mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I don't like sports, and i don't care who knows...

Someone on facebook posted this story about a Baltimore grade school that was going to hide any kid not wearing purple to detention in the library during a "purple Friday" visit from the Raven.

Of course, the fun-hating cynic in me skipped the whole "school crushing nonconformists" angle and wonders why we are pulling kids out of class to have them cheer for a football team. No wonder the Chinese - and a ton of other countries - outscore us on math tests. I bet they never pull kids of out school to root for a football team.

But the other aspect of this is that i'm an anomaly. Not only am I a person who doesn't root for the home in a city (and county) that paints itself purple, I don't root for any team, in any sport. I don't take part in the office fantasy team pool, or wear team shirts to work, or spend my weekends in front of a TV. And that's not just limited to football season. I ignore a wide world of sports, from football to baseball to hockey and basketball.

I suppose part of it is nurture - neither of parents had much interest in sports. And since I was pretty much the fat, last-picked kid throughout school, I developed a certain dislike of participating in anything athletic, which extended to watching it as well.

I no longer have quite the dislike for athletes that I did as a kid - I now work out regularly, and run (err, walk quickly) in the occasional road race, so I have an understanding of how much work it must take to be a professional athlete. But I still have no desire to watch it.

I don't begrudge people who enjoy watching sports - everyone has their own hobbies. Given that my spare time is spent doing things like watching all 483 Republican primary debates and going to flea markets, I can't really criticize people who like to watch football, or whatever.

But sports have gone from a hobby - from what people do in their spare time - to something that seems to pervade every part of daily life. Purple-lit buildings. Stores and workplaces full of people dressed like they are about to tackle someone. It makes me feel even more like an outcast that I'm not participating. Which is pretty much how I feel about the world of people who actually seem to have relationships, but unlike my inability to find love, I really have no desire to join the world of the sports fanatics. I just wish their world was a little more contained and didn't leak into mine so much.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

The continued evolution of mad.anthony

I make this post every year. It's completely self-serving, and a complete brag to make me feel better about myself. But if you can't make a blog post for no other reason than to boast, why have a blog at all?

Here's the deal - back in 2004, I had one of my parents take a picture of me standing in front of their fireplace while I was visiting them at Christmas. At the time, I was 24 years old, 5 foot 5 inches tall, and weighed about 250 pounds. A few months after that, I was killing some time on a message board and took a "how long will you live" online test. It said I would be dead by 55. For some reason, despite ignoring years of doctors, family, and strangers telling me I should lose weight, something about that clicked. I started watching what I ate, and I started exercising. And in about 2 years, I'd dropped about 100 pounds. In the time since then, a lot has changed - i finished an MBA program, bought a house, got a cat - but I still managed to stay at pretty much the same weight. And every year, I have the family take a picture of me at Christmastime, and I post the series here. And yes, it's a chance to pat myself on the back, but it's also a reminder that if I want to be able to post this again next year, I need to keep up the trips to the gym and cut back on eating entire cartons of ice cream.

In the last year and a half, I've also added some strength training to my workout, in the hopes that I'd develop giant pecs that would cause random women to seductively rub my arms and ask if I've been working out. Alas, that hasn't happened - maybe I'm not working hard enough, or long enough, or maybe I'm just genetically doomed. But I do aim to keep up at least some of what I've been doing - I notice a very slight improvement when I look in the mirror, and I also feel like it's a little easier to lift stuff.

I've also started doing some road races, starting with the 2010 Baltimore Half. I did a few more races this year - a 10 miler and a 10k in addition to the half, and I shaved 28 minutes off my time this year for the half this year, going from 3 hours 7 minutes to 2 hours 38 minutes - not a great time, but it means something to me because there is a time where even that was way out of reach for me.

So it's the new year, and if I want to be able to post this again next year, I need to figure out what I need to do to get there. I do need to get back to watching what I eat - I've been really lax about it, and I work out enough that I can get away with it - but I'd like to be a little more careful, so that if I ever need to cut back a little on the exercise I can still fit into my pants - and because eating a healthy diet is in general a good idea. Before races, I had started adding an extra 15 minutes or so of running on my treadmill late at night to my routine, and I need to start that up again and keep it up. I want to keep up the road races - they are good exercise, a nice chance to see other runners and different parts of the city, and a great way to acquire t-shirts. I'd like to do another 10k or two, as well - it's a short enough race that i can focus on speed instead of just on trying to make it to the finish line, and that I can feel good the next day instead of feeling like I got run over by a truck.

And hopefully I'll have another good picture to post here next year.

(picture note - pics are in order, starting in 2004. For some reason, I can't find my 2010 pic, so that is missing. There wasn't a major change.)

What am I going to do with all this junk?

So one of the perks of working in higher ed is that i get a shitload of vacation time and paid holidays, including from just before Christmas to just after New Year's Day. Early in my career I would spend all that time in NJ with the 'rents, but now that I've got a house and a cat I make sure I spend a few days in Maryland, usually with a list of errands and things to do around the house.

