Saturday, April 28, 2007

Vintage worms... my rant on social drinking

The first days here in Europe have been mostly meetings and travel, but today we rented rode bikes and rode 55 km in Holland. Part of the time we could see Germany and Belgium, but we didn't cross over. Here are some photos of the trip:

I have been offered more beer, wine, and liqueur than ever in the last couple days, so I have added a special "nobeer" tag for photos from places where I have disappointed the locals by ordering nothing more than a soda :-) This all reminds me of my dad's diplomatic drinking story. The same thing happens in the US, too. When my dad was in high school, some other kids held him down and chipped his tooth trying to force him to drink alcohol.

I have no problem with people drinking -- as long as they drink responsibly and don't run over my kids. But can we please get over this fixation with trying to get others to drink? Why is not drinking less acceptable than drinking? I don't drink because I have been asked not to by my church. I feel fine about my choice, and that's that. If this seems too strange or hard to understand, let's try a different example.

If as part of a certain church's beliefs the congregation was not supposed to eat worms, and if I wanted to be part of that church, I would stop eating worms just like that. Even if worm eating was trendy and hip. Even if people hired special worm selectors to find them the very best vintage worms for special occasions. And actually, when it comes to worms I really don't have much of a desire to eat them anyway, so it really isn't much of a loss for me. That's how I feel about drinking alcoholic drinks.

So you might be wondering how I know what I'm missing if I haven't tasted it? Well, not that I am too concerned about what I am missing, but I did taste beer by accident when I was 14 or 15. I got the cups mixed up at my friend Greg Pickett's house and accidentally grabbed his dad's beer and took a swig. It was so nasty! I ran to the bathroom and spat it out as fast as I could. Some people say beer and other drinks are an acquired taste. Sure, and so is eating worms. I also realize I haven't tasted every kind of alcoholic drink, so there might be a good one out there. I feel the same thing holds true with eating worms. Some will invariably taste better than others.

So if I offend someone by not drinking with them, perhaps I should be equally offended by their lack of respect for my choice. Maybe I have found something that is worth giving up drinking for. You may not care, and that's OK. Just don't try to impose your way of doing things on me and I won't impose my ways on you. I can still join in your toast, but I will toast with my soda.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I am a serial hobbyist...

So just the other day a friend of mine called me a serial hobbyist, and even though he doesn't know me that well, he's right. To counter this accusation I am surrendering several hobbies -- at least for now...
  1. Guitar playing - I haven't learned a new song for over 10 years. It's just fun to play the same stuff I already know. I'm not selling my guitar or anything; but I just won't claim it as an official hobby.
  2. Photography - Yeah, I'm one of those guys who actually had his own darkroom for doing black and white photography. Those were cool times. I still have all the equipment, and I've been packing it around for 10 years now. I still like taking pictures, but I just do the point-and-shoot thing with a little Canon Elph. You tend to take less artsy stuff when you have 3 kids. So I'll enjoy all the great kiddie shots, but photography is no longer a true hobby.
  3. Baseball card collecting - So I have 13,000 cards and I really don't know what to do with them at this point. This is an easy hobby to give up, because I haven't really done much with it for the last 15 years. Anyone want a ton of cool cards? You can have them as long as you promise to enjoy them.
There's plenty more where that came from, but I want to shed my hobbies a few at a time. And don't feel bad for me. There's plenty more where that came from. This year I plan to add paintballing to my hobby collection. Remember, I am a serial hobbyist.