New Infographic: College Tailgating Traditions in the U.S.

I admit, I’m not a huge sports fan. However, I quickly and proudly identify myself as a Bama fan. If you’ve followed my blog throughout the years, you’ve probably noticed the subtle product placement of “Roll Tide” apparel on my son; as well as his now much faded Bama sippy cup.

Not to mention, there’s my wife’s keychain as well as my front license plate are both Unversity of Alabama.

If you were born in the state of Alabama, like I was, it was pre-determined by your family before you were born whether you were by default either a Bama or an Auburn fan.

I was born into the Crimson Tide. Of course, it’s so easy to be a Bama fan because of their winning record… so that’s convenient.

In addition to being a Bama fan, I’m also a fan of infographics… and I feel like it’s been a while since I shared a new one.

With all the negative stuff we’ve been seeing in the news here lately, maybe it’s time to just distract ourselves for a minute with some quirky, sports-related info…

With not further ado, today I share with you a new infographic about college tailgating traditions in America; none of which I previously knew about.

Enjoy, sports fans!

Courtesy of: SelfStorage.com

The Curious Case of the Sports Agnostic: Some Guys Just Don’t Care About Sports and They’re Okay with That

Religion and sports are alike in that while they both consist of plenty of true followers (the sincerely devoted), they have their fair share of agnostics (the apathetic yet open-minded) and naturally, some atheists (the passionately opposed).

I was born into a family where sports, for all practical purposes, simply did not exist.  We never talked about them, never watched them, and really, never played them.  Of course there was my 2nd grade year playing baseball- turns out, I was pretty decent.  And my 5th and 6th grade years of basketball- not so decent. There was no lofty moral issue we had against sports; it’s just that virtually no one on either side of my family gave them any thought.  Except my Uncle Al.

My mom’s brother Al has always been a huge University of Alabama football team fan- for every year of my childhood, thanks to him, I never was without several Alabama t-shirts, sweatshirts, stickers, and whatever else kind of proper memorabilia I would need as a kid growing up in the state of Alabama, where deciding your allegiance to either the University of Alabama or Auburn was only second to whether or not you had accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Even now, on the front license plate holder of my Honda Element, I have a University of Alabama fan plate.  Beyond knowing the coach’s name (Nick Saban; easy name to remember since it’s so similar to mine), I can’t tell you much about the team in recent years other than last year was good for them, as was 1992, and that Bear Bryant died in 1983, less than a month after he retired.  But I am an Alabama fan, as opposed to Auburn.  And even if I’m their worst fan ever, I’m still a fan.  But that is the extent of my affiliation with anything in the world of sports.

There’s no way around it: I’m weird for being a guy who doesn’t care about sports.  Guys are clearly supposed to care about sports.  Throughout my whole life, I’ve tried to convince myself that I’m missing out.  That all those Saturday afternoons and Monday nights when I’m spending my time and efforts doing anything else, I should be in front of the TV watching the game.  And that for all the games I miss, I should if nothing else, check the scores online to have something to talk about with other guys the next day.

That despite the fact that team players are traded every season, I myself should stay loyal to certain teams.  Despite the fact that sports stars are multimillionaires while school teachers often make less $40,000 a year, I should still worship sports figures.  And though the outcome of each game and each season doesn’t actually affect reality, it does in the minds of sports fans, so therefore it should matter in my mind.

My apathy towards sports has a lot to do with the fact in my mind, sports aren’t logical.  I do see how sports feed that human instinct to replicate war in some way when we ourselves aren’t actually fighting, similar to how most young wild animals “play fight” to prepare each other to eventually kill for food and defend themselves and/or family members.   But I can’t see how or why sports should be relevant or important in my life to the degree that they are for so many people.  Clearly though, I’m the odd man out here.  And clearly, it’s my view of sports, not sports themselves, that is irrelevant.

I am a sports agnostic, not a sports atheist.  In other words, I’m cool about it.  I just know that people have fun playing and watching sports, so I respect that.  I’m still invited to Super Bowl Parties- because despite not knowing the rules of football, I can still have a good time with people who are having a good time, no matter what they’re doing.  And who knows, maybe in the back of their minds, sports fans hope to convert me once I finally see what I’m missing.  Maybe one day I will finally “get it”.

I have been asked since my first year of high school why it is that I can name any celebrity’s height or ethnicity, what year any song or movie came out, or why I have such a vivid memories of trivial conversations and events that no one else would ever care to remember.  Here’s why:  Most men occupy a good amount of their passion and their memories to sports.  I don’t.  I have to fill it with something.  My passion is writing, and those odd details and stories are the magic stuff of what I write.  If I cared about sports, this website wouldn’t exist, and you would have spent the last couple of minutes doing something else, instead of reading this.  Like watching sports.

