A to Z Challenge: O is for Obstacle (Go Ask Daddy)


“Aren’t you a little short to be a stormtrooper?”

OFor the A to Z Challenge today, O is for Obstacle.

After fourth grade, one of my obstacles was height. I slumped from power forward length in elementary school quickly to shooting guard and all the way back down to point guard before finally settling in on, “chess club meets in room 102, buddy.”

I’ve always embraced my low center of gravity, although for years I fought for the right to be 5-foot-7.

That’s the stat I knew from one of my favorite NBA players, Spud Webb. Dude couldn’t reach the top shelf, but he could dunk. How cool is that? I could dunk – on a 6-foot goal. With the wind at my back.

I was well into my late 30s before I finally embraced my God-given (lack of) height of 5-6.

And a half. Yet, here I am, acting 6-2 on the Internet. Que obstacle?

1. Why are football players so tall?

photo credit: Osahon Tongo via photopin (license)
photo credit: Osahon Tongo via photopin (license)

So that diminutive sports writers will have to stand on chairs for post-game interviews.

I see eye to eye with several players, including Drew Brees (listed 6-0, but don’t believe the hype), Darren Sproles and Steve Smith. Monstrous men such as Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (6-6) and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (6-5) revolutionize their positions.

(Newton is bigger than many defensive players charged with bringing him down, in fact.)

Taller players cover more ground. They reach farther, have bigger strides, and are tougher to throw over. A taller frame means more space for more mass, so the big fellas can hit and be hit with less shock than we peanuts, shrimps, or small fries. All food references, interestingly.

2. How do you get Ebola?

catch ebolaI don’t like to play around with these Ebola questions. Luckily, the outbreak seems to be over.

Only one new case was confirmed in Liberia in March. Contact with infected people or their bodily fluids was the most common means of transmission. The Ebola virus isn’t airborne. You can’t catch it as you would the flu or measles. Ebola is contagious only in patients who exhibit symptoms.

This NPR report tells of the incredible heroes known as Ebola fighters

3. What does “Eyes Without a Face” mean?

photo credit: Entangled via photopin (license)
photo credit: Entangled via photopin (license)

It’s how parents worldwide keep an eye on their kids, even in other rooms or while you’re studying abroad.

Before Billy Idol sang it through side-curled lips, Eyes Without a Face (1960) was the title to a gruesome film. A plastic surgeon abducts young women to surgically remove their facial features. He then grafts them to his daughter’s face, which suffered disfigurement in a near-fatal auto accident.

Billy Idol’s song takes the concept another direction, focusing on a dearth of humanity in modern romance. (Hey, who turned the lights off in here? Dark, sister, dark.)

4. You can’t do more than one sport in the Olympics, can you?

photo credit: Entangled via photopin (license)
photo credit: Entangled via photopin (license)

Oh, but you can.

Of the 128 Olympians who’ve competed in the Summer and Winter Games, 10 were American. Everyone thinks it’s cool to go from track and field to bobsledding, apparently. By everyone, I mean Americans Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams; Australian Jana Pitttman; and Belgian Hannah Marien.

Know who’s cool? Norwegian Jacob Tulin Thams. He won gold at the 1924 Games in the ski jump. Twelve years later, his sailing team took second in the 8-meter class. And how about this: American Walter Winans won five goals in two Olympics in two sports: Art and Shooting. Olympic medals in Art ended in 1954, because artists were considered professional, and Olympians were required to be amateur back then.

5. Why do they say left, left, left right left in the Army?

photo credit: Entangled via photopin (license)
photo credit: Entangled via photopin (license)

It’s a basic Army cadence chanted to keep soldiers marching in time.

Cadences originated in the Revolutionary War to keep troops in sync to ready their muskets and fire together. Cadences have grown in complexity and flair over the years.

Famous cadences aren’t always politically correct. Just Google Casey Jones.

Cadences are also called “Jodies,” in reference to a general character who steals a soldier’s girlfriend back home. They’re a nod to Army life, especially the gloomy side, as in this cadence I found on the Army’s website. The drill sergeant barks the line, and the company repeats it:

“Ain’t no use in lookin’ down

Ain’t no discharge on the ground …

Ain’t no use in lookin’ back.

Jody’s got your Cadillac …

Ain’t no use in lookin’ blue

Jody’s got your girlfriend, too … “

army quote


  1. claywatkins says:

    Love the jodies mention – brought back memories of marching at TAMU in the Corps…: and the quote is spot on…. Stopped by Annapolis over Spring Break and saw he Brigade March – impressive. They weren’t as disciplined as I thought they should be, but they had the same uniform on. 🙂 have a great weekend.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      it was just a bonus that the quote I found was from M*A*S*H*. Have a good one Clay!

  2. So with you on the height issue or the lack thereof as I am only 5’2″ and always been on the short, petite side. Both my girls so far also seem to get this from me and if they get a boost of height as they grow up, it will be from their father as he is well over 6 feet tall. But still totally can relate here 😉

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      They don’t call boys petite – just shrimp. None of my girls is taller than me, yet, and I think only one is still getting taller!

  3. J.S.Pitts says:

    More than ONE sport in the Olympics!?! When do these people sleep and eat? Love the Army quote.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Nuts, isn’t it? They had time to eat and sleep between Games, i guess, in the Spring and Fall! Glad you liked the quote – it’s from my favorite TV show ever.