One of those things this year is to clean said house. It's a bad sign when bsom, upon coming over over Thanksgiving break to feed my cat and collect my mail, not entirely jokingly commented that he thought i should go on Hoarders.

I'm not quite that bad. I don't spend hours debating if I can throw away an empty Big Gulp cup, and I don't have any dead cats hidden in the back of my closet. But I do have boxes of stuff piled everywhere, and it's getting silly. I have to crabwalk through certain hallways, and I find myself apprehensive about having friends over, or what would happen if I ever wanted to invite a date over.

I had dreams that I would get everything cleaned over break, that my house would look like something out of an Ikea catalog by the end of the weekend. Clearly, that is not going to happen. I've done a little, and I plan to do some more. But I'm also realizing that, much like losing weight, cleaning out several years of accumulation is not something that is going to happen over a long weekend. And like losing weight, part of the battle is not just getting rid of crap but keeping it out in the first place - and that means making changes in the way I approach stuff, and in the way I do things.

What I'm doing this weekend isn't so much cleaning as setting in motion the things necessary to get and stay organized. I've got bags of stuff I'm getting rid of, a bunch of stuff listed on eBay, and I've started loading the back of my pickup with stuff that I'll dump in our Electronic Waste Recycling vault at work on Tuesday.

But I also have quite a bit of saleable stuff that I plan to hold on to, and i need to find ways to keep it organized and out of the way. Most of it is hamfest stuff - stuff I've bought to sell at electronics swap meets. But most of them aren't until spring/summer, which means this stuff needs to stay a while. In general, items I buy for eBay aren't a huge part of my clutter problem, because they tend to be smaller items and because I tend to turn them over pretty quickly. Hamfest stuff is inherently stuff too low value or bulky to eBay - which means it takes up a lot of room for a long time.

I've wrestled with the idea of renting storage space for that stuff, but I don't think I can make the numbers work - it would make a huge dent in my profits. Having limited storage space has the advantage - at least in theory - of capping how much stuff I buy - which is good, because there are only so many hamfests per year, and I can only take so much stuff to each one (ie, what will fit in my truck).

So what I plan on doing for the next day and a half is small chunks of cleaning - an hour in the basement here, some time going through papers in my home office there. It makes it more manageable, even if the results aren't as good as a 12 hour cleaning binge. And the hope is that I'll keep it up, doing a little every night even after work starts up again.

It will never be perfect, but I hope it's at least better.

New year's resolutions, again...

Every year, for the last few years, I make pretty much the same resolutions - save money, stay in shape, get organized, fall in love. And every year I'm pretty good about the first two and a complete failure on the last two. And that's true for this year as well. I'm in pretty decent shape, at least relative to what I used to be. I'm doing OK financially, thanks to reasonably conservative spending combined with a pretty good year on eBay and hamfests. And my house looks like a computer store exploded, thanks to a pretty good year of finding stuff to buy to sell on eBay and at hamfests. And I'm still single.

So obviously one of the things I want to do this year is clean the house, get organized, and try to find the right balance between buying things I can easily and quickly resell for a nice profit, and not buying large, low-valued, crappy items that sit around the house - and by getting rid of the stuff that currently is filling my house, preferably by selling it but by tossing it if necessary.

Which is difficult, but still easier than the whole finding love thing, which is probably why you find a lot more poems and music written about failing in love than you do about failing to clean out your basement.

It's occurred to me that one of the things that probably doesn't help me - in dating, but also in a broader sense in life - is my less-than-positive outlook. I find myself waking up every morning and thinking "I really don't want to get out of bed". And it's not just "I don't want to get out of bed and go to work", because I do it on weekends too. And when you think about it , it doesn't make much sense - I have a pretty decent job, surrounded by some pretty cool people, on a beautiful college campus, where I get to use some pretty nice technology. It's not like I'm working in a coal mine or something. But more importantly, I'm alive at pretty much the best time to be alive, in terms of technology and the standard of living and lifespan and a host of other things. And I'm doing that in one of the freest and most prosperous nations in the world. People today in our country complain about their lives being unfulfilling, yet the fact that we can even complain about being unfulfilled shows us how good we have it - that we have the time and money to worry about things bigger than finding food or a place to sleep or worrying if the tribe down the road is going to kill us.

So yes, this year, I'd like to hit all the usual goals - have a little less fat and a little more muscle. Keep the savings account funded, maybe buy a new car and finally redo my bathroom and install that fence in the backyard. Be able to walk from the basement to the top of my house without tripping over stray computers and boxes of phones.

But I'd also like to wake up each morning remembering how good I've got it, how lucky I am to be born in the right time and the right place, and to approach each day less like a burden that needs to be slogged through and more like an gift to be enjoyed. I know if I could truly do it, the other things I want in life - the friendships and the relationship and the career advancement - would probably come a lot easier - and the absence of them would probably be a lot less painful. And while I doubt I'll ever reach self-help guru levels of cheerfulness, I'd like to think I've got it in me to be at least a little more positive and a little more grateful for the things in my life that are due to luck, and not just to keeping resolutions.