Archive for January, 2015


Insanity

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If that’s true, being a sports fan must be the most insane practice of all.

There’s a very simple mathematical equation at work here. North American sports leagues have between 30  and 32 teams. If you’re a real fan, you only support one of those teams. Statistically, the odds of your team winning a championship in any particular year is 3%. Obviously, there are statistical anomalies here and there that crop up for a variety of reasons. If you’re a hockey fan in Los Angeles, you’ve been treated to two championships in the last three years. On the other hand, if you’re from the north side of Chicago and happen to love baseball, you’ve been waiting 107 years for your team to follow up on its 1908 championship. But still, running by pure statistics, the odds of winning a championship are roughly 3%.

And what that means is that, one way or another, the season will end on a disappointing note 97% of the time.

To me, that’s where the insanity comes in. What other show would you continue to watch if the season finales were disappointing year after year? You might forgive a disappointing finale in season one or two, but surely by season three you’ve started to notice a pattern. Are you going to stick around for season four, or five… or ten?

And me, I’m truly insane because I’ve continued to follow sports without having witnessed a single successful campaign for any of my teams, ever. The Raptors have never had so much as a sniff of glory in their 20 year history. The Blue Jays actually won consecutive titles in 1992 and 1993, but having been two years old in ’93 I obviously don’t remember any of that. They haven’t even been to the playoffs since then. And my beloved Flames last won a championship two years before I was born and came oh-so-close in 2004, but haven’t been close since then.

And yet despite the fact that it will all add up to nothing in the end, here I am watching the Flames trail the Oilers 2-0 with 20 minutes to go. Insanity, pure insanity.

 

EDIT: And of course, the Flames came back to win 4-2. And that’s why I love sports.

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Jenga

Jenga’s a fun little game isn’t it?

I haven’t played it in about 15 years now, but it was a staple at my after school club back in the day. Three or four or five of us youths would gather in a circle around the mystical tower and chant “Jengaaaaa…. Jengaaaaaa…” in order to urge the Powers That Be to knock over the tower on another player’s turn. It was a fun way to kill time while we waited for our parents to pick us up.

Whenever you play Jenga, most people try to make the game last as long as possible by removing the safest available blocks and not taking any unnecessary risks. But there’s always one psychopath at the table; one absolute lunatic who does things like removing blocks from the very bottom of the tower, destabilizing the whole thing and putting it at risk of collapse at any moment.

See, the thing about Jenga is that at no point in the game is the tower so stable that it can’t be brought down by removing two of the wrong blocks. You could be cruising along, removing blocks from a seemingly indestructible tower almost without thinking, and then two turns later you’re picking up the pieces wondering what the fuck just happened.

And I think life is a little bit like that.

Think about it. Is the foundation of your life so stable and secure that it could not be reduced to a chaotic pile of wood on the ground by two catastrophic events in quick succession?

Mine certainly isn’t. And I don’t think anyone’s is. You take anyone in the world and throw two catastrophes at them one after the other, and they’ll crumble.

And that’s a stable person. A lot of people aren’t even two catastrophes away from collapse. I’m almost certain that one well-placed catastrophe would bring me to my knees.

This isn’t the sort of thing you should dwell on. If you did, you’d probably spend your entire life curled up in the fetal position, fearing the future. But it’s something that I think you should keep in the very back of your mind so that you’ll appreciate the good times and even the not-so-good times more. After all, it could always be worse.

An Old Voice

I heard a voice today that I hadn’t heard in over five years.

It was the voice of my erstwhile aunt Grace, who separated from my uncle way back in October 2009.

I was hoping not to hear her voice, but it was her daughter’s (my cousin’s) birthday today, and so in order to call to wish my cousin a happy birthday, I had to call her mother’s house.

I was apprehensive about it. I hadn’t seen or heard from her in over five years, and although we were on excellent terms back in the day, I was worried that it was going to be awkward. She had chosen to completely disappear from our lives, after all. Unlike the ex-uncle on my mother’s side who remained friends with my family despite the divorce, Grace thought it would be best to go away. She was absent for Thanksgiving dinner in 2009 and we never saw her again.

I needn’t have worried though, because for the five or so minutes that we chatted it felt like I had been transported back in time. Twelve years worth of memories came flooding back. She still addressed me as “Michael Anthony”, she still had that infectious laugh of hers, and she was still everything that I loved about her when she was my aunt.

And then I remembered that she’s not my aunt anymore, and that made me sad.

When their separation was announced back in 2009, it hit me pretty hard. I wrote a blog about it at the time, and re-reading it now all of it is still accurate other than my admiration for the way my uncle proposed. They really were the coolest couple I knew, and five years later I’ve still yet to meet a couple as cool as them. But more to the point, she was cool. She was witty, and she was intelligent, and she was driven and passionate and independent (In a lot of ways, very similar to the woman I’ve spent the last 3.81917 years orbiting the Sun with. I can’t help but feel that the two would have got along famously, but that ship will never sail).

And then by way of comparison, I look at my uncle’s second wife. She’s incredibly friendly and she’s got a heart of gold, but, well…

Look, I know that there were problems between my uncle and Grace, and painting it as an idyllic relationship is whitewashing the situation a little bit. But at the same time, you don’t spend 12 years with someone unless the two of you have worked really well together for the vast majority of those 12 years. And so I still aspire to what my uncle and Grace had during their “peak” years, if I may call them that. That’s the type of relationship I’d like to have, that’s the type of marriage I’d like to have, and that’s the type of parent I’d like to be.

I miss her, and I hope it won’t be another five years until we speak again.