Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

More Things the World Doesn’t Need

The world has a lot of things we don’t need. Here are three more – a hamster-ball houseboat, flesh-eating death suits and touchy-feely wrestling coaches.

People of the world bemoan the loss of great artists and antiquities. We should collectively scream at the introduction of the silly and sickening.

UFO-Floating-Home-by-Jet-Capsule-1-800x500Like the UFO-shaped houseboat that can bob around the world at a heart-throbbing 3.5 knots per hour. Or the Infinity Burial Suit designed to turn your flesh and bones into a tree. Or a wrestling coach who violates the trust of young men.

Scott Simon, the NPR weekend news host, did a piece for CBS Sunday Morning that highlights a world of good intentions turned on its head. Simon interviewed disaster relief officials who described unbounded generosity combined with unbelievable cluelessness. Donations to tsunami victims included ice skates, teddy bears and prom dresses. They needed food, water and a dry, safe place.

A ball-shaped houseboat and a mushroom-lined death suit are things we don’t need. A coach who molests young wrestlers that he coaches is something we don’t want or need.

We can make fun of the houseboat and death suit. It is harder to make light of a predatory wrestling coach who went into politics, served longer as House Speaker than any other Republican and promised to pay $3.5 million to one of his victims to keep his mouth shut.

ufo-1The Italian-designed mini-yacht houseboat is still in the design stage. As conceived, this replica of Saturn in a swimming pool would have an upper chamber for sitting and dining and a lower submerged level for bathing and sleeping. A panoramic underwater window would give the phrase “sleeping with the fishes” new meaning.

To prevent going stir-crazy on this off-the-grid water bobber, there is a rim around the main house ball that designers say could be used as a walking or bike path, with room left over for a garden patch and a strangely located mail box.

Propulsion is achieved by an electric motor stoked by on board solar panels. (You can add an option of a couple of windmills.) The house boat includes a generator to convert rain or sea water into something you can drink or shower with.

The designers say you could buy one for around $200,000. They don’t say much about the logistical challenge of stocking up enough food, books and video games to last for what might seem like an interminable voyage across a large lake, let alone an ocean.

Infinity burial suitThe latest idea of how you can become “one with the environment” involves having your corpse stuffed into what looks like a ninja suit lined with flesh-eating mushrooms. Instead of clogging up already crowded graveyards, your body would become compost for a potted-plant urn so your dearly beloveds could “see” you everyday.

The suit is one of many ideas being floated to “disrupt death.” You are still dead, mind you, but instead of being embalmed and crammed into a satin-lined coffin, you will be “alive” in the form of a flowering tree or shrub.

There is a line of customers signing up for the suit. One customer is going to try it out first on his wire-haired terrier when it dies. I would just create a picture gallery of my pet companion, but I suppose that is a classic “death denial” ritual. I sniff denial in a death costume that includes the word “infinity.”

Dennis HastertThen there is Dennis Hastert, who has reminded us that wrestling is truly a hands-on sport.

I’m not picking on Hastert because he is a Republican. I’m calling him out because he was a wrestling coach and I was a wrestler who had coaches I admired and trusted who didn’t take advantage of their position.

Wrestlers have it bad enough, with grinding practices in tiny, stifling rooms, pressure to lose pounds to compete in a more advantageous weight class and skimpy, crotch-crunching uniforms. They don’t need coaches with boy fetishes.

The plight of most wrestlers is not getting dates with the cheerleaders, who usually don’t show up for wrestling matches and are turned off by guys with faces full of acne and cauliflowered ears.

I wrestled from junior high school into college. When I started wrestling, I tipped the scales at barely 75 pounds, which was the lightest weight class. As a high school senior, my assigned weight class was 120 pounds.

Wrestling taught me a lot about life. I learned what it took to compete hand-to-hand and then some. I learned a lot about conditioning and, unfortunately, about damaging dieting habits. I gained a first-hand respect for opponents who weren’t all white and from the suburbs.

High school wrestlingLuckily, I didn’t learn about a sicker part of life. My wrestling coaches were tough – two were also football coaches, one was a star wrestler in college and my college coach became the trainer for the NBA Seattle Supersonics. When they laid their hands on me, it was to demonstrate a wrestling move.

I recently told a friend whose son is a young wrestler that I had a “love-hate” relationship with the sport. What I hated was after-practice steam baths to drop pounds and luckily not an after-practice advance by someone that I trusted.








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