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Friday, November 17, 2006

A Christmas to Remember Every Christmas

Filed under: Family,LDS,Philosophy — Tom Pittman @ 12:34 pm

It was one month past our first wedding anniversary and Christmas morning.  As struggling college students, we had spent our year together literally banking on the saying, “Two can live as cheaply as one,” and now that we had a new, one month old baby, we were hoping to stretch that to three.  While I was growing up my mom always used to say, “We’re so poor, we can’t pay attention.” Starting my own little family, we were that poor too.

Most couples had gone home for the holidays, or at least to relatives nearby, but being from Alaska, we made a Christmas for our little family in our apartment.  Having little to give others, we decided to give our Christmas dinner away to the only young couple we knew of who was poorer than we were. However, making this delivery anonymously was going to require planning, luck, and athleticism.  Their apartment was in a building where the front door opened into a long hallway. 

With my wife waiting outside in the getaway car, I carefully set the box of food in front of their door, knocked very loudly, then shot down the hall in a flat out run.  As I reached the stairs at the end of the hall, I heard their door open.  I knew my only chance to not be seen was to leap the entire flight of stairs, so I did a weird jump — crouched over so as to be as low as I could be as I took to the air.

I almost made it.

My right foot hit the last step and I rolled my ankle and crashed in a heap on the landing below the stairs.  I popped up and hopped at hyper speed for the outside door, crossed the icy sidewalk and dove into the car and my wife sped off for home.

I hobbled up the stairs to our apartment thinking to myself, “It is amazing how good you can feel with a severely sprained ankle.”

We could hear the telephone ringing as we unlocked the door.  It was this couple.  Rats!” I thought.  He saw me!“

“Merry Christmas, Tom,” he said.

My wife looked at me as if to ask, “Who is it?” I pantomimed that it was this couple.  She gasped.

“Are you enjoying your Christmas dinner?” he asked.

Why would he ask that?” I thought to myself.

We were so busted, but I tried to play it cool. “Actually, we haven’t had dinner yet,” I said.

“That’s what I thought,” he replied.

My wife whispered to me, “Do they know?” I nodded yes.

“Guess what?” He continued.  “Someone just left a whole Christmas dinner at our door, all cooked up, turkey and everything!”

“Really?” I said, wiping the sweat from my palms.

“Yeah, that’s why we’re calling you.  You guys are the only couple we know of that is poorer than we are, so we were wondering if you wanted to come over and have dinner with us.”

As we entered their apartment bearing the apple pie we held back for ourselves and still unsure if they suspected us, he asked me, “Tom, what happened to your leg?!”

“I cut myself shaving,” I joked.

That was exactly 20 years ago this Christmas.  I don’t remember many of the Christmas gifts I’ve received since then, but I know I will never forget what we gave that Christmas day, and how it felt.

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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Hey, Whiners: Crying is not Passion!

Filed under: Basketball,NBA,News,Philosophy — Tom Pittman @ 8:12 pm

After the Pistons’ loss to Utah, Saunders paraded his ineptitude before the press as he whined about technical fouls.

“My comment is that we might as well play ‘PlayStation’ if we are going to take the emotion out of it,” Saunders said.

Boo hoo. Could someone bring poor Flip a clean diaper? Flip

Anyone who says T-ing up crybabies is taking the passion out of basketball needs to quit embarrassing himself and watch more college basketball — especially in March. Do those teams (whose league doesn’t tolerate whining) seem to lack passion?

Because I like the Pistons, I was pulling for Flip Saunders as their coach, but now I think I understand why the Minnesota Timberwolves choked in every playoffs but one when he coached them. I used to think that Kevin Garnett didn’t have the right players around him, but now I wonder if it isn’t because Flip Saunders lacks championship mettle.

As we all know (I hope), coaching plays a far bigger role in the playoffs than the regular season. Because a team plays the same team several times in a row in the playoffs, there is very in depth analysis and adjustments that need to be made to get by a team.

It takes much more than a good game plan to win though, it takes execution. And execution requires focus (through distraction) and mental toughness (through adversity), and clearly Flip Saunders and too many other NBA professionals have neither.

Thanks to our 65″ high definition television, the multiple angles the TV broadcasts often gives us, and a DVR that lets me skip back and step forward at excruciatingly slow motion, I can say with confidence that the refs certainly do miss calls, but they don’t miss as nearly many calls as get complained about by NBA players and coaches. Time after time reviews show coaches and players complaining about the right call.

However, speaking of the big picture, it doesn’t matter if a call was right or wrong though.

Those of us without multimillion dollar shoe deals have been taught by life that it isn’t always fair. When injustices happen, and they always will, the winners in life shake it off and persevere despite the setback, while the losers wear their excuses like bumper stickers on a totaled, junk yard Lexus.

Once upon a time people used to joke that the NBA stood for “No Babies Allowed.” Now it must stand for “Nancy Boy Actors.” And overpaid ones at that. These guys are far too used to the delicate handling society gives celebrities, to the point that they demand it on the hardwood as well. This disconnection with the real world is embarrassing them and the league.

The NBA’s crackdown on crybabies is LOOOONG overdue. Just like the hand checking rule when it was new, the teams that care most about winning will quickly adjust, while the others just end up showing the world their lack of championship mojo by resisting the new reality.

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