Monday, February 27, 2012

Tips From a 5 Year-Old Nutritionist

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Scoreless Season

            Let me preface this story by saying that I am not a great basketball player. Never have been.  Never will be.  I guess that’s not surprising considering the fact that I’m a 5’6” Jewish kid from Pikesville.  Nevertheless, I love basketball.  There’s nothing quite like the sound of a ball swishing through the net after a jumper.
            I’ve had an interesting relationship with basketball over the years.  I’ve played on dozens of different teams with a slew of different players and coaches.  One memory will always stick out in my mind, of the season that was by far my worst.  I must have been 10 or 11 years old when I played rec basketball on the blue team, the Pistons.  We were undefeated champions going 14-0, and I still have the 2-foot tall trophy in my closet somewhere.  That season I cried after every game.  Of course, we never lost, but no matter how many shots I took, I simply couldn’t score.  Finally, when we played the worst team in the league, I scored my first two baskets of the season.  The parents cheered ecstatically because finally I wouldn’t have to run to my dad crying after the game.  I didn’t score again the rest of the season.  We won our last game, received our gigantic trophies, and I moved on with my life.
            Since then, I’ve certainly grown as a basketball player.  I learned how to shoot by spending hours on end playing ball on the outdoor courts of Camp Androscoggin in Wayne, Maine.  I’ve made some teams, and been cut from plenty of others.  One of my fondest memories of the sport was in my last summer at camp when my Color War Captain chose me to partake in the All-Star Basketball Game.  I didn’t belong on the same court as most of those kids, but they knew how much I loved to play so they let me suit up with the team.
            After one year on Fresh-Soph, and two on JV, this year I moved up to Varsity team at school.  I knew I wasn’t going to get a lot of playing time, but that was okay with me, I just wanted to be part of the team.  I struggled this season.  In the past, I was never a superstar, but when I did come in the game I always had a knack for making a shot.  For some reason, this year the shots just wouldn’t fall.  Every Friday night game, when I’d come in for the last few minutes of the game, the fans would always scream for the team to give me the ball.  I took plenty of shots, but I simply couldn’t seem to convert.
            Tonight was my last home basketball game.  We demolished our opponents in our first round playoff matchup, and with two minutes left in the game my coach called my name, telling me to check into the game.  I gave it everything I had.  I played the hardest defense I could muster, and I ran around screens trying to get open on offense.  I made a few solid passes to my teammates and we managed to score several times in the last few moments of the game.  Finally, I got my chance.  I received a pass on the wing and swung through, driving toward the basket.  I put up a shot.  It missed.  I got the rebound, but as the seconds ticked off the clock and I squared up to shoot again the defender came from behind and blocked my shot.  That was it, my last chance to score, and I got stuffed.
            As I walked off the court and got in line to shake hands I just had to grin.  No, I didn’t score this season.  So what?  I got to spend another year playing the game I love with all of my friends.  Friday we get the chance to fight for our spot in the championship game this Sunday.  What I didn’t realize when I was 10 is that basketball is bigger than just scoring points.  Basketball is meant to be played as team, and my team’s going to St. John’s this Friday to win a basketball game, together.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Conversation From 10th Grade

            I hope this will be the dumbest thing you ever read. I can't really say much about it, other than that it's a truncated and reformatted conversation that I had with Max Berner in 10th grade over Facebook chat. I found it on my computer and thought it was weird enough to post. So, I don't know, enjoy? Most likely not. It's pretty bizarre.

