Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<

Trillian McMillian
Trillian McMillian
Create Your Badge


Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?

"50 First Dates"

Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Find State Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Contact The Media
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)



<< current
4/27/03 - 5/4/03 5/4/03 - 5/11/03 8/3/03 - 8/10/03 8/10/03 - 8/17/03 8/17/03 - 8/24/03 8/24/03 - 8/31/03 8/31/03 - 9/7/03 9/7/03 - 9/14/03 9/14/03 - 9/21/03 9/21/03 - 9/28/03 9/28/03 - 10/5/03 10/5/03 - 10/12/03 10/12/03 - 10/19/03 10/19/03 - 10/26/03 10/26/03 - 11/2/03 11/2/03 - 11/9/03 11/9/03 - 11/16/03 11/16/03 - 11/23/03 11/23/03 - 11/30/03 11/30/03 - 12/7/03 12/7/03 - 12/14/03 12/14/03 - 12/21/03 12/21/03 - 12/28/03 12/28/03 - 1/4/04 1/4/04 - 1/11/04 1/11/04 - 1/18/04 1/18/04 - 1/25/04 1/25/04 - 2/1/04 2/1/04 - 2/8/04 2/8/04 - 2/15/04 2/15/04 - 2/22/04 2/22/04 - 2/29/04 2/29/04 - 3/7/04 3/7/04 - 3/14/04 3/14/04 - 3/21/04 3/21/04 - 3/28/04 3/28/04 - 4/4/04 4/4/04 - 4/11/04 4/11/04 - 4/18/04 4/18/04 - 4/25/04 4/25/04 - 5/2/04 5/2/04 - 5/9/04 5/9/04 - 5/16/04 5/16/04 - 5/23/04 5/23/04 - 5/30/04 6/6/04 - 6/13/04 6/13/04 - 6/20/04 6/20/04 - 6/27/04 6/27/04 - 7/4/04 7/4/04 - 7/11/04 7/11/04 - 7/18/04 7/18/04 - 7/25/04 7/25/04 - 8/1/04 8/1/04 - 8/8/04 8/8/04 - 8/15/04 8/15/04 - 8/22/04 8/22/04 - 8/29/04 8/29/04 - 9/5/04 9/5/04 - 9/12/04 9/12/04 - 9/19/04 9/19/04 - 9/26/04 9/26/04 - 10/3/04 10/3/04 - 10/10/04 10/10/04 - 10/17/04 10/17/04 - 10/24/04 10/24/04 - 10/31/04 10/31/04 - 11/7/04 11/14/04 - 11/21/04 11/21/04 - 11/28/04 11/28/04 - 12/5/04 12/5/04 - 12/12/04 12/12/04 - 12/19/04 12/19/04 - 12/26/04 12/26/04 - 1/2/05 1/2/05 - 1/9/05 1/9/05 - 1/16/05 1/16/05 - 1/23/05 1/23/05 - 1/30/05 1/30/05 - 2/6/05 2/6/05 - 2/13/05 2/13/05 - 2/20/05 2/20/05 - 2/27/05 2/27/05 - 3/6/05 3/6/05 - 3/13/05 3/13/05 - 3/20/05 3/20/05 - 3/27/05 3/27/05 - 4/3/05 4/3/05 - 4/10/05 4/10/05 - 4/17/05 4/17/05 - 4/24/05 4/24/05 - 5/1/05 5/1/05 - 5/8/05 5/15/05 - 5/22/05 6/5/05 - 6/12/05 7/24/05 - 7/31/05 7/31/05 - 8/7/05 8/7/05 - 8/14/05 8/14/05 - 8/21/05 8/21/05 - 8/28/05 9/4/05 - 9/11/05 9/11/05 - 9/18/05 9/18/05 - 9/25/05 9/25/05 - 10/2/05 10/2/05 - 10/9/05 10/9/05 - 10/16/05 10/16/05 - 10/23/05 10/23/05 - 10/30/05 10/30/05 - 11/6/05 11/6/05 - 11/13/05 11/13/05 - 11/20/05 11/20/05 - 11/27/05 12/4/05 - 12/11/05 12/11/05 - 12/18/05 1/1/06 - 1/8/06 1/8/06 - 1/15/06 1/15/06 - 1/22/06 1/22/06 - 1/29/06 1/29/06 - 2/5/06 2/5/06 - 2/12/06 2/12/06 - 2/19/06 2/19/06 - 2/26/06 2/26/06 - 3/5/06 3/5/06 - 3/12/06 3/12/06 - 3/19/06 3/19/06 - 3/26/06 3/26/06 - 4/2/06 