Jun 272016

divingplatformWe found ourselves at Fulin’s last night because of a dinnertime power outage at home. As we ate, they were showing competitive diving—possibly Olympics tryouts—on television. Nathan mentioned that the last time he’d been at a pool with a 10M diving platform, they weren’t letting anyone use it. Apparently this is common now; liability concerns.

But when I was 18 years old, they let any schmuck jump off. (Or dive off, I suppose. I never learned to dive.)

Point Mallard‘s not far, but I haven’t been much. Maybe three times ever? One of those trips, just about 27 years ago as I type, I climbed up there and walked off the end of the 10M platform. I didn’t give it a thought. I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t peer over the edge and consider it. I walked calmly from the ladder to the end of the platform and just kept walking.

I don’t remember very much about the trip down except for the sound. The sound was scary, and I hadn’t anticipated it. I learned when I got out that I had hit the water feet first, with my legs about a foot apart.

What I do remember quite vividly is sitting down 12 feet underwater, holding my testicles, and crying.

Kids are so stupid.

I’d been kicked in the nuts before. It hurt. I’d jumped my BMX bicycle over a whoopty-doo and racked myself on that horizontal bar when I landed. It hurt. But I’d never felt anything like this. This was next level.

Fortunately, it occurred to me in time that, severe pain or not, I was going to drown if I didn’t get to the surface. I did, and actually had the foresight to move toward one of the edges as I ascended so I wouldn’t have as far to swim.

Through the laughter last night, I think the boys got the point. Even if there aren’t any 10M platforms lurking, there’s a rock of similar height at Smith Lake that could eventually be tempting.

Boys, don’t do it. If you must, keep your legs together.

 Posted by at 7:15 am
Jun 242016

As hard as I try to evaluate different views equitably, I’ll confess there are a few phrases that make me tune out nearly immediately.

For example, anytime I see someone fretting about people “voting against their own self-interest,” it is invariably a lament against greater self-determination (and therefore liberty). I can’t believe the South opposes Obamacare so consistently. They’re voting against their own self-interest. How could Great Britain’s people think leaving the European Union is a good idea? They’re voting against their own self-interest.

There is an inherent arrogance in the phrase that flirts with outright dismissiveness. Do you see how it leapfrogs any possibility of considered dissent? This is settled. These poor, unfortunate rubes don’t know what they’re doing. I mean, that’s the only explanation for it, isn’t it?

To be fair, most of the time confirmation bias has a lot to do with how these closed-minded views form. So the arrogance and dismissiveness isn’t intentional, but that doesn’t make them any less insidious. People like to nod and clap each other on the back.

We’ll talk about “social justice” sometime soon.

Have a good weekend.

 Posted by at 10:28 am
Jun 232016
  • I have a longstanding policy of keeping Thursday miscellanea posts politics-free, but I don’t think Governor Bentley has enough friends for this to be controversial with my readership. There is a blistering and sadly entertaining article in GQ on him.
  • Couldn’t tell you the last time I watched an NBA game, but I had a lot of fun watching the Cavaliers win the championship.
  • This week I learned that my Fire Phone’s Instagram client, with which I have been pleased, lacks two big capabilities: direct messaging and the ability to post/view images that aren’t square. This kind of problem is likely to become more common as the Fire Appstore ages. However, a quick shop around tells me I’m going to make do for now. I’m happy with the phone otherwise, and I’d like to get something I plan to keep for a while next.
  • Still running Windows 8.1 on this desktop. Need to take care of that soon, or it won’t be free.
  • I went to do a little follow-up on my experience with wet shaving and give the Chisel Shave Club a little more love, but it would appear they’ve folded. Their web site is gone, anyway.
  • I had a conversation about eating raw oysters yesterday. Nathan and I were about two-thirds of the way through a plate of them the first time he tried them, when he abruptly couldn’t eat any more—not because he was grossed out, but because he learned they were alive.
  • Cam Robinson and Hootie Jones getting off legally seems suspect, but so far there are no open arms in Tuscaloosa. This is a good thing. I hope there are game suspensions.
 Posted by at 7:15 am
Jun 222016

Gumby and Pokey have been on every desk I’ve had since I first starting getting paid as a writer, in early 1994.

I suppose I hope they convey that I don’t take myself too seriously. I guess they occasionally fall into my view when I need a little levity. I’ve offered them up for little children to play on Take Your Child to Work Day. But mostly, they just sit there.


Well, they have except for the last few months I was at Intergraph.

Over the course of perhaps my last six months, I would occasionally arrive at work in the morning to find Gumby and Pokey…posed. They bent lots of different ways, and my anonymous jokester found them all.

The first time, the pose was fairly tame. They progressed (regressed?) rapidly into every single sexual position I ever imagined, and a few I hadn’t. (After all, I’m not in the habit of considering a quadruped in such musings.) Some mornings, they were so good I had to stop and have a good laugh before I even logged in. Alas, these were the days before everyone had a camera with them all the time.

I never did find out who did it. But, sir/ma’am, if you’re reading, I certainly did enjoy your work. Thanks for thinking of me.

 Posted by at 7:15 am
Jun 202016

Apparently chewing gum in middle school is a much smaller deal now than it used to be. My sons report that, while they can’t chew gum everywhere on campus, there are some classrooms where it is just fine.

When I was a kid, it was verboten everywhere at school. If you were caught, you just hoped you would have to throw it away and that would be it. Sometimes it was a go-to-the-office offense. And sometimes, the teacher would make you stick your gum on your nose and sit in class that way for a time.

bubblegumgirlSo there wasn’t much gum around during the school day, but a lot of kids wanted it. It was sweet, and it was forbidden. About halfway through eighth grade, I started acting productively on that.

Lunch was $1. Generally my mom gave me a dollar bill before I went to catch the bus. Most days the bus got to school a full 30 minutes before I had to be in class. So I would walk to the grocery store (yeah, try that today), where I could buy three packs of bubble gum for 96¢.

There were three brands of premium bubble gum: Bubble Yum, Bubblicious, and Hubba Bubba. Each came five pieces to a pack, and in different flavors. A piece of gum for which I’d paid a little more than 6¢ before the school day started was worth 25¢ in the middle of study hall.

So several days a week, I turned my lunch money into $3.75 in bubble gum. On a perfect day I went home with $2.79 in my pocket (after eating lunch). Usually it didn’t work out that way, because a) I didn’t often sell out; and b) I rarely had the discipline to stay out of my inventory myself. (If only I’d seen Scarface.)

I was getting a $10 allowance every other week by this point, but it was tough to build a music library (almost all I spent my money on) with just that. My illicit bubble gum trade definitely helped.

photo credit: Hubba Bubba via photopin (license)

 Posted by at 11:47 am is using WP-Gravatar