Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween musings

Later tonight the streets will be filled with witches, superheroes, vampires, ninjas, ballerinas, pop stars, minions and more. Accompanied by their parents, young children will go door-to-door trick-or-treating, their buckets filled with store-bought candy.
Halloween is the night when it is acceptable to don your scariest costume. When I woke up this morning, it was with a love for the frightful holiday. And yet I never expected to have one of the scariest revelations of my young life. 
For the past 10 years, our country has been at war in the Middle East. As freedom-loving individuals, many times we abhor the Muslim religion for how it treats women. As a woman, I myself have had those harsh thoughts. But this morning, I did they get there? And are we really that far behind?
I cannot help but fear that our society is on the same path. After all, very rarely is change overnight. Many times change occurs slowly. After all, if you tell someone to objectify or demean someone, they may resist. The degradation of society does not occur overnight. It is a slow process that occurs by gradually changing group mindset. 
If you turn on the TV, pick up a magazine, what do you see? Shows teaching good values? Or scantily-clad women and seduction? Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not a prude. But movies that used to be rated R once upon a time would most likely now be considered PG or at the most, PG-13. What used to be private is now, well...not. 
What if this is our undoing? Sure, sex sells, always will. But by objectifying women - or any segment of the population - it belittles those to little more than property. Men desire what they see, and they see as not as people with rights they should respect, but as something they want, or must have.
I am not perfect. When Magic Mike came out...whew! Just the thought of it brings a smile to my face. And therein lies the problem. When I get dressed up for Halloween, I feel like one of the only women in an actual costume. I see sexy nurse, sexy teacher, sexy flight attendant, sexy everything. And here I am as Lois Lane or a minion, in pants or floor length dresses. 
Our society is one of instant gratification. There is no thought to the future, just now. What if this is our undoing? What if in 200 years, we are the new Middle East? Will anyone be able to trace it back to its roots, pinpoint the exact moment when everything began unraveling? 
Yes, there are people that work to make this world a better place. But to my eyes, the younger generation - people my age and younger - are as a whole, not worldly. Their worries are personal, not global, and they struggle to see how events link together, how one action stems multiple reactions. 
Many times my peers look at me strangely. When I make a decision, I think about all the different outcomes that could occur as a result, outcomes others do not even consider until I bring it up. What a sad commentary, when foresight and consideration are not a part of our thought process.
I sincerely hope that I am wrong, and that our instant gratification culture does not degrade our society to the point that we do not value and respect life. 
The Most Cynical Optimist

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Edgerton the center of Halloween invasion

**I am trying something a little different this week. To see photo cutlines, position the mouse over the photo.**

Photos by Rachel Wittrock

By Rachel Wittrock
Reporter staff

Edgerton is being invaded. Large spiders have begun teaming up for a roofside assault on an Edgerton home. Zombies have begun to claw their way to the surface. A mummy and his new
bride take up an observational post, watching locals as they go about their day, gathering information for their fearless leader. The mischievous yet lovable minions from Despicable Me have arrived in town, and have been spotted plotting outside another resident’s house.

Halloween may be a week away, but some Edgerton residents have begun preparing for the annual spookfest. From zombies to ghosts, mummies to minions, much planning and care has been put into the lawn decor. Many houses feature pumpkins on the porch, but a few clearly show a love for the spooky holiday.

The house that stands at 311 Marlboro Ave. could double as a Halloween shop. A large spiderweb stretches from lawn to roof, and oversize spiders prepare to make the climb. A skeleton riding a lawn mower is on the other side of the yard, and a skeleton head hangs from the basketball hoop. Tombstones, skulls on posts and skeleton warriors have been placed in the yard. Is this where the zombie apocalypse will begin?

The mummy and mummy’s bride are keeping an eye on everyone from outside 315 W. Fulton St. Or are they keeping an eye on their skeleton and pumpkin head children, playing nearby?
If you wander down Rollin St., you just might catch sight of seven of Gru’s minions. But watch out, a couple of them look like they might have a prank or two up their overalls. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tackling Rockman 2013!

The past couple weeks have been quite busy. Edgerton hosted the one and only Patch Adams on Sept. 27 and 28 for the Sterling North Book and Film Festival. I was privy to his visit at the Ronald McDonald House in Madison on the 27th, and later that evening at the red carpet author’s reception. He is a very caring, comedic and serious man.
Unfortunately, I did not make it to the book and film festival. Instead, I was in Watertown participating in the 3rd annual Rockman Challenge. The triathlon begins with a paddle on the Rock River (2 miles this year), a 15.5 mile bike course, a 5K run, quarter mile military style obstacle course and 50 meter sack hop to the finish. Your reward? A finisher medal and chicken dinner!
The past couple years my goal was just to survive. And after my canoe rental was not there in year one and my borrowed trick kayak submerged in the middle of the lake, it was rough. But I was determined to finish. That first year I spent 4.5 hours completing the course.
Last year, my canoe rental was actually there and that alone shaved a half hour off my time. Although taking time off is always a good thing, I was disappointed with my 3 hours, 56 minutes finish.
During the past year, I have taken steps to a healthier lifestyle. I’ve found a nutrition plan that works for me, and I have shed 15 pounds. When I began this year’s Rockman Challenge, all of that work became apparent. Despite the fact I had not paddled any kind of boat in a year, I found myself moving much quicker on the lake. The bike portion - well a huge part of it no doubt was my road bike versus the mountain bike the last two years - but even that was easier. I pedaled up hills instead of disembarking and walking, and I was biking a mile in 4-5 minutes versus 6+ minutes last year.
Sack hop to the finish baby!
The run and obstacle course were the same. The 5K run is always the hardest. My muscles need warming up from all the biking. I had run/walked two of the three miles before my muscles finally warmed up and running was comfortable. The third mile I finally hit my stride. The obstacle course felt harder this year, probably because I was pushing myself harder.
When I finally crossed the finish line, my time was 2 hours, 51 minutes, 15 seconds - a full hour and 5 minutes faster than last year. Granted, the paddle and bike courses were each a mile shorter this year, but I figure that only accounts for 24 or 25 minutes - the other 40 minutes were personal improvement.
Talk about neon swag!
Looking towards next year, I plan to train a lot more for the race. My road bike is relatively new - I brought it down in June - and I think also figuring out what speeds for going up and down hills will help. Next year, I am aiming to slice another 30 minutes off my tri time.
Although I plan to do the Rockman Challenge again next year as an individual, it would be great to make it a group event. I encourage anyone interested in triathlons or looking for a fun, personal challenge to check out the race.
Much thanks to the Watertown Challenge Association for continuing to host this event, and to Rutabaga for the amazing canoe/kayak rentals!

Hope to see you there in 2014!

(How about that Rockman T-shirt? I am planning to don my race shirt for the Glow Run in Madison next May!)