“So Here’s the Thing…” Episode 2

“So Here’s the Thing…” is a recurring column here on Scott’s World in which I address a particular topic that is either a source of frustration for myself, a controversial subject in society, or a current event on which I have a strong opinion.  Let me stress again that if you won’t be able to handle my occasionally-polarizing commentary then you should probably skip these posts. Today’s column is on:

THE NFL’S P.A.T.

We’re just about halfway through the 2015 NFL season and I cannot resist putting in my own two cents about this new extra point system. For those of you not familiar with what I’m talking about, let me get you caught up:

In American football, when a team scores a touchdown it is worth six points, and the team is given a bonus opportunity to score one more point – called the “extra point” or P.A.T. (point after touchdown) – by kicking the ball through the goal posts. Traditionally the kick was made fairly close to the goal posts, with the line of scrimmage being placed at the 2 yard-line. For the most part, these kicks were extremely easy for professional kickers, and it had gotten to the point where they were virtually automatic. This season, however, the NFL changed the P.A.T. rule to place the ball at the 15 yard-line, making those extra point kicks a little bit more difficult.

Many people like this change because it gives the extra point play some significance. Whereas before they might as well have eliminated it completely and just made a touchdown worth seven points instead of six, now there is a genuine possibility of teams missing the kick. The extra point has been made to truly be an opportunity for one more bonus point rather than just a freebie. While I agree with this concept on this fairly basic level, I think that there is still a problem with doing it this way, and I’m going to use today’s blog post to discuss my thoughts.

See, the entire goal of a team’s offense each time they get the ball is to move forward by at least ten yards, earning first downs and continuing forward with the ultimate mission of getting a touchdown. The basic idea of the extra point is that it is a reward for making it into the end zone and getting that touchdown. It’s a reward. Keep that in mind while I make my next few statements.

When the offense fails to get a first down and finds themselves on fourth down, they are faced with a dilemma. If they do not get the first down on that play, then the other team will take over on offense from that same position on the field. Alternatively, the offense can choose to punt the ball downfield to the other team, effectively admitting that they do not believe they will be able to get the first down on that fourth down play, and giving the ball to the other team’s offense at a spot on the field further back than they would have been. Lastly, the third option for the offense is that they can bring out their kicker and try for a field goal. This is also admitting that they don’t have confidence in their ability to get a first down, but they believe that they are close enough to the goal posts that their kicker can get the ball through them. The field goal is basically the same play as the extra point, except that it is not done from the 15 yard-line but rather from whatever yard-line the line of scrimmage is currently on for the fourth down play. This kick through the goal posts earns the team three points. Again, for emphasis: the team has failed to earn a first down or a touchdown, and has decided to settle for only three points. The field goal is essentially a consolation prize.

Now here is where I have an issue. If the extra point is a reward, and the field goal is a consolation prize, then why is the field goal worth more than the extra point?

This is where most people will argue that the field goal is usually from further away than the extra point, and so it is more difficult, and logically it should be worth more. This is reasonable and in fact was true nearly 99% of the time, back when the extra point was kicked from the 2 yard-line and not the 15. With the extra point kicked from further back, there are plenty of times when a team is closer for a field goal than the 15 yard-line.

My argument here is that the extra point and the field goal are executed identically by the offense, and so the value of a more difficult kick should not be lower than that of an easier kick. Of course, nobody would want to change the standard value of field goals to only one point, and nobody would want to change the standard value of the extra point to three or more. The only way to solve the problem I just defined would be to return the extra point to the two yard-line like it was before. That then brings back the frustration people had with it being too easy and a wasted play.

“Well, then, Scott,” you say, “how can we possibly solve all of these problems at once?”

Here’s my proposal, and feel free to share this with anyone in the NFL front offices, because I really feel this is a great idea all around:

We make the value of a kick between the goal posts vary based on what yard-line the line of scrimmage is at the time of the play. Let’s say kicks from the 1 to 10 are worth one point, from the 11 to the 20 two points, from the 21 to the 30 three points, from the 31 to the 40 four points, and anything further is worth five points. Not only does this then award teams based on the difficulty of the kick, but it may in fact encourage teams to try field goals in certain circumstances where they might otherwise have simply punted the ball away, and conversely they might choose to go for it in circumstances where they might otherwise have just kicked a field goal. The distance-related values on kicks will have the added benefit of making the game more exciting for fans.

