12 page paper due for my 8 o’clock philosophy class. Procrastination pretty much summed up my work ethic while in school.

However, the complete opposite is true when it comes to my dedication towards March Madness. Only a few minutes after the brackets are announced I begin racking my brain over matchups, statistics and data. I scour rosters looking for teams with solid guard play and senior leadership. Going into my man cave (okay, the living room once the girls are in bed), I break down game film that would make Dean Smith and Bobby Knight proud.

For some strange reason, around this time of year I pay extra close attention to Disney Princess movies just in case it gives me an edge in picking this year’s Cinderella. The internal debate rages on over which team’s bandwagon I should jump on and ride to the finals and which wagon I should avoid at all cost because it is going to break an axle ala The Oregon Trail by losing in the second round of the tourney. Instead of sleeping at night, I toss and turn pondering sleepers. After all, who needs shut eye when bragging rights around the water cooler are hanging in the balance?

There is a fine line between over thinking things and being knowledgeable. Sadly, my head always seems to overpower my gut. Most years the hours of studying result in me being nowhere close to feeling secure in my picks. The problem that arises from cramming your noggin with data is that it can be skewed to make it say whatever you want. This causes my indecisiveness to kick into overdrive. I fill out bracket after bracket after different bracket.

With fifty or so brackets in hand, one would assume this would be the end to the silly charade of proving my basketball I.Q. Anyone else in their right mind would be tying up loose ends by making sure they have Buffalo Wild Wings on speed dial and practicing their best phlegm cough so they can call in sick Thursday and Friday in order to watch the opening round games. However, my lack of self-control finds me heading over to popular sports websites like ESPN and CNNSI to see how my picks line up with the “talking heads.” After all these years, I haven’t the slightest clue why I still listen to “experts” (I use this term very loosely) like Jay “Flip Flop” Bilas, Dick Vitale, Andy Katz and Digger Phelps. I am convinced that on top of being members of the sports media they all have side jobs as used car salesman. Somehow they can make their bracket appear like it is top of the line when chances are good all they are offering is a clunker. Yet, if their selections differ from mine even in the slightest bit, it means yet another bracket is created.

All of the blood, sweat, tears and heartburn I experiencing during March Madness is in hopes of achieving the elusive perfect bracket. It is similar to the quest for the Holy Grail as many have told stories about knowing a friend of a friend of a former college roommate who pulled it off, yet no one has ever seen concrete proof that sheet ever existed. Just for giggles, I decided to do a little research on the math behind the madness that comes with trying to reach perfection with your bracket. Here is some information I found from the American Institute of Physics, you know since the average physicist is concerned over who is going to come out on top in the 5 vs. 12 matchup:

Since there are 64 games and two possible outcomes for each game-a win and a loss-the number of possible outcomes for the tournament is a staggering 2 to the power of 64–2 multiplied by itself 64 times–or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 if you want to spell it out. With that many possibilities, every man, woman, child and baby on the planet could fill out 2.8 billion brackets–each of them completely unique–and still not exhaust the possibilities. Forget about winning for a moment. How about writing out all the possibilities? Even if you could write all your predictions for one bracket in one second, it would take over 500 billion years to write all the possibilities–much longer than the age of the universe. If you could get a billion close friends to help you and each of them could fill in one bracket per second, then you would be done in about 500 years–the 26th century.

Even though it is pretty obvious that luck plays a significant role in winning your office pool, I see filling out brackets as a challenging to my manhood. The beauty of March Madness is that everyone loves the possibility of telling everyone else that they were right. Even the 75-year-old secretary loves to gloat about picking George Mason to go to the Final Four back in 2006. What Beatrice neglects to tell you is that she only picked GMU due to her bad eyesight and thinking it said Perry Mason, which was one of her favorite TV shows back in the 60’s.

