Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stopgap #2

I know what you're thinking. Did I publish six posts this month or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this confusion, I've kinda forgotten myself. (Turns out I've only done four this month, counting this one. Hmmm...) So you got to ask yourself one question: Where have you been all this time, man?!

Good question, me. To which I'll say the following. I've been busy the past few weeks prepping, and eventually pushing, myself to continue a little thing I'd like to call college. On the positive side, I have no more a.m. classes this semester! Or possibly next! Hooray for good mornings!

I'll also say this much. I'm not dead (yet), and I've actually got several other posts already typed up to be uploaded later this year. [Here's a hint. They all have (Academic) Works Cited at the bottom.] Plus, now that I'm starting to work on all cylinders, I can practically feel all those creative juices come flowing through me again.

But was this wait necessary? I'm not entirely sure.

When I started up Rock Talk earlier this New Year's Day, I was uploading content at a clip of one post every two to three days. And ever since I got out for summer vacation in early May, I've just about gone in a writing rut. I've struggled to write meaningful content, save my takes on the South Carolina Gamecocks' incredible title runs in the 2010 and 2011 College World Series, as well as two articles on Casey Anthony following her not-guily verdict (here and here). Maybe I needed this time off. After all, for a hobby like this, devoting so much time and energy after several months can really take its toll.

For those of you still reading this, you're the reason why I write. I thank you hanging around long enough to give just another face in the crowd his time in your life, if only for a couple of seconds. It's that kind of impact I wish my writing will have on a bigger scale someday. But for now, it's just me, myself, and Irene far, far away from the southeast.

Time to get back to doing what I do best.

Click here for Stopgap #1.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Leaving Aggression On The Field

In the world's most popular sport on the world's biggest stage, the pressure to win is paramount. For German soccer forward Birgit Prinz, she had the biggest burden to carry. As the longtime face of her country's national team, they were hosts of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup and looking to win an unprecedented third consecutive title. Had they reached the championship game in Frankfurt, it would've been held in Prinz's hometown where she also played professionally for 1. FFC Frankfurt. It couldn't have been scripted any better, but more questions than answers were raised by her performance, or lack thereof.

After failing to score in close one goal victories in Germany's first two opening round games, commentators close to the German team urged for head coach Silvia Neid to pull Prinz out of the starting line-up. At the time, Prinz was 33 years old and arguably the most prolific scorer in the history of women's soccer. She was to Germany what Abby Wambach is to the United States. But unlike Wambach, Prinz was eventually benched for the final game in group play against France. She was also benched for the quarterfinals, where Germany was stunned by eventual champion Japan in the final minutes of extra time. She played a total of 109 minutes and had zero goals in the tournament.

It's difficult to play down the role of an aging superstar, like Prinz, without a media backlash. After 128 goals in 214 apperances for the German national team, one would think that Prinz would be given the benefit of the doubt, especially in her home country. But with the emergence of a few up-and-coming German soccer players, coupled with a right ankle injury she suffered weeks before the Women's World Cup, Prinz became an easy target. Though she later admitted her poor play warranted a benching, she referred to the media criticism as a "witch-hunt."

What she went through was unique due to her skills and circumstances, but the way she dealt with the negative criticism can be applicable to just about any athlete. When it comes to leaving aggression on the field, it's ultimately best not to take any criticism too personal. Whether one plays an individual or team sport, the overall record one shares means nothing to critics. They will find fault with practically anything one does, so it's wise to avoid giving them additional reasons to overanalyze one's game. It's equally important not to let emotions, positive or negative, get the best of one's attitude. Discouraging comments can bring unnecessary attention, but statements made after an important win can prove troublesome, too. Finally, understand that the game is just a game. Sports certainly play an entertaining role, but life is more than just scoring goals or winning championships. However, the life lessons learned in sports are invaluable. By appropriately dealing with criticism now, one won't be intimidated by the pressures of life later.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Want To Get Noticed? Go Bare

(The following is a short piece I wrote for my brief stint on a freelance site, only for it to be rejected and rewritten. I understand it reeks of a sales pitch. Just take a few seconds of your time to read my shameless advert, and be thankful I'm not doing this for a living. You're welcome.)

When wearing cologne, keep the scent to a minimum. Not only can too much prove overpowering, it's a sign of insecurity that anyone can pick up on, males and females alike. To achieve that brisk, desirable smell, keep the can or bottle six to eight inches away when applying your fragrance. Allow each spray to gently waft over your desired area before you get dressed because your skin can absorb and retain the scent longer than your clothes. For best results, aim for your chest, neck, forearms and undersides of your wrists with only one spray each.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Will The U.S. Ever Default On Its Debt?

Had Democratic and Republican members of Congress not voted to approve a deal to raise the debt ceiling on Monday, today may have been a reprise of Black Tuesday. But they did, and it won't. For now.

Neither side got what they fully wanted, but the deal was a compromise between President Barack Obama and leading Congressional Republicans in a day and age where the word bipartisan has become a sign of weakness. In sum, it will allow the United States to borrow up to $2.1 trillion and cut $2.4 trillion in federal spending over the next decade. Notable additions include that of a new twelve member committee to recommend further spending cuts and a proposed amendment that would require the federal government to have a balanced budget, a lack of which has raised this country's debt ceiling time and time again.

For those of you reading this who didn't know or didn't care about the consequences of the United States defaulting on its debt at this time, here's the sobering truth. Those dependent on federal aid, specifically the elderly, disabled, and armed forces, would have had to wait weeks, even months, for compensation. Federal employees and contractors would have their paychecks suspended, as well. Interest rates on mortgages, loans, and credit cards would've skyrocketed. Stock markets, both in this country and the world over, would take a nosedive. Take all that, combined with the fact that the U.S. economy is moving upward at a snail's pace of 1.3% right now, and this country's financial reputation would've been permanently tarnished.

But most Americans aren't upset that a debt deal was passed. Its the political grudge matches that have got them fired up.