Posted in Beavers, Blazers, Sports

What Is Wrong With My Teams?

This sports year began with such promise.  My Raiders were showing some signs of recovery.  The news out of the Blazer camp was good and the new acquisitions were looking like steals.  Oden seemed to be ahead of schedule, and word was that Pryzbilla’s return was imminent.  Brandon Roy was calling for the ball more, and all was as it should be to begin another hopeful season.  The OSU Beavers stumbled early, as always, but put up a good fight against ranked opponents.  They then looked go od against those that they should beat and played strong against better opponents.  My sports world seemed secure and fun and ready to carry me joyfully through the bleak and grey months to come.        

Today I am sitting and watching the Miami Dolphins do pretty much whatever they want whenever they want in Oakland as the Raiders either stand and watch the dolphins run by them, or the Raiders run past on defense as their arm tackles fall off and the Dolphins make first downs at will.  Yesterday I was treated to the worst debacle of the college football season as the Beavers warmed up for the civil war by getting thoroughly trounced by a team that Oregon thoroughly trounced.  Good luck next week.  Can anyone say 60 to 0?

The Portland Trailblazers need to find out what high priestess of voodoo they have offended, or which ancient curse they have somehow run afoul of.  They just keep losing people to injury.  What began as a season full of ambition and hope has become one of hoping once again to make the playoffs.  Our once young and promising team has become an old one without ever seeing even a glimpse of the potential that once drew thousands to Pioneer Courthouse Square to welcome Greg Oden, the final piece of the puzzle, to town.

I wish that I could see a silver lining somewhere, but the Raiders and the Beavers don’t seem to be able to stop anyone on defense.  The Beavers Offensive line is giving no time to their quarterback, and as he is constantly rushed he is making poor decisions which are also fueled by the Beavers inability to stop the other team from scoring.  When they are always playing from behind they are unable to maximize the effectiveness of running back Jaquizz Rogers and allowing the opposing defenses to tee off on quarterback Katz. 

Due to the nature of the in-state rivalry, I expected that next week’s civil war would be competitive and that the Beavers would have a chance to actually knock the ducks from their lofty perch atop the BCS.

Fat chance.  Even with the great game that they had against USC the week before I have no confidence that this inconsistent group can pull together a good enough game to knock off a team as confident and tested as the Ducks. 

I am the eternal optimist, though.  I am in this for the long haul.  I have been following the Raiders since 1968.  Raiders vs. Packers in the Super Bowl.  Green Bay won, but I loved the Raiders and have enjoyed watching them ever since.  I’m in for the long haul.  In 1970 I began to follow the Trailblazers the year that they entered the NBA.  I went crazy with the rest of the state as they stunned the league in 1977, and have been an avid fan ever since.  Due to a long history of family and friends attending Oregon State University I have been a fan of the Beavers for as long as I can remember following sports and so have a deep-set loyalty first through indirect association and now because after so many years it just feels natural.

Even as I write this the Raiders have scored and taken the lead.  They still can’t stop Miami, but at least they show glimpses of what they can be, and what they are now is still a big step forward from where they have been for the last seven or eight years.  They are moving in the right direction, it is just hard to watch when they take another step back.

The Beavers look like they may have given up, but maybe they were just thinking too much about the civil war.  I hope that was it.  Maybe they could still be more competitive than they were on Saturday.  There is always next year, and that is looking pretty good.  Another year os experience and another summer to work on lessons learned should do Ryan Katz and his offensive line a world of good.  A healthy set of Rogers brothers will go a long way toward filling the holes that exist today, and the defense can improve with an offseason to work on their many breakdowns.  I think next year could be a great year for the Beavers.  I just hope that they comport themselves well on the field next week.  A good showing against Oregon would make the work they need to do this off-season a lot more palatable.

The Portland Trailblazers need to re-think their strategy on the floor.  I love the idea of a healthy Brandon Roy as the focus of our offence, but he is not healthy and probably will not be fully healthy for the rest of his career.  The problems with his knees are not going to go away.  It has now become a pain and damage management issue.  The  Blazers need to recognize this and begin to shift the offence to run more through Lamarcus Aldridge and Nicholas Batum.  Aldridge has done the work over the last summer and bulked up to spend more time around the basket.  He still has our most deadly medium range jumper and has shown himself to have moves to the basket both with and without the ball that scream to be exploited more.  He has been getting more double doubles this year and is averaging near enough to 20 and 10 to see that becoming a nightly affair with a little more emphasis on getting Lamarcus the ball late in the game. 

Batum has long been one of our best defenders, but has shown more and more this year that he is capable of contributing points and rebounds in a prolific manner night in and night out when emphasized in the offence.  He is also one of our better offensive rebounders.  There is a very good reason that the Blazers have refused to include Nicholas in any trade proposals that they have considered.

