Up, Up, Up and away

The last few days in Orange County have been crazy. Crazzzeeee! From Doldrums to Storms, from a bazillion yanks overcrowding the malls, to a random Just Jinger bar performance in Huntington Beach. Such has been my year. Every day has been different and fun, filled with great people! Tomorrow is Christmas, and I hope you all enjoy it with your family and friends.

So this is the OFFICIAL end to migrating pigeons. My new blog 367º is going live from La Guadia airport at 6am on Dec 31st. I think its gonna be a lot better than this one.

Advertisements

How You Like Me Now?


Considering all that’s happened this year, some of you will be surprised to discover I regard this as having been a great year.

Anyone who’s read this blog will know I’ve got a varied positive outlook on life, one formed from a mixture of experience, and innocent ideology. It’s an outlook that tries to align the person I am, with who I want to be. I don’t really know how to accurately express my outlook on life in words. But the best description I can give is “Life is about collecting stories to tell your grandkids.”

This year has brought about many interesting (expected & unexpected) life challenges, and each one made me grow as a person – for better or worse we will only know much later. From having to leave AZ (a place I despised but which grew on my heart), losing loved ones, battles with little green monsters (overcome and dusted), adventures & tribulations with family, Cape Town (oh slaapstad), lessons in patience with the US embassy, finding love (and losing it again & again), and moving back to the US. Some challenges were easier than others (e.g. Green Monsters vs the US Embassy) but each challenge moved me forward in life. Destination unknown, but forward is better than backward.

I learned three major salient life lessons this year.

The first lesson was “a life less ordinary begins with friends.” I’ve said it many times here, but my friends are amazing. When people are prepared to drop everything at a moments notice and fly a couple thousand miles to spend a few nights in a hospital with you, that’s friendship that I hope I can honor. It does not matter how far I travel or where I find myself, it seems that great people are always at my side. Thank you.

The second lesson was “ignorance suffers no regrets”. I’ll admit I made some pretty ignorant choices this year (and in the past), and I’ve paid for those choices. To those that I hurt along the way with those choices, I’m sorry. To those that journeyed with me through those consequences, your guidance has been immensely appreciated. “No cause is lost, if there is but one fool left to fight”

The third lesson was “ask and you shall receive”. I genuinely believe that you get what you want out of life. And I’ve actually gotten EVERYTHING I’ve ever wanted, I just need to just be way more careful about what I ask for.

This will be my last post for Migrating Pigeons. I’m moving onto a new creative project called 367degrees in the new years that will chronicle a new journey I’ve set myself. Migrating Pigeons was meant to chronicle and celebrate all the journeys I went through this year – which funnily enough involved chasing winter (…). With the migration now over, it’s fitting that I close one chapter and move onto another. Carrying baggage into any journey ultimately influences the way the journey progress. Migrating Pigeons still has baggage due to certain events that transpires in 2010. It’s my intent that 367degrees will look at things very differently.


So in the words of Jack Sparrow – “keep telling yourself that darling”
Savvy?

Shaking Hands


This past weekend I was up in NorCal to watch the mens NCAA final 4 water polo champs and then I spent a few days visiting my buddy Mark. This short time up in NorCal reemphasized the value of small gestures to me.

Little boast…At NCAAs I had kids on 3 of the 4 teams. On St Francis there was Zoltan Danko (Hungary) and Drew Reed from our Sun Devil WPC. LMU had Tibor Forai (Serbia) and Edgarus Asajavicious (Lithuania). And on the Cal team was Brian Dudley (South Africa). Unfortunately neither of my teams won. Nonetheless the tournament was exciting, and both semifinals were great. The championship game was prob the best mens NCAA championship game I’ve seen. Although USC won 12-10 in OT, Brian did score 2 crucial goals but still found himself on the losing side. I’ve followed Brian’s career through out his time at Cal (which includes winning the 2007 NCAA championship) and I’ve always regarded as him being a true gentleman. Nothing exemplifies this more than watching Brian wait until the end of USC’s celebrations (probably freezing his ass off in just his suit and the awful weather) to personally thank & congratulate the USC coach with a simple hand shake.

Most people would not have taken notice, but to me it was a a classy moment. Brian was obviously bitterly disappointed, but he had the class and poise to wait out the limelight while the USC team and staff celebrated and then personally shook Vavic’s hand. In America we have this rather mundane way of shaking hands and cheering for the other team at the end of the game. Generally it’s just an obligatory thank you and good luck which nobody cares about. But to Brian and people like me these little things really matter and define a man of class. He will always be in my books an amazing leader who I want my Players to emulate. This is what a true South African is, even if he comes from St Johns.

After that I spent acouple days with Mark Lawrence who worked with me at Arizona St in 2008/09. Mark moved back home to Freemont, CA to attend to family matters. He also has taken over running the only water polo club in his city. What totally blew me away from spending time with Mark is how incredibly passionate he is about growing water polo in his area.

