Anticipation, both good and bad, is a large part of our lives. I was dreading something last week. Maybe dread is the wrong word, but I was definitely not looking forward to it. I convinced myself that it wasn't going to be that bad but it ended up being worse than I expected. Which got me thinking, is it worse to anticipate something to not be bad and having it end up being worse than you expected? Or is it worse to dread something in the future and then have it not be as bad as you expected?
Take going to the dentist, for example. I HATE going to the dentist. Always have. A couple years back I had to get a filling. I was so stressed about it that I couldn't think of anything else for weeks. I was convinced that it was going to be a terrible, painful experience. The day arrived and it was definitely uncomfortable, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
I say that it's worse to dread something and have it be better than expected, because the dread is the hardest part. If you think something isn't going to be bad, you're not dreading it so you're not as stressed about it. And if it ends up being worse than expected, well, that sucks, but at least you weren't as stressed about it beforehand. Stressing about something is the worst. I can't stand being preoccupied about something that I am not looking forward to. If it ends up being less stressful than I expected, that's great and all but the stress energy has already been expended.
I remember saying to my dad once as a child, "there's nothing better than an upset in the Tournament." And it's still true! I have loved the NCAA basketball tournament since I can remember. In fact, I can remember filling in results in my bracket that I got out of a Sports Illustrated, back when people subscribed to magazines. I was so excited to run to my room and add another result to the sheet. My love of the tournament probably didn't bother my dad, a big sports fan, very much. He enjoyed watching the big games as well.
I was on spring break in high school when Duke beat Kentucky in the greatest college basketball game ever played. I watched it in my living room, running around the house in excitement over the incredible result. I was no Duke fan (still am not), but I just loved the incredible finish. I remember Grant Hill making an amazing dunk in the NCAA Championship game, also watching from my living room. I can't believe that was in 1991! 27 years ago and I still remember it clearly.
More recently, I remember watching Montana, my alma mater, upset Nevada in 2005. I was watching at work and ran around the office like the Griz had won the national championship. It was thrilling! Then they lost to Boston College in the next round. No matter, because they won a game in the Tournament. For the Griz and their fans, that was as good as it got.
I remember being very excited when the NCAA changed the formate to eliminate the gap in coverage from 5-7 pm ET. Back in the day there was a afternoon round and an evening round of games, with nothing to bridge the gap. It was depressing to have to watch something besides basketball during those two hours on Thursday and Friday. But now the games go from Noon until past midnight ET with no interruption in coverage, which is manna from heaven for us hoopheads.
Last year, I was in Vegas for the Tournament. I've never seen a city so full of people. The games were on EVERYWHERE. Nothing else mattered. All anyone cared about was the first two days of action. It was glorious. My betting system went 2-6 on Friday and 6-2 on Saturday, so I broke even. Anyone who has been to Vegas will tell you that breaking even after a weekend of betting is a big win. Having money on the games is exciting, but I get just as excited and watch just as many games without any action on them. The Tournament is just that exciting.
This year I'll be watching from my couch with my son, rooting on Gonzaga instead of going to the park. The Zags play at 10:30 am and the Griz play at 7 pm PT. I'm excited to share my love of the tournament with the next generation. He is only two but already has seen many (victorious) Gonzaga games. Let's hope he enjoys watching the games with me as much as I did (and still do) with my dad.
I just finished up a course on Communication Ethics. It was interesting to learn more about various ethical constructs and what constitutes ethical behavior. The course included eight blog-type discussion board posts and four critical analysis papers. Our thoughts on ethical dilemmas and personal examples of ethical behavior were shared online with the class. I found myself opening up to the class in ways that I probably wouldn't do if it were in person. Sitting in my den, typing away as my son sleeps, allows me to be self-critical and examine my past actions and current values in ways that are more difficult in front of a group of relative strangers. It's freeing, in a way. I have come to like, appreciate, and enjoy my authentic self.
Examining one's beliefs and values and learning about the beliefs of others can by quite interesting. I've definitely grown as a person as I mark the halfway point of my COML journey. I'm also able to examine a problem and break it down into manageable sections before doing the work, which helps in grad school and also helps me figure out how to raise a two-year old.
