Ben's Babbles: Many interests equal many ways to shine

April 23, 2011

To a gym full of cocky teenage boys the message was a shocker:

"Look around," said the coach. "I can pretty much guarantee that not one of you will ever play in the NBA."

As I sat at the high school basketball camp as a middle schooler the assessment seemed rather brutal at the time.

But in the end it was true.

Some kids in that room would play basketball all year round on traveling teams; others, like myself, would lace up the sneakers in the summer for summer ball and then put them on again come October and take them off as soon as the season was done.

But all of us had one thing in common. I can't verify it by remembering if every single player in the room never managed the feat, but considering it was my hometown, I can say with close to certainly that none of us ever played in the NBA.

The coach, who would later coach me in high school, wasn't making his observation to depress us; he was telling us to not count on playing basketball for a living and not to put all our eggs in one basket. We needed to have other interests, to do well in school, to have our priorities straight.

I was never really worried about making a living playing basketball anyway, what with my complete lack of co-ordination and one-point-per-game career scoring average.

But I focused on plenty of other things. In addition to basketball in high school I was in band, drama, youth group and a host of other activities.

In college (where I did not go on a basketball scholarship) I was on the school newspaper, studied abroad, played intramural sports and was a resident advisor. Oh and met the woman who will soon be my wife.

Keeping varied interests is good.

For example, on Saturday I went out to watch the Little League opening day, making my usual swing from Parkdale back to Hood River.

During the opening ceremonies I saw one kid running out onto the field with a Hood River wrestling club sweatshirt on. Hopefully he'll continue to do both for as long as he wants to.

Another did a fantastic job making sure the pitcher's plate was cleaned off. Perhaps a future groundskeeper.

Some others scaled the dugout fence before being shooed off by a parent. Future gymnasts?

Who knows, maybe there is a future major leaguer amongst the group.

In all likelihood, though, there were a bunch of future fathers, mothers, business owners, politicians, store clerks, engineers, accountants, programmers, maintenance workers, fruit packers, lawyers or any other profession you can think of other than baseball.

Perhaps even (parents, hide your children now) a future sports reporter.

Whether they have a love of baseball that lasts one year or a lifetime; whether they put on their cleats all year long or take them off as soon as the season is over to put on football cleats, basketball sneakers, shiny black concert shoes, a stage costume or a work uniform, I hope they keep major league dreams in their heart but remember in their head that it's not wise to hang all their hopes on those dreams.

Besides, if all of us turned out to be major league ball players, we wouldn't have anyone to root for other than ourselves. We would have no one to go to the games and cheer; no one to pass around YouTube clips going "Did you see that!?" and no one to jump off the couch so fast to celebrate a big moment that spray soda and popcorn all over the room and no one like me to write about it.

And that wouldn't be much fun, now, would it?

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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