Archive for the 'Olympics and other Sporting Events' Category


Zen Rock Towers and Olympic Ridiculousness

This is cool.

I’m going to figure out how to do this, and then do it in my back yard after we rebuild our patio.

If anyone wants to come help that would be awesome.


Today I unclogged a drain (ick) and made homemade noodles.

Zen-like in its way I guess.

I miss you guys, but I’m too busy to sustain the time and attention needed to actually write something. I keep having ideas, and starting them, and then getting sidetracked or “called” away (child, dinner, students, practicing, the OLYMPICS) and then by the time I come back to it whatever I was going to write about has lost its lustre, so to speak.


Maybe I could do a quick list of this Olympics’ ridiculousnesses:

  • Super Finals? Just regular old finals aren’t good enough anymore?
  • The guy commentating the Biathlon and sounding like he was going to stroke out. It’s cross country skiing. It’s not that exciting.
  • The US losing at hockey. 😦
  • How many “slope styles” and “half pipes” does any one Olympic competition need? (Hint: Fewer than we had in 2014)
  • Putin clapping politely, hugging a figure skater (commentators ask, “what did he say?”), moments later the figure skater thanking his leader and country for all of their efforts in hosting the Olympics (gee, I wonder). Subtle.
  • The NBC commentator (did anyone catch his name? I missed it) before one of the women’s downhill events commenting on their speed, strength, and prowess, all demonstrated while wearing only their “thin little skiing suits and some makeup.” Condescension, anyone? (And did anyone else notice that NONE of them were wearing ANY makeup at all? It’s a wonder they could ski so well while looking so awful.)

Am I missing anything?

I was quite impressed at what great commentators Tara Lapinski and Johnny Weir were. (That’s funny, spellcheck just tried to change Weir to weird. Maybe it saw his outfits.)


Republican candidates for 2012: Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest

I already quoted Mitt Romney, with the “Corporations are People Too,” but there’s also “I’m also unemployed.”

Except his net worth is estimated to be between $190 and $250 million. I have a feeling that this is not the case for the majority of the people he was addressing at the time.

Then there’s Mike Huckabee and  “Americans should be indoctrinated at gunpoint.”

I might be wrong, but it seems like that might violate several of our civil rights.

Ron Paul would have voted against the civil rights act, and Rick Perry “sleeps well at night” despite the fact that at least one of the more than 240 people executed on death row under his watch was probably innocent.

Bachman has too many to list here, so click here for a list and the explanations.

And then we have Sarah. Ah, Sarah. Where have you been? I must admit I’m a little less angry at the world all the time now that I’m not hearing your whiny, nasally voice on the radio on a daily basis. But you have also failed to provide me, or Tina Fey, with any material for, is it possible?, months now!

We’ll just use this then: “Lipstick.”


mob mentality: not just an american “disease”

Some great photo shots of the rioting in Vancouver last night at this site.

I commented thus:

People are stupid. And violent. And looking for an excuse to behave badly. In some weird way I’m comforted that it’s not just Americans who act like this, although I wish no one would.

They can’t really be expecting this to accomplish anything — it’s not like they can expect to turn the game around: “Oh, look! We broke that shop window and stole stuff that wasn’t ours, punched that guy in the face and set that car on fire, and now the score is 5-4!” They have to know this, somewhere in the backs of their addled little brains.

Wonder how it all looks in the morning when they realize their faces are on facebook and people are identifying them. Wonder if they realized beforehand that there is still a standing law that makes participating in a riot 30 minutes beyond when being asked to disperse is punishable by life in prison. Wonder if that would have made any difference.

Mob mentality is a scary thing. I’ve felt myself caught up in it a couple of times before, most specifically once in a religious/retreat setting which I now look back upon with something like horror (I had no idea I could be so easily brainwashed, suspending all things I knew to be logical and true about both the world and myself). I’ve also been around when the crowds have started swirling, both times on the Michigan State University college campus. Once was at the beginning of a much-publicized block party in the mid 1980s which the police were reputedly going to discourage, and a lot of people were threatening to go and “show them.” I stayed home. The other was more recent, I think in 1999 when the MSU basketball team lost to Duke, but when I look it up online there are a disturbing number of post-sports disturbances on the MSU campus. To the point, alas, that they warrant their own entry on Wikipedia. In any case, I was driving west alongside campus as more and more people were rushing out into the open spaces on campus and along the sidewalks. I couldn’t get out of town fast enough.

