Month: March 2014

Ease your spouse’s mind with the Marital Status Disclaimer, but results may vary

She got to wear her blue shoes during our wedding ceremony, but I had to wait til after to put on my Chuck Tailor All-Stars. Totes cray cray adorbes. PHOTO by Sara Klem

She got to wear her blue shoes during our wedding ceremony, but I had to wait til after to put on my Chuck Tailor All-Stars. Totes cray cray adorbes. PHOTO by Sara Klem

My wife and I have been “My wife and I” for three-quarters of a year. Our marriage is so young that it still quantifies age by half- and quarter-years, like a 9-year-old who really wants to be 10 already. “I’m 9-and-three-quarters!”

We’re 30-ish (I’m 31 and she’s 30), still young and cool and down and whatevs. We still meet new people. New people of the opposite sex. And sometimes those new people are pretty cool. Cool enough to mention in normal conversation when you’re talking about your day.

“Yeah, she’s hilarious, very witty, married for a few years, and likes the same shows we do.”

The Marital Status Disclaimer is injected directly into the conversation, usually spoken faster than any other part of the sentence like the side effects of new drug on the market. May cause heart pain, stress, anxiety, and high blood pressure.

When Caitlynn drops a new man’s name, I admit I immediately need to know the extent of their relationship. Do they have a history? Is he handsome? Successful? And, of course, married? I don’t ask these questions, because, ya know, gotta play it cool. Can’t look threatened or like she’s not trustworthy. Honestly, “threatened” and “not trustworthy” are a bit extreme for how I feel when I hear about a random Greg, Dave or Dick (yeah, that’s on purpose). It’s closer to that thing your parents used to say about you going out with friends. “I trust you, I just don’t trust your friends and I want you to be safe.”

Marriage is an emotional investment like nothing else. I need to make sure my investment is protected. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten about successful marriage is to pay attention—to warning signs, to needs, to wants and to yourself. So when she mentions a man, he’s worth mentioning. If he’s worth mentioning, I want to know why. And she needs to know I want to know. And, of course, this works both ways.

We both drop MSDs for two reasons: 1) A sign of respect knowing the other person probably wants to ask but won’t, and 2) Because if either of us has to ask then they’re going to assume there’s a reason they have to ask—”What are you hiding?” So ridiculous, but then again, we’re only three-quarters year old, so cut us some slack. My hunch is that this isn’t abnormal.

We drop the MSD to protect the image of innocence. This other person—who might be funny or nice or cool or sweet—is not a threat to the marriage because they are married, engaged, or at least have been with someone for years. First off, why the hell does it matter? YOU’RE MARRIED! Why does their status matter when your status trumps it? You’re status is the Right Bauer. The fact they’re happily married or happily single is dwarfed by your Jack of Hearts. (Do you play euchre? No? Sorry… the Right Bauer is the Jack Bauer of euchre. Can’t beat it. Look it up.)

Still, there appears to be some value in assessing the threat level of him or her. The hope is that their marital status (other than single) truly matters to them. If so, they’re less likely to pursue something that ruins their own relationship much less ours. This risk assessment is helpful to our own piece of mind, a sort of relationship insurance. Unfortunately, like most insurance policies, not everything is covered. A positive MSD (married) doesn’t mean nothing is going to happen. If it did, we wouldn’t even need the MSD because, again, YOU’RE MARRIED.

The MSD is not rendered useless because of the unsettling fact that married people do un-married people things, though it does create a paradox. How can we use an MSD as piece-of-mind insurance when our minds know it is theory rather than law?

How should we know? We’re only three-quarters-of-a-year old! All I know is some medications have negative side effects. They can heal, or they can cause heart problems. It says so right on the bottle. See …

*Marital Status Disclaimer does not protect against all forms of extramarital conduct. Use as directed by spouse. If effectiveness of MSD decreases over time, consult your spouse about an increase or decrease in dosage. MSD should not be used in place of the fact that YOU’RE MARRIED.


Sketched on a screen



Not sure why, but the default title of this sketch was "recovery" -- I'll take it.

Not sure why, but the default title of this sketch was “recovery” — I’ll take it.

I sketch these with Sketch Guru on my Android phone 🙂

All that running and no results: An app-setting development

Runners mingle in the atrium of the Blue Cross Arena just after completing the Johnny's Runnin' Of The Green on Saturday, March 15, 2014.

Runners mingle in the atrium of the Blue Cross Arena just after completing the Johnny’s Runnin’ Of The Green on Saturday, March 15, 2014.

I have two screens in my face at this moment: my laptop and my cell. I had to upload a pic from my phone to WordPress from this morning’s 5-mile run (the Johnny’s Runnin’ Of the Green) in downtown Rochester. It was the second straight year I ran the race with a couple buddies, and both times we drank a bit too much the night before. Not sure if that’s part of the tradition now, but we’ll find out next year.

Normally after a race, runners will make their way to the bottles of water or Gatorade, the bagels and bananas, and then head toward the little corner where the results are posted to find out their official times. I’ve seen sheets of paper being taped to a wall and big screens where you type in your bib number.

Today, there were papers on the wall. But instead of results, there were QR codes. Scan the code, follow the links, get your results. And this brings me back to the screens. Instead of runners huddling up, bending around one another to find their results, they have the convenience of using their smartphones (which everybody has by now, right?). It was the only way they offered to get results right after the race, otherwise you’d wait until they’re posted on a website (another screen).

This bothered me for two reasons: 1) My cell was in my car and 2) where’s the fun in that?

