The reason I cheered for the Patriots

Life

That’s not to say that I won’t root for them again. I am always looking for an AFC team to serve as my secondary team. The Patriots just joined the Raiders (which means the Chiefs and Chargers gotta go) and the Steelers for AFC teams to keep an eye on.

Go Patriots! For the next 48 hours.

Sports. Mostly Football.

As a Packers fan, I usually have a difficult time choosing who to cheer for in the Superbowl. You see, we usually make it to the playoffs, and since only two playoff teams make it to the big game, that leaves ten playoff teams who don’t. That means that the disappointment in the Packers loss is still somewhat fresh. A good problem to have, I realize. And if you want to call this a humble brag, it’s OK. I’ll own it.

In years past, I have usually chosen to root for the team that beat the Packers out of the playoffs in the Superbowl. I want to be able to say that the only team that could have beat my team is the NFL champions. That salves my conscience when I cheer for a team that is not my own. It’s imperfect, but I make it work. So by this logic, you would think that I should cheer for the Atlanta Falcons.

Ever since the Patriots were caught cheating to win the first Superbowl by filming the Rams practice, they have been a tainted team everywhere outside Foxboro. They do things unlike any other team in the league and get players to accept less money in exchange for a legitimate chance to win it all, and this attracts a lot of players who have earned their money and are now chasing legacy. I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings about this team. They do things the way I think they should be done. They prepare like no other team. Their players are extremely well coached, allowing them to exceed the sum of their talent. But they have a history of breaking rules. Teams that come to their stadium seem to have problems with their communication equipment on a regular basis.

Enter Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner. His decisions have not been good for the league. He is not consistent in his disciplinary actions, and his inconsistencies don’t seem to follow any logical course of judgment. Over two years ago, the Patriots beat the Colts in the playoffs. No, they decimated the Colts. The final score was 45-7. And after the loss, the Colts complained that the football was underinflated.  Goodell dragged this case, nicknamed “Deflategate” for over a year, and the US Supreme Court almost got involved.

A branch of the US Government was almost brought in to rule on the PSI of a football played in the NFL. Let that sink in for a minute. Roger Goodell allowed this incident to fester for over a year, rather than fine the team and be done with it. Ultimately Tom Brady was forced to miss the first four games of this season as a punishment for the event. The Patriots won three of those four games and then went on a rampage through the remainder of their games, only losing one other game.

The Patriots have been on an unspoken mission. Every team’s goal is to win the Superbowl, but to the Patriots it goes a step beyond other teams. Their goal is not only to win, but to put their embattled quarterback on the stage next to the commissioner. They want to force the commissioner to publicly hand the Lombardi trophy to their team. And they want to force Roger Goodell to announce that Tom Brady is the Superbowl MVP.

And so do I.

Do I really want Tom Brady to win five rings? Do I really want to hear people say that Brady is the GOAT when I would say that Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the league? No. But I did try to jump on the Atlanta Falcon bandwagon and just couldn’t do it. I tried to become a short term Patriot fan and that was hard to maintain. Too much baggage. But my disdain for Roger Goodell is strong enough to want the most uncomfortable result for him. I truly hope to see Goodell hand the MVP trophy to Tom Brady. It would be a fitting end to over two years of his harassment of the Patriots and even more years of spineless ruling over the NFL.

So for the next two days, I am a Patriots fan second. And a Packers fan first. Always a Packers fan first.

Go Patriots!

Fitness Trackers are the WORST!

Airing of Grievances

It’s time for my next New Year’s Resolution post. As you may recall, my resolution is to complain more often. And just as I haven’t exactly been consistent in my resolution, the same could be said for most people and their personal resolutions, can I get a witness?

I sit here, typing away on a keyboard without a fitness tracker on my wrist because it is charging, as it has been for about 48 hours now. Not because it takes that long, but because it’s presently “out of sight, out of mind” and yes, that is a lame excuse. Why should I go for a walk now if I can’t get credit for it? Yes, that’s another lame excuse. I still slept last night, even though my tracker didn’t monitor the quality of my sleep.

But that’s not even the focus of my rant. Oh no! The problem I have with fitness trackers is the same problem I have with Instant Messaging programs. They’re all proprietary, and they’re actually pretty stupid. And I’ll address each complaint directly.

Proprietary components and programs are the result of anti-consumer, pro-greed sentiments. The only reason the masses haven’t marched on Washington to protest them is because the biggest offender is Apple. And based on the number of iPhones you see in the vertical videos of protests on YouTube, protesters love their Apple products and are immersed in proprietary chargers, headphones, messaging apps, and more. They don’t try other products, claiming these products don’t meet their needs. And what are their needs? They need to work with their iProducts that they are already so heavily invested in.

And the same is true, to a lesser degree, in fitness trackers. One has the better app. One has the cooler wristband. One syncs with a few other apps that you already use or would like to. All of them do a few things great. None of them do everything the consumer wants them to do. And they won’t open up their API’s so you can use the better tracker with the preferred software. Why? Because then you would be managing your healthy patterns using components that they can’t control and leverage for their benefit.

Now to address the stupidity of the fitness trackers. This has nothing to do with my belief that your sleep data can only be estimated based on your nighttime movements or that if you walk like Fred Flintstone with your arms motionless at your sides your steps will be miscounted. This ties into the proprietary nature of fitness apps again.

I want a smartwatch. I want a nice one that looks like a nice watch and also has the features of a smartwatch. A smartwatch will do the same things as an exercise tracker, but I would take it off before I go swimming or jogging. Stop laughing. It could happen. I’d also take it off while sleeping.

