Wheels Carry Us to Invention, Inspiration, and… Progress?

Mankind invented the wheel. What have we done with that innovation?

We have come up with the horse and carriage, a transition to the motorized vehicle and which are still used in many parts of the country today. Though they have the horse which needs to be fed and cared for there is the need of the carriage with its two large wheels. We came up with the stagecoach… still needs horses, though, and at least four. More expensive care and feeding there, and for the tourist carriages that roll through some American cities there is the extra need for safety procedures that ensure the care of horse and riders.

Chicago is a city that runs twenty -four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, all the time but not always on time. Yet we as a city -race do run, and we can run ourselves ragged.

We as citizens of America’s third -largest city are surrounded by wheels. There are four of them on our cars; there are hundreds of them on the trains we take every day, and there are hundreds of them on the busses that come to collect us and take us to our destinations.

On television we also see the wheel. There is the wheel of fortune on the show of the same name. There is a wheel on the popular game show and one of the longest running television shows, the Price is Right, and there are wheels of prizes on Let’s Make a Deal. If there is not a wheel there is the “roll” of the dice in the hopes of winning something really nice. Among the prizes offered are, what else, cars and motorcycles.

We can easily forget in the limelight of potentially winning one of those spectacular prizes the elements of safety that come with owning them. If you drive you must realize that there are rules of safety designed to keep you and other drivers and pedestrians safe. There are rules and laws of decency that every driver needs to know and to follow. Never use a device that takes your hands off the steering wheel. You are in a moving automobile, a vehicle weighing at least three thousands pounds and much more the larger and heavier it is. Vehicles can travel the length of a football field in less than ten seconds at 55 miles an hour.

Left untamed, the wheel can take us right into nothing but trouble. Four of them moving at that speed can cause great catastrophes and harm and injury and destruction.

The wheel is a sign and symbol of taking risk, of making a journey, of traveling and of arriving.

Somewhere.

We get in our cars or on the bus or train with the intention of getting someplace and doing something. We “fight traffic”, we get into “traffic jams”, and we experience “train delays” and construction delays every day. Now delays can be caused by any number of reasons- the ever -present construction, weather situations, trucks stuck under viaducts, or flooded viaducts. And under us those wheels made of rubber and metal, decorated by hubcaps and inflated by air pressure, those wheels supporting the tons of metal, rubber, and… people who use them every day.

And under those wheels, the roads that need the very constant maintenance that causes those jams and delays and ties -up and other situations we encounter. Roads and tracks need to be in good order to support the thousands of vehicles traveling on them every day, and if they are not we can and do see the consequences.

Airplanes also have wheels. Isn’t it amazing when you look at those tiny tires under the millions of tons of jetliner and wonder how they support it? Some jets weigh close to half a million tons, so it seems a stat on the aptly -called jumbo jets came through once. Planes take off at over a hundred miles an hour and touch down on those incredible tires, and I to this day am inspired to watch when a jet comes into the terminal jet -way, gazing at those circles of rubber and metal. Remarkable.

We are a nation of travelers, no matter what we are doing. We watch shows that inspire us to travel; we get out of the house and go places to do things. We feel the need and have the right to freedom of movement and to move anywhere we want.

But some people misuse those resources others pay taxes on and work on and get to work and school and play and worship on. Some people use their vehicles to commit drive -by murders, use them to dispense drugs, use them to run the drugs to other states, use them to commit road rage, vehicular homicide, and hit and run incidents that take the lives of others and can leave others maimed for life. Some people consider that they can just throw waste on the roads, where other have to see and smell it every day. They throw it out lazily and without any consideration that someone else will have to clean it up, and when there are trash bags and receptacles they can put the waste into. You who litter and who just toss junk onto the roads should know better than that! Such habits show a total lack of consideration for the lives of others; throw the junk onto a road and you could cause an accident. You might think that little piece of trash is nothing but if someone runs over it or hits it a tragedy could happen, and you would be at fault for causing death and destruction.

You would be at fault for causing loss of life, of someone who might turn out to be a loved one or a friend or even someone you work with. Do you think of that?

But there are better ways to consider the roads we use and everything that goes with using those roads. Of course we can think of those roads but we do have other ways to travel, and those ways existed before the wheel.

We have feet and we can make trails and paths- we were doing so long before we had to invent the convertible. We were running and hunting and getting around because we had to, because we needed to get place to place and follow the animals and the spring rains and the trade routes.

We can use our feet to go some places so long as the walk is not super long… that is unless we are on a relay race that takes us across states and countries to raise funds for some worthy cause as happened this week to help the people affected by events in Boston last year. Thousands of people will this coming week run in the Boston Marathon, only a year after two horrid men set off bombs in that beautiful city, killing and maiming and doing great harm to many people.