Joel Pryzbilla will be returning in the next couple of games, shoring up a thin center corps, but until they adjust to Brandon Roy’s new and altered role on the team I believe that the Blazers will struggle as Brandon continues to push his body until he can push it no longer.  When he goes out to recover, the team has to adjust to a new lineup once again and the resultant loss of continuity will inevitably result in losses to teams that are actually less talented than the Blazers, but better able to utilize their squad in a consistent and fluid manner. 

Brandon is still one of the pillars of this team.  Even hobbled, he stands as a leader and a playmaker on our team.  There is no one better when the game is on the line and the clock is winding down.  With the right time management, he can still play at the high level that he has established for himself throughout his career.  The Blazers do have to alter their style of play to suit the strengths AND the limitations of their personnel. 

If Greg Oden comes back and can get to the level that he played at just before his latest injury it will go a long way toward easing the load on Roy.  The kind of presence that he could provide would take a lot of pressure from Brandon’s shoulders to create.  With Lamarcus playing a greater role down low, they could shift the focus more to the paint and take away the need for Roy to take such a beating down low.

It is looking like this might be another lost year in sports for me, but as long as the Lord keeps giving me another year to hope, I don’t mind.  Until then, I’ll be dreaming of hearing:

                Boom Shakalaka!

                Jacquizz scores!

                Touchdown RAIDERSSSS!!!

Keep walking.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Wolf Tales

Wolves were absent from the public conversation for many years, having been very nearly eradicated in the lower forty-eight states one hundred years ago.  Recently, though, this rare and mysterious predator has been more and more visible and in the public eye as they mount a comeback in several states after being reintroduced from Canada. 

Along with the reintroduction of the signature lonely howl into the eastern Oregon wilderness, we are hearing another plaintiff cry; that of the open range ranchers who bear the brunt of the negative impact of these merciless carnivores.  Current compensation policies call for stringent evidence confirming a wolf kill, including a carcass.  This is extremely hard in the wide-open range lands of eastern Oregon.  Complicating things for the rancher is the fact that the carcass is reduced to a few scattered bones in a matter of days, an almost impossible time line when searching thousands of acres for a lone calf carcass or even an adult. 

The wolves were not brought into Oregon and dropped off like an unwanted litter of kittens, but reintroduced themselves, spreading here after their intentional reintroduction into Yellowstone National Park.  This would indicate that they do indeed belong here and thus we will have to learn to live alongside them; which means that we will have to educate ourselves in the new proper etiquette as we must anytime that nature decides to take back some of its territory.  There will be new rules to follow and new responsibilities for conservation and mitigation. 

Right now there seems  a line drawn between those directly affected by our newly returned deadly killing machines, and those who are able to admire the noble return of this majestic cousin of ”man’s best friend.”  There shouldn’t be a divide.  We all have a stake in learning how to cope with our new neighbors and in sharing the cost and the responsibility for the damage that will require creative and cooperative solutions.  The people making money on the back of this new attraction have a moral obligation to share in the loss of those negatively affected. 

It is too easy to sit in Portland and tell the eastern Oregon rancher to “just live with it” while forgetting that there are wild animals today who try to repopulate in your city, just as much their “natural range” as the high desert and the wilderness across the cascades are to the wolves.  Would you tolerate wolves or bears or other natural predators repopulating into your back yard?  Into Forest Park?  The next time that a cougar or a bear wanders into your neighborhood are you willing to “just live with it?”  Even when it eats your chihuahua and leae it’s bloody carcass.  I apologize for that imagery, but I think that it is time for the urban liberal to use a little  compassion for fellow Oregonians who supply the beef and wool and wheat for their table.

Having a native species of animal return to our state is something that we should all be able to celebrate, meaning we all should join in the extra effort that will entail.  It is never fair to profit on the backs of others.  A great accomplishment is best enjoyed when all can enjoy it, and you most enjoy something when you helped it to happen.

On any issue, it does no good to line up on your side of the line and take potshots at those who don’t support your point of view.  Instead of demanding that someone else make all the concessions to accomplish what they want done, why don’t the environmentalists grow a little compassion along with their trees and see if they can actually accomplish their goals without harming another human being or his ability to support his family.  Just a thought.

The concept applies both ways.  The people who are adversely affected by the wolves will have to seriously look at working cooperatively with those interested in expediting the wolves return.  Somewhere there is a solution that wouldn’t put an inordinate burden on anyone.  We all should be willing to help if needed.  Isn’t that the Oregon spirit anyway?  We see a need and we fill it.  We see a problem and we solve it.  All of us.  Together.  We can’t be proud of being Oregonians if we don’t value the compassionate independence that has kept some of us here for more than half a century. 

