I detest competitive eating

I have written about many things that I enjoy in the world of analog hobbies. Now perhaps it is time that I write something in the negative column. I detest competitive eating. I always have.

There are many frivolous pursuits in this world, and the realm of analog hobbies almost always involves some sort of consumer product that, if not the object of the hobby, is some sort of supply for the facilitation of it. For instance a stamp collection usually needs nice pages to put them in. Fountain pens need ink. Cameras may need film. In the cases of stationary and such, we use much nicer things than we need, surely a ball point or Ticonderoga pencil, with some notebook paper would do, but we indulge ourselves in the better pieces. That’s all well and good. However, I cannot abide competitive eating.

According to feedingamerica.org, 41 million in the United States alone face food insecurity. 13 million of them are children. However today I read this article, Competitive Eater Downs 501 Chicken Wings For Record-Breaking Win – TIME.

Molly Schuyler is the new champion of the eating world it seems. 501 chicken wings. It makes me sick. I suppose hobby shaming isn’t a thing yet, so here you have it.

Now, I have my excesses. I collect things. I could always do more charity. I buy things I don’t need. I have written about the need to be wary of consumerism, which is a warning to myself as much as anyone. I find competitive eating to be the very worst though. 13 million kids who are not sure where their next meal comes from, and we have people celebrating this.

I grew up in Chattanooga Tennessee. I believe that it is the home of the Krystal burger. I do love Krystal and they are fairly common where I come from. I remember that about the time I was starting to drive, around 2003, Krystal put itself through a revitalization. They remodeled or cleaned up their stores, made fresh new commercials and continued to sell the same great product. They also had Krystal eating competitions. I remember well that I was confused as to why they would do that. If they could sponsor some ninety pound person to eat several hundred Krystals, why were they not hosting free burgers for the homeless, or ensuring that some of the 5.4 million seniors in food insecurity, had a hot meal.

I have always been troubled by seeing hungry people, be it in life or on television. I was never hungry. Not once in my childhood did I miss a meal. I was just always upset by witnessing hunger. Later, as a young adult I walked the streets of Baghdad and saw hungry people. So many hungry kids we didn’t know how to help them all. We also had to transport humanitarian aid packages to refugee camps due to the “resettlement” as they called it when people reclaimed their homes with the downfall of Saddam. We transported and delivered the goods to make sure they got to where they were going safely. I have pictures of the kids who cheered our arrival knowing we brought food, some school supplies, and probably sweets in our pockets. I would post them, but I’m still not certain that is a good idea, for their sakes. I see those kids every time I put food on the table for my kids. It makes me mindful to teach them the ideas of charity and gratitude, to be sure not to waste.

I see those kids when I look at these people too.

I did not come here to chew the fat on this subject, I came here to say exactly what it is. These competitive eaters and the institutions which facilitate them are morally bankrupt, reprehensible, deserving nothing less than the complete disdain of everyone with any kind of human decency. In the case of Schuyler’s latest “achievement,” the culpable party is the entire city of Philadelphia. They put on the Wing Bowl every year, whether the eagles go to the Super Bowl or not. I suppose they are trying to tell us that Philadelphia is a utopia where there are no poor or hungry people? I’m wagering that this is not the case.

A couple of points. Firstly, this is not to include people who finish some larger than average meal and the restaurant gives you a T-shirt or takes your picture. Some of the accomplishments above are like that, but we are not talking five pound pizzas. That is a waste. If your finish the big bob burger or whatever, good for you. You can still take that home. You will probably never be in possession of 501 chicken wings, that when consumed in a single setting for a contest, are an immense waste. Secondly, ignorance is not an excuse. You do not have to be able to quote hunger statistics in this country or any other to be able to tell that competitive eating is for human trash. You do not have to know how many hungry children there are to know that there are too many for this kind of vile spectacle to continue. Other writers have called for competitive eating to be banned, but in many cases, such as this USA Today article, the ban call comes from the dangers posed to the competitors. I do not care one jot about these competitors. I know, it is a poor humanist who says that, I am working on it. Really though, I do not. I do not even agree with a ban. We are America, not the USSR, and we cannot just ban things we do not like, or that or so wasteful that it could be a crime in some places. However, I do say that what we can do is ensure that we spread the word about how many hungry people there are, proper food charities, and the fact that this human garbage…disposal is not an athlete, and not a champion. Oh yeas a champion eater to be sure. Also a champion at putting a finger in the face of every kid who goes to school mostly because they are served a hot meal there, at laughing at every hungry person in the world, a champion at stepping over the poor to receive this year’s “Trump Greatness Award.” This is America for you, and this is why the other countries hate us. You do not have to respect these people. I am not calling for harm, but we can stop supporting the businesses that put on competitions where they can get 10,000$ for overeating during an obesity and eating disorder crisis, nestled just nicely on top of the poverty I have already mentioned. Here’s looking at you Nathan’s hotdogs. We can put these people on every social media website where readers will care. We can call them out for the scumbag gluttons they truly are.