As for that 15 yard-line extra point, my proposal also includes a change to that as well. Since the extra point, remember, is a reward for the scoring of a touchdown, how about this:

After they have scored a touchdown, the team gets to choose where they want to kick the extra point from.

Yes, you read that right. The team can kick from anywhere they want. This truly makes it a reward because they don’t have to kick it from one particular place and receive a pre-defined number of extra point(s). They can take the easy shot from the 1 yard-line and get one point, or they can take a chance and kick it from, say, the 31 and get four of them. It make the extra point play into a strategic decision, one of risk-reward for the scoring team. This again, makes the play more interesting for the fans, as well as putting more of a value on having a quality kicker. Additionally, making this change keeps teams “in the game” longer than before. Now a team still has a realistic chance of winning a game even if they are losing by nine points with 30 seconds left. A touchdown can become as much as an 11 point play, in effect. Again keeping fans interested longer and stopping them from leaving the stadium early or changing the channel.

Now, although I don’t like this new 15 yard-line extra point, I love NFL football and I will continue to be a fan until the day I die. This will not change no matter what goofy changes they make or stupid rules they come up with (looking at you, “excessive celebration” rule). But I really feel strongly that this proposal makes a lot of sense, because kicks really should have a value relative to their degree of difficulty. I hope you all agree with me. Let me know with your comments.

“Baseball is America’s pastime, but football is truly America’s passion.”

Contemplating NaNoWriMo

As the end of October approaches, I have been thinking seriously about trying my hand at NaNoWriMo this year. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is held every November. The basic idea is that participants are supposed to set a goal of writing 50,000 words (the generally accepted approxamite length of a commercial novel) between the 1st and the 30th of the month.  More details about it can be found at the official website, nanowrimo.org.

The very idea is a bit daunting. It means writing an average of 1,667 words per day, assuming no days are skipped, and still having to fit in a full time job, eating, sleeping, and spending time with the family. While not impossible, there’s a reason why this isn’t held every month and writers all over the world aren’t cranking out 12 novels a year with ease. It’s something that certainly will take a lot of self-discipline and support from family and friends. Those of you who fit into that last category, please do not be surprised if I seem to have vanished from the face of the Earth during November. It’s nothing personal. I’ll just be spending more time with my computer than with real people. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to complete this venture successfully, but I really want to give it a try.

For all of my followers here on Scott’s World, please be prepared for the possibility of an extended hiatus on new posts. When I began this blog my intention was to make at least one new post a week. I haven’t kept up with that as well as I’d like, but fortunately I haven’t missed it by too much, either. During November I intend to continue to make blog entries even while working on my NaNoWriMo project, but I’m telling you right now that I will make no guarantees. Just please don’t unfollow Scott’s World if there seems to be a lack of posts for a while.

That all being said, what I really need to decide between now and November is what I want to write. It will assuredly be science fiction, as that’s my primary genre for creative writing, and I have no shortage of story ideas. What I am concerned about with this project is that I will find myself having the same dilemma I have had in the past while writing short stories. I have a tendency to be really good at writing the beginning of a tale, but then I end up abandoning the work because I can’t come up with a good way to finish it. If any other writers out there have had similar problems, I’d be interested in hearing how you’ve overcome them.

Wish me luck!

