Tag Archives: Muscles

ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge: An Imperfect Place

The devil hides down amongst the cubes*.

You’d have to have not paid your Internet bill over the last couple of months to miss out on knowing about the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge thing.

It started with some professional athletes, not — as myth would have it — an ALS patient. The challenge was to either be filmed dumping a bucket of ice over your head or give money to a charity of your choice. It morphed from there.

And promptly went viral.

Which led to thousands of people filming themselves while having a bucket of ice dumped on their heads while challenging others to do the same. In fact, my dad and I even watched one of those happen poolside at Chabil Mar, a resort in the Central American country of Belize. It was a few weeks ago, before this really hit big so we had no idea what it was about.

Those last four words there. . . That’s what this is about.

So far this post, I’ve written a lot of words about the Ice-Bucket Challenge and mentioned ALS only twice. And never said what ALS really is.

Better known as Lou Gherig’s Disease, named for the New York Yankees baseball player who contracted the disease and thereby showed the bits of the country that liked baseball and were paying attention that the disease existed, ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive, degenerative disease that gradually destroy neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and spinal column. Over time, the disease annihilates voluntary control over the body’s muscles, robbing the person with the disease of the ability to move, to speak, to breathe. For some patients, the end point of the disease is total paralysis of the body. And the worst part is that their mind still is active and aware and trapped in a decayed body incapable of responding to anything.

ALS is, to put it mildly, a horrifying disease. Donating money to help fund research into a cure or a way to slow the progression of the disease is definitely a worthy cause. (Those who want to donate without resorting to dumping ice water on their heads can do so at the ALSA gift page.)

So, given all that, I should be all for the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge, right, dudes?. After all, as of Friday, the challenges have resulted in the ALS Association receiving more than $41 million in donations.

My issue is with all the challengers who do nothing but dump ice on their own heads, laugh, record it and then post it to some social media site, daring others to follow suit. They don’t know what ALS is. They don’t donate to any sort of charitable institution, including the ALS Association, and only do it because everyone else is doing it. 

After all, the challenge is donate to the ALSA OR dump a bucket of ice on their heads.

I talked about this on Facebook and was called out by several of my friends there (actual friends who I actually know) for dumping (no pun intended) on the whole idea. They focused on the positives, on the donations that were raised, which are substantial.

I thought about it and talked it over with Zippy the Travelin’ Boy, who has some similar issues with the challenge. While Zippy the Travelin’ Boy still takes issue with it (mostly, I think, because it’s popular and he likes to be a contrarian) and, to be honest, so do I, it all led to the realization that I was focusing too much on the negative.

I’ll pause now for your shocked intake of breath.

This was brought home to me — literally — when Hyper Lad walked up to me with a hang-dog look, holding a bucket of ice and a video camera.

Before I would participate, he and I had a long talk about what amyotrophic lateral sclerosis actually does and agreed that he would donate money to the ALS Association.

Only then could I laugh at him when his oldest brother, Sarcasmo, poured cube-filled, ice-cold water over the young dude’s head.

Yes, in a perfect world, Hyper Lad’s fellow shiverers would be donating to worthy charitable causes on a regular basis and also donating their time, sweat and effort. They’d already know what ALS really is, why we should support research toward a cure, and be doing the ice thing only to help raise awareness and get more people to donate money to worthy charities.

But, as the estimable John Bender once said: “Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.”

And it’s true.

Screws do fall out all the time.

I guess I’ll just have to live with the idea that people are dumping ice on their heads just because everybody else is doing it. And also some of them might actually understand that this is being used to help raise money to combat an appalling disease.

It’s not perfect, but that’ll do, pig. That’ll do.

As if the world were waiting for my approval anyway.

*Yes, this was an imperfect metaphor. I was trying to evoke the whole thing about the devil being in the detail and then conflating that with the ice-bucket challenge. Don’t judge me. I was . . . stretching.


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Second Chances For First Impressions Rarely Go Well

What does it take for a dude to change his opinion of someone else?

By that, I mean, if you start out liking someone, getting a good vibe off of them, is it easy to readjust your thinking of that person to consider him to be a jerk?

Is it possible to go from thinking someone’s a jerk to thinking they’re an all-right dude?

Or will the lingering stigma of the first impression still hang around no matter how much she’s proved to be one and not the other?

I asked because I’m in the midst of such a reevaluation right about now. See, there’s this person, I’ll call him Ken and he’s somebody who provides me with a service.

