Friday, May 27, 2005

Pomp and Circumstance

It's that time of year again, when a fresh crop of graduates hits the streets. Are you a graduate this year? Then listen up.

Congratulations you grads. Today's your day. You made it through four, or five, or six years of college, and by tonight, you'll have a diploma, or as my wife calls it "a fancy receipt." It should be a happy occasion for you. It was for me!

Much has been made of the college education. It seems an irrefutable fact that having one is essential to "making it" in this country. I want to remind you all that it's still possible to get one of these pieces of paper, and still not "make it". There are scores of unhappy, overeducated people working at jobs below their "diploma." How do you know you won't be one of them? Here's some hints:

1) Only you know what makes you happy. Not your spouse. Not your family. Not your closest friend. Only you. The more you know what makes you happy, the better off you'll be. Whenever you look at the successful people of our times, you find that they often started with something they were happy with. Are you doing that?

2) Passion is underrated. People hear passion, and think about that strong love/lust that they feel in the beginning of a relationship with someone. But I want you to consider its other definition: boundless enthusiasm. You know that feeling you get in the morning, just as you're waking up, when you remember that you were going to do "something", and that something made you excited? You couldn't wait to get up and get at it? That's passion. Do you have it for what you've just studied?

3) You only have a limited time. The life expectancy of the modern American is towards the 80s. That gives you sixty years. I'm down to my last forty. This is either a lot of time, or it's too little time. No matter how you slice it, it's the only time we've got. Think about the first two questions in light of this.

4) You're not done learning. You're never done learning. Did you think that by earning this diploma you're finally able to lean back and say "I'm done with learning?" And I'm not talking about book learning. I'm talking about learning about people, about yourself. I'm talking about learning what's current, what's next, and what's on the horizon. If there's one thing a diploma proves (almost): it proves you can learn. Will you keep doing it?

The diploma you'll be looking at tonight is one measure of accomplishment. It's a stepping stone. But that's all it is. And it's not the only stepping stone. Don't delude yourself into thinking that this paper entitles you to anything. Don't believe the hype that a diploma will give you security. It doesn't.

The longer I think about it, the more I recognize how close to the truth my wife is: a diploma is sometimes nothing more than a receipt. Build your life answering the questions above. If you're like me, twenty years from now, you may not even remember where your diploma is.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Other Side of Midnight

The Revenge of the Sith opens tomorrow. Tonight, I've been watching the excellent documentary that came with my Star Wars Trilogy DVD.

When the first Star Wars (Episode IV) came out in May 25, 1977, the Wednesday before Memorial Day, it only opened in 37 theaters. 37! The studio, 20th Century Fox, made a bargain with theater owners. Apparently, theater owners were very eager to exhibit another 20th Century Fox movie that week, titled The Other Side of Midnight. The studio made a bargain with some of those theaters: if you show "The Other Side of Midnight", you have to show Star Wars too.

Tomorrow, Star Wars: Episode III - The Revenge of the Sith, is opening in 3661 theaters. I have no plans to ever see "The Other Side of Midnight", a movie based on a Sidney Sheldon novel, but I am planning to see George Lucas' final film in his culture-altering saga.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Tiger's Cut Streak Ends

Tiger Woods missed the cut yesterday.

The typical professional golf tournament is played over four rounds of golf, spread over four days. The first two rounds are played with a full field players, each posting scores against the golf course's par (usually 72). At the end of these two rounds, players at the bottom half of the scoring "miss the cut". When a player misses the cut, they do not play the last two rounds ("they miss the weekend") and they do not earn any prize money.

Tiger Woods doesn't need any more prize money. He makes more money off the course through endorsements. It's clear to even casual fans that Tiger's motivation does not come from money.

He last missed a cut in 1998. 1998! He has made the cut in 142 events prior to this week's event. Before this weekend, his closest rival in "cuts made" was Ernie Els, who has 20. Tiger has only ever missed the cut three times since he became a professional golfer in 1996. The last record holder was Byron Nelson at 113 cuts made. Tiger broke that mark in 2003.

"Days when you don't have it, you don't mail it in," Tiger said. "You give it everything you've got."

Records were made to be broken. But this record of Tiger's will probably stand the test of time, like all the other unapproachable records (Joe DiMaggio's hit streak, Eric Heiden's five gold medals). Tiger's streak represents an unparalleled competitive consistency, which is fitting for one of the greatest competitors of our time.

Sunday, May 8, 2005

Mother's Day

At one mass on Mother's Day at St. James (where I used to go to church), the celebrant invited all the mothers to stand up to receive a special blessing. I was in the pews, and when the women stood up, I glanced all around the church. It struck me the women who were standing, and the women who were sitting. "Why was she sitting? I thought she was a mom." "I didn't know she had children?" These questions filled my head. How deeply personal it is to become a mother!

In the first five years of our marriage, I remember how often Jenn and I were asked when we were going to start having children. Jokingly of course. But Jenn has made me realize how incredibly personal that kind of question is, even in jest. Maybe it would have been better for the priest just to have announced a special blessing for the mothers, without making them stand up. Perhaps.

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Random Thoughts

My brother pointed me to Darth Vader's BLOG. It is very funny! I wonder if Han Solo has a BLOG?

Danielle Aimee, whom I've posted about already [1] [2], shot 8-over 79 in the first round of her first LPGA event, the Michelob Ultra Open. The leaders Silvia Cavalleri and Catrin Nilsmark are both at 4-under 67. It's a tough start for Dani, but when I look at her score card, I see that she really had a tough front nine, then settled down on the back nine. She scored a birdie on the par-3 13th. That had to be a good boost!

I did finish The Boys of Winter last month. I'm ready for the movie now.