4/2/06 - 4/9/06 4/9/06 - 4/16/06 4/23/06 - 4/30/06 4/30/06 - 5/7/06 5/7/06 - 5/14/06 5/14/06 - 5/21/06 5/21/06 - 5/28/06 6/11/06 - 6/18/06 6/18/06 - 6/25/06 6/25/06 - 7/2/06 7/2/06 - 7/9/06 7/30/06 - 8/6/06 9/10/06 - 9/17/06 9/17/06 - 9/24/06 10/8/06 - 10/15/06 10/29/06 - 11/5/06 11/5/06 - 11/12/06 11/12/06 - 11/19/06 11/26/06 - 12/3/06 12/3/06 - 12/10/06 12/17/06 - 12/24/06 12/24/06 - 12/31/06 12/31/06 - 1/7/07 1/21/07 - 1/28/07 1/28/07 - 2/4/07 2/4/07 - 2/11/07 2/11/07 - 2/18/07 2/18/07 - 2/25/07 2/25/07 - 3/4/07 3/4/07 - 3/11/07 3/11/07 - 3/18/07 3/18/07 - 3/25/07 3/25/07 - 4/1/07 6/24/07 - 7/1/07 7/1/07 - 7/8/07 7/8/07 - 7/15/07 7/15/07 - 7/22/07 7/22/07 - 7/29/07 7/29/07 - 8/5/07 8/5/07 - 8/12/07 8/12/07 - 8/19/07 8/19/07 - 8/26/07 8/26/07 - 9/2/07 9/9/07 - 9/16/07 9/16/07 - 9/23/07 9/23/07 - 9/30/07 9/30/07 - 10/7/07 10/7/07 - 10/14/07 10/14/07 - 10/21/07 11/4/07 - 11/11/07 11/11/07 - 11/18/07 12/9/07 - 12/16/07 1/6/08 - 1/13/08 1/13/08 - 1/20/08 1/27/08 - 2/3/08 2/3/08 - 2/10/08 2/10/08 - 2/17/08 2/24/08 - 3/2/08 3/2/08 - 3/9/08 3/9/08 - 3/16/08 3/16/08 - 3/23/08 3/23/08 - 3/30/08 3/30/08 - 4/6/08 4/6/08 - 4/13/08 4/13/08 - 4/20/08 4/20/08 - 4/27/08 4/27/08 - 5/4/08 5/4/08 - 5/11/08 5/11/08 - 5/18/08 5/18/08 - 5/25/08 5/25/08 - 6/1/08 6/1/08 - 6/8/08 6/15/08 - 6/22/08 6/22/08 - 6/29/08 6/29/08 - 7/6/08 7/13/08 - 7/20/08 7/20/08 - 7/27/08 8/3/08 - 8/10/08 8/10/08 - 8/17/08 8/17/08 - 8/24/08 8/24/08 - 8/31/08 8/31/08 - 9/7/08 9/7/08 - 9/14/08 9/21/08 - 9/28/08 9/28/08 - 10/5/08 10/5/08 - 10/12/08 10/12/08 - 10/19/08 10/19/08 - 10/26/08 10/26/08 - 11/2/08 11/2/08 - 11/9/08 11/9/08 - 11/16/08 11/16/08 - 11/23/08 11/30/08 - 12/7/08 12/7/08 - 12/14/08 12/14/08 - 12/21/08 12/28/08 - 1/4/09 1/4/09 - 1/11/09 1/11/09 - 1/18/09 1/18/09 - 1/25/09 2/1/09 - 2/8/09 2/8/09 - 2/15/09 2/15/09 - 2/22/09 3/29/09 - 4/5/09 5/3/09 - 5/10/09 5/10/09 - 5/17/09 5/17/09 - 5/24/09 5/24/09 - 5/31/09 5/31/09 - 6/7/09 6/7/09 - 6/14/09 6/14/09 - 6/21/09 7/12/09 - 7/19/09 7/19/09 - 7/26/09 7/26/09 - 8/2/09 8/2/09 - 8/9/09 8/9/09 - 8/16/09 8/16/09 - 8/23/09 8/23/09 - 8/30/09 8/30/09 - 9/6/09 9/20/09 - 9/27/09 9/27/09 - 10/4/09 10/4/09 - 10/11/09 10/11/09 - 10/18/09 10/18/09 - 10/25/09 10/25/09 - 11/1/09 11/1/09 - 11/8/09 11/8/09 - 11/15/09 11/15/09 - 11/22/09 11/22/09 - 11/29/09 11/29/09 - 12/6/09 12/6/09 - 12/13/09 12/13/09 - 12/20/09 12/20/09 - 12/27/09 12/27/09 - 1/3/10 1/3/10 - 1/10/10 1/10/10 - 1/17/10 1/17/10 - 1/24/10 1/24/10 - 1/31/10 1/31/10 - 2/7/10 2/7/10 - 2/14/10 2/14/10 - 2/21/10 2/21/10 - 2/28/10 3/14/10 - 3/21/10 3/21/10 - 3/28/10 3/28/10 - 4/4/10 4/4/10 - 4/11/10 4/11/10 - 4/18/10 4/18/10 - 4/25/10 4/25/10 - 5/2/10 