Some people will not like this. I’m ok with that. It is time to pick a side. Please, do not like this, and then go try your hand at pie eating or something. For those who haves the depth to hate this, here is Feeding America. Their Charity Navigator results are very good, so I put my trust in them.

In closing, this is an analog hobby that I will not support. It is one that I will cheer the end of. In anticipation of someone asking, “but what if they donate to Feeding America with their eating winnings?” Firstly, prove it. Secondly, food is still a resource which must be grown, raised, and prepared, and which can be made scarce. Giving currency to the food charity does not cancel out criminal amounts of food waste created by competitive eating.

Brandon Bledsoe

Analog Savage

Building the Kono Bell Tetrahedral Kite 

This was my first kite build! 

   I bought this kite from Bridge Kite Shop, and this kit can be purchased here.  When I had found the website for Bridge, this was what caught my eye.  Not just the prospect of building a kite myself, but the idea that the units or cells could keep going.  Four cells make a kite, then make each kite into a cell and assemble four of those, well you get the idea.  This kit comes with everything you need except for scissors and glue, which both the website and instructions tell you.  

    I will not say much about the design, as I cannot say anything the website does not already, but it is named after the designer of this kit, Greg Kono, and Alexander Graham Bell, who apparently made something very similar to this.

The kit itself could not be simpler with very good instructions.  My biggest tips is to dip both ends of a spar (stick) in glue at once, as you will not be able to move the whole frame to the glue so get both ends ready for connectors at once.  Also, I used a brush to put the glue on the paper folds that go around the spar.  I also recommend decorating the sails ahead of time, the kit papers are clearly marked so you will know where you will be placing the designs or coloring.  I went with rubber stamps of the the Death’s Head Moth, but I was attracted to the idea of Bridge’s kites because I can color and decorate them with my kids.  

    I could have let each stage dry before continuing on, but it was not necessary. I did let the fram dry for a day before applying the sails, and I let that dry for another day before attempting flight.  My kids and I took it our first in eleven MPH winds, and that achieved lift very well.  It was the lack of sustained wind that stopped us from getting a sustained flight.  We had a similar issue with thirteen to fifteen MPH winds, plenty of lift, just no sustaining winds, so it is not the kites fault, nature was just teasing us.  

    We have it on a quick reel, which is not what it came with.  The reel is not a problem, but I feel that clipping the quick connector rather than using two overhand knots as recommended, may have destabilized some of the flights, and that was very much my fault.  The quick connect, goes on one spar, while the over hand knots would secure to the entire top connector, making a solid tie point, rather than encouraging it to spin on an axis.  

     Another tip, do not worry about excess glue, this will help create a very complete and secure bond between spar and connector.  I tried to be cautious about excess, which I later realized was a mistake.  I had to reglue several connections where I had left room for the seal to break, after the first flight.  The second flight saw no broken connections despite higher flights and falls, because the seal was complete.  

    My oldest also got the hang of sustained flight with his Spongebob diamond he recieved for his birthday.  If it had not have been for heat, we would have stayed out flying, ignoring the TV and electronics.  Safe flying and make sure you get something from Bridge Kite Shop.  

Analog Savage

Brandon Bledsoe 

Life in instant 3

I have given up on the slide shows, they were a nuisance.  I have opted instead for a few photos hear and there with a link to the full collection.  There should be little to no narration, just analog still frames of life with no do overs.  Full album here.

Kites, Kites, Kites: Analog Activities

We love analog toys, and Kites are one of the very best.  

     It does not get much simpler than kites.  This photo is as analog as it gets, instant photo of a kid running around with a kite in hand.  

     When was the last time you enjoyed something simple?  Something where you went out and waged a small battle against the elements?   That is how I see kite flying.  I got the love from my grandfather, he seems to be obsessed with making odd little things fly.  He used to have a couple of wooden planes with motors and wires that I suppose could be made to fly in a circle.  

    Say the word to yourself, kite.  There is something life affirming about it.  I mean yes, there is also something Charlie Brown about it.  You could lose your kite, my son got one stuck once.  We got it back.  He gets frustrated with the erratic winds ( so do I ) and he thinks maybe the kite is broken.  

    Today we went to a kite shop.  Call me Vikrum, a real kite shop.  If you have not heard of them, get Bridge Kite Shop on your radar.  They do not have a retail front yet, but they will in the future.  You can book them for parties, they do workshops, and best of all they sell kits for classic washi kites.  I sent them an email, seeing if I could come by, why pay shipping if you do not need to, and these awesome guys just had us right on over.  