  4. Lyn says:

    Nothin’ wrong with 5′ 6″. It’s served me well since I was twelve years old. My kids are 5′ 6″, 6′ and 6’2″ My grandkids? Three of them are already topping 5′ 8″ and one of them is only just 13. I think my other six grandkids are all going to be kissing 6′ as well.
    LOL you just couldn’t resist that quote could you 😀

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I couldn’t resist the quote! I looked for actual Army quotes, and this one came up in the search. How could I not?

      A friend’s girlfriend once told my friend that I’m a “6-2 dude in a 5-6 body.” I took that as a compliment. I’m just … compact.

      They just make kids bigger these days.

  5. A.PROMPTreply says:

    You are never too short to be a stormtrooper! 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You’re right about that – I’ll prove Princess Leia wrong!

  6. Amy McMahon says:

    My obstacle was just not in childhood, but continues in my adult life…Dyslexia at work…phone numbers are the most difficult for me. Instead of saying one digit at a time, I combine numbers in groups. Thank goodness for spellcheck. It’s weird. I know what letter to type, but when it gets to my fingers it’s not always the right one. I have a photographic memory. I think that was one way my brain tries to compensates? I sometimes will speak reversing words….kind of like in foreign languages where the adjective comes after the noun. I know what I am going to say, but it flies out of my mouth reversed, especially when I’m stressed or tired….I don’t think anything of it though it can get funny sometimes 😄

    Ironic that you said your height was a challenge….it was for me growing up as one of the tallest in the class and jeans were always too short, but now, I get to help people in the store grab things from the top shelf and never have an issue watching a movie in a theater ☺

    Amy McMahon

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Amy – your obstacle reminds me of those roads that cross over each other in the middle. That might be where the order gets switched. And the reversed speech can also make you sound wise, like Yoda.

      Good advantages, to being tall. Also to being short. I fit in the backseat. I don’t hit my head on chandeliers.

      Also, this one time … I helped a lady get something off the top shelf at the Bi-Lo.

  7. ksbeth says:

    @ your quote – sounds like a pom team to me (the army). don’t tell them i said that –

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      ha! pom teams have better hair.

  8. Kim says:

    Chris is 5’8″ and with heels I’m often taller than him – now both boys are taller than he is!!!
    I was asking Chris about the cadences and he starts doing them with the weird southern accent – apparently thats part of the cadence! (crazy!)

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You’re going to make Chris feel like Tom Cruise with Katie Holmes!

      Cadences are best in a Southern accent – or at least the ones in “An Officer and a Gentleman” – remember those?

      1. Tamara says:

        Love this movie! Because – Richard Gere…

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Debra Winger was dreamy, too.

  9. Tamara says:

    Love me some Billy Idol and Army chanting!
    Wow, I didn’t know about Olympic multi-discipline-attendees, but I keep coming across this Australian/American guy who was born without limbs. He is one heck of an obstacle overcomer!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      The Olympics bring the best stories, Tamara.

  10. laurie27wsmith says:

    You’re still kicking arse here Mate. I’m the shrimp in my family at 6’1″ my younger brothers are, 6′ 8″ and 6′ 5″ respectively. The old man was 6′ 4″ I put my lack of inches (in height ) down to my mum who smoked heavily during pregnancy.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      The trouble is, mate, I don’t have time to get to the comments or much reading these days, even the 5 posts from the challenge I’m supposed to read daily.

      My mom did lots of things when I was in utero, I imagine. At least that’s what we told my teachers and guidance counselors.

      1. laurie27wsmith says:

        You would be pushed for time Mate, all this blogging so little time. Your mom probably ate a lot of pizza.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I’d hoped to get a step ahead, but here I am at S tomorrow and it hasn’t happened yet! I’m more concerned about the herbals my mom ingested during my gestation, mate.

      3. laurie27wsmith says:

        It’s a hard road you’re on Mate, don’t worry you’ll be at Z soon. Herbals? Those herbs?

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        yeah, those herbs! My parents were hippies who named me after a Three Dog Night song.

      5. laurie27wsmith says:

        That’s priceless Mate.

  11. tamaralikecamera says:

    Sigh, I love that Billy Idol song. Very much.
    I just read that Jon Stewart is only 5′ 7″. He sits in a chair and he has a lot of energy and wears skinny ties and it all leads to the illusion.
    I love Jon Stewart. I would vote for him.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I always thought it was just a freaky 80s British thing, but who knew?

      There are tons of sites that laud the accomplishments of we compact me. Usually, the only one who gets mentioned is Napoleon.

      I don’t think I have the complex, by the way.

      Jon Stewart might have been the biggest influence over a generation’s political views. I just thought of three political jokes, but won’t tell any of them.

  12. Rorybore says:

    oh I could not believe some of the ones my husband told me from his marching days. I assume most of those have been filtered out by now.
    In my family, you’re either near or over 6 foot tall…. or you’re me. 😦

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Did he ever hear of Casey Jones? I’d think the cadences wouldn’t die away, at least not here in America.

      Tallness is overrated, Rore. It just is.

  13. Great trivia, Eli! I really enjoyed these answers.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Lisa! They keep me on my toes.

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