It’s a ‘No’ to your VR Headset

“I want one of those VR headsets for Christmas,” I heard him say to his mother when she asked him the customary question that has often baffled parents during the holiday season.When the boys were younger it was easy – just get the latest and greatest toy or gadget and you’re a guaranteed hero for a year. These days, buying gifts for them is similar to learning the dark arts.

This statement from Son #5 piqued my interest at the same time that it made the scruff on my neck stand on end. I wanted to ask my own questions for fatherly clarification but instead bit my tongue, fearing that any questions I asked at this moment would be too acerbic even for a lifelong sourpuss like me. If I could ask questions without putting a damper on the spirit, they would have followed the same cynical vein that I’ve learned from growing up Samoan in a very sarcastic home – only the strong survive.

vr-sucks

What do you do with a VR headset?

What kind of reality do you need to be virtual?

Will it feed you virtual food when we stop feeding you?

Will this replace your real friends?

Do your black eyes in the virtual world stay with you in the real world?

Just when I thought that technology couldn’t get any more invasive in life, they come out with something else to squander what little time you have with your family. Virtual reality has been a part of our vernacular for decades now but it is now more of a reality in your home. A reality that may destroy whatever semblance of normalcy we had in our home if we ever allow it to enter our doors.

One of Super Mom’s most vexing issues in our home is that we are a family obsessed with our devices. We spend a great deal of our time playing games, watching movies, laughing at Vines, Snapping, Tweeting and IM’ing things that we have a hard time sharing with other people in person. I admit, I am not a very good example for my sons because I am constantly on a device even when I’m home with them.

I should be a better example, especially considering that I didn’t have these things when I was a kid. Do you know what my VR headset was? It was called ‘day dreaming’. We had virtual friends when I was a kid too, they were called ‘imaginary friends,’ and they carried on conversations with me for free! If you snapped a photo on your camera, you had the luxury of developing the photo negatives speedy quick fast at the 24-hour photo booth. And everyone knew when you were on the phone because you had to drag that stupid phone chord around with you and it kept you tethered to your home and ultimately your parents.

Nowadays, there are numerous ways that youths can circumvent mom and dad. And we as parents are struggling to stay ahead of technology while our kids are on the cutting edge of these things. Remember the days when you had to literally dive out of your bedroom window and meet your friends at a park to find trouble? I don’t either, but I’m saying if you had to find trouble…. I tease – but those days are long gone and now we are in such an advanced technological age that it’s even more important to be aware of what is going on outside, but more importantly, what is going on inside of your own home.

There are a number of ways and apps to help you secure your home and your devices from the ever increasing incursion of filth that is damaging young minds. But if you really have to go ‘ol-skool’ on it you could do one or all of the following:

  1. Randomly check your child(rens) devices to make sure that they’re not getting into something that you don’t approve of.
  2. Speak to them regularly about the dangers of social media, cyber bullying and their cyber footprint.
  3. Make sure that you discuss acceptable use of those devices – know who they are speaking to online and what they are sharing or receiving from others.
  4. Limit the time that they spend on their devices (e.g. offline by 9:00 p.m. every weekday, 11:00 p.m. on weekends).

My son won’t be getting that VR Headset for sure – there are better ways to spend our hard earned money and better, more practical gifts that I would be happy to spend my limited budget on. Besides that, there are some things out there that are a million times better than virtual reality. Things like, oh…REALITY.

Get outside and scrape your knees, climb a tree or put on some skates. Ride a bike and jump over a pile of leaves on the neighbors lawn. Grab a basketball, rugby or soccer ball and wear out the threads. There’s plenty to do in the real world. You don’t need a virtual one to keep your mind awake and alive. If none of the things in reality I’ve mentioned above interest you, than read a book or just use your imagination. That’s what our minds are meant to do – explore the real world, not just the one on a screen.

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Not all wins are in the record books

Let me first state for the record that I’ve been on both ends of a blow-out. I have been a coach and a player for teams that were both methodical and tactical in wins as well as on teams that showed up on game day with the understanding that we were there like a proverbial lamb being led to the slaughter.

Victors are allowed to relish in triumph because it’s assumed that they have put together all the necessary parts and personnel to win. They have put in the hours of practice, dissected their opponent and organized a plan to win. Losers may have gone through the same process as well; maybe more so in order to find some weaknesses in their opponent to exploit and perhaps stun their superior counterparts. A little luck in the scenario may help as well. More often than not, however, a team without the requisite weapons to fight blow for blow, try as they might, will eventually concede that they did their best but in the end they were outmatched, overwhelmed and outgunned by the stronger, faster and more talented and schooled team.