Besides mob mentality is a thing referred to as herd mentality, which describes how people are influenced by their peers in areas like fashion, music, etc. This urge to belong, combined with what might even be an instinctive sense that we have more power if we act together, can trigger us to act in ways which we would never act alone.

There was a video clip on the CBC this morning of a man hurling things at police — and not just pieces of trash, like many in the crowd were throwing, but the legs of barricades, heavy things, things that could hurt someone. And he’s standing there in front of them, arms outstretched, with a look of proud defiance on his face. A look which would be heroic if he were staring down tanks in Tiananmen Square, or the National Guard at Kent State. But he was looking at police who were showing great restraint, who were there to keep people from getting hurt, and who weren’t hurting him, even though he was posing a threat to them. So, wow, yeah, you really showed them. Asshole.

Anyway, apparently there have already been ~ 150 arrests. Many businesses are trying to clean up their messes; a lot of (innocent) people are going to be contributing to a lot of rebuilding via insurance payouts. We don’t really seem to learn anything, just keep making the same mistakes over and over and over and over. . .

And many consider us to be the most “advanced” species. Anybody ever see any wild animals tear up their own place of residence or set their modes of transportation on fire after other animals vaguely and remotely “related” to them lose in a sporting event?



official survey

My husband and I are having a bit of a disagreement over each gender’s basic responses to images of “buff” members of the opposite sex.

I am enlisting your help.

If you’re a woman, or a man who is physically/sexually interested in men, pick the sentence that best describes your reaction to this image:

A)  Sign me up, here’s my phone number_______________ (please, don’t actually include your phone number).

B)  Nice to look at, but I would be intimidated by his physical perfection.

C)  I prefer “my” men more ____________ (feel free to fill in the blank; keep it R rated please).

D)  No thanks, this man obviously spends too much time in the gym.

If you’re a man, or a woman who is physically/sexually interested in women, pick the sentence that best describes your reaction to this image:

E)  Sign me up, here’s my phone number_______________ (please, don’t actually include your phone number).

F)  Nice to look at, but I would be intimidated by her physical perfection.

G)  I prefer “my” women more ____________ (feel free to fill in the blank; keep it R rated please).

H)  No thanks, this woman obviously spends too much time in the gym.

Please honor the scientific intent of this unofficial study, and only answer the question which applies to your particular preference.


excellence in coaching






I have tremendous respect for Mike Babcock, the coach of the Detroit Red Wings hockey team.

He combines pragmatism with an intense work ethic and brutal honesty. He is fantastic at what he does, and does it with modesty and a complete lack of self-consciousness.

In an interview after the Wings third consecutive loss, a stretch during which they have been outscored 12-4, Babcock had this to say:

“We’ll have to get to work (Thursday) in practice,” Babcock said. “If we’re not going to work in games, you can bet we’ll work in practice. We’re gonna get some work ethic back, because there’s no way we’re going to have 22,000 people watching us play like that. That’s absolutely unacceptable. … Mental and physical, we’re awful.”

I imagine that the players all groaned audibly when they heard this — no player wants to hear those words from their coach, and I imagine Babcock on the ice with a whistle would be quite formidable (in italics to encourage you to pronounce it the French way so as to be even more intimidating).

I believe my teaching style may mirror his more closely than maybe it should. He’s working with adult men who can skate 45 mph and have legs like tree trunks. I’m teaching 7 year olds.

Something to think about.


a flattering cut?

Do you suppose these guys stand around in the locker room and ask each other if their butts look big in their pants?


Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

Just had a food orgasm.

