Wednesday, June 07, 2006

We DO need some education

I wonder, what did they call the classes where you were supposed to do physical activities? Mine were often called "physical education", but I can't think of one time I ever was educated in them. The first time I ever played flag football, the other kids told me to play "safety" (the 'teacher' just said, "you're playing flag footabll today"), but nobody would explain to me what that was; the most advice I got was, "Stay in the back and try to grab somebody's flag if they have a ball." I was 26 before I learned the offsides rule in soccer (known everywhere else as football). Nowhere did anyone ever teach a sport; it was always assumed that everybody knew how to play it already, even a "weird" one like field hockey (at least, to a kid growing up in rural Appalachia, field hockey is a weird sport).

I hated gym class, by whatever name it was called, as a kid, but I think I might have liked it better if someone had actually tried to teach something, instead of having everybody run around and just do something.

Thoughts of sports

I was thinking today of the time when I played Little League as a child, and the transition from T-ball, where the baseball sits on a nice stationary stand, a little over waist-high, and you know exactly where it is, and how to hit it, and even have a reasonable guess as to where it's going, to where the other team starts pitching to you. I had very poor vision (still do), and so I had really poor depth perception as a kid (heck, it's no better *now*). As a consequence, my hand-eye co-ordination was atrocious (except for videogames, but I mostly started playing those after I got glasses).

No matter how hard I tried (or my dad tried), I could not convince myself that the pitcher was not going to hit me with the ball. He was throwing it in my general direction, and I knew if *I* was throwing the ball, there'd be at least an 80% chance it wouldn't go anywhere near where I was aiming. Every time somebody pitched a ball at me, I ducked. I think I may have lasted an entire week after we started getting pitched at.

Even now, I'm terrible at most sports that involve throwing something, though I can essay a passable spiral with a football if somebody held a gun to my head. I'm really worried about if any of my kids (I don't have any yet, but I'm getting married in a couple of months, and so
these thoughts do pop up) get interested in sports, because I actively avoided them as a kid, and as a consequence, I know almost nothing about any of them. I think I was 26 before somebody finally explained the offsides rule in soccer, and while I can explain the icing rule in
hockey, I'm still a bit hazy on the reason for it.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

TV is your friend... you love TV...

I completely agree with The Smallholder about the insidiousness of TV. I finally broke down last year and got cable, and then built myself a TiVO clone, at which point I found out that there is just too darn much TV I will watch out there. And a surprisingly high proportion of it is good. Given the choice, I will watch:

  1. Any show where somebody builds something:

    1. Motorcycle-building shows

    2. House-building shows

    3. Major engineering project documentaries

    4. Monster Garage. Because damn. Seriously.

  2. Any show involving power tools. especially if women are wielding them. This overlaps category A) above, but also includes:

    1. Home remodeling shows

    2. Home decorating shows

  3. Any show which features large, heavy equipment requiring more gallons of gasoline per minute than my car uses in an entire year.

  4. Any show where the cast could conceivably die.

  5. Mythbusters

  6. Almost anything animated, especially:

    1. Avatar, the Last Airbender

    2. Foster's home for imaginary friends

    3. Codename: Kids Next Door

    4. (God help me) American Dragon: Jake Long

    5. Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex

This is the problem: there is way too much good stuff on TV now, and there is even more stuff I want to watch, and further more that I will watch anyway. I found that trying to do so meant only that I got nothing done that I actually wanted to do-- learning woodworking and cabinetmaking, for instance, or practising music, or learning to operate the ridiculously expensive home recording equipment I bought a few years back. In other words, I was sacrificing my life, just so I could watch TV.

As a consequence, in my new house, we are not only not getting cable, or satellite, or HDTV (except perhaps in display-only mode), we are actively eschewing TV as anything other than a DVD playback mechanism. As my fiancee and I both have Netflix, that's a great rate-limiter-- we can never have more than 3 DVDs at a time to watch, so there's a lot of time that we can both use to devote to our hobbies and interests. In other words, to have a life.

Note: I'm not saying TV sucks-- quite the opposite: I'm saying I'm weak. If it's there, I will watch it, so the only alternative that gives me any chance at life is to not allow it there, or to severely restrict it. This doesn't mean that watching TV is evil; it's just not the choice I'm making.