Now that I’ve decided to fill out a single bracket this year, I am contemplating throwing all caution to the wind and utilizing these kooky techniques some use in picking out their winners. I could go with the best names in college basketball approach. If I do then that means I am praying for a deep run for Wake Forest (Al-Farouq Aminu meaning ‘The Chief Has Come’) and Michigan State (Idong Ibok). When faced with a tough matchup, I might force the Mascots to throw down MMA style by entering the Octagon for a fight to the death. This technique will only be used as a last resort because it does not bode well for my Maryland Terps considering their first round opponent is the Cal Bears. Chances are good Yogi and Boo-Boo would be enjoying some turtle soup as an appetizer. Considering I live in the hotbed of ACC country, the “D’Oh! Factor” or better known as the “Reverse Homer” pick should be used to give me a leg up on the competition. This means the Duke Blue Devils and UNC Tarheels are out as champs on my bracket as everyone and their mother will have them cutting down the nets in the pools I enter.

I wish I could say how freeing it will be only have one bracket to worry about over the next 3 ½ weeks. But, in actuality my stress level is at an all time high knowing once my bracket is busted it is busted for good. What if my gut lets me down this time? Should I go with my heart or my head? What if God forbid, my mom, Jenn or even my 4-½ year old daughter Madison comes out on top?  After attempting to get over the shame and embarrassment, I’ll throw out the physicist’s card. Since they spent more time studying in college then I did, I can trust those smart physicists know what they are talking about when they say the only thing you can count on during the tourney is the pure unpredictability of it all. Let the Madness begin!

 

Who Will Be Cutting Down The Nets?

Who Will Be Cutting Down The Nets?

 

DON’T FORGET TO JOIN THE 30 TO CURE 30 MARCH MADNESS BRACKET CHALLENGE.

Follow this link to join (the necessary info is found below):

30 To Cure 30 Tourney Time

Group ID #42855

Password: 30 To Cure 30

 

**DON’T FORGET – Be sure to complete your brackets before registration closes at tip off of the first game of Round 1 on Thursday, March 19**

 

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March 13, 2009

Yo Dawg, Is That Randy Jackson Doing The Truffle Shuffle Or Me Shaking Off My Indecisiveness?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:21 pm
Shake It Like A Polaroid Picture Chunk...
 

If I had to describe my dancing ability I’d say it’s borderline smooth and graceful. Jenn, on the other hand, uses words like spastic and convulsive to explain the movements that take place once my feet hit the dance floor. Having watched myself moonwalk in my bedroom mirror since I was 10 years old, I dismiss what she says as silly talk. I know there is soul somewhere deep down inside me.

Granted, it has yet to show up when I bust out the Running Man, Funky Chicken or Robot, but I know all of the time I have spent watching and studying Randy Jackson’s Presents America’s Best Dance Crew will eventually pay off. Even after tuning in to numerous episodes, there is one thing that still leaves me puzzled: why is the big guy’s name attached to show anyway? Mr. Dog Pound doesn’t strike me as being someone who is nimble on their feet. I believe the only dance move that wouldn’t cause me to test my gag reflex is if Randy were to ever reenact Chunk doing the “Truffle Shuffle” from the movie Goonies. I am pretty sure I would actually pay to see that take place. I realize those are some pretty harsh words considering they are coming from a man who has two left feet.

Part of me has embraced my lack of rhythm. My skills, or lack thereof, always causes my two little girls to chuckle when we have our weekly family dance party and that is good enough for me. Paige will point to the “I-Poo” and request the “Yeah-Yeah-Yeah” song. Knowing this might cause some of you to question my parenting skills, the tune she is requesting is actually Duffy’s “Mercy.” Considering I just divulged that little nugget of information, I guess I should feel comfortable enough to let you know that some of her other favorites include Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” and “Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai. Don’t worry neither girl is really listening to lyrics of the songs, they are completely mesmerized by their daddy’s arms and legs thrashing to and fro wondering if he is dancing or having an epileptic seizure.

The moments where I regret not knowing how to two-step or waltz is when Jenn and I go to a wedding. Sitting on the sidelines eating my weight in free filet mignon while others cut a rug on the dance floor is not Jenn’s idea of a fun evening out. On numerous occasions, she has brought up the idea of taking a dance class together. The closest I’ve come to lessons is freshmen year of college when I filled one of my physical education credit requirements through square dancing, but I am pretty sure this doesn’t count.