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

“So Here’s the Thing…” Episode 1

“So Here’s the Thing…” is a recurring column here on Scott’s World in which I address a particular topic that is either a source of frustration for myself, a controversial subject in society, or a current event on which I have a strong opinion.  Let me stress again that if you won’t be able to handle my occasionally-polarizing commentary then you should probably skip these posts.  Today’s column is on:

DRIVING

It’d be easy for me to fill pages and pages with the things that bother us all about traffic and specifically other drivers. I’m not going to do that. We’ve all been through those things a thousand times already when we complain to our friends or family about some idiot who cut us off on the way home from the office yesterday. Instead I’d simply like to clear up a few things for everyone, because I honestly feel that one of the biggest problems we have in the world today is that people simply do not understand the “why” behind many of the things we do. If we could really get everyone to truly comprehend why they are expected to do or not do certain things, then life would be much better for us all. Here’s my first example:

I am constantly amazed by how something as simple as the turn signal can be the source of so much trouble. Drivers are regularly not using it at all or using it at the wrong time. Let me explain how this is supposed to work. The purpose of the turn signal on a vehicle is to let other people around you — those in another vehicle and those on foot — know that you are going to be slowing down and turning soon. Again, to let them know that you are going to be slowing down and turning soon. One more time, for emphasis: Going to be slowing down and turning. The turn signal is not necessary in order to make your vehicle capable of changing direction, it is just there as a device to inform others of your intentions out of basic courtesy and in the interest of safety. So, if you put on your signal after you have already pressed the brake pedal and slowed down to turn, then you are doing it too late for it to make any difference. The guy behind you has already had to slam on his brakes because your turn is taking him by surprise. If you put on your signal after you are already in a turn-only traffic lane, then you are wasting your effort to even bother because everyone can already see that you are going to be turning. If you put on your signal while you are already in the act of turning your vehicle, then, again, you are far too late and there is no point in even bothering to do so. And one of my favorites — if you put on your turn signal three blocks back from where you are actually planning to turn, then it is like the old story of the boy who cried “wolf.” Each potential turn that you come to will have everyone around you thinking that is where you are going to turn, and eventually they will not be prepared when you actually do make the slow down and turn. So please, everyone, remember: approach, then signal, then brake, then turn.

And for those of you who don’t bother to use the turn signal at all, I’m just going to say right now that you’re a moron. Other cars need to know what you are going to be doing. You can’t read their minds so why do you think that they can read yours? When you get rear-ended because the person behind you did not realize that you were going to be slowing to turn, you have no right to be angry at that driver. Frankly, you deserved it and they didn’t.

The next thing I wanted to vent about here is speed. Some of you are going entirely too fast, and some of you are not going nearly fast enough. For those of you in the former category, the obvious problem is that you are breaking the law. The speed limit is not a recommendation. It is the law, which is why you can be pulled over and ticketed for violating it. But I’m not about to preach about staying under the speed limit, because really that isn’t the point I want to make here. The point is that if you are driving at a speed far faster than the majority of other people on the road, you are endangering everyone. Let’s say that everyone on the road is speeding along at 75 mph. When you come flying from behind and pass everyone at 95 mph, you not only run the risk of crashing into another vehicle that might move inadvertently into your path, but you also could cause others to crash as they try to get out of your way.

For those of you who like to drive slowly, thinking you’re being safer by doing so, the same reasoning applies. As others catch up to you and want to go around, your slowness can create accidents. Particularly frustrating and dangerous are those of you who are travelling slower than other traffic and are in the left lane. Newsflash: The slower the vehicles are going compared to other vehicles on the road, the farther to the right they are supposed to be driving. If there are cars going slower than you, you should be to the left of them, and if there are cars going faster than you, you should be to the right of them. This is basic Driver’s Ed stuff, people, and yet I see drivers every single day who do not seem to understand this.

Whether traffic is moving fast or slow, the best and safest strategy is to drive at relatively the same speed as everyone else. If you think some other driver is a jerk who is driving too fast, just get to the right and let him go by. Stubbornly staying in the left lane while going slower than others is only creating more of a risk of car crashes around you.

