Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Final Report, and Highly Educated Ghosts

July Swim for Distance Final Report: 30,525 meters (19 miles) 
Charities Benefiting: Mercy for Animals, Detroit Water Brigade and whatever my mom picked

(Yeah, I changed charities midstream. Normally I wouldn't do that, but do you guys know what's going on in Detroit? I mean, it's unbelievable.  And while some 17,000 families and small businesses are now without water, the city hasn't even tried collecting from its larger corporate customers, like the city golf courses and other businesses, who in some cases owe millions.  This is a human-rights violation and the exact polar opposite of how a city is supposed to treat its own citizens. Why is this even happening in America, in our time?) 

Okay, I've come to the end of Swim for Distance month, and my distance was a respectable 19 miles.  I was shooting for 21, but that would have required everything to fall exactly into place in an ever so perfect way, and life is just never that uncomplicated.  If you've been following me to see how much you need to send to charity, plunk that $19 in an envelope and send it.  You can also figure it by the meter (30,525; maybe a penny a meter?  A penny for ten meters?) or the kilometer (30.5) if you want.  Thank you, your charities thank you too, and we'll do it again next year barring alien abductions or other unforeseen catastrophes.  

(And this is interesting:  Every time I get out of the pool at the end of a session, I have this brief moment of sadness that it'll be another 24 hours, or sometimes 48, before I get to jump back in again.  File that under "You know you're a swimmer when...")

Meanwhile, back in the real world, I saw a guy this morning who was wearing a pro-UT, anti-A and M t-shirt this morning and realized that I can add yet another thing to the long list of things I don't understand:  School spirit.  Okay, I understand that it's got something to do with raising children to be patriots, and the way you get them proud of their country is to make 'em proud of something smaller first so they'll grow up to be little rah-rah flag waving drones, but I don't get why anybody over the age of eight actually buys it.  I mean, there are millions of schools out there.  How in hell can yours be the best?  

Actually, let's back up a second.  I get the whole "My school is awesome!" thing.  My high school, for example, was pretty awesome.  What I don't get is the "My school is awesome and yours sucks!" thing.  I mean, there's no logical basis behind it.  Is there?  If you don't go to a school, how can you know if it sucks or not?  I know of which I speak. I went to Arizona State. Arizona State and the U of A have this rivalry thing that's, well, pretty epic.  And I won't bore you with all the stupid examples I saw during my 4 1/2 year sentence, but there were lots, okay?  And maybe I was just tired and cranky a lot (and I was; and not medicated, either), but I was always "For Christ's sake, can't we talk about something else?" whenever it came up. Because, honestly, I didn't much care who won the game of the week or got rated higher on the Playboy party schools list.  

I'fact, I got to wondering if the school spirit thing is the beginning of our culture's We vs. They.  I know, I talk about this a lot, but hey, I'm a Buddhist.  You wanna celebrate in-grouping, go find another blog.  I'm of the opinion that We vs. They is the cause of most, if not all, of humanity's problems, and if more people would figure out there is no They, it's all We, then maybe we could start solving some of them.  Let's face it, it's hard to solve problems when you're busy sorting people out into little boxes .  If They, for example, are Communists or terrorists or Aggies, then They are different from We and They can be discriminated against, shut out, killed or otherwise inc0nvenienced.  We can treat Them that way because They are not We.  The trouble is, when We single out a They and then treat Them badly, We are setting ourselves up for They to do the same thing to We.  Which inevitably leads to retaliation and another round of justifications for why They are not We and I could go on and on about this, but I'll stop now.  

In closing, an apocryphal tale:  I was at the university bookstore one evening near the end of my sentence.  A bunch of Josten's class ring people were in front of the store, passing out flyers and harassing passersby generally.  I watched one of the Josten's people come up to a weary-looking guy who was leaving the bookstore, having doubtless left all his money behind on the counter for the single book he was carrying.  Thereupon an exchange began, in which he apparently told her he was not interested and she would not take no for an answer.  At some point, she said something like, "But sir! Wouldn't you be interested in shiny chip of glass-like material that costs more than the down payment for a house to fondly remind you of your years at Arizona State?"  The guy looked at her and said, "Lady, I wanna forget I ever heard of this place."  

Now that's school spirit. Rah rah.

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