5/2/10 - 5/9/10 5/9/10 - 5/16/10 5/16/10 - 5/23/10 5/23/10 - 5/30/10 5/30/10 - 6/6/10 6/6/10 - 6/13/10 6/13/10 - 6/20/10 6/20/10 - 6/27/10 6/27/10 - 7/4/10 7/4/10 - 7/11/10 7/11/10 - 7/18/10 7/18/10 - 7/25/10 7/25/10 - 8/1/10 9/19/10 - 9/26/10 10/3/10 - 10/10/10 10/10/10 - 10/17/10 10/17/10 - 10/24/10 10/24/10 - 10/31/10 10/31/10 - 11/7/10 11/14/10 - 11/21/10 11/28/10 - 12/5/10 12/5/10 - 12/12/10 12/12/10 - 12/19/10 12/19/10 - 12/26/10 12/26/10 - 1/2/11 1/2/11 - 1/9/11 1/9/11 - 1/16/11 1/16/11 - 1/23/11 1/23/11 - 1/30/11 1/30/11 - 2/6/11 2/6/11 - 2/13/11 2/13/11 - 2/20/11 2/20/11 - 2/27/11 2/27/11 - 3/6/11 3/6/11 - 3/13/11 3/13/11 - 3/20/11 3/20/11 - 3/27/11 3/27/11 - 4/3/11 4/3/11 - 4/10/11 4/10/11 - 4/17/11 4/17/11 - 4/24/11 4/24/11 - 5/1/11 5/1/11 - 5/8/11 5/15/11 - 5/22/11 5/22/11 - 5/29/11 5/29/11 - 6/5/11 6/12/11 - 6/19/11 6/19/11 - 6/26/11 6/26/11 - 7/3/11 7/10/11 - 7/17/11 7/31/11 - 8/7/11 8/21/11 - 8/28/11 8/28/11 - 9/4/11 9/18/11 - 9/25/11 9/25/11 - 10/2/11 10/2/11 - 10/9/11 10/9/11 - 10/16/11 10/16/11 - 10/23/11 10/23/11 - 10/30/11 11/6/11 - 11/13/11 11/13/11 - 11/20/11 11/20/11 - 11/27/11 11/27/11 - 12/4/11 12/4/11 - 12/11/11 12/11/11 - 12/18/11 12/25/11 - 1/1/12 1/1/12 - 1/8/12 2/5/12 - 2/12/12 2/19/12 - 2/26/12 3/4/12 - 3/11/12 4/1/12 - 4/8/12 4/15/12 - 4/22/12 4/29/12 - 5/6/12 5/13/12 - 5/20/12 5/20/12 - 5/27/12 6/24/12 - 7/1/12 7/1/12 - 7/8/12 7/8/12 - 7/15/12 7/15/12 - 7/22/12 7/22/12 - 7/29/12 7/29/12 - 8/5/12 8/5/12 - 8/12/12 8/12/12 - 8/19/12 8/19/12 - 8/26/12 8/26/12 - 9/2/12 9/2/12 - 9/9/12 9/9/12 - 9/16/12 9/16/12 - 9/23/12 9/23/12 - 9/30/12 10/7/12 - 10/14/12 10/21/12 - 10/28/12 11/4/12 - 11/11/12 12/9/12 - 12/16/12 12/23/12 - 12/30/12 1/6/13 - 1/13/13 1/13/13 - 1/20/13 1/20/13 - 1/27/13 1/27/13 - 2/3/13 2/3/13 - 2/10/13 2/10/13 - 2/17/13 2/17/13 - 2/24/13 3/3/13 - 3/10/13 3/17/13 - 3/24/13 3/31/13 - 4/7/13 4/7/13 - 4/14/13 4/21/13 - 4/28/13 4/28/13 - 5/5/13 5/5/13 - 5/12/13 5/12/13 - 5/19/13 5/19/13 - 5/26/13 6/16/13 - 6/23/13 6/23/13 - 6/30/13 7/14/13 - 7/21/13 8/11/13 - 8/18/13 8/25/13 - 9/1/13 9/8/13 - 9/15/13 9/22/13 - 9/29/13 10/13/13 - 10/20/13 10/20/13 - 10/27/13 11/10/13 - 11/17/13 12/1/13 - 12/8/13 12/15/13 - 12/22/13 12/29/13 - 1/5/14 6/29/14 - 7/6/14 9/14/14 - 9/21/14 9/21/14 - 9/28/14 10/12/14 - 10/19/14 11/23/14 - 11/30/14 12/7/14 - 12/14/14 12/28/14 - 1/4/15 1/25/15 - 2/1/15 2/8/15 - 2/15/15 2/22/15 - 3/1/15 3/8/15 - 3/15/15 3/15/15 - 3/22/15 3/22/15 - 3/29/15 4/12/15 - 4/19/15 4/19/15 - 4/26/15 5/3/15 - 5/10/15 5/17/15 - 5/24/15 5/24/15 - 5/31/15 6/14/15 - 6/21/15 6/28/15 - 7/5/15 7/5/15 - 7/12/15 7/19/15 - 7/26/15 8/16/15 - 8/23/15 11/6/16 - 11/13/16 6/24/18 - 7/1/18

Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue


It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations

Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"

Mail Trillian here

Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)


Alliance for the Great Lakes

Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras

The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.

Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.


Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto


Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.

Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

< chicago blogs >

Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Life(?) of Trillian

Saturday, August 04, 2012  
U.S.A! U.S.A!

I know, it's just the Olympics. Who cares?

I do.

The international glasnost aspect is cool - sure, they're there to compete against each other, but, at least in front of the crowds and cameras the athletes exhibit decent sportsmanship. Sure, we can read between the clenched teeth smiles and assume the subtext as the winners and loser shake hands, but at least there are perfunctory attempts at good sportsmanship. Even the tears in the aftermath of what seems like an unfair or close call speak to personal disappointment rather than ill-will toward the competing country. 

South Korean badminton players notwithstanding.

But then again, I'm on the fence with Badminton Brouhaha 2012. Strategy is a key component to any sport, especially a game sport. I logged a lot of hours playing board games as a child, especially Risk. Sometimes you have to sacrifice an obvious battle to ultimately achieve world domination. (Bwa ha ha implied.) Know the rules, think creatively, know yourself, know your opponent. In the high stakes world of international badminton, as in life, and on the Risk board, skill is crucial, but so is tactical manouevering. In America "doing your best" is a core value. It's drilled into us as often and as seriously as the tenants of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. "It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game." "Train hard, do your best, and the result is success. Even if you lose." Giving it your all is the accepted norm. Slackers are mocked and ridiculed. The popularity of the Tortoise and the Hare, Homer Simpson, Squidward, and lack of mandatory vacation laws speak to the prevailing work hard and do your best mentality. Which is why we find it so reprehensible, and just downright weird, that anyone would throw a game. That this happened in what we perceive as a genteel sport adds to the shock value for us. We're flabbergasted that anyone would intentionally plan to lose. Scheming, conniving, manipulating...yeah, we understand those concepts. But. When it comes to games, sports, I mean, we just don't do that. Why would anyone want to lose a game? World domination, that's why. Sacrifice a game to win the gold.

