Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Real Housewives of Fairview Oregon

On Monday I broke my back. I have been slowly aggravating it with long training runs and extended trips in the car. Then on Monday while playing volleyball, it broke. One minute I was blocking at the net and the next I was crawling off the court. If you have experienced back troubles, you know just how unexpectedly this type of episode can stop you. My back-pain journey is too long and winding, (perhaps I should say crooked), to discuss here, but the gist of my situation is that once every 6-12 months I do something that puts me out of commission like a car with a flat tire.

This week’s episode was particularly debilitating. I tried to go to work on Tuesday, but after rolling out of my car, I was unable to walk across the parking lot to get to the door. Knowing I’d be of little use in my cube, I rolled back into my car, went home, and asked Christa to help me find a chiropractor. She did, and while I waited for my appointment I lay on my back. At this stage in my recovery my only respite is lying down. After my appointment I parked myself front of the TV to wait for my back to begin healing.

It was during this pain sprinkled recovery that I was introduced to the Real Housewives of Orange County. RHOC is a reality-show copy of Desperate Housewives. It airs on Bravo, the network that has brought us Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Show Kid Moms and Dads, Show Dog Moms and Dads, Sports Kid Moms and Dads, Blow Out, Project Greenlight, Being Bobby Brown, Project Runway, and Celebrity Poker Showdown. Now I may be too old to understand the whole MySpace phenomenon, but I get reality TV. It speaks to me. I know it is a guilty pleasure that I leer into the lives of these people, but the situations they dream up on Bravo are wildly entertaining. In addition, nothing says pain relief like a good dose of someone else’s exploited tragedy.

Being the red-headed, step child of NBC causes Bravo to occasionally blur the lines of good judgment and acceptable programming. My intuition told me this would be the case with RHOC, but I wasn’t going anywhere soon and they were airing a 4 episode marathon. Without resisting, I was drawn into the real lives of the Orange County Housewives. The RHOC follows the activities of a handful of extremely rich women, whose touch with my reality was breached long ago. They wrestle with how they will continue to afford weekly, private Pilates lessons after they purchase their new house because its price tag is 3.5 million dollars. They spend copious amounts of time on image. Their physical appearance, cars, homes, careers, husbands, kids and did I mention physical appearance must all be crafted into an image that gives them status and therefore: validation. They don’t have friends—they network. They obsess over their kid’s friends and are mortified that one of them may drop out of their high class world by dating or marrying someone who is unable to financially provide the life that they are accustomed to. It is pure trash and it makes me a little sad. But, it is someone else’s trash and I’m guilty of craning my neck out the window to see the carnage as I drive by.

When the 4 episodes finished I decided I wouldn’t add it to Tivo’s list of shows to record. It was a fun afternoon, but I don’t think I need any more Real Housewife drama in my life.

On Wednesday I went back to the chiropractor for another adjustment. After he cracked me I didn’t want to undo his work by immediately jumping into the car, so I opted for a short walk up and down the block. I’ve found that this can sometimes help solidify a chiropractic adjustment. Unfortunately, I was still in quite a bit of pain and walking down the street was an agonizing chore that I’m sure conjured up visions of the hunchback of Notre Dame to anyone who saw me.

My new chiropractor is in Fairview, a small town that has been building what they call a village. It is a cute neighborhood with new homes and a charming, Main-Street-feeling, commercial district where many of the curb-side businesses have apartments above them. It is developing into a quaint, little community; however, the new homes are a bit out of my price-range. As I turned at the end of the block to head back to my car, I met one of Fairview’s residents.

She was driving a brand new Acura SUV, had flawlessly highlighted hair, brilliantly white teeth, and a tan that did not belong in Oregon during the month of April. I didn’t have to reach far into my memory bank of stereotypes to label her a housewife and I casually scanned for a camera crew as she maneuvered her sport ute to my side of the street calling from her open window:

Her: I’m sorry, but can I ask you a question.
Me: OK
Her: Are you in pain?
Me: I guess, a little. I was just at the chiropractor.
Her: This may sound weird, but can I pray with you?
Me: Yeah, sure...

