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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Why A Cheesesteak Beats A PowerBar

Forgive me as I get a little philosophical on you, but every now and then events transpire that call for some reflection on life and the way we live it.

I'm talking about the passing of Brian Maxwell. You don't know his name and you wouldn't know who he was if he ran past you on the street, but you've seen his work and the impact thereof.

Ever eaten an energy bar? They taste terrible. I've eaten a dog biscuit before, and if the doggie treat had a little better texture, I might rank it ahead of some energy bars. But anyway, Brian Maxwell is the guy you can thank for the booming popularity of energy bars.

B-Max created the PowerBar back in 1986, back when I thought a power bar was the thing on arcade games that showed you how many punches your character could still take. He and his wife sold the things out of their kitchen and yada yada yada, in 2000 they sold the company to Nestle for $375 mil.

Nice success story, and I suppose I'd be proud to have something like that leading my obit. Which is what happened to Maxwell yesterday. He died of a heart attack at age 51 after collapsing at a post office in California.

The other thing that Maxwell was known for was being a world-class marathoner. In the late '70s he was ranked in the top five in the world, and he was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that boycotted the Moscow Games.

Well, you think about a guy like this, and you think about someone like Dr. Robert Atkins (I know you know of his life's work - it's the Atkins Diet), who died -- damn, I just read that he received his medical degree from Cornell. I'm kind of disappointed in the ol' alma mater.

Okay, back to the point. Dr. Atkins died because he fell after slipping on an icy sidewalk. He also weighed over 240 pounds at the time, but that's not the point. Yes, Atkins was 72 years old, but it wasn't old age that claimed the guy.

People agonize about what they eat to the point of lunacy, but you can still be in top shape - look at Maxwell, the PowerBar marathon man - and boom, a heart attack still hits you. Or you could run into bad fortune like Dr. Atkins.

So screw it, I'll go eat a cheesesteak if I feel like eating a cheesesteak. I feel good about myself - my lifestyle isn't too sedentary; I play hockey and I try to run now and then. If a 1 a.m. visit to Larry's - The Home Of The Bellyfiller - makes me happy, then I'll act on that. (At least when it's geographically convenient. I miss you up here in Connecticut, Larry's.)

As long as I'm not going nuts and eating McDonald's three times a week, I'm not worried. Maybe I won't be 20 pounds lighter, but I'll be happier.

There's a cliche that goes: Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.

Well, I don't mind skipping dessert. I don't always need a slice of cheesecake. But I also won't take the bun off my hamburger and I won't eat a carrot stick for lunch. Think about it this way: God forbid I step into the street and I get smacked by a bus. Do I want people saying that my last meal was a tofu-vegetable dip, or do I want them to say I enjoyed life to the end?


I'll bet $5 (okay, just kidding, I won't) that none of you saw the Hockey East championship game last night between UMass and Maine. Your loss. It was the fourth longest game in college hockey history, going halfway into the third overtime tied 1-1.

The goalies were playing out of their minds. UMass's goalie stopped 59 shots; Maine's saved 63. Even though I was pulling for Maine, I felt awful for Gabe Winer, the UMass tender, when the Black Bears beat him for the winner at 9:27 of the third extra period.

Maine was going to go to the NCAA tournament no matter what. UMass needed that win to make it. So their season ended when Maine got one past Winer. It's gotta be so tough to play so well for so long - nearly two games in one - and then have to go home with nothing but a runner-up nod in the conference and no tournament bid to show for it.

However, with Maine denying UMass a spot in the 16-team field, Notre Dame will likely take the final place. Since my roomie is a South Bend native and a ND alum, I guess I'll have to root for them, because I don't know if I can bring myself to root for Harvard, the ECAC representative. I felt nauseous when I saw the Crimson celebrating their last-second win over Clarkson in the conference championship earlier tonight. Freakin' Harvard.


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