I could use the excuse that lessons would be another expense for our shoestring budget or yet another activity to fit into our busy schedule, but those are not the source of my hesitation. The reluctance stems from knowing I might misstep, trip over my own feet or cause Jenn to ice her feet after every class due to my clumsiness. One way you can tell a professional dancer from an awkward and uncoordinated novice like myself is where their eyes go when they misstep. It is inevitable to find yourself offbeat at one time or another, no matter how many times you’ve taken to the dance floor. While the pro looks towards their partner to find their rhythm together, the inexperienced dancer tends to look down at his or her feet. When this happens, moves become choppy, forced and the center of the dancer’s attention.

Many of my movements over the last 7 years have been more than choppy. They have felt down right unnatural. I find myself wondering if this is the step I should be taking. Almost every decision I’ve made has been second-guessed and plagued with doubt. The funny thing is there was a time in my life when I was confident in the choices I made regardless if they were wise or completely off course.

However, after the experience I had with my first job after college, everything seemed to change. A little background information for newcomers to this blog to get you caught up to speed. With my college diploma in Christian Ministries in hand, this idealist dreamer was ready to transform a younger generation for God as a youth pastor. I had no doubt in my mind that this is what I was called to do with my life. Yet, no textbook or lecture prepared me for what I encountered at the church. Things that were thrown my way seemed to set me up for automatic failure. I felt hopeless and alone. Coming home almost every evening defeated put a strain on my relationship with my beautiful new bride, Jenn, as we were fulfilling roles no spouse should.

For the sanity of our marriage, and ourselves, we knew I had to hand in my resignation and move on. The problem was neither of us had an answer to the important question of: move on to what? My state of mind at the time was cynical, bitter and confused. I did not know how to rectify the fact that I had told God I would go anywhere for Him and the first place He sent me seemed to be the dark wilderness. It made me doubt if I had completely mistaken God’s calling on my life and if that was the case wondering where that left me. Was it the situation or myself that caused my first experience into ministry to be unsuccessful?

Not wanting to venture into another youth ministry position, have it fail and ultimately realize it was me all along; I gave myself a year to figure things out. Instead of going forward, I decided to remain in neutral. Having no children or responsibilities at the time, Jenn and I decided to move down to Wilmington, NC. I could over spiritualize it and say ‘we felt this was where the Lord was leading us,’ but that would be a bold face lie. We packed our bags and headed south towards the beach based off a survey we filled out on a website called FindYourSpot.com. Jenn got a job working retail while I got my dream job (note the sarcasm) filling out spreadsheets for corporate America.

Sitting in my cubicle filling out TPS reports is where my tendency towards indecisiveness originated. Day after day I wrestled with contentment and questioning every decision that came my way. As odd as it might sound to some, being unsure of my abilities, passion and vision as it related to my job left me paralyzed with the fear of making another wrong decision not only in regards to employment, but in every aspect of my life.  

Eventually, I grew tired of living life staring at my feet and not focusing on what was ahead of me. This shift in perspective took place only when I became willing to take the diffciult, yet necessary steps, in examining my time at Ashton as a youth pastor. It wasn’t until I could see how my character was shaped and formed during the process that I realized there was a purpose for going through what I did. In the midst of everything I perceived as a failure, God still moved in the lives of young people I influenced. While journaling all my thoughts down on paper, something else interesting happened. I began to fall in love with writing all over again. I guess it wasn’t Randy Jackson doing the Truffle Shuffle after all, but me who found a way to shake off my indecisiveness. Hopefully, once these 30 days are over I’ll samba my way out of second-guessing for good.

March 10, 2009

Welcome To Moe’s Has Me Welcoming Indigestion…..And Regret

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:14 pm

 

Indigestion Often Leads To Regret

Indigestion Often Leads To Regret

Why o why do I continue to go Moe’s Southwest Grill? Is it because I secretly have it out for my stomach and want to punish my bowels at all cost? Tonight, Jenn and I had the perfect escape clause when we realized Kid’s night was on Monday and not Tuesday night. Our attempts to leave nonchalantly were thwarted after Maddie pleaded (parent speak for completely freaked out) for a Moo Moo Mr. Cow.

She won this round and we decide to order our food. I choose my usual, a Joey Bag of Donuts. The poor burrito did not stand a chance. I devour it in a matter of minutes without coming up for breath. This was not a smart move on my part. As I now struggle with a bad case of indigestion, I begin to ponder other choices in my life I regret making.