Sounds Like Someone’s Got a Case of the “What If’s?”

If you could “redo”, would you?  Should you?

It’s only natural to think, “If only I could go back in time with the knowledge I know now…”  That goes through my head way more than it should.  About all kinds of things from my past.  But to be able to do that would mean I would have the mind of a 28 year-old and the body of a kid.  Unfair advantage.

I’m sure it all goes back to the hidden (male) feeling of inadequacy:

I should have made a point to build stronger friendships with certain people in high school and been more involved with school events, like decorating of the halls for Homecoming Week which I skipped out on.

I should have focused more on writing while I was in college.

I should have just gone to the University of Alabama and saved my parents thousands of dollars instead of going to a private college in Virginia.

Here’s the irony.  If I would have done those things differently like I “should have” done, I wouldn’t have gained the experience that I have know to even though that those things were what I would have wanted.

I would have probably just have ended up more confused with even more “should have’s”.

So I here am, still paying off college debts because I was “supposed to” go to Liberty University in Virgina.  When I could have just gone to Alabama.

In theory, if I could go back and do things in the parallel What If Universe, I would have been more confident in high school, I wouldn’t be in debt because of college, and I would have gotten a more specific education and would now be a famous author with a major book deal and a 40 state tour to sell my book, Scenic Route Snapshots.  They end up making a movie from my book, starring James Franco.

That’s me totally romanticizing my life.

But I’m here instead.  A great life.  I wouldn’t change a thing.

I just have to quiet that daydreaming tendency in me that wonders “what if?” Of course if I really lived in that What If Universe, I have a feeling I would still end up in the same place.  Dang flash-sideways.  Actually, things would probably be less desirable.

I would always be wondering how my life would have been different had I left the state of Alabama after high school graduation.  I would always be curious about that exotic life I never got to live.  I would be envious of the life I live now.

It’s often easiest to want the things we can never have.  Like the ability to go back and live in the What If Universe.

Whether or not my life would be changed, I couldn’t say the same for the lives of a few others in my life.  The reason my sister and her husband met was because of where I went to college.  Out of state.  The kids they end up having, in some fashion, I helped bring them into existence by my random dream to go to college in Lynchburg, Virginia.

And another married couple I brought together unintentionally:  During my senior year of college I ran the front desk of Liberty University’s brand new state-of-the-art student center, equipped with an Olympic sized pool and 6 basketball court.  I worked the early morning shift with a girl named Jen.  Every morning these two funny guys named Chris and Jesse came in to work out in the gym.

A few months went by of the usual random conversations I would have with them as they came in. The whole time, Jen was right there sitting beside me- the more soft-spoken one of us who observed and participated in our conversations of the day:  “Which movie is scarier?  The original Willy Wonka or The Wizard of Oz?”

For my birthday that year, Chris and Jesse performed a special dance and song they had written just for me, with the lyrics, “Naughty Nick, naughty, naughty Nick…” The corresponding dance moves involved syncopated pelvic thrusts and a finale where they pulled underwear out of their shorts and left them on the floor as a birthday souvenir.   (Check the comments on the “About the Author” tab on this site.  Jesse recently reminded me of all this, bringing this post into existence.)

Soon after, I took off a day from work.  I returned the next day to find out that Jen agreed to go on a date with Chris- a motorcycle ride and dinner, to be exact.  That was five years ago.  They have since been married and recently had their first child.

What if?  What if I wouldn’t have forced my friendly abstract banter with those two guys day after day?  Would Jen and Chris have broken the ice?  Or would he have just been another guy going to the gym have morning and she just another girl checking for student ID’s at the front desk?

Have I changed their lives forever by playing an off-beat pawn that caused them both to be on the same track?

The same could be said for John, the guy who introduced my wife and me to each other.

Thank God for all the times we don’t get to live out the “what if’s?”  My guess is that it’s often the somewhat seemingly bland path we did choose that leads us to take the scenic route.  And that leads us to the things we love most about our lives.

For the more comical version, read “Must Punch Punk Kid in Face”  http://wp.me/pxqBU-F5

Rubik’s Cube Syndrome: Preventing Death by Boredom

So it turns out, there is a such thing as dying of boredom.  Therefore, I always have to be thinking.  Because seriously, there is always a new puzzle to solve.

Being that I’ve been writing for a website since August 2005 and have been averaging around 3 or more new posts a week, I have been routinely asked, “Where do you come up with this stuff?” and “How do you always have something new to write about?”.  The answer, my mind never really shuts off.

Some people’s minds never shut off because they continue to be overwhelmed with all the things they have to get done.  Some constantly worry about all the things they have no control over.  Not me.  I, instead, am constantly entertaining the random thoughts that float up to the surface.  Then I get near a computer.