And she did. Right there from her SUV, with me on the curb, she asked the Great Physician to heal me. After she said amen, she explained that she had listened to a CD that morning about how Jesus spent His time on earth seeking out people who were hurting. When she saw me struggling down the sidewalk, she was compelled to stop. Before she drove away, she said she’d understand if I thought she was weird. I told her I thought she was brave. What could be more selfless than to stop in the middle of a trip to the Post Office to offer a prayer of encouragement to a total stranger? How different from the self-seeking housewives on Bravo. What lessons about judging, priorities, being available, and courage was the ancient carpenter teaching me? What healing has been granted to me because of the prayer of this housewife?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A hundred small decisions

Reaching the finish line of a marathon is really about making a couple hundred good decisions. I've just begun training for my 3rd marathon, and the questions have already begun. Usually they involve: Will I train today, or sleep in? I know that the finish line can be reached, I just have to be smart about each small decision that comes along. I'm keeping a brief blog over here, in case anyone is interested. Often something of note will happen on a run and I will share it, other times I'll just post mileage. Feel free to check it out.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Ready Six..

One of the reason's I have this blog is because I admire my friend Allan. He had one first and then I followed.

I don't know if many of you read his posts, (they can be infrequent, sometimes), but if you don't, get a news reader/aggregator and subscribe to his feed.

This video that he just posted about, blew me away on so many levels. Go watch it. I'm not kidding, go watch it.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Another Reason to Love the Internet

Since we got our Tivo we never think about when shows air. We just know that when we want to watch them they are waiting for us. The intelligence built into Tivo is amazing and only rarely does it miss something.

Sunday night was one of those rare occasions.

Our Tivo knows that one of our favorite shows is the West Wing. It also knows that it should record anything to do with Duke and Basketball. It has the ability to record 2 shows simultaneously, so conflicts are infrequent; when they happen, Tivo respects our rankings. On our list, Duke Basketball is on the top. (Isn’t it on everyone’s?) Both ESPN and ESPNU aired the Duke women’s basketball game Sunday night. Although it was the same game on each channel, the title in the schedule was different and it led Tivo to believe they were different shows and should both take priority over the West Wing.

So, no West Wing. Now before you get to worried that I’m jonesin’ for an unhealthy TV fix, remember that this was to be the show where they wrote out Leo, my favorite character.

One of many Leo moments:
Listen, I don't have time to make people comfortable. If a change has to be made, it has to be made. Jerry, Cal, Mack, Steve -- you're fired.



No kidding. It's moving day. I want Toby. The rest of you-- thanks very much.

They all stare at Leo.

Fellas. Look at my face. You're done.

Everyone except Leo and Toby leaves.

[to Toby] Don't screw up.
End Leo moment

So you can imagine my mild panic when we learned, too late, that the West Wing was not recorded.
Remembering what my friend Darren is always telling me about this cool internet thingy, I take a gamble and search for a BitTorrent of my missing episode. Within moments I was connected and downloading an HD version of a show that had just aired a few hours ago. BitTorrents being what they are, it took a few hours to complete, but we only had to wait until Monday to watch it.

NBC would tell me this activity is illegal—and they could win such an argument in court. I justify it because I have already paid DirecTV for the show, I just didn’t happen to watch it when they aired it. I could have easily been watching it from my Tivo or a tape. This reminds me of a time when downloading illegal music was all the rage.

The music companies never wanted iTunes or Rhapsody to deliver single song offerings to consumers. They were much happier when they forced us to buy entire CDs. Once they realized the music download phenomenon wasn’t going anywhere, however; they decided to legalize it to get their hands around whatever revenue they could.

I think the same will happen with video. To my observation, the pattern is the same, people want what they want and if they have to download it illegally to get it, well, they will. It won’t be long before every show aired will be available for purchase online. All it will take is the networks to wise up and Apple to make a device sexy enough for the masses--iTV. (Yes I know you can already get some shows from iTunes, but this won't really take off until people can watch them in their living rooms.) (And don't tell Apple, but Microsoft is already positioned to be the killer device for this content with their latest X-box.)
Older Posts Newer Posts