    Cade and Stuart are two of the nicest people I have met in the kite industry.  Given, they are the only people I have met in the kite industry, but they are still amazing.  They had us over, let us shop, did not complain about kids, and passed the ultimate test, they let my kid use their own restroom when he inevitably had to go, despite going before we left.  We left with some kite kits, some of which you can get in sets of five, or more, to entertain groups.  These guys have taken San Antonio up a notch.  

    Kites do not have to come in kits, the Walmart ones are good, they do what kites do.  They go together in under a minute and they have string.  Get one, for 5$ you can kill the tv for the afternoon, take your kids outside.  You only have to unplug and engaged a little everyday to take the parenting away from the electronics some.  Stay tuned and we will show off our kites.  

Analog Savage

Brandon Bledsoe 

Stamp Collecting: Great Analog Hobbies

For many analog hobbies, it is true that if you look near the heart of the thing, collecting can be found in some form or another.

For me the love of the stamp came naturally, and was partially detailed in a previous post, but here is the short version.  My Grandmother was a Rural Letter Carrier.   My mother worked there off and on, My grandfather also worked there, and later my grandparents would retire from that post office.  It is/was one of my favorite places in the world, it is the post office for home, Soddy Daisy Tennessee.  I used to play out in the parking lot, and there was a wall to keep the ground from collapsing into the lot.  If you climbed to the top of it there were railroad tracks, it was at this rural post office, as a boy, that I saw the tan tanks on trains heading off somewhere in the early 90s.

Stamp collecting goes back to the advent of well…the postage stamp.  I love history, and if you look closely enough, there is a history lesson in every postage stamp.  What makes it great as an analog hobby besides that?  Well, it does not require a lot of start-up capital or specialized equipment or the thing we all seem to be short on, time.  It can be as simple as buying a sheet of stamps that you like at the post office and putting it away.  Places like Hobby Lobby sell bags of around 300 stamps for about ten dollars a bag, and there is a big mash up of stamps in those.  You will, of course, come across many repeats, but there are great things too, I have pulled plenty of WWII war bond stamps out of those bags.

I collected ever since I was a child, and it usually consisted of putting away sheets of the stamps that had come out and my family bought me what they believed I would like. Remember for me, the post office was a deep part of life.  I looked forward to the post office picnic every year.  There were good prizes for the games, usually postal related.  The point is, I was never one to trace rare stamps, or to have a giant book, but what I did have was Classic Movie Monsters, Bugs Bunny, and I Love Lucy.  This hobby allows you to pick your own involvement level.  Minimal investment, a vague interest, and the willingness to research.

Here is where I will say this for the first time: Digital for the win.  This hobby has been improved through the wonders of the Internet and the personal computer.  Guides, and lists, that used to cost money, are now available for free online.  My real collection is the stamps of The Soviet Union, and a website called Collectors Net has saved me the price of a sixty dollar book.


You will all have to forgive me from this point on with this post, I was just informed that I lost a family member tonight.

I decided to involve my son in stamp collecting and so we expanded a bit.

We buy the bags together, sort the stamps together, and then we do his favorite part, we soak the stamps in hot water and peel them from the paper they are stuck to and dry them in books.  It is time together, not in front of a screen (minus part of the research, if we do not use the hard copy encyclopedias) and he gets to learn some things.  Stamps do not offer much in the way of the tactile, but even at four, the taste he had gotten was enough to make him excited to see the National Postal Museum in Washington D.C. and as I said, it does not involve a video game or a television.  It steps into the real a little bit.

Bottom line-  You can start a quick and easy collection that can grow with your knowledge on the subject.  You can give the collection and the passion to your kids.  You will also be in some good company, FDR and Freddy Mercury counted among the great philatelist.

Let’s address that, philately, the study of stamps, is not stamp collecting.  However, you usually cannot collect stamps without some light philately, so do not get hung up on the two being used interchangeably.

The Bullets:

  • low initial cost
  • something for everyone-national icons, celebrities, sports, the stamp world almost has it’s own rule 34.
  • low initial knowledge need
  • Self-adhesive stamps are the devil

Tip  Bullets:

  • look up the Vario system, second to none stamp storage pages
  • The National Postal Museum has better articles than I could ever write on how to get started, right here.
  • get the kids involved
  • pick a niche at first-Hollywood, musicians, Soviet Russia, Cold War-era, the 80s, there is no limit to niches
  • Every year the post office puts out a complete guide to every U.S. Stamp ever, get it as your first serious purchase, runs about 45$
  • slow down, enjoy the learning, and the collection
  • pull it out and review it sometimes
  • Read articles
  • Getting a pen pal or two can help, they usually have cool foreign stamps if they are not from U.S.

Get out there and get an old fashioned stamp, and look at it.  If you are still collecting in a year, maybe you will be ready to study how they are printed.

Ganger-Bjorn, The Analog Savage

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