In case you're interested in how online graduate school works, here is an unedited discussion board post I wrote earlier this semester. The topic was on incorporating two specific ideas into my own personal ethical philosophy or credo, as they point to an ethical way of encountering and engaging difference. It got a score of 5/5, so you know it's insightful and interesting:
I follow two credos in my daily life: 1. Fortune favors the bold; and 2. Do the work. They are both simple and guide me as I make decisions. Being bold and doing the work also can apply to engaging differences. Being bold involves making decisions that seem risky or courageous, which can include putting oneself out there and trying to meet new people or experiencing new cultures. Doing the work can include experiencing new ideas with an open mind.
I pride myself on having an open mind and always trying to understand the point of view of anyone I talk to or encounter. I certainly don’t always agree with them, but I want to know why other people have opinions and philosophies that differ from mine. I get frustrated when others don’t have the same desire to be open to new ideas and ways of thinking. Opinions are inherently never wrong, yet many people across the political spectrum are closed-minded to the opinions of others who disagree with them and mistake their own opinions as facts.
Since having an open mind is important to me, I also pride myself on having a diverse group of friends. I have friends of almost every political persuasion and count people of different races, genders, sexual orientations, generations (younger and older), and ethnic backgrounds as my friends. Standpoint theory, as defined by Wood (1997), would contend that I have standing, and concomitant privilege, as an upper-middle class white heterosexual male. My friendships have been defined by those with whom I went to school and know professionally, so it is true that positions constructed by societies have enabled and defined my identity as a member of various social groups (Wood, 1997).
Schwartz (2012) created a value theory that specifies six main features implicit in the writings of theorists. Schwartz’s sixth value states that “the relative importance of multiple values guides action.” This is a noteworthy suggestion because I can think of many times when it has proven true. My first credo, Fortune favors the bold, suggests that good things come to those who make bold decisions. But making bold decisions often goes against other values such as conformity and security.
In my life, I made a bold decision to move across the country, far away from my family and home state, not once but twice. The good fortune came in the form of professional career growth. It was uncomfortable, though, and I was nervous about my decision. I could have followed the value of security and stayed close to home. But my values of self-direction and stimulation were relatively more important, so moved and stayed on the East Coast for a combined 12 years. Later, as I grew older and got married, security and conformity became relatively more important than stimulation, and my wife and I moved back to Washington state to be close to our families.
“Do the work” is my other credo. I adhere to it in this class because I only have a limited time each day to finish my reading and homework. I do all my classwork when my son is napping, so I need to do the work and not waste time doing other things when he is asleep. It helps motivate me to finish my papers and reading.
Makau, J.M., & Arnett, R.C., Eds. (1997). Communication ethics in an age of diversity. University of Illinois Press.
Schwartz, S. H. (2012). An Overview of the Schwartz Theory of Basic Values. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1). http//dx.doi.org/10.9707/2307-0919.1116
I moved all my NFL-related content to my new web site: The NFL One-Pager. I hope you like it. I probably won't be posting much non-NFL related content here during the season, but if something besides the NFL piques my interest I'll try to share it. Usually doesn't happen much, but you never know. In the meantime, go to the One-Pager for all my hot takes on the NFL.
My wife and I use Google Calendar to coordinate our schedules. Our calendars fill up quickly with events, engagements, and commitments. Some of them are exciting and others are ordinary. I love putting appointments on my calendar (besides dentist appointments) because I have something new to look forward to.
Anticipation is an exciting feeling. Everyone has events that they look forward to. For some it's a Friday-night date, for others it's a long-planned vacation. Almost everything is anticipated, mostly positively but also negatively. A doctor's appointment on the calendar is anticipated nervously; a child's first day of Kindergarten is anticipated as exciting and scary years in advance by parents. Very few future events are anticipated with total ambivalence. Even voting or going to the grocery store elicits some sort of emotional reaction.