Welcome the wolves, and give the ranchers your support.

Keep Walking.  (And watch out for wolves.)

Posted in Health

Misplaced Values Have Us Out of Whack

As we move into an age of rapidly growing technology and scientific advancements it might benefit us to evaluate where we place value in our society and how misplaced value; over-valuing some aspects of society and undervaluing others; can have a crippling effect on our society. 

Increasingly we hear warnings that America is overweight.  Statistics show that in 2009 there were 9 states that had more than a 30% obesity rate.  19 more states are over 25%.  The only state below 20% was Colorado at 18.6%.  Washington D.C. came in at 19.7%, but of course it is a district and not a state.    

Our society is geared more and more to promote a sedentary lifestyle.  Every day something new emerges to make life easier or to keep us in front of the TV or computer screen, taking the effort out of more and more of the daily tasks that serve the secondary purpose of moving us around and making us work.  Often it is the need to save time rather than a conscious effort to avoid work, but the end result is the same.  We trade time spent doing something to time spent watching something.  Sports give ground to video games.  Movies and reality shows provide our thrills, rather than our own adventures hiking or skiing or river rafting.

Our exercise machines now do the work while you just hold them or sit on them or stand on them!  Isn’t the point of exercise to increase your activity?  How much aerobic benefit can there be to holding a vibrating stick?

The real key to the solving the sedentary trap of technology seems is in education.  As we focus upon the rapidly advancing technology and sociological fields we are forgetting the importance of some of the more basic tenets of a growing and expanding population. 

In order that the proper balance between supply and demand is kept we have to value the basic needs of life and those who choose to spend their lives providing for those needs.  Doctors, physicists, computer programmers and designers, game designers, politicians, financiers, and all the highly valued professionals need to have a network of farmers, manufacturers, producers, ranchers, fisherman, etc. to make their lives possible.

At some point, all technology fails.  The more we rely on technology, the more we set ourselves up for disaster depending upon what fails.  If we want to know the real value of the more labor intensive professions such as farming or trucking or ranching, ask yourself who would need to learn new skills to survive in a post-technology environment?  Who would need to re-invent if the electricity went out?

We need to educate ourselves to care for our physical, mental, and spiritual health.  We, as a society, are at a point of decision. 

If we continue to neglect our physical well-being, our mental health also suffers.  We are created as well-rounded and self-sufficient beings.  Sitting in front of a computer or a gaming system or a TV is a choice that we are certainly entitled to make, but does little to increase our contentment or sense of self-worth.These things are fine in moderation, but the stimulus around us pushes us away from the ability to improve or to entertain ourselves.  We rely increasingly upon others to bring meaning and relevance to our lives.  Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean that you should.  Just ask the Congressional Democrats.

Posted in Political

Goodbye & Good Riddance to Campaign Season

I had all sorts of things running through my mind earlier while I walked the dogs and then again while I relaxed and now that I sit down to write all the ideas and thoughts that were so plentiful have scattered, nowhere in mind.  Poetry might be a good way to start.  I have not done any poetry in a good long time.  Actually, without poetry, it is more of a bad long time.  Poetry is salve for the soul.  It is an important aspect of my writing and one that I should cultivate and develop.  It opens new pathways of creativity and new relationships between the words, allowing interplay with one another that can embellish any writing that I attempt.  Poetry is like writing letters to God. 

Perhaps my writer’s block is due to a deficit in hiking time.  Time spent in the woods is time for thought and for inspiration and contemplation.  It is a time to slow the pace of life even as I hasten my step.  A time to recharge that creative connection between me and my creator.  Sometimes it’s good to walk alone, and sometimes it’s good to take a friend. 

Thank goodness for the end of the campaign season again.  The time is ripe for reconciliation and cooperation.  Thank goodness that we have returned to a more balanced form of government.  Hopefully, now that people are in place, our country can once again become that bastion of diverse people and even more diverse views joining together for the common interests that will once again remind us why this is the greatest county not only in the world, but in the history of the world.  The advancements made in the name of humanity for more than two hundred years have long come predominantly from the United States of America.  We don’t want to risk losing that leadership position due to misguided political agendas.  Our country rose to greatness by having starkly delineated spheres of power between the three branches of the federal government, and by retaining the state’s rights to individually govern in conjunction with the limited federal areal of jurisdiction; defense, national security, and constitutional oversight. 

These branches of government were designed to work together as a smoothly functioning system to bring our growing nation to its full potential, and it has, producing the nation that has led the world in every area; productivity, commerce, defense, human rights, foreign aid, invention, advancement of knowledge, education, health.  We defend the weak and we aid the poor.  We make loans knowing that they will never be repaid, except with good will.  Let us not forget all the good that has come from this system of governance.