The filet was like butter, topped with an au poivre sauce with whole green peppercorns and butter; the mushrooms expertly sautéed in brandy and butter; the onion rings were so good I will probably never have another onion ring anywhere because it couldn’t possibly live up to this precedent; the shiraz a perfect complement to every bite. The cup of decaf and raspberry sorbet was a delightful punctuation to a really good meal, and thankfully did not come with more butter. The service was terrific.

But I am so full I can’t possibly imagine eating again until 2012. I asked the waiter, as he was bringing the coffee and sorbet, if they served Crestor in little dishes with the dessert. He thought I was kidding.

I was thinking, as we exited the restaurant, of the little cameras they have set up at crucially frightening points of roller coaster rides, so that you can see, and take home, pictures of yourself as you scream your head off. I was wondering if they had similar cameras set up so we could see how we looked after we had been beaten by a food club.

We walked all the way around the block to get back to the hotel so I could try to walk off some of the meal. To think I put a bag of Gardettos back at the Subway/Convenience store at lunch time because of the 7 g. of fat.

There isn’t enough Metamucil in the world to undo what I’ve just done to my body.

Unfortunately, Second Son will now have to go to community college given the size of the tab. Every single thing you eat there is priced à la carte, which is apparently a fancy way of saying really really expensive. I think they might have charged us for every time we used our napkin. The waiter did brush up our crumbs, and asked politely if it would be okay if HE put the leftovers in a box for us.

The reservation for tomorrow night’s dinner at the symphony is for 6.

Bon appétit!


Why Soccer Fails to Capture the Interest of Americans

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about why Americans will never embrace the sport of “football.” The most common theory seems to relate to the length-of-play to points scored ratio (as seen on facebook: How is watching soccer like going to the disco? Everybody gets all sweaty, and nobody scores).

I have a different theory, which relates to the American ideal of fairness, especially in sport.

Soccer as it is today is just too subjective.

Firstly: What’s up with the “extra time” tacked on to the end of the game, supposedly reflecting the amount of time lost for fouls, injuries, out-of-bounds, etc.? It seems to me like an opportunity ripe for corruption, as well as completely subjective (who makes that decision anyway? does anybody know?) Now I can understand that this might have been a relevant approach I don’t know, back before we had clocks, but here we are in the 21st century, with laser technology and timers that can place swimmers and skiers within thousandths of seconds, but we can’t stop the time when the ball goes out of bounds? Maybe they could talk to someone, like the NBA or the NFL, and ask them how they do it.

Secondly: what gets called a foul and what doesn’t? You can watch 10 minutes of soccer and there are 30 whistles; for the next 30 minutes, while the players wrestle each other to the ground, kick each other in the jaw, or throw themselves to the grass in a writhing squirming heap because someone came into their airspace, nary a whistle is blown.

Thirdly: the continued insistence on refusing to use video technology to review mildly important calls, you know, like questionable goals in international competition.

Vague, arbitrary, archaic. Not fair.

In a related story, the president of FIFA has apologized for the refereeing errors, and vowed that the discussion regarding the use of video technology will be reopened in July (after the World Cup is over; that should help). He insists, though, that this discussion is only going to be regarding what he refers to as “goal-line technology.” While that’s a start, I don’t think it goes far enough. Could someone at least hand someone a stopwatch?


World Cup Soccer

I love watching soccer — it’s like hockey stretched way out and in slow motion, so there’s time to watch the play develop: the positioning, the passing, the intricate footwork. The goalie does seem like a rather small person in front of a really large net, but that’s probably from watching hockey, (I’m married to a Canadian; I think it was in the vows), in which the goalie is a rather large person in front of a really small net.

My husband found this really entertaining article about why Canada can’t make it to the World Cup. I especially enjoyed the line “Even the United States is in the World Cup, although, in terms of excitement generated among U.S. fans, soccer still lags well behind ice fishing, demolition derby, lawn darts and league bowling.”

This lack of interest in real pro soccer always puzzles me — this is the sport that is played by probably 90% of American children, and as the author of the article points out, the reason we drive mini-vans. What happens to all of those soccer players when they grow up? Is there just a generational lag, and we will see an expanding interest in and support of this sport as these children grow up and want an outlet for all of those finely honed skills?