And how will the racers and spectators get to Boston? Well, if they live close enough some might walk to see the Marathon. But my wager is that most of them will travel on or in a vehicle with wheels. Some will fly in and take busses and cars; some will drive sedans and coupes, and some will ride their bicycles or motorcycles as far as they can get them to the race limits. They will take the tens of thousands of miles of roads that cross the United States, roads they hope are safe and maintained and travel -ready, will share those roads with thousands of other drivers and passengers in millions of vehicles of every size and description.

Trucks, huge semi tractor -trailers, moving vans, fire engines, ambulances, cars of every size and shape and vintage; the sport utility vehicles, busses and campers used for recreation during nice weather, and the motorcycles, vans, and limousines will make their way to Boston. With them are the police officers and the security teams that will monitor the routes and the airports leading in and out of that fair city.

There will be risks getting in and out of Boston as there are any other city or any place we go every day. Those who turn the chance into a grand circumstance will see an event that will be so very special to the participants and spectators, not only because the racers have trained and prepared for that big day but because of those thousands that will join them live and on television and by computer to watch them in that effort to show the world that those nasty terrorists have NOT WON that day and WILL NOT WIN at any time and any place on United States land.

We love to travel. Let’s all stay safe doing so.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

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PRO SPORTS PARTING WAYS WITH ORDINARY PEOPLE?

PRO SPORTS SETS BAD EXAMPLE FOR NON-ATHLETES AND THE VULNERABLE

The problems facing New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez (AKA A-Rod) are only the tip of the iceberg. And that tip is poisoned with human growth hormones and other “performance enhancing drugs” or PEDs. Pity the person who has to resort to such means in order to boost their playing abilities and thus their salary and their notoriety. Unfortunately the attention A-Rod has received has not been the best or positive.

Other professional athletes have resorted to the use of PEDs, but one must ask why such means are necessary. Is standard physical exertion and practice not good enough to meet the needs and requirements of the teams on which these folks want to go? Why would a better diet, or another sort of workout program, be more useful? Why the need for these hazardous drugs and the methods of introducing them into the body?

It might be safe to say that many athletes at all levels could do with a better diet, less stress and more practice and perhaps a change in how they exercise. No doubt the issues revolve around pride and arrogance, greed and the shows- ancient as they are- of might and right.

Might and right… the strong having to show off, puff up, be “celebrities”, and show others the best and yet the worst that people can do and think. The best that can come out of being athletic is, ideally, a healthy lifestyle, free of drugs, balanced with proper exercise and a diet fit for the activities we do. People talk about “healthy living” all the time- eating less junk or processed foods, getting regular and wholesome sleep, getting regular and suitable exercise, and being careful when we do exercise so that we do not encounter burnout or injury.

There is that ancient and marvelous vision of the male and female athletic figure, going way back to early figures of human sculpture, with muscles toned and strong, with that ability to run marathons, lift weights, wrestle, tangle with fierce animals, and engage in gladiatorial events to determine who wins and loses surrounded by weapons and shields and dirt kicking up every which way. There is that ideal of the human being, burnished and buffed and bulging like the weightlifters at the Olympic Games, the long jumpers and the high jumpers, the shot putters, the javelin hurlers and the curlers, in their uniforms and colors with numbers and names. This is the ideal carried on into the present day, and we can see the results of performance instantly now versus centuries ago when events were held locally or when it took weeks to travel and hold events in other towns and countries.

Now we have the, uh, privilege of seeing hundreds of hours of professional and other levels of sports every day, every year. We are bombarded with such options across our mass media screens and devices and can see anything we want- football (Canadian, American, and Australian Rules), baseball, hockey, gymnastics, swimming, curling, the Olympics, horse racing, soccer, sailing, tennis, automobile racing (NASCAR, IRL, Formula One), motorcycle racing, monster truck events, demolition derbies, rugby, and others. We see people with whom we identify, struggling on those fields with others competing against them for that coveted trophy, the cash award, the glory of basking in the light of the cameras and that chance to say, “I WON!” It is the athletic version of the turf war- someone wants to take over that ground, claim it with any means necessary, and dance around in the camera lights gleaning every iota of attention that they can.

The corporate people just live it up and love every moment of it… unless their superstar goes wrong in doing drugs or abusing a spouse or getting hurt midway through the big contract with that celeb. Then what happens to the millions upon millions of dollars invested in that major marketing explosion to tout a new pair of shoes, the “official athletic gear” for that team, and the naming rights to stadiums and arenas? If that superstar player steps even that much out of line, it hits the news and the whole venture suffers. The product is not bought, the stock might go down in value, the player of course suffers both the injuries to the body and to their reputation with fans and with the front office, and the fans… well they are the ones hurt most.

We now can know about such mistakes as those made by A-Rod almost as soon as the legalese hits the mass media fan and the outlets get hold of “aha, another star has done something wrong and we can jump all over him/her”. Do YOU want YOUR kids having people like him as an example? I don’t want to have him even mentioned around me and I hope my niece and nephew do not go the way of him or others like him in order to gain some measly sense of attention and performance. I hope that if or when they have families that they keep their kids well clear of such bad examples.

