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Bent, Not Broken

Flexibility is all about the ability to bend as much as possible without snapping into two pieces. If something breaks, it isn’t flexible; it’s just broken.

Some things have more flexibility than others. A Snickers bar will bend for a bit before it loses its ability to hold together. A Red Vine can almost be tied in a knot. Both things are flexible but one is damaged much more quickly.

People have different levels of flexibility as well.  There’s a guy at the gym I go to who can do the splits.  We all know this because he’s constantly doing them in front of us.

I mostly bend at the waist.

I could probably be more flexible, but that would take about 15 minutes of stretching before and after I work out.  That’s a half hour that I’d rather spend doing something else.

A physiologist would tell you that I’m spending my mornings risking a serious injury, especially as I get older.  It will take a substantial amount of discipline to change my routine.

No one likes messing, or having someone else mess with, with our routine. (more…)

Screaming For Vengeance

I recently participated in a mass evacuation from a Starbucks.  It wasn’t the result of a fire or a hostage crisis, but from the raised voices of an all-too-common “break-up coffee date.”  In the pre-coffee shop era, break-ups tended to happen in private spaces where the crying and arguing could happen unabated.

Then we realized that breaking up with someone in front of an audience meant that they’d have to restrain themselves.

While popular, it’s a bit of a risky gambit; when it works it’s like tearing off a bandaid quickly.  When it doesn’t work it’s like witnessing the aftermath of a fender-bender in downtown Rome, both sides emotionally grapple with one another while trying to maintain their rapidly evaporating public demeanor.

Once it’s clear that there’s no stopping the break up, the conversation devolves into an argument about the many details that surround each partner’s personal, and often sexual, shortcomings.  Disagreements may have brought an end to their union, but each party is agreed that neither one of them is leaving until they’ve proven that they are right and the other is wrong.

Assertions of “rightness” pour out like steam from under the hood of a rented Fiat.

This is when a swift and unified, yet unorganized, voluntary evacuation of the Starbucks begins.  Only the stranded Baristas are left to witness their utterly macabre endgame.

We spend a lot of time trying to figure out, then prove, whether or not we are “right” about something.  We do this because we fear the consequences; social, personal, and moral, of being wrong. (more…)

When Adventureland Stinks

Have you ever considered just how powerful the Walt Disney corporation is?  On a truly global scale, they play a major role in shaping cultural attitudes and values at a level that not even public education can compete with.  For instance:

They have their own pronunciation of the word “Caribbean” and they’ve convinced you to use it.

When you look at a world map, or talk about taking a luxury cruise, you pronounce Caribbean the way the British Empire intended when they ruled the earth; you say it with the emphasis on the RIBB portion on the word.  You say “Ca-RIBB-ian”.

But the minute you set foot in a Disney Theme Park or movie theater you immediately begin pronouncing it like the name of the Disney ride; with an emphasis on the BE-IN part of the word.  You say “Care-A-BE-IN.”

While there is no official pronunciation of the word in a real world context (it can vary from Island to Island) there absolutely IS a correct pronunciation of the word in the Disney context.

If you don’t believe me, try announcing to your friends that you’re headed over to ride the “Pirates of the Ca-RIBB-ian” and watch what happens; people snap their heads around to identify the “idiot foreigner” who, quite probably, also has no idea that $9 is a reasonable price for a churro.

The ability to create an artificial environment of agreement where agreement does not naturally exist is a true demonstration of power.

Despite their considerable power I will tell you what Disney can’t do.

(more…)

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