 

Here is just a sampling of the many regretful decisions I’ve made over time:

 

Deciding to waste two hours of my life watching Swing Vote.  Who knew that Kevin Costner still had it in him to make a movie worst than Waterworld? Granted, the film did have one bright spot. It is the only movie ever to create bipartisanship among political rivals. Republicans, Democrats, Independents and even most Communist were willing to cross party lines and create an amendment demanding Hollywood refund every moviegoer who purchased a ticket to this political “satire.”

Deciding to dye my hair while my parents were on vacation in 1997. I was trying to look like Billy Joe Armstrong, the lead singer from Green Day, by saying good riddance to my Mr. Straight Lace look. Instead of coming out Billy Joe blonde, it turned my scalp into Big Bird bright yellow. Let’s just say that people had the time of their life making fun of this nimrod.

Deciding to take for granted how quickly Maddie would grow up.  Don’t get me wrong there are moments upon moments with her that I will cherish forever. Late night bottles, dirty diapers, tea parties, movie nights and cuddling on the couch are just a few. Yet, registering Maddie for kindergarten, I am now realizing how my priorities have been of whack and my push for “me” time seems silly now.

Deciding my body could handle eating an entire Watermelon after being dared to do so at a summer picnic with family friends (are you noticing a trend here?). It appeared the first few hours afterwards that my belly would reign victorious. That was until about 2 in the morning when watermelon seeds rained from the sky in the bathroom. The walls, once white, now have a permanent pink sorbet tint to them.

Deciding to not listen to Jenn’s advice to put on sunscreen while at a water park. After all, it was a sunny, but cool day and I was an Italian who had never been sunburned before. Well, like the saying goes there is a first time for everything, even sun poisoning. I spent the next week soaking in a white vinegar bath while my skin peeled like a shell off a hard boiled Easter egg.

Deciding to not attend a large university with a strong athletic program, not because I was an athlete, but because I am a big sports fan. This regret showed up every time I’d go to a Penn State football or Maryland basketball game. Instead of being a Cameron Crazy, Orange Crush or a part of the Nittany Nation, I was one of about 20 fans nicknamed the Messiah Mutes who cheered on the Division III powerhouse women’s basketball program.

Deciding to pass a car on a double yellow line while in a 16-passenger van filled with kids. We were late coming home from a youth ski trip and I didn’t want to look irresponsible as the fresh faced youth pastor so I just went for it. Pulling into the parking lot, all the parents were there waiting for me as well as the off duty cop who was behind the church van and watched the entire incident go down. She was none to pleased with my behavior and slapped me with a driving ticket.

 

This last one touches upon a section of my life that had numerous regrets: my time as a youth pastor. Some of these regrets came from my own doing and others as a result of my reactions to things that happened to me. As I try to pinpoint where my indecisiveness originates, I keep coming back to those three years spent in Ashton where an idealistic dreamer somehow turned into a bitter cynic who was now worried about taking another incorrect step. Going into greater detail as to why this is the case will have to wait till my next blog post. I know this could appear to be a cheap teaser forcing you to come back to hear the rest of the story. However, I am pressing pause on delving into this regret mainly because this topic demands more attention, but also due to my bad indigestion. Welcome to Moe’s is about to welcome in the stinky stink into my bathroom. 

March 9, 2009

Do You Have A Bad Case Of March Madness? JOIN THE 30 To Cure 30 TOURNEY TIME CONTEST

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 2:42 pm

 

Who Will Be Cutting Down The Nets?

Who Will Be Cutting Down The Nets?

For the rabid and somewhat obsessive sports fan like myself, there are few periods in the year more thrilling then the month of March. For a few weeks, my thoughts are consumed with brackets, seedings, Cinderella’s, and sleepers. My productivity at work halts to an almost stand still pace. For some odd reason, every year I seem to catch a 48 hour bug on the Thursday and Friday of the opening round of the tourney causing me to miss work and be forced to “rest” at home.

In a quest to fill out the perfect NCAA Championship Bracket, I devote my entire attention to figuring out who will cut down the nets at the end of the tourney. However, my indecisiveness throws a wrench in those plans and I end up filling out 1,001 different brackets. This has placed me in quite the predicament on numerous occasions where I find myself torn between which team to root for in a contest as my brackets are split straight down the middle. I’ll go into more detail in a future blog post about how I become consumed with March Madness and all of the possible scenarios when it comes to filling out brackets.

