Andre Agassi

Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed Agassi’s autobio on a lot of different levels. Here’s my blurb Double A didn’t ask for. “As riveting and provocative a parenting/psychology/media studies/sports studies case study as you’ll read for a long, long time.”

Got into one of those grooves where it was very hard to put down. I like tennis and could have been decent if I was quicker, had a better backhand, could get my first serve in, and had a second serve.

I followed it more closely when Agassi, Courier, Chang, and Sampras were kicking ass nearly every weekend. Now I get excited about Federer and Nadal a few times a year.

It was fascinating to “relive” the era from Agassi’s perspective and reflect on how easy it is to misinterpret things through media lenses. Agassi was greatly misunderstood by everyone outside his inner circle.

That realization was a reminder that people’s questionable actions often make sense when we truly understand the context of their lives. The media loved to rip Agassi for not always playing up to his potential and symbolizing style over substance, but his erratic play and behavior made sense in the context of his two decade long identity crisis. And his identity crisis made sense in the context of his dad’s and Nick Bollettieri’s oppressive parenting and coaching.

My daughter didn’t understand how he ended up being thoughtful and intelligent when he left school in the eighth grade which led to a nice talk about the difference between schooling and education.

People who are not tennis fans will still find it a worthwhile read, but they may end up skimming the 10% or so where Agassi does color commentary on his own most consequential matches.

In the end, Agassi was imminently likable which only added to the overall enjoyment. Here’s hoping Stefanie, his children and him live happily ever after.

Week that Was—12/21-12/27

12/21 M T W R F SA SU Total
S 2,000

16:31 1k

2,000

16:28 1k

700

famrelays

4,700
C 16 14

fam

30
R 6 6

mid 4-:29

6

marathon

pace

5-38:49

18

S: Outdoors in Flo-rida. SCM. Busted a knuckle up pretty good during family relays. It was all worth it though because I smoked 17 during that 50 back/breast race segment. My sissy shared an interesting thought last week, “It’s not all about me.” Oh, I beg to differ. As I pulled away with 14 cheering wildly, it was all about me. Seventeen never should have said “YOUR doing breaststroke?” Although, fourteen and forty seven were victorious, everyone smoked me in the back/butter/breast.

C: W indoors, Su outdoors. Sunday’s ride was done at 10mph with my better half on a hybrid way too small for me. Our mission, find Derek Jeter’s new house. We were unsuccessful. I should have done the research beforehand. We actually saw it near the end of our ride from across the (Tampa) Bay. Once built it will be 30,000 square feet. Seems kinda silly for a single dude. Actually seems kinda silly for a polygamist with double digit children. Had a thought during the ride Lance. If I rode an Ironperson at that pace, I probably could tag on a marathon. 1:05 swim, 11:40 bike, 4:00 run, :14 transitions. Oh wait, they have a cut off after the bike, nevermind.

R: I was running T and the temp was in the high 60′s. Yes, I took my shirt off and yes runners going the opposite direction were shielding their eyes. Call me the Solar Eclipse. A cyclist passed me wearing arm and leg warmers. So nice to run in warm sunlight. Which brings us to Christmas eve service. The offertory? “In the Bleak Mid-Winter”. I’d like to trade mid-winters for just one more week to help the people of TB truly understand the meaning of “bleak.”

Avatar versus Invictus

Invictus because I’m not a sci fi guy. Friends were raving about the new Star Trek on a run recently. I don’t think I’ve ever sat through a whole episode. I’m definitely a non-fiction guy. That being said, I enjoyed Avatar, I just have a hard time giving into the notion of aliens. Of course the special effects were on a whole new level and even I followed the storyline. My take away, don’t mix business and pleasure.

I followed South Africa closely in the mid/late 80′s and really enjoyed Invictus because it mixed three of my interests, Africa, politics, and sports. I was left wondering how true to actual events it was. Afterwards, I did a little internet research and found an article from a British periodical that suggested not very. However, when I read that piece I had to chuckle. In my opinion, the journalist was quibbling with minutiae. It’s amazing Mandela, 91, has lived as long as he has, especially given conditions on Robben Island.

My suggestion, go crazy and see both.

What Decade is Drawing to a Close?

What will we call it? I propose the “double zeroes” or maybe that’s redundant and it will just be the “zeroes”, yeah, I prefer that. I suspect the next one will be referred to as the teens even though that’s not entirely accurate. And while I’m on the topic of dates, strangely, I was the only Avatar viewer in our foursome to pick up on the 2154 date on the videoblog screen. And don’t forget to train for the Victoria, BC marathon on 10/10/10.

Eastward Ho

Conventional wisdom suggests we should be planning for the year ahead writing down specific, measurable personal finance, family, health, intellectual, work, service, spiritual goals. Fools don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.

I’m just not feelin’ it.

Instead, I’m at a point in my life where positive processes hold more allure than specific, measurable goals. Rather than focus on tangible products, I want to tweak my already healthy daily routines that create positive momentum in my life.

If I remember to whom much is given much is required, spend an hour or two a day moving, save more than I spend, read and write regularly, pay attention to my wife and daughters, and do right by my friends, students, and co-workers, 2010 will turn out well.

The Cheetah

Recently, on ESPN’s website, Bob Ryan asked how high will Tiger rise again. His answer in essence, “Never all the way.” Wrong. See Kobe Bryant. One could argue that Kobe, on trial for rape, was in a deeper hole than Tiger. What are people saying about Tiger? His image was manufactured, he’s stupid, he should change his name to the Cheetah.