I want a smartwatch that would be put on and taken off regularly. But I also want to wear a fitness tracker on a more semi-permanent basis. Is it too much to ask for software on my phone that is intelligent enough to recognize when two reporting devices are reporting the same activity? I do, but I don’t want double credit for when I exercise.

Why isn’t this already a thing? Why couldn’t the there be a universal phone app that takes all of the data collected about my activity, and credits me for the steps that the devices collects, divided by the number of devices? Or the most reliable device is counted and the others are discounted?

So there you have it. My rant about proprietary devices, with most of my wrath directed toward fitness trackers. Now I take a deep cleansing breath, let it all out, and go for a walk. Which isn’t being counted. Because my tracker is still at home. On the charger.

10,000 Papercuts

Discipleship

Just about any husband says that he would die for his wife. What we have in mind is usually a heroic, quick death. Taking a bullet on her behalf, pushing her out of the way of a train. You know, the kind of deaths that you see as meaningful.

But how many husbands would glamorize a slow death that lasts a lifetime? If we give our lives away to Jesus by loving our wives as Christ loved the Church, and if we are called by Him to die to self daily, then prolonged death is actually what we’re supposed to be doing.

Ask yourself, “How am I denying myself for the sake of my wife?” While you’re at it, how are you denying yourself for the sake of your neighbor? Your church? Your enemy?

I don’t believe you

The Art of the Story

Last night I watched “Walk the Line” with Joaquin Phoenix for the first time. This movie is a biopic of the life of Johnny Cash from his younger years as a poor child of a sharecropper, through his dark years of addiction and a failing family life, to his eventual proposal to June Carter. I enjoyed it very much and several details of his younger life come into play in his later years. This is a movie that I would suggest you watch more than once and I suspect you’d pick up on more things as you watch it again.

One such pivotal event in his life was his audition for Sun Records, which is shared in this post. Johnny and his band are playing the gospel song they have been practicing together for just this moment and the producer cuts them off to tell them that he wouldn’t be interested in music that won’t sell. Their song was already well known and was a radio staple with other bands performing it and there was no angle for Johnny to approach it that would set it apart from the others. Or as the producer said, “I don’t believe you.”

This belief had nothing to do with the sincerity of Cash’s belief in God, but in the way that his belief was presented within the song. It had been rehearsed to the point where the genuineness, the emotion, of the song was stripped out. That, and the market saturation of such songs, was going to be the premature doom of Johnny Cash’s career and he needed something that was relatable right at that moment or his band would be wished a good day and he would either go back to selling items door to door or he would take a job at his father in law’s business.

He sang “Folsom Prison Blues” on his own, since his band wasn’t familiar with the song yet, and the rest is history. As the movie progresses, he understands the plight of prisoners more and more as his behavior takes him down a path where he can identify with outlaws and outcasts on a more personal level. And the ill-advised concert inside Folsom Prison marks the point in the story where he comes full circle, embracing his outlaw identity and reclaiming his status as one of the biggest stars in the history of these United States of America.

His success really developed when he stopped singing the same songs as everybody else and sang out of his own experience as a poor child raised during the Great Depression, acquainted with death and sorrow, and never quite being accepted by his own father. It was out of this underlying desperation that he was able to sing a song that caused the producer to believe him enough to sign him to a contract. And it was this desperation and the success that he chased that took him down many dark paths.

It struck me that much of the arts that we have enjoyed in the last few generations have been inspired by hardship. People tend to celebrate that which they identify with, and celebrations often take the form of song. Where is the next great blues act going to come from or will new examples of this expression fade into disingenuousness? How can you sing about the summer days of youth when your childhood was spent looking at a screen? What kind of believable artistic expression comes out of a culture of uninhibited hedonistic desires with internally rejected consequences?

I’m glad I watched this movie. It told a compelling story and did not sugar coat Johnny Cash. It did not overlook the fallout of his choices or place the blame for the outcomes elsewhere. It made me think. It made me feel. It made me care. The movie has been out a good decade now. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and look it up!

Hyper-Seasonal Clothing

Airing of Grievances

With the holiday season recently behind us, you probably think I’m referring to ugly Christmas sweaters here, but oh no. It goes far beyond that! Sure, Christmas clothing tends to be obnoxious, and poorly made. Why? Because you can only wear it for 2-4 weeks a year, that’s why. You can get away with that awful shirt and light-up pants combo from Black Friday to December 27 at the extremes, though it’s really a borderline faux pas to wear it before December 15 or after midnight Christmas day.

But 2-4 weeks is actually pretty good! Think about it. Would you wear hearts for more than a week before or a second after Valentine’s Day? What about clovers beyond St. Patrick’s Day? That ‘Merican Flag T-shirt looks great at the Independence Day carnival and fireworks, but it really starts to show it’s age by mid-July.

Your better plan is to dress for the weather or to just avoid going outside altogether. The clothing will be of better quality and much better taste. Plus you won’t have to have totes and bins holding all of the egregious clothing that you really can’t wear right now unless you want everyone to think that you just haven’t had a chance to catch up on your laundry.

I get it. I really do. I have a couple AWESOME Christmas sweaters. And my “Triple Dog Dare You” t-shirt is the shizzle! I have a few patriotic shirts and there are a couple pastel shirts tucked away for Easter in my closet, because nothing speaks to the resurrection of Jesus quite like a shirt that shows everyone just how confident I am in my masculinity. But really, why do I need these limited-use garments? If we can ship our “Detroit Lions NFC North Champions” shirts to third world countries, can’t we do the same for our kitschy clothing that we bought in last year’s after Christmas clearance sale anyway?

This whole “Complain More Often” resolution is kinda fun!