I love anticipation, sometimes more than the actual event. And I love it even more when the actual experience exceeds my expectations. Most events meet my expectations, but quite a few have been more enjoyable than I anticipated. Most are sports- or concert-related, like watching the Seahawks win in person, but I can recall many random experiences that were much better than anticipated. Even something as simple as sitting on the couch with a cold beverage or glass of wine at the end of a long day of child-wrangling, cooking, and cleaning is often even better than anticipated.
I have high expectations when anticipating an event, so I am disappointed when my expectations are not met. Sometimes restaurants aren't as good as advertised or something I thought would be fun turned out to be not much fun. For example, I went to see a new band a few months back with my friend and was disappointed that the band was talented but boring because they just jammed out instead of singing actual songs like I had heard on the radio. And standing up for 3 hours murdered my entire body. I did not anticipate being so sore after attending a concert because when I was younger I never thought twice about standing up for hours on end. Another example of getting older both exceeding (being married and becoming a parent) and not exceeding (being sore and tired all the time) my expectations.
When you've read as many articles online as I have, you start to notice some patterns. One unfortunate pattern I've noticed is the authors' use of tweets to support the premise of their articles. Here is the basic formula for many online articles:
Article = Basic topic synopsis gathered from other sources + Tweets from random Twitter users to show outrage/support + Quote from subject expert gathered from more in-depth article + Basic analysis of random tweets
Journalists use Twitter all the time and therefore assume that those the 21 percent of Americans who use Twitter represent the general public. This is a lazy way to gauge public support or opposition on an issue. Instead of interviewing subject experts and conducting in-depth research to create insightful analysis, many journalists check Twitter and use the results to establish an outline of their article. Maybe I'm old school, but what someone with 15 Twitter followers says about current events is not relevant to me.
A perfect example of my Twitter article formula can be found here. Note that the article follows the formula: Synopsis gathered from ESPN + Tweets from three outraged Twitter users + Quote from ESPN and expert + Basic analysis of why the tweeters found the topic to be outrageous.
In many cases the topic is relevant and worth writing about, but it's lazy journalism to just plug tweets into an article. Using tweets does not prove a hypothesis or provide insight into the attitude of the public. Using my Twitter article formula, a journalist can bang out a story and post it online in minutes. This is very important in the race for page views, but it does not make for accurate or insightful journalism.
August feels like 6 p.m. on a Sunday. You've done fun things, relaxed, and completed the tasks you assigned yourself. Now you aren't quite sure what to do. Do you just call it a day and binge-watch a television show while eating takeout or leftovers? Do you create a magnificent meal from scratch? Do you go out to dinner and hang out with friends? The rest of your day could go in many different directions.
August feels the same way. Many summer plans have already been completed. Vacations have already been taken. Time with family and friends has been checked off the list. You've grilled out so much that you think hamburger-scented cologne is a million-dollar idea. Summer is still happening but you have pretty much done all the summer things you planned to do. That's why August feels so slow. You're tan, rested, and full of potato salad, but summer is still here. You don't want to speed things up, especially when winters are so long and dreadful, but your thoughts are definitely peeking ahead to a new season.
When I was a kid, August was the last grasp at summer. Days and evenings at the public pool or riding bikes felt a tinge melancholy because the sun was going down earlier and I knew that school was just around the corner. Entering a new grade was pretty exciting in theory, but not going to school seemed like a much better use of my time. Since my parents were teachers I was able to sleep in and be lazy because they were home enjoying their summer break as well.
As an adult, August means that my favorite sport, football, is just one month away! The end of summer is in sight and with it the excitement of unproductive weekends on the couch watching college and NFL football on television. I turned on the first preseason game the other day and my son looked up at the game on tv and exclaimed: "football!" I haven't been more proud since he was born. Almost brought a tear to my eye. I can't wait to create many more football-related memories with my son while my wife goes shopping uninterrupted because she would rather do anything than watch ANOTHER football game. August means different things to different people...