Okay. Enough about that. But that's kind of my point. The Olympics do matter. They generate conversation and understanding of bigger topics like sportsmanship and glasnost. They unify us as a country and as a human race.

These Olympics, arguably more than any others, are significant to Americans. Why would I say that? Not for Phelps' medals or Gabby's gasp-worthy abilities. (Although the obvious commentary on Americans needing emblematic, successful icons now more than ever writes itself.) These games are significant because right now, in America, things suck. The economy sucks. The job market sucks. The housing market sucks. Gun violence sucks. Crime in general sucks. Gas prices suck. Food prices suck. The weather sucks. It's a craptastic time to be an American. If you're not depressed or worried, then you're in deep denial or living under a rose colored rock. If you're not personally affected by job-money-housing-drought-crime woes, you have friends, family and neighbors who are. The work hard and success is yours and do what you love and the money will follow theories that Americans hold so dear are being tested and trumped. The Olympics give us two weeks of free, uninterrupted nightly diversion from the crap of life that is life in America right now. Escapism. We can cheer on Team USA, or Team WhateverCountry/AthleteAppealsToYou. Regardless of the outcome, we're witnessing some darned good feats of athleticism. Our own lives have taken disappointing turns in the past few years, in spite of our best efforts, so it's nice to catch a glimpse of the possibility of hard work and talent paying off in the form of success. It reminds us of the "do what you love, work hard, do your best..." ideals that used to be status quo.

And, in the moments of loss we can empathize, now more than in Olympics past. Most of us have faced some difficult failures or at least some unforeseen challenges in the past three years.

Very few of us have been in Jordyn Wieber's position of losing a gymnastic meet by a whisker. Even if you hate gymnastics, it's impossible to not feel for her in that moment of learning everything you've been training for was just flushed down a toilet over fractions of points. However, many of us have been in a position of forced brave faces in the moment of defeat, so we empathize with her post-loss moments. The girl was clearly trying to keep a brave face and just get the heck out of the arena, but she had to hang around with the team...and she eventually broke down. We've all been through that, on a smaller, less global, less televised scale. When I was laid off I just wanted to get the heck out of my office, out of the building and as far away as quickly as possible. But. I had to pack up my desk, hand over my client files and project notes, sign paperwork, turn in my security badge...all under the watch of HR and my senior manager. I knew the same scene was being played out all over the company, but I didn't know who was in my shoes and who was spared. I wasn't even allowed to use the bathroom. So many people were being laid off that I had to wait in line for a security escort from the building. Security escorts are protocol for dismissed employees at my former company. They hadn't had such a large mass layoff in years and they didn't anticipate the back-up with security escorts. So we had to stand in a line, holding the boxes that contained the remnants of our newly former desks. Very few people spoke. Most of us knew if we said anything we'd start crying or yelling. So we just stood there holding our boxes waiting for our turn with the security escort, trying to maintain some semblance of dignity and self respect in a very undignified and demeaning situation. When I saw Jordyn gathering her things and trying to get the heck out of there, anywhere, just away from there, I knew the feeling all too well. It's okay, Jordyn, you still rocked it. Very few people on the planet can do what you can do. Most people over the age of 13 can't even turn a decent cartwheel (without ending up in ER), so, you know, you go, girl.

And I am still so overcome with empathy for Shin A Lam and that ill-functioning clock and her lonely perch waiting for a ruling that it pains me to think of it. According to the rules, leaving the piste means accepting the ruling and forfeiting the match. I presume this goes back to the days of fencing duels when duelers were left dead or badly wounded, and unable to leave the piste of their own volition, so leaving the playing field before blood was drawn meant you chose to not go through with it and forfeited rights to whatever it was you were dueling over in the first place. All very straightforward and gentlemanly. But now that it's not an actual blood sport, perhaps some of those old gentlemanly rules should be reevaluated. She didn't have a lot of options: Stay on the piste waiting for the ruling, because the clock didn't function properly, or, leave the piste and forfeit the match...because the clock didn't function properly. I can be a little stubborn when it comes to rules and injustices so I can fully empathize with her. What's a fencer to do? Losing is one thing. Losing because of an ill-functioning clock is another thing entirely. Sadly, that image of her sitting alone on the piste will be one of the enduring scenes of this Olympics. And, am I the only one who finds the irony of an ill-functioning clock in England, the home of Greenwich Mean Time more than a little sad? I want to know more about the clock. Is it Swiss? My guess is no. A Swiss clock would a) function properly and b) remain neutral.

