Monday, August 28, 2017

Hoop (Day) Dreams and Reflection

I've been playing a lot of basketball lately. Sometimes, I get into full-court games if there are people around. But most days, I'm alone, shooting baskets until my arms feel like spaghetti. It's on these days that I get to think about my life the most. Every aspect of the game I play is likened to a facet of my life.

Every shot is representative of an action that I've taken in life. Some of them go in, like the successes I've achieved. And some of the attempts miss - an indication that more work is to be done. And each of these misses can be categorized.

Did the shot fall short? Was it an air-ball? It probably means I didn't have enough behind it. Not enough support. Insufficient strength. I didn't try hard enough. I wasn't prepared to succeed.

Did the shot swirl around the rim and lip out? I didn't shoot squarely. I wasn't at the ideal angle for the shot. I took a chance at a different approach. But I made the attempt in hopes of luck.

Did the shot hit the back of the rim and bounce out? I was over-confident. I tried too hard. I pushed some boundaries but the end result was some pushback. Sometimes less is more.

Was the shot halfway down the hoop and suddenly popped out? I was halfway there. I was livin' on a prayer. I must have needed something else to complete the job properly.

But every time the ball goes in the hoop, there is a certainty that everything went well. The form was perfect. I like those moments. It's a reminder that I have what it takes to score the points. I have what it takes to succeed, to complete / to compete, to do well at whatever task I've undertaken. Which is why I love to take free throws. (If it's free, it's for me.)

Now, I'm not a 100% free throw shooter, but I'd say I'm in a range of 70-80% accuracy. That means that 70-80% of the time, I can execute perfection. I bend my knees. I keep my eye on the basket. My form and posture is square; the arc is perfect; the trajectory is in line. The force is sufficient (and with me). Not too hard, not too soft. And the result is the swish of the net. It even sounds like perfection.

Basketball is an almost daily (yes, I play that often these days) reminder that I try and have to continue to try innumerable things in order to succeed at anything. And out of all the attempts that I undertake, I will fail at some, but prevail in most instances.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

America's Favorite Quiz Show

I recently had a flashback of watching Jeopardy! with my grandfather when I was a kid. It's funny because this show is nearly as old as I am, as it first aired in September 1984. And Alex Trebek doesn't look like he's aged very much. His hair may have grayed, but the voice, style, and demeanor is consistent. During my (f)unemployment, watching this program is one of the things I look forward to any day that I can.

Anyway, like my grandfather, I am hooked on this show. It's challenging, it's fast-paced, the clues are sometimes witty, and the knowledge-base required to succeed is that of a Renaissance-man, in that you need to be well-rounded in all subjects.

My grandfather was a really intelligent man. He seemed to be able to provide the proper questions to so many of the answers (see Gameplay) in a variety of topics. I always wanted to be like him. I wanted to be quick, knowledgeable, and well-rounded. I really looked up to him as he helped raise me and take care of me (along with my grandma and parents, of course) until he was eventually unable. This is probably why I always think of him every time I watch Jeopardy! on tv, which is still aired at the same time it has been for the past 33 years, at 7PM Monday through Friday.

I'm going to try to be a contestant. I have a feeling that my grandfather would be excited for me if I actually made it. It's been a bucket-list item too. I guess there's no better time than now, during FUNemployment.

Do you play along while watching? Want to extend the game? Play the extra 6th clue with J!6 on Amazon Echo!

Monday, August 7, 2017

All Aboard!

Over the past few weeks I've done a fair share of traveling locally. We've made a few weekend jaunts to Philadelphia by car, a drive up to the Finger Lakes in upstate NY, and even up to the Boston area for the wedding of a dear friend of ours. More recently, I've made a trip to our nation's capital, Washington DC to attend the Citi Open tennis tournament. For this, I decided to ride the rails to Philly and hop in a car with my good friend who was joining me for the activity. On the way home, I thought to myself...

Our train system is actually quite nice, though nothing compared to the best rail systems out there in Japan, China, or France (Europe, in general). However, it's certainly more comfortable and cleaner than those of India. In recent times, there have been plenty of issues plaguing the train systems, particularly in NY/NJ/CT. But like all systems, I'm convinced that this one just needs better maintenance, stricter guidelines, and timely communication to ensure order.

I took for granted our train networks here in the United States, but I've come to appreciate them more after having ridden many others around the world. If you need some help getting started, take a peek at the man in Seat61. He's my go-to when I'm looking for a crash course in train travel in a particular locale.

For those of you who haven't had the experience, Amtrak and the localized train networks are waiting for you to embark on your next journey. ALL ABOARD!