You owe any one Olympian one beer

You owe an Olympian a beer. It can be any Olympian. It can be any kind of beer. I'd recommend asking the Olympian what he or she wants to drink before you actually purchase it. Maybe the bartender will already know. This beer should not be intended as an opportunity to ingratiate yourself or get an autograph. Just buy the guy or gal a beer, and say a quick "Thank you" then be on your way.

I'm sitting here with my beer gut watching the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. I'm sort of enjoying it and alternately am finding myself disappointed. Admittedly, being an American, I'm very ethnocentric towards what I consider to be my home team playing abroad. The turnout isn't what was expected. The American basketball 'Dream Team' seems more like a wet dream. Although the swimming competition has been interesting academically, and Amanda Beard is without a doubt drop dead gorgeous, I've never personally been able to get excited over people swimming back and forth in a pool. The Japanese are dutifully and deservedly kicking our ass in men's gymnastics and the Romanian women may do the same in women's gymnastics. Although women's beach volleyball is entertaining to watch (May and Walsh are major babe material), I question how that ever became an Olympic sport. Don't even get me started on synchronized swimming, because I didn't start this rant just for Olympic Games bashing. That's not my aim here.

Now I sit here, with my beer gut, and I have the gall to think these thoughts; type these words. How dare I look at this Olympics thing as if it were supposed to entertain me personally. That's not what this Olympics thing is about at all. I could barely do a chin up, much less actually take hold of a high bar and flip myself over it without ending up dead. Yet these people spend years - in many cases over half or more of their day to day lives - endeavoring to achieve a level of physical perfection. Only three in each event can go home with a medal, but anyone who even makes it to contention deserve to be called Olympians.

Any non Olympian who has ever watched a summer or winter Olympic games and felt a smile cross their lips, anyone who has ever entertained the thought of maybe getting off their ass and training to better themselves and while perhaps not competing in the Olympics at least getting healthy enough to survive a walkathon, owes an Olympian a beer. Anyone who ever dreamed a dream and failed to achieve it, or dreamed a dream and found a way to realize it, you have a merest sinking suspicion what it must be like to stand there and hear your national anthem played, with a ribbon draped around your neck and a medallion hanging from it, perhaps with a crown of laurels or a bouquet of flowers, millions of people watching you... Well there's people on this planet who don't just think about what it's like. They went out and did it, at great expense and painful exertion. They made the dream a reality, which somehow lends more tangibility to the fantasy of millions of others. You and I will probably never get off our ass and remain couch potatoes, or perhaps you are off your ass and actually have a six pack where I have a small keg. That doesn't matter. What does matter is if by some whim of the gods you find yourself in the presence of a person who actually competed in the Olympics, doesn't matter which one, you should feel duty-bound as a member of humanity to buy the person a beer.

If they don't drink, no biggie, but at least offer. After all, they've done their small part to continue a tradition that dates back near the dawn of the human race. For the most part Olympian athletes show what it's like to have grace under pressure and epitomize both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. They represent the best human beings can be. They support with their effort a global communal spirit that may one day contribute in a small way to the end of war and help pave the way of peace. At the very least, they have cool stories to tell which might make the night of everybody at the bar.

Pamela Anderson gave Mohini Bhardwaj twenty thousand dollars to help her achieve her dream. Would it really kill ya? The least you can do is buy Mary Lou Retton a beer. Or any Olympian past or present, provided you ever meet one. And let's face it: what are the odds?

Still asking why? What possible reason why these people deserve your offer of alcohol to whet their whistle? Or hey a sports drink if they really turn down the hard stuff. Why do this? Why should it matter to you? Just practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty for no reason whatsoever and lighten up a bit. Do you really need a reason? For that matter, next time you run into a fireman, astronaut, policeman or whoever invented the cellphone, buy them a beer too. What the hell. Still asking why? Why the hell not?

I realized today I completely suck at nodeshell rescues; I suspect the impending message from Klaproth will remind me never to try that again.

So I'm moving again, this time back to Colorado. Erica actually did send me a check ... but unfortunately not for anywhere near the amount she actually owed me. Supposedly, it was a carefully measured amount, just enough to buy an airline ticket to get there. The claim was had she sent me the whole amount, my ex-wife would have found a way to steal it. As much as it angers me, she's probably right.

Unfortunately, it wasn't actually enough for an airline ticket. So I'm taking a damned bus.

When I called her to ask for the rest of the money, she adopted an unfortunate attitude -- "you never signed a contract with me, you can't prove I owe you the money, etc." She seems not to be the person I once thought she was.