The diversion from the melodrama of the lives we're living right now is welcome relief, and, equally important, the feeling of unity is crucial. The country as a whole is struggling, but the effects can be very isolating. Losing a job, losing all your savings, losing your crops, losing your may be happening to millions of people, but when you have to pack up your desk or close your bank account or write off this year's harvest or hand the Sheriff the keys to your home, the millions of others just like you aren't there to console you or help you. Friends and family may or may not try to console and help, but ultimately it's you who has to dig out of the problem and rebuild your life. Conversations become strained because there isn't much good to discuss. But. For a couple weeks we're joined in a common interest: Olympics. Even people who aren't into sports are watching this year. Even with NBC's less than Olympian coverage, people are still watching. Americans are even following the weird/unpopular sports. (See above, fencing.) We can marvel over the feats of skill and daring and commiserate with the athletes who came so close but just missed it. We can speculate and fantasize about our abilities...from the safety of our living rooms and bar stools. I had a 20 minute conversation with my brother about handball. Neither of us has ever played handball or been anywhere near a handball court. And conversation between my brother and me beyond perfunctory small talk has been strained the last couple years. But there we were, talking about handball for 20 minutes. And then, we talked about the pros and cons of mixed gender teams for sports like badminton and tennis. (we think, generally, it's a good idea)

Even people who don't watch the Olympics know they're going on and hear about the highlights. I have a friend who's traveling far (far) abroad this summer and yet her Facebook posts include comments about Kerri and Misty's triumphs and the Phelps-Lochte-Franklin triad. And even people who don't like sports know something about the Olympics. I opted for nerd gym in high school. Badminton, fencing and wait for it: Ping pong. If Jarts and Hippoty Hopping had been options I would have taken them. (That's not to say I wasn't athletic. I was on the swim team and competed in speed skating, but sports team participation didn't count for phys ed requirements. Really stupid rule - even the jocks who trained rigorously for football, basketball and baseball season had to take gym class. So I waged my own protest for this rule by taking the easiest gym class options.) It was in badminton class that I met a girl who was sports impaired. She knew next to nothing about sports. Her milieus were the chess and debate teams. But. She knew about the Olympics, and she took badminton as her gym class option because she thought it could eventually lead to a spot on the Olympic team. Powerful stuff, the Olympics.

People argue about the money involved. Only wealthy families or families willing/able to take out several mortgages for training expense can afford to properly prepare an athlete for the Olympics. Which adds an elitist angle to US Olympians, and that leads to an interesting point: The US is the only government that doesn't lend financial support to Olympic training. Separation of church and state, separation of sport and state.

This is a multi-faceted issue. In an ideal situation, if someone has the desire and physical ability to train for the Olympics, money should not be a barrier. Of course we want every athlete to have a chance to fulfill their dream and represent us on the international playing field. If there's a super fast runner or gifted archer out there who, with some training and coaching could set records and win medals, by golly let's get them the training the need, support these athletes, money shouldn't be a barrier to greatness! No one with the talent, ambition and desire should be denied an opportunity. I'd be happy to earmark some of my tax dollars to train Olympic hopefuls, but not every American would feel so inclined.

One need only to look at the much and long maligned National Endowment for the Arts to see what happens with the government tries to support what's perceived as entertainment or recreational pursuits. One person's art is another person's abomination. One person's international goodwill forum is another person's waste of time.

If tax dollars were to fund Olympians there'd be a huge outcry along the lines of, "we have people starving and homeless and yet the US is spending money training little girls to dance around with ribbons and send them to far flung locales for meets and Olympic games." And yet, athletes who are interested in sports that don't have training funds* have to fund their own dream or give up on the Olympic dream. Why has the US never medaled in badminton when just about all of us have played it? Perhaps the US badminton governing body** doesn't have enough money to offer financial support to assist Olympic hopefuls like my friend from high school gym class. Government funding would open up a lot of cans of worms for hopeful Olympic athletes.