I have a hard time believing that the same people who now love Kobe (mom) are going to think any less of Tiger after he wins his 19th major in six, seven years. If anything, he’ll be a bit more accessible to the average golf fan, and if he pieces some semblance of a personal life together, he’ll probably end up more popular than ever. In this debate, Gillette and Accenture are siding with Ryan, Phil Knight and Nike, with me.

You and I are foolish for thinking we knew Tiger even a little bit and for believing there’s a positive correlation between athletic talent and character. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me a hundred and one times. . .

Onward Blixen to Francis’s previous question about whether monogamy is even realistic. Read recently that 1 in 4.6 married people are cheetahs. Ergo, if that’s correct, three or four of every five are faithful.

Here are some of my secrets for remaining among the three or four of every five.

First, I think positively of myself, not because I’m perfect, but partly because I’m a good husband. Were I to go even a little Eldrick, I’d have to reconstruct my self-image. What a hassle that.

Second, I’ve never hung out with Jordan and Barkley in Vegas. Were I to TDUB, my homeboys would freeze me out (correction: one recently said not true if I videotaped it for them) and who wants to run by themself all the time. What’s the saying, “You are the company you keep.”

Third, impossible to find someone half as hot as the gal pal.

Fourth, who am I kiddin’, those three are more than sufficient to keep me in the center of the fairway.

Week that Was—12/7-12/13

Swimming, 2x. 4,000m. Cycling, 2x. 35 miles. Running, 3x. Took Su-W off, ran R, F, Sa. 20.7 miles.

14 degrees on F’s pre-dawn run. Not bad after the first mile. Like the Norwegians say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”

Time to start thinking about 2010 s/c/r goals. What races, if any, should I do? What goals should I have besides the three main ones, beat Lance on one Saturday morning run, stay healthy, and have fun?

Shifting gears, look, it appears as if I do have a Facebook page after all. Is it just me, or do you too get weirded out when someone has your exact same, uniquely spelled name?

I should change mine to ALtotheDizzle Byrnes.

Dear Steve Jobs

Dear Jobster,

Took a look at Time magazines top ten iPhone apps the other day. Given there’s 300,000 apps, I assumed there had to be some in the top ten that I couldn’t live without. I thought these “gotta have” apps would be just the excuse I need to buy myself an iPhone for Christmas.

1—Tweetie 2. Surprisingly, too few Positive Momentum readers have begged me to begin tweeting and I don’t read others’ tweets, so the number one app creates zero “gotta have” juice.

2—Yelp. Finds restaurants, bars, and other businesses and provides reviews. I like the potential, but the problem with most review services is the anonymity and mismatched subjectivity. Anonymity means it’s impossible to tell whether company shills are praising products in an attempt to increase sales. And subjectivity is fine if you know the reviewer and he/she has similar interests/tastes, but that’s hardly ever the case. Of more value than Tweetie 2, but hardly a “gotta have”.

3—Slacker. Sounds like a more robust version of Pandora, which I like. Custom playlists, no commercials, nice. I’d use it on occasion, but out of 300,000, the bronze medal?

4—Flight track pro. Don’t fly nearly enough for this to create any excitement.

5—Mint. Money and budgeting program. I’m not a budgeter. I can see why some people would like this app, but of little value to me.

6—Sling player mobile. Remote t.v. Cool, and I’d use it on occasion, but watching t.v. on the iPhone screen doesn’t seem too appealing. As you know, I’m waiting for the tablet. Tablet in hand, I’ll purchase this one.

7—The small chair. Stories, short films, readings, interviews, art. Exclusive content. Hard to say not knowing what the quality of the content is. Again, the screen size is a limiter and maybe I’d give it a go with tablet in hand. At the same time, I try to keep up with too many periodicals already, so this one doesn’t get generate much juice either.

8—Runkeeper. Basically a Garmin with one important advantage, much easier to read. Obviously, most personal technologies are made for people far younger than me with much better vision. Love the screen shot of this app. No more huddling in the laundry room trying to see if that was a 4:55 or 5:05 mile I just ran. :) First “gotta have” deserving of top ten status. But wait, my  iPod nano and Garmin easily slip into my back running short pockets, but the iPhone is too big (and heavier too). I’m not an arm strap guy so this complicates things.

9—Photoshop.com. Mobile photo editing. I don’t take a lot of pics and prefer working with those I do take on a much larger screen. Detecting a pattern? Tangent. I just got my first pair of bifocal contacts. Utterly amazing. I can read tiny footnotes, I can see Oregon and Canada clearly, and I’ve retained my boyish good looks. The optometry trifecta.

10—Locavore. Find locally grown, in-season foods. That’s the galpal’s job and she knows exactly where the food-coop is. Another one that doesn’t move the needle.

So SJ, that’s all you got?  Makes me wonder how most consumers adapt personal technology. Instead of consciously concluding this device is going to improve the quality of their lives, I suspect they feel a need to conform. There’s a tipping point (that would make a good book) where holding out translates to a loss of social standing. Since I’m not much of a social standing guy, I want to know the new device is going to make a positive difference in the quality of my life.

My final verdict? Not nearly enough juice to get me to iTouch or IPhone up.

Peace Out,

Ron