I get it. Everybody has a smartphone and everybody uses it and everybody loves convenience and QR codes and swiping and beep beep bop boop there it is! It’s personal, because it’s your phone and your moment with no one around you. But that’s the problem: there’s no one around you.

I can’t be the only one who likes the scene of people shoulder-to-shoulder bending for room to find their time. I still wouldn’t call myself “a runner” the way some of these others are, but I think I have an understanding of the culture a bit. Runners have built a community with certain traditions, and I guess I’m surprised at how much the tradition of finding your time on the wall was missed today. I have no way of knowing if anyone else — a “runner”, perhaps — felt this way, but my guess is yes.

And it’s not like I’m clamoring for the old days of stop watches, no ear buds and hand-written results. Chip timing and ultra-light shoes are great because they are improvements of the culture with more accurate times and less painful feet. Neither of those improvements come at the cost of the culture (unless someone misses foot pain).

Having the technology to do something doesn’t mean the reason to do it is there, too. I don’t just want my time. I want to see the faces of other people when they find their time. I want to hear their conversations about what they think they did, how happy they are that they did it, and completely unrelated topics — humans being humans.

I’ll let the good people at PCR Timing know my opinion and maybe I won’t be the only one. Maybe nobody noticed. And maybe that’s the worst part.

It’s 4:07 p.m. and the results are still not posted. Not sure how they can post them instantly to an app but not to the website. However, just saw my results from the 2013 race; I clocked in at 40:05, meaning I ran 8:01/mile. I think I was a bit off that pace today, but I guess I’ll find out later…

It’s 4:17 p.m. and the results have been posted. I finished in 42:44.7 with a 8:33/mile average. A little disappointed now that I compare it to 2013. Must be gettin’ old. However, so are the people around me, because both years I finished 50th in the 30-34 age division. At least I’m keeping pace with my peers.

The Brilliance of Mark Cuban: Let ’em play and pay ’em for it

Mark Cuban has the right idea about the NBADL.

Mark Cuban has the right idea about the NBADL.

Mark Cuban knows how to get things going. The Dallas Mavericks owner and  part-time shark said recently that high school basketball stars should consider jumping directly to the NBA’s Developmental League, rather than going to college for one or two seasons before declaring for the NBA Draft.

This, apparently, is a brand-new concept to people in the basketball business. Representatives on both sides–NBA and NCAA–from Charles Barkley and Jerry West to Bruce Pearl and Larry Brown have denounced this as a ridiculous concept that will surely result in the Apocalypse … of basketball.

The Cubes has it right.

Proponents of the college game tout “the college experience” as something uniquely beneficial to these athletes. “They get certain life skills and gain an appreciation for academics with the rest of the student body.” (Not a real quote, more of a gist). Stop it. The college experience for a premier men’s basketball player is nothing like that of the average pinky toe of the student body. While they all likely have been told that they have what it takes to make it to the NBA, there are a definitive few who can legitimately cut class three years early. Those players show up, play ball, and leave. They can’t earn a degree in that time and they know it. So, while they may even get legit grades, they do it with a course load that is geared to get grades. Their goal isn’t to graduate, it’s to pass (the time). And I don’t fault them for that; the system allows it and even promotes it.

Talking heads say the college game is the best at preparing players for the NBA. If they are true student-athletes, why is it the school’s job to prepare them for a life that does not require the degree? Shouldn’t it be to prepare them for a career off the court and, if they happen to make it to the league then so be it? Truth is, universities spend millions of dollars on trying to find and develop the best basketball players they can so the school’s colors can stain television screens in March. If they happen to graduate the so be it.

The perception of the D-League is that of an empty gym for oft-injured veterans and raw prospects to give it a go. It’s basketball limbo with C-minus talent in cities that aren’t quite “destinations” with crowds closer to semi-pro wrestling. So what? The disdain with which the D-League is talked about confuses me because no other minor league gets the same treatment.

Cito Culver

Cito Culver

Meanwhile, a 17-year-old kid named Cito Culver was drafted in the first round by the New York Yankees in 2010.  No one batted an eye. He since has yet to get past the Single-A level. He’s barely 20 and will never know the college experience, but nobody worried he was making the wrong decision. Maybe his career .238 batting average is just the coming-of-age portion of his baseball biography. Maybe at 21, 22, 23 or 24 he’ll break into the league and enjoy a 10-year career. Or maybe he’ll fade into minor league purgatory, forgotten before he could be remembered.

Baseball and hockey have made stories like that OK. It’s part of the culture of those sports. The NBA would do well to develop something similar–the kind of indifference to the eventual outcome that helps scouts, fans, athletes and their parents sleep at night.

Ideally, the D-League and other minor leagues would make a college fund part of any player’s initial contract. A player could come out of high school, earn a paycheck to play basketball, and earn added money that can only be used to pay a tuition. The truly great players who make a name for themselves in high school would be free to sign endorsement deals, and then join the NBA a year or two years later. And follow baseball’s lead: If a player opts to go to college after they’ve been drafted in high school, they are required to wait three years before becoming draft eligible again.

In the end, the NBA has the power to make this happen at the great expense of the fleeting NCAA. The governing body of college sports has taken so many hits over the past decade that it seems a perfect time for a break-up. The NBA is a business, and the NCAA is a business that clings to a poorly held-together notion of altruism that is all but evaporated. The first time a major college prospect opts for the D-League instead of Duke, makes some cash, and becomes an NBA star, consider the floodgates opened.

And thank Mark Cuban.