We then investigated the basic rules of soccer, trying to determine when the ball is thrown in vs. kicked in vs. subject to a penalty kick. I’m not sure we understand it any better than we did before. I also need some help understanding offsides. I remember my son explaining this to me after almost every game when he played in middle and high school. I still don’t get it. Any help would be appreciated.

And what is up with this random assigning of “extra minutes” at the end of the game? Seems like an opportunity ripe for corruption. Shouldn’t the game just be over when it’s over? And if they want to account for extra time on whistles, couldn’t they just stop the clock like they do in every other game on the planet?

Anyway, we just watched Argentina beat Nigeria. Pretty good game. I was especially impressed by the fact that both teams seemed to be able to concentrate while apparently being menaced by a giant mosquito.

p.s. Disturbing footnote: I was looking for a suitable image to use, and on the first Google page that came up under the term “World Cup Soccer” 5 of 25 pictures were of scantily clad women in provocative poses. Seriously? This is the Google brilliant search engine at work for us, helping us find the most relevant links? Sheesh.


The Complex Male

Men play sports so they can beat the crap out of each other, and hug.


What’s not to like? They get to embrace (pun intended, sorry), the aggressive side of their natures while benefiting from the warm, physical camaraderie of the “pack” in a situation for which they can not be ridiculed.


Curling? Who knew?

I’ve become a fan of this sport, and not just because Canada won the gold and I’m married to a Canadian. I love the combination of grace, finesse, and strategy. And I’m all for a sport where a working knowledge of geometry and a middle-aged bald man can lead a team to victory.

I do think the Norwegians should have been disqualified for the pants. They looked like jester pants, or pajamas, or the backs of a deck of cards.

And what was up with the bouquets? Kale? Leaf lettuce? I mean, I know the Olympics are being held in Canada, in February, but couldn’t they have at least trucked in some carnations or something?

In a not-wholly-unrelated story; when did arm-flailing supplant artistic expression in (men’s) figure skating?


Shave that Soul Patch!

Apolo Ohno is an amazing skater, and I love the drama and speed and excitement of short-track speed skating. But someone needs to hold this otherwise-really-attractive young man down and shave off the soul patch. Is someone telling him this looks good? It looks like a little bit of Donald Trump’s toupée found its way onto his chin. [A choupée?]

I mean look — isn’t that soooo much better?


Let’s Ban Pairs Skating

Really. As said by that Canadian rock group and purveyors of modern wisdom Barenaked Ladies, it’s all been done before. He throws her (how hard can it be? she only weighs 60 lbs), they jump and spin a few times and take turns falling, and then there’s the death spiral; first this way, then that way. As far as I can see, the result of what must have been desperate casting about for new choreography has resulted in a series of “show-the-crowd-your-crotch” poses and an exploration of the various and universally awkward ways one can skate on one foot while holding on to the other. It’s not pretty. Don’t do it.


Chicken Olympics

Watching the Olympics. I’ve always loved the Olympics — the triumph of the human spirit combined with really difficult things done really well; what’s not to like? Okay, I’m not terribly fond of the overwrought, manipulative sentimental stories (there actually seem to be a lot fewer of them this time thank GOD!), but that doesn’t mean that I don’t tear up on cue and make vows to become more athletic maybe starting sometime next week.

Anyway, these skiers are amazing. Flying down this ice-hard vertical slope at what, 65, 70, 75 miles an hour on 4″-wide sticks of wood? I imagine myself flying over that first jump, shrieking in abject terror, throwing myself to the ground and curling up in the fetal position, where I lie, whimpering, until some kind souls on a snowmobile come with a sled to rescue me.

Also, despite rumors to the contrary, I seriously doubt that Olympians eat Chicken McNuggets. Of course, I don’t have any official verification of this theory, we’ll just call it a gut feeling. Not related to the feeling in my gut when I eat Chicken McNuggets.

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