Consider this month’s focus is on decisiveness, I have committed to filling out a single bracket this year or as ESPN Radio Host Mike Greenberg calls it coming up with a “Sheet Of Integrity.” If my predictions fail and I find there is nothing particularly sweet about the Sweet 16 then so be it. This could actually be a good thing. For the first time in awhile, I might be able to enjoy the games without the need to eat Tums like they were candy to relieve the heartburn I am feeling over which #12 seed will go deep in the tourney.

Wanting to make this endeavor a little bit more interesting, I have decided to create a Bracket Challenge group for the readers of the 30 To Cure 30 blog. You don’t have to be a basketball junkie in order to join. All are welcome to participate. For the ladies who could care less about basketball, fill out a bracket based on which school uniform you consider the most fashionable.

Another technique might be deciding winners based on the possible outcome if the team’s mascots were ever to meet face to face in a real life battle. You could even leave it up to pure chance by flipping a coin or using a dartboard to make your picks. My 4-½ year old daughter, Madison, will have her own bracket and chances are good she will beat her old man.

Invite friends to join. The more the merrier. The only rule is you are stuck to the same constraints as I am: only one bracket per person. Right now the prize for winning is strictly bragging rights, but if we manage to get a big group together I might be swayed to give the winner a sweet prize.

 

Follow this link to join (the necessary info is found below):

30 To Cure 30 Tourney Time

Group ID #42855

Password: 30 To Cure 30

**DON’T FORGET – Be sure to complete your brackets before registration closes at tip off of the first game of Round 1 on Thursday, March 19**

March 8, 2009

According To My Swatch Watch, It Is Time To Stop Being Switzerland

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 10:28 pm

 

How Can You Disrespect A Country That Brought The World Swatch Watches?

How Can You Disrespect A Country That Brought The World Swatch Watches?

 

 

My indecisiveness has led some to believe my actual residency lies somewhere in the snowy hills of the Swiss Alps and not the sandy beaches of Wilmington, NC. If I received a nickel for every time I have heard the expression ‘stop being Switzerland and choose a side already!’ I would be a very rich man who would funnel his money into one of those secretive Swiss bank accounts. The rest of my days would be spent strolling the streets of Geneva – a city that just happens to offer the highest quality of life in the world.

If you ask me, Switzerland gets a bad rap for remaining neutral. Due to them not choosing sides, we lose sight of all that is great about this country. Yes, it might be true that they haven’t been to war since 1815, but this is of little concern if you are lucky enough to get a chance to ski down the slopes of The Alps. Sitting in the lodge sipping on hot chocolate, you check your favorite Swatch watch and realize that you are just in time to watch ESPN Classic replay the 2004 Wimbledon Finals.

After witnessing Roger Federer, the greatest Swiss athlete of all time, take home one of his 13 Grand Slam titles; you hop into your Smart Car and head over to your friend’s house for a fondue party. It might be hard for you to choose sides about a lot of things, but you are confident there is nothing better than dipping pieces of bread into warm melted cheese.

It might not seem this way, but there is a purpose behind Switzerland staying out of the world’s conflict. Being a small country in a geographical vulnerable location, there is safety in not choosing sides. As long as they remain neutral, other countries cannot invade it no matter how bad they want to storm the Alps in hopes of stealing the secret Swiss fondue recipe.

Contrary to the popular saying, I believe there are more than two sides to every story especially if I am the individual others are looking towards to settle an argument. While Person A has their viewpoint and Person B holds their slant, I am trying to mesh both sides together and create Story C.  Why do I hate picking sides so much? Part of it is not wanting to make anyone feel bad. Somehow I think by withhold a decision I am being respectful to the individuals who are on separate sides of a disagreement. I want them to feel like they are being heard and understood.

At first glance, this appears noble, but if someone were to dig deeper they would realize this action is rooted in pure selfishness. More than anything, I want to be liked and rocking the boat by picking sides has the tendency to disrupt any relationship. By living in the middle ground, the Swiss receive stability, security and safety. However, in return for my many years of sitting on the fence all I have to show for it are splinters stuck in my butt.

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