Now we have the choice of whether or not to buy that season ticket, the hundred dollar seat, and the dozens of dollars in concessions. We must think about why we are watching professional sports when those players are getting contracts worth more than we will ever see in ten lifetimes unless we are fortunate enough to rake in ten million dollars a year. We must choose- do we support these people with their anger management issues, their salaries so big they can buy those big houses and cars and do those expensive drugs that get them in trouble?

I know where I am going with my attention to pro sports, that’s for sure. Far as this author is concerned, that’s enough for me. There are better things I can do with my money and time and resources, instead of giving another day or hour or second of attention to these people and teams and what surrounds them. I started feeling frustrated years ago with the continual talk from the sports business about salaries and poor performance issues, but now the fence has been crossed. There are other ways I can spend weekends. I plan in 2014 to frequent other venues of entertainment and culture, and put my money into charitable and benevolent causes where I know the results and can see what happens and not have (or reduce the chance of) a high-horse, puffed-chested celebrity getting in the way and taking money or attention that should be devoted to the point of the cause, such as giving to food banks, hospitals, medical research, and community service. I am going to put down the remote and pick up the cleanup gear and get out there and help someone else away from the spotlight.

What do you think? Is this the end of pro sports for you and your family too?

Divi Logan, Chicago. 2014.

NASCAR: No More NASCAR for Me!

A news article aired on News Radio 780 WBBM in Chicago showed just how far the folks who run and sponsor NASCAR have come in their alienation of their fan base. While some articles point to there being an increase in the fan base, the recent story aired gives one a reason to look with skepticism on other reports.

2011 Brickyard 400

2011 Brickyard 400 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the past few years NASCAR events have been innundated by the showing of people with the special press and pit passes, the fans with their big, expensive watches flashing with enough light power to drown out the pixels in some cameras, the talk of sponsor after sponsor pouring millions of dollars into the teams, the appearance of the big team stores and other NASCAR -related shopping venues, and the corporate basing of the races.Instead of what I remember, when the car number seemed to come before the sponsor, now it seems to be, “And here is the HHH car, number 18, driven by Speedster Gimlet.” The big -name sponsor comes up first, then the driver’s car and the name, indicating the push to mention the sponsor first and give credit there instead to the achievements of the driver and his or her team, that made the win possible.

NASCAR has become so elitist lately that I, as a one – time big -time fan, having grown up in Tennessee and watched, listened to, and constantly heard the results and the analyses of the races all the time, have stopped watching the televised events. At one time I was pleased to hear about the Brickyard 400, but no more. I know now what I will see whenever the events come on – the big watches, the expensive clothes, the celebrities who have nothing to do with the race itself taking up camera time just because someone wants to name – drop, the talk of the big bucks, the garish logos taking up every inch of space on the cars, and, somewhere in all that mess, the drivers and their pit crews who make the race happen.

Some of the new drivers are arrogant enough without having to talk up a heavy -money corporate sponsor, and many of these drivers have not the class behavior and the appeal that drivers of decades ago had. I liked watching the Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin types but ever since the reign of the sponsorship and the appearance of the young and glorified and gilded driver who of a sudden is worth millions and has a great -looking wife with the sunny -celebrity face, and who can hardly contain himself when bubbling over and turning flips in the victory area, I find it difficult to sit through even a few laps. The young guys could stand to learn ways to manage their behavior – but then I see that problem with a lot of younger people these days. It is not just athletes that have anger issues or arrogance and pride clouding the times when they do something really stuning or worthy of the highlight reels.

Bobby Allison pit crew works on his racecar in...

Bobby Allison pit crew works on his racecar in the pits at old half mile Richmond International Raceway in 1985 before it was reconfigured into a 3/4 mile track. Photo By Ted Van Pelt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then again, NASCAR has gone the way of most professional sports organizations these days; big money, big – time television, T-shirts and other team gear, scandals, suspicious goings -on, billions spent on promoting certain people or corporations, and of course the chance for food and drink companies to intrude on the process by filling up the airwaves with more corporate lingo. Well, enough of the “Sprint Cup” the “Race for the Chase“, the NASCAR equivalent of the Final Four in the last few races of the season, and the ridicuous race names that take up two lines just to describe.Also the cars have become so look -alike that they cannot be called “stock cars” any more. They have to be trimmed and built to such specifications for every race, have restrictor plates, and cost so much to deal with that it takes the figures out ot the realm of the average fan who cannot even begin to think of spending a quarter – million dollars or more on a fresh car every time they need one. Come on, who can buy a Lamborghini or Ferrari each time the whim strikes?

NASCAR… Nasty Car; well, thanks but no more. NASCAR…. Dis- qualified!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank goodness we have other choices of what to spend our time watching.

Divi Logan for EDUSHIRTS, Nashvilleand Chicago, 2012.

Sprint Cup Series

Sprint Cup Series (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A representation of the racing flag u...

English: A representation of the racing flag used to indicate disqualification in NASCAR and some other racing leagues. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)