My suspicion is that it would not level the playing field. Given the history of lobbying, corruption and all around mess-it-upness of other government funded programs, athletes would be caught in scandals and/or red tape so tightly wound that even a rhythmic gymnast couldn't navigate it. "I just want to row crew, do I really have to sign 20 forms and file copies with 15 different offices?" "Sorry I missed water polo practice, coach, I had to wait in line for three hours at the DWP and when it was finally my turn they closed for lunch and I had to wait another hour. But! I finally got my water polo certificate and, fingers crossed, I should get my packet of forms in the next 90 days! And then, well, it's just a matter of waiting 6 months for the paperwork to clear and another 3 months for the check to arrive and I'll have my funding for three weeks of training at a government certified training facility with government certified coaches! You are government certified, right, coach? Because if you're not I have to find a new coach or decline government funding." 

The lack of government funding also sends a clear message to the rest of the world: Freedom and independence mean so much to us that we don't even let our government give us money to train and attend the Olympics. Yeah. We take independence that seriously. Add to that the impressive cadre of athletes we send to Olympic games, and our medal history, and the lack of government funding does give pause for consideration. If the US can turn out so many competent athletes at Olympics after Olympics, without government funding, maybe there's something to this whole separation of sport and state business.

Sure, we get our training money the old fashioned way: Corporate sponsorships. Which could also explain the lack of medals in badminton. If there isn't reason to believe an athlete is going to stand on the medal podium for a photo op wearing a jacket with swoosh or three bars prominently emblazoned on the chest or sleeve (read: instant global advertising), well, is it really worth the sponsorship money? If shuttlecock manufacturers had more reason to buy primetime advertising, then the endorsement deal would mean more to the athletes, which would drive more interest in the sport, which would give cause for more sales of equipment, which would generate revenue for the manufacturers which would give them extra money for sponsorships. Capitalism. (Pop quiz! Name one brand of shuttlecocks. Time's up.)

Most of us went to school with or lived down the street from a kid who was really, really good at some sport. They probably took their training as far as they could and then leveled out or lost interest, which, sadly, most likely translates to: they cleaned out their parents' financial resources. I went to school with a kid who was a tremendous ski jumper. His skill was discovered on, get this, a church retreat at a ski camp where he was triple dog dared to try the (albeit small) ski jump. More of a ski bump. But. His parents got him some training, he progressed to larger jumps and he did exceptionally well, even went to national competitions...for a while. And then it stopped. Continuing to the next levels that would get him to Olympic qualification tournaments would have meant international travel and an even larger outlay of money. The kid was 16 and not exactly a prime sponsorship candidate at that point - getting there, but not quite there yet - and his parents didn't have the financial resources to get him the training and travel required to make the Olympic team. There were a few bake sales, a Jumping for Jesus fundraiser at the church, and little cans for donations at the local grocery stores. The community rallied behind this kid. But they didn't garner enough money to support the erstwhile ski jumper. Everyone shook their heads and muttered, "such a shame, such a gifted athlete..." I'm certain it's a familiar tale to most Americans. Most of us knew a could-have-been-were-it-not-for-the-money-involved athlete. Which is why I tolerate corporate sponsorships. If that kid had "the official sponsor of US Ski Jumping team" backing him I'm reasonably certain he would have made it to the Olympics. He was almost there just with our small town funding efforts. A little push from a corporate sponsor would have made all the difference.

If government funding would truly, directly help kids/adults train and travel to competitions, then yes, it's worth considering. But that's a big if. And history has not been kind to government funded programs. Power, corruption and lies. And do we really want a government employee defining athletic qualifications? Do we really want government employees gauging competency and fitness in handball or synchronised swimming? See above, National Endowment for the Arts. While I personally would love to see some of the guys who work at the IRS re-stationed to checking flowered bathing caps for regulation, I'm not sure this is a good use of tax dollars, at least in this economic climate. Maybe during the go go '80s, but right now income and housing are in more urgent need of assistance than Olympic athletics. Sorry, Olympic athletes, I love you and wish you well, but as you know, our friends, family and neighbors are hurting.

And there's the age-old question of: Do we really want to encourage children to be athletes? Wouldn't it be more wise for their long-term life success to encourage them to me mathletes? Wouldn't that be better for the country as a whole? Athletic prowess is impressive, but brain prowess is crucial for technology, manufacturing and good ol' idea generating. For every athlete the government funds, they'd need to also fund a mathlete. And an artlete. And a scilete.