Third I’d like to discuss Stops.  You should stop at all Stop signs. You should stop at all red traffic lights. You should stop when the gates are down at a railroad crossing. I’ll tell you where you should not stop — in the middle of the freaking road! If the road ahead of you is clear and open and there are no traffic devices directing you to stop your vehicle, then you need to keep moving. Sure, it’s awfully nice of you to stop to let that guy on the side street who’s trying to turn onto this street come in, but it is also very dangerous. The people behind you are not expecting someone to stop when there’s no directed reason to, so you are just asking to get smashed into from behind when you do that. Your act of kindness could actually kill someone. Yes, it sure is sad that the poor guy trying to turn might have to wait a while longer, but that is the way the rules of the road work. The straightaway has the right-of-way. This same discussion can be had over all of those intersections that do not have four-way stops. If you don’t have a Stop sign facing you as you approach the intersection, you need to keep moving. That Mall entrance without a Stop sign or that Wal-Mart entrance without one are both places where you should not stop. Stopping where there is no Stop sign or traffic light can cause confusion among the other drivers at that intersection, and that can lead to accidents. Sometimes I think they need to put up Do Not Stop signs in those spots and then maybe people will follow them.

What all of this really comes down to is that when you are driving you really have to keep in mind that you are not the only one on the road. You can’t just do whatever you want to simply because it is convenient for you at the time. Every time you perform any action with your vehicle without considering how that action might affect nearby drivers you are creating the possibility of a traffic accident. That means if you are in the far left lane of the interstate and you realize that you’re about to miss your exit, you don’t whip your car to the right across four lanes of traffic to try to make it in time. It means if there’s a traffic jam and you are late for work, you don’t just drive on the shoulder to get around everyone else. It means if you realize a couple minutes after leaving that you forgot something at home, you don’t just stop and do a U-turn in the middle of the street.

Please, people — follow traffic laws and be considerate of others while driving. It will make the roadways easier for all of us.

(P.S. I know you were all expecting me to include the whole texting-and-driving thing in this post. Don’t worry, it’ll have it’s very own post some time in the future.)

“Drive carefully. Think of the impact you could make.”

Sacrifice

The open mouth in the rocky mountainside

swallowed the daylight into darkness,

called out for a visitor with strange sounds,

protected treasures with teeth of terra,

and pleaded me to pierce the pitch black,

that I might uncover its hidden history.

* * *

My friend requested we rest before continuing our climb.

Panting and perspiring, he sat on the stony ground

and propped his elbows on his knees.

* * *

Amidst nature never before known,

I crouched to the earth beside him,

incapable of remaining at rest

from the abundance of adrenaline

and the fantastic feline curiosity

that had overtaken my imagination.

* * *

My friend gulped from his canteen, then sadly sighed.

Sweating and squinting, he shook his head

And told me to go on alone.

* * *

With eyes eager to examine the innards of the ominous opening ahead,

I instantly assessed the preferred path to pursue up the slope.

Through the thorns and thistles of the thick underbrush,

‘round the rigid rocks and the tremendous towering trees

I would travel to arrive at my exciting ultimate objective,

the virgin cavern no man had yet penetrated.

* * *

My friend removed his shoes and poured out some pebbles.

Grumbling and groaning, he put his face in his palms

And said that he shouldn’t have followed.

* * *

I sat down in the dirt and dust

And observed my woefully weary comrade,

a committed, constant, unwavering ally

who supported me through times both great and ghastly

and had suffered spectacular sacrifices of self

that my life’s adventures might go on.

* * *

Gazing up one final time at that captivating cave

whose purity I would now never defile,

I helped my frustrated friend to his feet,

and slapped a hand on his slouching shoulder.

We shared a look, a shrug, and a smile,

And began the long walk home.

* * *

I wrote the poem above a few years ago for a class I was taking while pursuing my degree at the University of Central Florida. On its surface, the poem is about a guy who wants to explore a cave, but decides not to go without his friend, who is too worn out already from their journey that day to join him. But really I hope it conveys much more than that.

The idea of the poem is that we all have dreams, desires, aspirations, etc. that we hope to achieve in our lives. We all have times when we find ourselves as that guy who wants to explore the mysterious cave he sees in the distance. But we also all have people in our lives that we care about immensely, whether they be friends, family, or other loved ones, who simply are not able to accompany us on that journey. We have to make choices about going for that dream at the expense of a relationship or letting it go because that other person is more important to us.