I for one do not enjoy blow-out victories. Sure, I love it when my team wins but what I don’t love is seeing the dejected looks on the faces of an opposition that has the will to fight but hardly the skill to win. I don’t revel in embarrassing a severely disadvantaged team, particularly if that team is just learning to play or even just learning to play together. As a coach, we learn very little from lopsided wins because in my mind, a team that experiences a bit of opposition and adversity will truly appreciate success and the effort that it took to earn the victory. Nor can we as a team implement strategies if all we do is destroy opposing teams with superior talent and skill.

Let’s face it; it’s fun to win, but winning is not everything when you’re also trying to teach your team a few life lessons. Many will disagree with me, but I believe that there is an aspect of sportsmanship that comes with resisting the urge to kick a man when he is down. I was reminded of that attribute this past weekend when our rugby team traveled to play a newer team here in our State in an area that is relatively new to rugby.

Prior to the match, our coaching staff was approached by the oppositions head coach that although her players love playing the game of rugby, they acknowledged that they were reluctant to play us because they lacked the skill and rugby acumen to compete with our well-established (and might I add tongue in cheek, highly decorated) team. A plan was formulated between the two head coaches and our head coach brought the boys together for a pre-game huddle.

“Boys,’ our coach, Colin Puriri started, ‘we always play to win. But sometimes we can win without the benefit of a scoreboard. Today, we’re going to win by being ambassadors for the game.” With that preface, he proceeded to inform the boys that we would be ‘loaning’ our starting forward pack to the opposition for the duration of the first half. At half time, we would get our forwards back, but we would then loan our back-line to the opposing team.

At first there were looks of bewilderment on the faces of our players. But gradually, as the realization that we were about to be a part of something extraordinary, smiles and fits of laughter slowly spread across the team. This was a chance to have a little of fun, spread a bit of good cheer and teach another group of boys why we all love the game of rugby so much.

After overcoming the initial awkwardness of playing alongside people they had not played with before, both sides relished the competition and forged new friendships in an decidedly entertaining game. By the end of the first half, every boy had a chance to compete and everyone learned more than a few valuable lessons both on and off the field.

Our opposition got to play alongside all-star and all-American representatives and learn the game from a different perspective. Our team on the other hand, learned the more valuable lesson that day: That winning off the field as ambassadors of the game is always more important than running up the score.

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Manu Samoa, Denotation & Implication: A pictorial essay

Grandiose, I get it. But this stuff is serious for me and the thousands of Manu Samoa fans who are praying, cheering and longing for a favorable result for their team. I’m often asked why I’m so fanatical about Samoa’s team and why they mean so much to a tiny island nation situated smack dab in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean.

Contemplating a response, I found these moving, evocative photos of the team illuminating. I use them here as compassionate companions to my scarce narrative.

ManuSamoa1

Represent – They carry the hopes of a nation. They are our ambassadors on one of the world’s biggest stage. Even before they take the field they have felt the weight of an ardent, adoring nation. From subsistence farmers, fishermen and homemakers to professionals and educators, these men, who wear the flag and colors of Samoa, know what it means to bear the burden of expectation.

ManuSamoa2

Pride – It is embedded in the hearts and minds of every young Samoan. When we prepare to leave home for a day, for a week, for a lifetime, for a moment, the words of our elders ring clear: Remember the name you carry. Remember where you come from. The way your carry yourself, your speech is a reflection of your family; your people. There is no monetary gain and there are no great rewards, only the pride in bringing a tiny nation level with the major powers on the planet if only for a few blissful, fleeting moments.

ManuSamoa3

Courage – It is the hallmark of our character. When you are faced with adversity and doubt begins to fray your edges there is only one way to go and that is forward. Stand your ground, stare your adversary in the eye, square your shoulders and charge into the fight. If I cannot conquer the world, at the very least the world will know that I did my very best at slaying my fears.

Perseverance – No one really remembers how you started the race but everyone will remember how you finished. Great teams battle through hardship and our boys have seen a lot of that over the years. Some adversity comes from within, most of it comes from without; but the best solutions for any trials can be found in the space that exists between your ears and the eat that resonates from your chest. The rest is up to you.

ManuSamoa5

Flair – We are nothing without exuberance. The challenge is containing our passion but containing it stifles our creativity and our imagination for opportunity. Yes, there is power in our limbs and the pace in our feet is equaled only by the emotion in which we live each moment.

ManuSamoa6

Unity – That’s all

GO THE MANU!

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