Our country, with all of our problems, remains a shining light to the world of what can become when people are free to pursue their dreams.  People from across the globe still clamor to come here.  We remain the brightest  beacon of freedom.  People in the worst of circumstances draw encouragement from the liberty that we represent.  We don’t need a complete overhaul, just a tune-up.  Let’s take a moment to focus on what is right with our system and preserve that before we get too change-happy.

This time around we can only hope that all the politicians on all the sides can understand that America doesn’t want governance by extremists of any ideology.  We want a government that will understand that they are there to do what is best for the whole country, not just the people who voted for them or the special interests who donated money.  They need to work harder to find that middle ground and if they are so sure they are right then it is up to them to educate us and show us why they are right.  No more “let’s pass this so that we can see what is in it.  Honesty is not all that difficult, once you get used to it.

Hopefully everyone has learned something, because the republicans not too long ago were in the same position as the democrats find themselves now.  Swept from office because they were not listening and they were not doing what we sent them to do.  I think it would be great for them to become aware that they are in office only as long as they are doing the job that we pay them to do.  Sure it’s tough to get to that consensus needed to do the right thing, but they obtained office by telling us that they were capable of exactly that.  Let’s see it, or there will be a lot of new faces again next time.

One of the most disturbing developments during the recent campaigns in my view was the proliferation of vicious personal attacks, especially against conservative women.  Seeing this cancer even spread up to the presidency was extremely disconcerting to me.  I expect the people that we elect to office to have the same respect for others that he or she expects themselves. I don’t care about republican politician, or democrat politician.  Just give me honest and informed politician and I am a happy camper.  I would just ask that whoever it is, he listen to voters no matter their party affiliation.  If someone is there to represent me, it shouldn’t matter whether he agrees or disagrees with me; he owes it to me to consider my perspective.

I think that our politics would become much more civil if, before each day’s session in the chambers, all the senators or all the representatives would take a thirty minute walk together, preferably in a nice natural setting.  You can’t stay angry while you walk.  It’s the truth.  Give it a try yourself if you don’t believe me.  The next time something about our system of governance irritates you, go walk in the woods. It wills sooth your soul.  Then go back and write your local politicians.  Tell them to get it together or to…

Take a hike!!!

Posted in Uncategorized

Go Walking

As we move rapidly through November and approach Thanksgiving It seems a good time to discuss walking as a means to combat the tendency to be less active during the more inclement weather that is prevalent, especially here in Oregon.  As Oregonians we are accustomed to the local form of high humidity known as eighty percent chance of rain.  This median is interspersed with patches of really inclement weather, and the occasional gem of a day when the sun finds its way through the moisture in the air and it seems as though it should be warm, but it’s not.                   

Man was designed to walk.  Whether you believe in divine creation or simply think that we are the result of a series of improbable cosmic collisions and spontaneous generation, from the moment that man appeared on this planet he was destined to walk.  It is in his genes, in his design.  Running can work for a while, but requires a lot of fuel and a well-tuned body.  Riding is easier, and often faster, but tends to preclude walking.  If we ride everywhere, we miss out on the healthful benefits of self-locomotion. 

Some of the proven health benefits of walking regularly include, but are not restricted to;

  • Reduced threat of heart attack and stroke. 
  • Reduced HDL cholesterol levels
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced body fat & weight
  • Reduced risk of adult onset diabetes
  • Increased bone density and prevention of osteoporosis
  • Increased flexibility

With all those health benefits it is only natural that people who incorporate walking into their daily regimen  will, on average live longer with fewer impairments to a healthy and  comfortable life at every age.  When you are active and fit you have half the risk of cardiovascular disease, you are less likely to sustain injury due to increased flexibility.  You sleep better and are less prone to depression and anxiety.  When you are fit you have more control of your body weight and shape, leading to better self-esteem as well as more resistance to disease. 

When walking for fitness, there is a common gauge known as “the talk test.”  You should walk  as fast as possible while retaining the ability to hold a conversation.  Walk briskly, but not so that you are struggling for breath.  Aerobic exercise is carried out at a comfortable pace to ensure sufficient oxygen to the muscles.  You should do aerobic exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes. 

Surprisingly, a Loughbrough University study found that walking continuously for thirty minutes five days a week produced nearly identical fitness increases as splitting the thirty minutes into three ten minute walks and, even more surprisingly, that the split workouts produced greater weight loss and waist decreases than the longer walkers. 

Getting and staying fit is really simple and requires little training or preparations.  Walking is one of the most natural things that you can do, it feels good, and it is good for you.  What are you waiting for?

Take a hike!!!