Government funding issues aside, the Olympics matter on levels other than the obvious. They capture attention and inspire. That's why those smarmy back-stories matter. We learn the athletes are not that different from us. They have parents, they go to school, they have day jobs, they get discouraged, they do stupid stuff and they redeem themselves. If they display good sportsmanship even (especially) when they lose, it's a positive message to kids. And more importantly, the lessons of losing are loud and clear. Not everyone wins, not everyone gets a medal. That's a life lesson a lot of the WRAM generation needs to learn. That's a life lesson the people who post every stinking aspect of their lives on Twitter and Facebook need to learn. Not every stinking thing you do is praise- or noteworthy.

And kids watching at home see what happens when you cheat and/or take drugs. If you get caught, you're sent packing. Immediately. It's scorn, ridicule, disgrace and loss of a chance for a) medals and b) endorsement deals. Those South Korean's may not have broken any rules, but the message in sending them home is loud and clear: Anything remotely resembling cheating will not be tolerated.

And, if you have a coach like the Karolyis, there's the IOC rules and there is another, higher standard of rules. "Pffft, I scoff at the IOC standards. My pupils train to a higher standard. My standard." Good enough isn't good enough for coaches and trainers like the Karolyis. Do you want it bad enough to deal with coaches like the Karolyis? No? Then maybe you don't want it bad enough. The Olympics offer a good assessment gauge not just for athletics but for life. Your job probably has a description with key tasks you have to perform to remain employed. You probably work with people who do what's asked of them in their job description...and nothing more. Yeah, I don't like working with those people, either, but, they can't be faulted for not going beyond their job description. (See above, government employees.) They are doing what they're supposed to do. It's not medal worthy performance, but they show up and meet the expectations outlined by their job description. Some of us, however, take a more team oriented approach and give more of ourselves than the bare minimum requirement. Maybe we do this because we have a manager akin to Bela Karolyi, or maybe we just have inner drive to help the team and give the best of ourselves in our work efforts.

And maybe we do push ourselves a little more during the Olympics. Set the incline and speed a little higher on the treadmill, swim a couple extra laps in the pool, take the pickup games of backyard badminton a little more seriously. A little inspiration to up the physical ante isn't a bad thing. I'm devouring everything I can find about Kerri and Misty's training regime. I'll never play beach volleyball (ever), but their fitness level inspires me. I'll just say it: I want to train like Kerri. If she put out a line of fitness DVDs I'd camp out at Target to buy it as if it were the release of a Harry Potter or Star Wars DVD. I'm not swayed by endorsements, but, I openly admit this, too: If Kerri or Misty endorsed a product, I would buy it. If for no other reason than to support them.

Olympics matter for tie-in reasons, too. How many "Olympics" have you seen lately? My grocery store is holding a "go for the gold" savings event. By accumulating enough "dollars saved" using their preferred customer cards, shoppers earn bronze, silver or gold level rewards. A portion of revenue generated from sales of advertised specials during the go for the gold event is being donated to Special Olympics.

My local library is holding a Reading Olympics this summer. Kids are competing for medals in how many books they read. There are age divisions and book classification divisions. The little tykes get points just for showing up to story hour while older kids earn extra points for attending sessions on the Dewey Decimal system, writing workshops and bookbinding demonstrations.  (I'm so jealous, if they had adult divisions I would be going for the gold in several events. In your face, Phelps, in. your. face.)

Sure, if it weren't the Olympics it'd be something else, grocery stores and libraries would find another way to motivate people to buy Pop Tarts or borrow books. But.Who doesn't want to be the Gabby Douglas of their local library or the Kayla Harrison of grocery shopping? The Olympics make for good literal and metaphoric inspiration.

It's good that they're only held every four years. Apart from the obvious financial issues and training time/schedules, if they were every year they'd become routine and mundane and we'd get bored with them. If there were more than four years between games we'd forget about them and lose interest. The staggered schedule keeps them extra special and give the athletes three years to bask in the glory of their Olympic involvement.

*eg, the US Gymnastics Federation is a non-profit governing body that also offers financial support for gymnastic training and events.

**Is there one? Note to self, look up US badminton governing board.

10:24 AM

This page is powered by Blogger.