No, not that kind of service. Sheesh, dudes. Get your minds up out of the gutter. I’m only being a bit obtuse because he might be reading this. And he might not even be a he. Or a she.

Moving on.

Anyway, I started out thinking Ken was a pretty all right dude, quick on his mental feet, friendly and a good guy to be around.

But then he went and mispronounced something. Badly. Repeatedly. And now I can’t help thinking he’s an idiot.

Now, before you get all up in arms about me being so very shallow and far too nitpicky, let me explain a bit.

See, I have what might charitably be called a huge vocabulary. I have a large working vocabulary, in that I can extemporaneously call up bit words, use them correctly and actually be able to define them. I have an even larger vocabulary of words that, once I hear or see them, I know what they are even if I couldn’t come up with them on my own.

Now, most of those words I learned through reading that I did on my own time. I didn’t have anyone there to talk to about the stuff I was reading, mostly because none of the kids my age were reading anywhere near what I was reading. Not that I’m trying to brag. I’m not.

Anyway, when I would run across a new word, I’d try to understand it by context and would then sound out the word. I’ve never been all that good at sentence diagramming and those pronunciation guides in dictionaries are gibberish to me. So I’ll find that I will be pronouncing a word one way for years, but realize that I’ve been doing it wrong and never knew it.

With that said, I understand that people can mispronounce words all that time and that doesn’t mean they’re an idiot. But it’s the caliber of the word here that’s causing me difficulties.

See, the word Ken mispronounced was calves. You know, the muscles on the back of your leg, between the knee and the heel. Yeah, those calves.

Ken pronounced that word as kal-vz. That is, the hard k sound, short a and hard l sound, followed by a blend of the v and z sound. In reality, the words is pronounced kavz, with the l sound completely silent.

This wasn’t a one-time thing as he repeated the mistake several times over the course of an hour or so.

I know it’s relatively minor, but I just can’t let it go. Calves is such a basic word and I find my second impression fighting with my first impression.

Oddly enough, in the opposite of what usually happens, I think my second impression (the reevaluation) is winning out over the first impression.

Now that I’ve opened myself up for ridicule, what do you dudes say? Can the second impression win out over the first and, in this case, should it?

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Black Friday

I am sleeping late.

I’m not getting up and rushing into various stores, fighting crowds and screaming that the last one of those still on a slightly reduced price point is MINE!

Nope.

Not going to do it.

Nor am I going to be going crazy on the computer come Monday. I won’t be racking up huge connection times or credit card bills (no more than normal, at any rate).

Not going to do that either.

I’m not doing it because I refuse on principal to be part of such a huge outpouring of greed and self-interest (although there’s a little bit of that in there, as well). I’m not doing this because I’m lazy and hate being crushed in a crowd, although there’s plenty of that in the decision as well.

Nope.

I’m staying away from Black Friday and Cyber Monday for one simple reason: I actually planned ahead this year.

That’s right, dudes, I’ve already started purchasing Christmas presents this year. It’s not so much a principled stand for or against consumerism, as the fact that I’ve been seeing stuff my family would like and, rather than seeing and forgetting, I’ve been going ahead and purchasing things. When they arrive, I’ve been salting these little bits of good cheer away in a couple of different secret places.

(Most of those secret places are where cleaning items are stored because no one in the house ever looks there.)

For the first time in almost ever, I’m actually just about finished with Christmas shopping and it wasn’t a mad dash to the finish line where I’m buying whatever crosses my field of vision and hoping for the best. It actually feels pretty good to be this far ahead.

Of course, now I have to guard against getting complacent and forgetting somebody or something until the last minute and doing that rush out and spree-buy we just discussed.

Sorry if this comes across as bragging, but I’m so astonished that I had to start talking about it to someone and you dudes and dudettes got elected.

Getting ahead with presents caused me to have to exercise a whole different set of muscles in my brain. Instead of asking people what they wanted, I had to pay attention to them throughout the year. I had to spend more time with them, talking and listening and watching.

Come to think about it, that right there might be the best present of the year. For me, really. Not them. I know I got one restraining order, but that was mostly a mistake. Mostly.

Because I had to be near family to figure out what they wanted, I was rewarded by being near them, spending time with them and having a bit more fun with them than I had previously. That’s a good thing.

So today, while the masses are out cursing each other, themselves and the fact that the My-Little-Prostate-Exam Elmo is already sold out, I’ll be here. In bed. Sleeping. Then getting up to spend more time with the family.

I consider that a win. And maybe worth feeling a bit smug about it.

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