The lengths he goes to coach and encourage his kids is remarkable! Success is totally dependent on passion, and Mark is abundant with passion. The same can be said of all the coaches who work with Mark, and all the kids who play for the club. Seeing 60 kids cram into a pool to play polo is one of the most awe inspiring moments a coach can ever have. Particularly when a year earlier finding club polo in the area was impossible.

Maybe it’s just my own values, but I believe real coaches, the ones who change the world are the ones who inspire their kids and make a difference in the community. Mark & his colleagues are those types of coaches. The small moment that was monumental in my opinion was at the end of practice, every single kid came to shake their coaches hands and thank them for practice. It is so rare to see that in sport nowadays. It is such a small inconceivable gesture, but it shows that these coaches are doing a great job of using water polo to teach real values.

For me small gestures like shaking hands, saying please and thank you are the most important things coaches can teach. Brian Dudleys small gesture was imparted to him through years and years of high school sport. It’s a credit to his coaches, and coaches like Mark that turn boys into men.

weird but true

Revelating

If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done” – Ludwig Wittgenstein 1947

One of the great oddities of society is how empathetic we are of our heritage (Italian, Irish, Scottish, Polish, Russian, et al) but yet we are so culturally removed and defunct in it. This is prevalent particularly in immigrant countries like America, Canada, Australia, South Africa et al. Think of all the African Americans who kiss the ground when they visit Africa (oooh Ophra). Or those silly New Jersey Guido’s. Or the virulent Irish-Americans who swig Guinness on St. Patricks day but have no idea what the Blarney Stone is.

Recently I went to Boston for a Patriots game and had Sunday lunch with Bobsled girl’s family – your atypical Italian-American family (complete with two half-retarded Guido sons!). Anyway like the smooth shrewd politician I am, I kissed babies, shook hands, and schmoozed the parents. Most importantly I got to know Nonna (grandma). Who coincidentally came to the US from Syracusa! (Reminder I coached pallanuoto in Syracusa)

The Castello in me ran completely amock in Italian with old Nonna (it’s my favorite language). Strangely my Italian was better than all her children. No grandchildren (Bobsled girl included) could even string a sentence together. This was when the oddity of heritage dawned on me. Here was a proud Italian family, but it was just a watered down Americanized Bud-Lite version of being Italian.

Nonna was an incredibly fascinating lady. We talked forever about Caretto Siciliano, Caltanisseta, Arancini, and typical cliched Italian family secrets. We laughed at how her grandchildren regarded lasagne and ziti as Italian cuisine. We traded Caponata recipes and showed our Tarantella moves. It was Nonna who expressed to me her tristezza (dismay) in the dissolving Italianess of her family. My Gran probably feels the same thing when she looks at me and her other grandchildren. My Ouma must be equally distraught up in heaven at my terrible Afrikaans! I wander what they feel about my fascination with America and Italy…

Empathizing with a distant and removed foreign culture is difficult, particularly if its not relevant to you. I battle to empathize with my own English heritage. But yet I empathize fully with my broader South African background. I wonder how I’ll make South African culture relevant enough for my own children to empathize? It’s a problem my serbian friend Nikola also faces with his son Filip. I’m sure there are millions of people facing this.

What culture/nationality/religion do you empathize with? and why?

Empathy


This TED video is more than a simple, fun animation that supports an advanced idea. It’s actually a BRILLIANT lecture. About compassion and empathy and what they actually teach us. We’re wired to show empathy for the human family. It’s a must watch.

To San Fran’sis’co and Beyond


So like I said in my earlier post, Im going to California this weekend. Particularly San Francisco for the Mens NCAA championships. The captain of the UC Berkeley team is Brian Dudley – a South African kid. Great kid, great Player. San Francisco’s board of supervisors has taken the initiative by banning restaurants from giving away free toys with the glutinous filth they pass off as food. I have no idea how they have the power to pass such far-reaching legislation. When we talk of supervisors, we talk of men with faces like plastic bowls of flyblown blancmange and the personal habits of the common wharf rat. They live in the ground floor flat with their curtains permanently drawn and only come out to deal with your complaint once you threaten to torch the building, which probably wouldn’t even burn because it’s so damp.

Osama bin Laden does not hate America because of its reckless foreign policy and unwavering support for Israel. If one had to press him for an honest answer, he would admit that America is at the top of his hit list simply because he suffers from body dysmorphic disorder. It is a little embarrassing to be the world’s most wanted terrorist and be cursed with the body of Kate Moss. And he can’t bulk up, either, no matter how many children he eats.

Understandably, McDonald’s is incandescent with rage. In one fell swoop, San Francisco has turned their Happy Meals into Misery Meals. As of December 2011, restaurants may include a toy only with a meal that contains fewer than 600 calories, and if less than 35% of the calories come from fat. I don’t know what this means. A switch in my brain goes off when I hear the word “calories”.