But if I were to sit down in a therapist’s chair and really let my guard down and spill my guts, the psychiatrist would learn that I have a fear of being bored.  It’s more of an obsession of staying constantly entertained so that I can never enter a second of boredom.

I have these boring dreams sometimes where I realize I am dreaming and tell myself to wake up.  Seconds literally seem like hours in a dream. Usually, if I tell myself in the dream to lift my head off the pillow in real life, it works, and I wake up from the boring dream.

Maybe this is common knowledge, or maybe it’s an epiphany, but boredom is totally motivational.  Popular games and sports, great inventions, and stupid crimes are often born out of boredom.

For me, it all probably started when I was a small kid.  Kids have to do a lot of waiting around.  A couple of the children’s day care centers I attended were torture.  The ones without good, organized activities.  It must have been then that I learned to keep myself entertained under any and at times.  I never realized that until this exact second.

I wasn’t at all surprised last week when I came across this article saying that a new study shows that boredom can be just as dangerous to a person’s health as stress.  It is pretty easy to think of examples of older people who died shortly after they retired.  The first 2 that come to mind:

Paul “Bear” Bryant died on January 25, 1983.  That was 28 days after he retired from coaching the University of Alabama’s football team.  And actor Peter Boyle, who played Raymond’s dad on Everybody Loves Raymond, died the year after the show ended.

And surely we can all think of a senior citizen who died only weeks or months after their aged spouse passed away.  It’s sweet to think about, that one couldn’t go on without the other.  But it’s even more interesting after reading this article:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35328113/ns/health-heart_health/ns/health-heart_health/

I’m starting to realize that I evidently have a subconscious goal to memorize Wikipedia.  My regurgitation of the knowledge I learn there helps keep me entertained at all times.  Even while I’m being entertained.  Like the ultimate “picture in picture” experience.  Or Pop-Up Video.

For example, Friday night I watched the first 20 minutes of Meet the Fockers when ABC aired it (to whet peoples’ appetites for the next sequel, Little Fockers, which comes out this December).  During the opening credits/first 5 minutes of the movie, I pointed out to my wife all the Jews associated with making the movie:

*Note: If there is a “?” next to the person’s name, it means I am not yet able to verify for a fact if they are Jewish, but based on their name alone, they most likely are.  In other words, Jewish until proven Gentile.

Actors: Ben Stiller (Jewish), Dustin Hoffman (Jewish), Barbara Streisand (Jewish), Blythe Danner (mother of Gwenyth Paltrow, was married to the now deceased Bruce Paltrow, who was Jewish)

Music by: Randy Newman (Jewish)

Directed by: Jane Rosenthal (Jewish?) and Nancy Tenenbaum (Jewish?)

Written by: John Hamburg (Jewish?), Jim Herzfeld (Jewish?), and John Hyman (Jewish?)

Distributed by: Universal Studios- which was founded by Carl Laemmle (Jewish) and Dreamworks- which is headed up by Stephen Spielburg (Jewish), David Geffen (Jewish), and Jeffrey Katzenberg (Jewish?)

And this is interesting because less than 2% of Americans are Jewish.  To get a better idea of what a small number that is, Asian-Americans make up 4% of our nation’s population, and African-Americans represent 12%.

http://wp.me/pxqBU-kY

When I watch a movie, I am constantly seeing numbers and words surrounding each actor.  The actor’s height, hometown, and ethnicity.  I get an enhanced experience.

Recently I watched Hope Floats with my wife and here’s what I saw on the screen as soon as I saw Harry Connick, Jr:

6’ 1”

New Orleans, LA

Half Irish, Half Jewish

That is a glimpse at how my mind works.  And how I see everyday life.  Kinda like those Bing commercials about information overload.  When I hear a noun, my mind instantly pulls up the most notable memory from my own life and combines it with other interesting, random facts about it as well.

Last summer, a guy I graduated high school with named Kenneth Snipes, told me in a facebook wall comment that I could take the word “phone book” and write an interesting post about it.  I’m open to the idea.

In the 5th grade, one of my many favorite TV shows was The Dick Van Dyke Show (via Nick at Nite).  I remember an episode where Buddy (played by Morey Amsterdam, who was Jewish) told some people at a party that he could tell a joke with any word someone gives him.  So a lady said “horse”.  This was his joke:

If everybody in America owned a horse, the nation would be more stabilized.

If Buddy can do it with jokes, then I can do it with my writing.  I take requests.  In the form of a comment, just list a subject that you would like for me to expound on.  If I personally know you, I will attempt to also incorporate a memory I have of you in the writing.

See what my Rubik’s Cube of a brain spits out.  I will turn it into a story that will arguably be interesting and educational.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on boredom, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one