Of course, neither is my ex-wife, whose highly intelligent response to my depressed reaction to Erica's musings today was to scold and yell at me. The funniest part is how she still wonders why I'm leaving again.

This time, though, I'm not leaving in control of anything. Not much money. No car. Completely dependent on friends who I suspect never liked me in the first place to take care of me. I have nothing but Erica's word that once I arrive in Colorado she'll talk to me again and/or send me the rest of the money she owes me.

I spent nearly half an hour of my day today in a catatonic state; after my phone call ended with Erica, I could apparently no longer cope with reality and just turned off for awhile. My ex-wife spent half an hour unsuccessfully trying to awaken me from the unnatural slumber. I lose more and more time this way now; though I normally don't fall asleep when it happens I do behave very differently and forget about everything that happened -- almost like a blackout. I see things moving in darkness that aren't there, thunderstorms scare me again like they did when I was a child, and my sanity is slipping away. The term "schizophrenia" keeps cropping up in my mind and I'm beginning to worry that more than just the term is applicable to what's happening to me upstairs.

What are you supposed to do when you can literally see yourself slipping away on the inside? What kind of life preserver am I supposed to throw out for myself to stop it from getting worse? Should I just keep shuffling around until I find a place to live that will tolerate me and make me comfortable? Will peace and comfort alone be enough to finally get well-needed rest? What is real rest like? I've come to realize I've probably only spent a few nights in my entire lifetime in contented, peaceful sleep. All of them involved being in Erica's arms. Of course she's gone now, five hundred miles away, and I'm moving another 900 miles further away. And she's replaced me with her ex-boyfriend anyway. I'll have to settle for not being scared to death that my ex-wife will try to hurt or kill me in my sleep now. Of course, it'll be replaced by the worry that my new landlords will just decide to throw me out on my ears. Then I'll be screwed (again).

I am an employee at a playroom in a movie theater. This leaves me with children for about three hour periods of time. Long enough that any annoying kid will be gone in a little while. Some parents are very helpful about giving us information about their child. Some children cry as soon as their parents leave, and don't stop until we page the parents to come back. Some children act out and try anything and everything to get their parents to come back. I spent twenty minutes with a five year old one day, trying to get him to nod if he wanted popcorn. I saw no reason that he wouldn't, but after twenty minutes of him trying to grab my popcorn and being non responsive to anything I said I gave him popcorn. At that point he picked it up piece by piece and handed it to me then opened his mouth expectantly. The next time he came was with his grandmother, and she told me that he doesn't speak. We take children with special needs, that is no big deal, but it is important to know. He generally wanders around aimlessly, and just explores things, or watches the Nintendo, but doesn't cause any problems. Yesterday he said hi to me, which is working on learning how to say, it sounds like a hoarse whisper. I love working with children, especially ones with difficulties and special needs, but I will never understand why parents don't mention such things. We have posted that we will accept special needs children, and we don't turn children away, unless it is a busy day and the parents think the child will get overwhelmed, in which case we suggest coming back on a weekday when its not as busy.

Things are still dark in Orlando for the most part as the clean-up and recovery from Hurricane Charley continues. Power is still out in most places with around 700,000 people still without electricity statewide. People are looting, others are fighting over bread and ice. Fist-fights have broken out in some places as people wait in line for stores to stock shelves. In some incidents the person at the head of the line buys the entire supply of water/ice/bread/etc. and is beaten down by the angry crowd. The power company estimates they'll have all power back on by Saturday, but more unofficial reports claim ten days or more. Water is still contaminated in most places. My apartment complex is listed by name as one of the places not to drink the water.

Adding to the mess is a suspected conspiracy in my city. I live in Winter Park which is part of the Orlando metro area. There's a bunch of cities that all run together in this area: Oviedo, Maitland, etc. Last year Winter Park voted to buy back the power system from Progress Energy and run it without the company's assistance, although this buyout has not occured yet and will not occur until next year. So for right now, this moment, the city is still a part of Progress Energy's service area. The conspiracy is that it's believed that the company is ignoring Winter Park and servicing other cities instead because of the upcoming buyout. Progress Energy wants Winter Park very badly, and now that it's been decided they cannot have it after this year, the talk is that we've been put on the end of the power restore list. Meanwhile, neighboring Maitland seems to be getting express treatment and - hey, how about that! - they have a similar buyout issue on their ballot this Election Day. The men and women working on the power lines deserve a pat on the back and a big thank you, but whatever company executive(s) that is/are leaving Winter Park in the dark over a political matter such as this (if, in fact, that is what is happening) should have to live in the humid darkness for a few days without adequate food or clean water.

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