But let’s face it, fat kids need bad food like Julius Malema needs a good klap. They aren’t going to start ordering a side salad and a fruit ‘n yoghurt parfait to get a free toy. They will continue ordering chunks of carcinogenic cow, a potato farm worth of chips, McNuggets the size of real chickens and a chocolate milk shake big enough for a puppy to drown in. Saturated with fatty goodness, they will simply wait for a skinny kid to buy one of the bland supervisor-approved meals to come outside, then sit on him and take away his toy. I know I would.

It’s hard to believe this is San Francisco – a city where, not long ago, you could drop by your neighbourhood bar for a shot of bourbon and two grams of coke before heading home with three willowy blondes – male or female, it didn’t matter – for 72 hours of deviant sex and The Wind Cries Mary on repeat.

Not everyone is thrilled at the prospect of fewer gargantuan oafs in floral shirts and pleated golf pants wandering about the planet. Spokesman for McDonald’s, Danya Proud, said: “We are extremely disappointed with the decision. It is not what our customers want, nor is it something they asked for.” Well, of course they didn’t ask for it. How could they? It is not only rude but humanly impossible to talk with a Big Mac wedged in your craw.

One of the superhero supervisors, Eric Mar, said rates of obesity in San Francisco were “disturbingly high, especially among children of colour”. Barack Obama must take some of the blame, what with his taut tummy and snake-like hips. No good can come from having a role model who weighs under 100kg and knows how to jog. I feel safe with a president the size of Jacob Zuma. This is not a man who would ban free toys merely because of a burger’s calorie count. In fact, I see him opening a fast-food chain offering a free AK-47 with orders weighing 15kg or more. He could call it Msholozi’s Fried Everything.

Happy Meals have been a staple of the adolescent American diet since 1979, with millions of children growing up – and sideways – on the contents of these cheerful boxes packed with nourishing toxins. Often, the only way to get a child to eat is to give him a bribe. Or a punch in the head. But bribes work better in the long run. There is nothing wrong with luring children into McDonald’s with the promise of a toy. We’re not talking about sweeties laced with hallucinogenics. We’re talking about Snapper Brainbot, Metro Man and Sugarbunnies. All of which, I have to admit, sound like types of acid.

While doing research on happymeal.com, I was sidetracked because I got hooked on playing Dolphin Ball and Halfpipe Hero. McGames. Those are the real drugs. They might not make you fat, but they sure do make you stupid.

Speaking of stupid – knowing that coteries of bean-faced killjoys are out to get them, you’d think McDonald’s might want to remove this line from their website: “Ask about our special toys for children under 3!”

Is it even safe for children that small to be in McDonald’s? The day is going to come when a customer, blind with greed, picks up a stray toddler and rams it into his mouth thinking it’s a crispy chicken wrap.

So, anyway. San Francisco – the city that took away the toys and gave the world Aids. Far out, man.

Doubt

Doubt

“The moment of first doubt is still a long way from being able to enumerate precisely why I felt the way I did. Our world requires decisions be sourced and footnoted, and if we say how feel, we must be prepared to elaborate on why we feel that way”

Well this was a good thanksgiving break. Got to spend some time with a good friend, his wonderful wife, and his very loud 1 year old child. I’m pretty amazing with children so that didnt bother me. Thanksgiving is kind-of weird to me, I’m not really big into American history so forgive my ignorance but slaughtering a zillion turkeys to celebrate the genocide of 99% of american indians seems ironic to me. Considering that America also has the highest divorce rate in the world, well it makes you wonder. But being thankful for what you’ve got is a good idea. Besides it gave me a 9 day holiday, of that I’m thankful.

I did do some intellectual skydiving during my break – I couldn’t windsurf the entire time. And this intellectual skydiving improved my windsurfing. Ever notice how when you focus on one thing, you forget about what you’re doing and you just let your instincts take over while your mind is pre-occupied. It happened to me while was going through this idea in my head, and next thing I notice I’m like downwind a 1000 miles. Lately I’ve been rather good at storing these things in my head for late at night when me and my buddy insomnia wrestle.

This will be a difficult concept for most people, but thats something I’m exploring right now. The idea to switch off and just rely on intuition and instincts. I like to think Im pretty good at it, and its only when I don’t listen to my intuition that I do something stupid and screw up (and thats a long long list). But this is not the time for further Pigeon Capers, for that you will have to wait and order my book off Amazon.

If they made a movie about my life, I wonder who would play me? I wish it would be Robert Downey Jnr.

Ahh the wonders of my crazy imagination. This week is busy for me. I head off to California on Friday to go recruiting, watch water polo as per usual, and do some travelling. I’ve never Climbed half dome in Winter, or gone snowboarding in Tahoe. You dream, I do.

Keep in touch. Thanks for visiting. And remember –

“Never trust a man who when left alone with a tea cozy… doesnt put it on his head.”