A tidal wave at night
Surfing it are storage containers
Lit by tiki torches
And then balloons
Lots of balloons
The perfect storm meets Dog the Bounty Hunter
Probably gonna need a tiger fist
Only way it'll work
It all takes place at a Honda dealership
The logistics haven’t been worked out yet
Can the honda dealership actually be a dormant Decepticon?
A dormant, Jewish Decepticon
With joint pain
A dormant, black decepticon with a Jewish mother and Muslim father
plot twist
He needs joint pain
Or short term memory loss
The Jew mom and Muslim dad,
Ethnically quasi-gallant
The worst part?
The wave is actually an enormous ambrosia salad
The carrots are worshippers of rib-eye steak
Which come from dinosaurs
And candy necklaces
Breaking the law is better than awkward conversations with your mother about sexuality
tru lyfe
Little does he know we are actually pterodactyls
Little did you know I spelled pterodactyls in one try
Mannequin firing squad with silly hats
And then they all learn Spanish
/Pigeon English ‘cause those are the two best languages outside of binary and british
In hopes of haggling with the craft vendor under the bleachers, for they really want to buy his fancy erasable pen
It isn't a normal erasable pen,
But a friction pen.
With the capability to turn friction on and off within a 2 mile radius (communist!)
Great for sledding
And spin art
Many Asian casualties
The neo-nazi mannequins are really just misunderstood and schizophrenic
Also a tad addicted to huffing magic marker vapors out of sacs made from bat wings
A concentration camp for people with ADD because they can't focus on one thing at a time. Very boring place.
Concentrate, Steve. Quit counting things, you weirdo. 
"I'm the one who does the deceiving around here! You think these are average tire enthusiasts, but they're actually cans of tuna!"
The mercury crisis begins. Vaccinations become treacherous to get. Doctors are put out of work, one by one by one by three.
Eventually, they decide it's necessary to form an army. They would fight for justice, and defend the weak. They called themselves The Weird, Crappy Robin Hoods, also known as D.O.G.Z.
Then an archangel came along named Cinnamon and politicized the concept of social Darwinism, subsequently emerging as a counterforce to the D.O.G.Z.
A battle erupted. The Weird Crappy Robin Hoods, with their vast knowledge of medicine and anatomy, immediately attacked their opponents by biting their ankles in a manner most similar to that of a silk worm.

The End

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Correlation ≠ Causation

Superstitions are like celebrity crushes. I tried to characterize the nature of them to my 5 year-old niece the other day.
“You know, like, when your dad has to do the beep-beep thing with his fingers before you go to sleep to make sure the monsters don’t get you?” I asked, hoping she could make the connection.
            “Ummm yeah, but he has to do that. Or else they’ll get me,” she replied. It was true, they would get her. Our conversation prompted me to think about all of the strange habits that I’ve developed throughout my life. At first the list was pretty short. I’m a slave to the popular ones: knocking on wood, Friday the 13th, etc. Then I remembered some of my more personalized superstitions. I never set my alarm for a time ending in an odd number. Before I get out of the shower each morning I push down the pin and put my right foot under the scalding water. I don’t leave my car without pulling the parking break. I think the name of an NBA player every time I call a solo.
The scary thing is, despite some of the strange habits I’ve just described, I’m probably only considered mildly superstitious by hardcore believers. So what are superstitions, and where do they come from? In some respect they’re like weird, little, autistic fragments of religion that can’t really describe why they exist or communicate their significance. But to us they represent certain causal relationships, somehow cosmically bound, with dire consequences. We make the association between trivial actions that take place under our control and events largely independent of our influence. And if the pattern holds true for long enough, we start to assume an inextricable connection. Although this process doesn’t sound particularly scientific, even the most rational thinkers still uphold superstitions. Whether illogical or not, they seem to affect everyone to some extent.
In their most basic form, superstitions are just habits with glorified implications. And like any other kind of habit, they can be hard to break. Some things we just get used to doing. Even though I’m almost entirely convinced that knocking on wood isn’t going to help a hypothetical situation not happen, I still do it, because for the amount of effort that it takes I would rather continue the habit and pretend it helps. Humans just can’t help but make the immediate jump from correlation to causation. The evidence may be illegitimate and sparse, and it almost always is, but for minimal effort it seems worth it. So go ahead people, have your superstitions—as long as they aren’t really fucking annoying.