About This Blog

As time permits, in-depth musings on myriad subjects will be posted. Abbreviated adages will be announced via Twitter.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


No doubt, there are countless masses who have either written or are actively writing something similar to what follows. But that doesn’t matter much to me. Instead, I’m just wanting to air my own point of view on the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer aired last night during a sporting contest of some sort. But that doesn’t much matter, either, nor does it matter that the mad rush for tickets crashed servers and clogged Internet pipelines for hours. Rather, what matters to me isn’t so much the surface plot sketched out in the new trailer but what new owner Disney and its director appear to be saying through the selected scenes and dialogue revealed in the roughly three hundred seconds the trailer spans.

To say that I’ve been a Star Wars fan my whole life wouldn’t be entirely accurate. My first memories of what would become Episode IV: A New Hope include the visage of Darth Vader turning to look at me through the tiny television screen in my parents’ living room and my subsequent sprint through the house, screaming; later, I would cry and cling to my older sister, begging her not to go into the movie theater because of the “bad, bad man.” In essence, what Lucas had sought to accomplish with Star Wars worked on me from the get-go: He had tapped into my collective unconscious and unleashed a barrage of archetypes that would shape my life and the person I would become.

Now, a new director is at the helm of the film franchise. Monetarily, his credentials at steering at least one other sci-fi film franchise to glory and a new generation of fans is unquestionably successful. But I feel Abrams knows he is treading on sacred ground with Star Wars and is treating it with greater care. So he’s going with what worked for him on the previous franchise by bringing back original cast members to reprise their roles that solidified their respective places in cinematic history, easing the transition from what we’ve known for generations to what he wants us to know for generations to come.

Seeing the original hunting group of companions reunited on film (and in the poster revealed the day before the film) has caught the attention of anyone who knows even a little bit about Star Wars, but, for me, it was, again, the presence of the visage of Darth Vader in the teasers and full trailer that held my sway, and it wasn’t until what I presume to be the voice of Kylo Ren spoke, saying—and I might be paraphrasing here; I've only watched the trailer once—”I will continue what you had begun.”

J.J. Abrams has the weight of countless worlds on his shoulders, and for that, I do not envy him. Like Ren, he is attempting to continue the work began by his forebears. And, as Obi-Wan waxed in Episode VI, what we accept as true will depend on our own point of view. Personally, I’ve not been terribly impressed for what I’ve witnessed of Abrams’s style of storytelling, but that hasn't stopped me from enjoying (for the most part) what he has offered. The same could very well be the case for Episode VII: Abrams could contort what he believes (or has been instructed to believe) to be true and skew the entire (Star Wars) universe to that perspective—just like Kylo Ren appears to be doing with the Force and the Empire. But, like Ren’s rumored (spoiler alert!) grandfather before him, it may take a few films to see (ahem) the big picture and find redemption through telling new and interesting stories. And that (the telling of stories) is what really matters.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

2015 Bike MS

Deep Thought, the supercomputer designed to answer the Ultimate Question of life, the universe—everything, took 7.5 million years to come up with its answer: 42. So, while the answer to the Ultimate Question may be 42, I, in my 42 years on this earth (which is a whole other storyline in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) am more like the Socratic Paradox: The one thing I know is that I know nothing.

October 3 & 4 marked Bike MS weekend, the annual big fund raiser for the local chapter of the National MS Society. I participated in my first Bike MS fifteen years ago in the year 2000 (which used to sound so futuristic but now sounds archaic) and raised a little over $1,000 to fight a disease I knew nothing about, nor did I know anyone involved with the disease. Now, in 2015, I know more than I used to as well as many who are fighting MS: Friends, neighbors, loved ones—including my own wife.

Thanks to the generosity of so many friends and family members, I was able to exceed my fundraising goal of $1,500 this year, which will be matched in the next week or two by Team EOG Resources, the team for which I have ridden since 2013, bringing my own total to over $3,000. Bike MS in San Antonio surpassed the $1 million mark before the ride commenced on Saturday morning. Donations can continue to be made here.

Saturday’s ride was a 100-mile trek from the Wheatley Heights Sports Complex on the east side of San Antonio to the Comal County Fairgrounds in the middle of New Braunfels. The ride was relatively flat and the temperature cool (for south Texas in October) but the wind was ever-present and never at our backs. I rode the full century with my friend, neighbor, and teammate Josh, and, together, we put in a solid effort until about mile 80 when I bonked due to not taking in sufficient nutrition during the first half of the ride. After that, it was damage recovery and survival for both of us until the finish.

In spite of that, day 1 of Bike MS was amazingly fun and enjoyable on every account—save the bonking bit. Day 2, on the other hand, proved more challenging, though not on the bike.

Before departing for the start line, Nicholle & I noticed The Girl had a bit of a rash. This was coming on the heels of a fever she ran prior to the weekend, which followed her getting her 6-month vaccines and flu shot, but documentation from the CDC indicated the rash was unrelated as an allergic reaction. Because The Girl’s spirits were high and temperature was normal, I went ahead and departed for the ride and departed the start with the group.

In relatively little time, I found myself at the front of the whole ride, which was nice, especially when considering how deep in the hole I put myself on Saturday. About 8-½ miles into the ride, though, I received a phone call from Nicholle: The rash had worsened, Nicholle felt to be having a flare-up with her MS, and she was worried; would I come home.

Breaking off from the pack, I hightailed it back to the first aid station and caught a ride with a SAG vehicle to the start; Nicholle would meet me there, and we would get The Girl to the area pediatric urgent care in order to ascertain what was going on.

Unlike the whole of ride weekend, the pickup and trip to the urgent care center went perfectly to plan. I was irritated at having to abandon but not with Nicholle or any other person. Rather, I was irritated at the toll MS has on not just the diagnosed but on families as a whole. So little gets to go to plan, and for a Type A family, that gets to be more than a little aggravating.

Fortunately, the rash turned out to be the downslope of the Roseola Virus, so there was precious little we could do but give her TLC, fluids, and rest; check, check, and check. While Nicholle tended to The Girl, I tended to The Boy, and the day and weekend managed to end on a high note: The Girl is on the mend, Nicholle’s flare-up has all but subsided, and we’re all together as a family.

I cannot pretend to know why things happened as they did, nor does it really matter. What does matter is that my family is together and lovingly strong, I am part of an amazing support network of friends and family who donated (as of 9:00 PM) a collective $1,590, which will soon be matched by Team EOG, and there were 1,500 other riders who each raised $300 or more in donations to the National MS Society, bringing us that much closer to a cure for MS. Hopefully, we’ll find that cure in less time than 7.5 million years or before the earth is destroyed to make way for an interstellar bypass—whichever comes first.

To those who donated towards this weekend’s ride: Thank you so much, and I am sorry to have let you down by not being able to bike all the miles. Maybe next year, providing a cure isn’t found before then.

Thanks for reading.