Sundays are an interesting day. Morning starts off wonderfully, like walking around a bend in a trail to behold a beautiful mountain lake. Leisurely brunches are enjoyed at home or in restaurants, with or without cocktails but always with coffee. The New York Times sitting on the kitchen is photographed to prove to our Instagram followers that we are REALLY enjoying our leisurely Sunday. How else do we inform people that we are cultured enough to be able to take time off from our busy lives to non-ironically leisurely read the print version of a newspaper?
The morning turns into midday and we realize that we can no longer relax because we have things to do. So we head off to Lowe's/Target/Bed Bath and Beyond/Trader Joe's. Or, if it's football season, we stay relaxed on the couch and watch the NFL games. In the fall, errands can wait. Plans are tough to make on Sunday afternoons because we are too close to the work week to really be able to cut loose, yet we have enough free time to do something fun. Most people want to stay around the house or run errands, lest they get sucked into a social situation that extends into Sunday evening.
Sunday evenings are a sad resignation. We are resigned to the weekend being over and another week beginning. We are resigned to the fact that any fun we have on Sunday evening will be negated by the exhaustion of Monday morning. The gut punch of waking up tired and exhausted on Monday morning has many similarities to the feeling of losing the Super Bowl because your team decided to pass on the 1-yard line instead of handing it off to the best running back in the league. Monday morning exhaustion creates bad memories. But some of the best memories are created on Sunday nights. That's why Sunday nights are either all in or all out. There is no somewhat fun Sunday night.
I don't floss regularly. I bet you don't either. Who flosses regularly? People like my friend E., who eats so much beef jerky that her dentist told her to floss less, are the only people who floss every day. That's it. I bet dentists don't even floss regularly. I flossed last night and my gums are still tender this afternoon. Flossing is like exercise: if you don't do it regularly it hurts more when you actually get around to doing it.
After each visit to the dentist my mouth is sore and the dental assistant's fingers are sore from holding the sharp scraper thingy for what seems like hours as she scrapes the plaque from my gums. My dentist tries to scare me into flossing more by telling me about receding gums and periodontal disease, both of which definitely sound unpleasant. It would be much easier for all of us if I just flossed every day, or even every other day. Then why don't I floss? Laziness, plain and simple. Flossing at the end of a long day seems like a lot of work when all you want to do is go to bed and watch the news because you are actually 76 instead of 39.
Today, July 28, I vow to floss more. Maybe not every day, but definitely more often than I currently do. If I floss more, my dentist will be so surprised to see my beautiful gums! She will tell me that I only have to visit her once a year instead of twice. My son will start behaving regularly and not throw any more tantrums. My wife will do the dishes and vacuum while I sit on the couch and watch the Mariners. So many great things will happen! I can't wait to floss again...sometime soon, but probably not today.
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step" - Lao Tzu
I decided to pursue a degree in Communication and Leadership Studies (COML) at Gonzaga in order to broaden my base of knowledge, increase my earning potential, and become more marketable to employers here in the Northwest. I had no deeper feelings toward a degree from Gonzaga than I did about any other school. Frankly, Gonzaga was my final opportunity to earn a graduate degree. If I didn’t get into the COML program I probably wouldn’t have gone to graduate school at all.
I have worked hard professionally to become an effective and creative communicator, and I want to continue my career in the communication field. The COML program will definitely help me achieve that goal. But, as I've learned, attending graduate school is about something more than checking a box to continue down a career path. It’s about becoming a leader.
Before I went to campus for my practicum class, Gonzaga’s mission and its emphasis on servant-leadership were nothing more than words on a page. The meaning of a Jesuit-based education quickly became evident as I listened to the professors talk about the COML curriculum with passion and purpose. I left campus with a renewed sense of commitment to the COML program and a much deeper connection to the university.
As I continue my COML journey, I plan on keeping my commitment to upholding the ideals of Gonzaga University and its focus on service for others. Becoming part of the Gonzaga family was not something I expected until recently, but I am embracing it and look forward to being a Zag for life. I only hope the basketball team will win a championship one day so I can celebrate as an alumnus instead of just a fan.
"Go forth and set the world on fire" -St. Ignatius Loyola