Throughout my life I have heard it said repeatedly how if you really want something you need to go after it with all your might. “Don’t be afraid to take risks,” they say. “Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to achieve your dreams,” they say. “You can do anything you set your mind to,” they say.

All of that sounds great in theory, but what about the other people in your life? Our family, our spouses, our friends — they don’t always have the ability financially, physically, emotionally, or even geographically, to accompany us on our quest to fulfill those dreams.

For me, I have wanted a lot of things in life that I have not gone after. Some of that has been my own fear of failure, or the occasional lack of motivation, or even just not having the money at the time to take advantage of an opportunity. I know, however, that there have also been times when I chose not to chase a dream because it would have meant the loss of a relationship that I valued too much. Maybe that was silly of me. Maybe it was more fear controlling my actions. But as much as I still wish I could have gone on those journeys and explored those caves, I am glad to not have left my travelling companions behind. There is no one in my life today that I regret choosing.

Sometimes it is the dream that must be sacrificed.

“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.”

So What’s This Blog About, Anyway?

If you are reading this at all then there are pretty good odds that you already know me, as I admit to not having a worldwide audience quite yet.  If that’s the case, then there is also a high probability that you are already familiar with many of my views on assorted topics.  But for those who might not be, I’m going to put in a bit of a warning:

It is possible that you may get offended by something that you read in this blog.  I do not plan to do this, but at the same time I will not be pulling any punches, either.  If you can’t handle the concept that my opinions, beliefs, theories, etc. might be different from yours, or that they might not necessarily be “politically correct,” then it might be best that you not continue reading.

The first post I made last week about my father is not representative of the type of posts that will usually be here.  Well, I mean, of course all of my posts will have the same high quality writing style and top notch witty humor, but they will not all be memorials to people who have passed away.  Nor will they be emotional tear-jerkers straight from the depths of my heart and soul.

That being said, I really can’t tell you right now what my future posts will be, as I don’t truly have a detailed plan.  I intend to use this blog as an outlet for my unique ideas, my blunt opinions, and my wild creativity, so you never know what you may find here.  Sports, movies, religion, music, celebrities, holidays, television, politics, economics, education — no topic is off limits to my ramblings.  I’ll probably throw in some of my own fiction, poetry, or personal anecdotes, too.  Reader beware, I suppose.

For those who might be reading this who don’t know me very well, let me also take some time here to give you a bit of a background on who I am before we really get going.

I am a mid-40’s Caucasian American male with British and Eastern European ancestry.  I am heterosexual with a wife of 20 years and a pair of teenagers learning to drive.  I am a dog person – no cats – and presently own a Shih Tzu/Jack Russell Terrier mix who is easily the smartest canine I’ve ever seen.  In my lifetime I have lived in the Northeast, the Midwest, and the Southeast, and I am sure I demonstrate traits common to all three areas in some way or another.  I am registered to vote as a Republican but find myself often taking the Democrats’ side on various topics.  My mother’s side of the family was Jewish and my father’s side was Protestant.  Despite this, I don’t really label myself as a member of any known religion – but no, I’m not an Atheist, either.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida with a minor in English Writing.  I have been working full-time in retail management since 1990, although I still will tell you that it’s not what I want to be when I grow up.  I consider myself a geek, with particular concentrations in Star Wars and super-hero comic books, and am not ashamed to admit it.  Oh, and I absolutely love the Buffalo Bills.

Realistically, nothing in the last paragraph should matter to you at all if you are a fair and open-minded person, but it may give you an idea of where my thoughts might be coming from sometimes.

I’d really like for this blog to become successful, which of course depends mostly on me, but if you like what you read you can help by clicking on those “like” and “share” buttons regularly, and also by making sure you “follow” Scott’s World.

So with all of that being said, I’ll wrap up this introductory post.  I appreciate your visiting the blog and reading what I have to offer, and I promise to try very hard to hold up my end of the bargain by posting quality content at a regular pace.  Ta ta for now!

–Scott

“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”