Friday, June 24, 2011

Something about nothing.

I was in my local drug store tonight, picking up supplies for a long bike ride tomorrow. Among them, sunscreen and PowerBar chewy things.
The PowerBar bag had a 50-cents off coupon stuck to it, so dutifully, I peeled it off. When I peeled it off, I noticed that it said, "Valid only if removed by cashier." Why, I wondered quietly to myself.

When I got up to the buxom young cashier
I commented on how I have apparently done some of her job.
I peeled this off," I said, even though it didn't seem to be a situation that begged for an apology. "I didn't notice it until I peeled it off."
"Well," she replied, "There is one cashier here who wouldn't give you the fifty cents." Apparently, it wasn't her, since I got my huge discount.
"Really? It's fifty cents," I replied. "It's not like it's five dollars or anything." And then I noticed that on the bag, the residue of the removed coupon read VALUABLE COUPON REMOVED, as though I had activated some sort of nuclear weapon launch sequence.

The other thing I left with was a can of sunscreen. This stuff is amazing. It's old technology that is still priced as though an iPad2 comes with it. I jumped at the in-store special that had $12 cans of Coppertone Sport priced at an incredibly low $7.99. It claims to be "ultra sweatproof," and I plan to do some ultra sweating, so it seemed to be a perfect match. Just for fun, I read the "uses" part of the can. It looks like a bunch of stuff they wrote just so they could fill the can with words.
  • Screens out the sun's burning rays to help prevent sunburn. Great. That's pretty much why I bought it. Check that one off.
  • Provides protection from UVA rays that may contribute to skin damage and premature aging of the skin. The skin damage part would seem to be redundant, since I already know it prevents sunburn, which I would say is skin damage - but I'm not a dermatologist.
  • Higher SPF gives more sunburn protection. I'm not a mathematician either, but I kind of figured that one out on my own.
  • Retains SPF after 80 minutes of activity in the water or sweating. OK, so I admit that I didn't check that one against the lower SPF sunscreens available. I plan to be outdoors more than 80 minutes, so I couldn't help but wonder what happens after 81 minutes. Will I suddenly appear older? I'll check the mirror when I get home.
There are also directions provided, as though the Uses part didn't give me all the information I needed. I'm guessing here, but I think I spray it on my skin. That has to be right, eh? Well, sort of. The directions say "apply evenly and liberally to all exposed areas prior to exposure." That sounds like JoAnne Galloway "strenuously objecting" to a line of questioning in "A Few Good Men." Should I apply it, or should I liberally apply it? Of course they want me to liberally apply it, it's twelve bucks a can.

Then it says to "reapply as needed after strenuous activity." How would I know if I need to reapply it? If I get home and see that I have red legs I'll no doubt be second-guessing my eighty-first minute of activity and wondering if I should have brought the can along and reapplied because it was obviously necessary. On the other hand, if I get home and I am still the same pasty white color I was when I left I'll know that the Ultra Sweatproof part was more important than any of that other stuff and they made me worry needlessly about my level of skin protection.

I strenuously object to reapplying this after my activity. The can didn't say anything about what would happen if I did that.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Time to start working on your putts.

As a follow-up to Friday's ridiculous stories, here is another one.

How much is a scholastic athletic career worth? According to the Washington Post, Garrett Sauls, a freshman at South River High School in Maryland was faced to answer that question in May, when the streakily talented Maryland teen won a putting contest at Lake Presidential Golf Club in Upper Marlboro, Md. For winning the contest, Sauls was given the opportunity to walk home with a $5,000 check. He turned the money down, because accepting it would make him a professional athlete by default.

"I was thinking [of taking it] because you wouldn't really get in trouble unless you get caught," Sauls told the Post. "It's like in college football, those players, sometimes they get paid.

"If you know you're not good enough, then you take the cash. I'm no superstar or anything, but it's still in my mind that I have the possibility to play."

That's right. We live in a country where a high school kid cannot accept $5,000 for winning a contest because it would turn him into a professional golfer. I hope that somewhere, somebody is examining how ridiculous that notion is and is making a move to stop it. Perhaps putting a threshold on the amount of money that would constitute being a professional would be a good place to start.
Another good start would be allowing a high school kid to wins money in a contest several years before he would be considered a golfer, let alone a professional one.

I wonder how old a kid has to be before he can accept a prize for doing something and not have it affect his amateur status. If Garrett was 9 years old and won a similar contest and accepted the money, would his amateur golf career be adversely affected? If not, then why is it wrong to accept money when he's a freshman in high school? I don't know too many people who have a job now that they dreamed of having when they were in junior high school. Why is athletics any different?

Or, suppose he had won $5,000 in a pie-eating contest? Would it be OK to accept the money for that, or would it affect his amateur pie-eating status? It's about as ridiculous as it gets. Why does it matter how he won the money or what age he was when he won it? In my judgment, if he isn't already a golfer (or at the very least in college) then he can win as much money as someone will give him.

Sometimes we carry ridiculous rules too far. Or, most times. Take the money, kid. Chances are you'll wind up doing something else with your life besides professional golf. And then, you'll realize how stupid some ideologies are and how the only thing that matters is the near future and recent past - and you've already screwed up one of those things.