What I Don’t Like About the Olympics

14 08 2008

Are the Olympics a good thing?  Yes, of course.

Do I enjoy watching the world’s best athletes compete from the comfort of my own home? Giddy up.

Have Laura and I been watching them almost non-stop the past week? You bet.

Are there moments that make me want change the channel to the ever present Jon & Kate Plus 8 episodes on TLC? Every night.

So far, Laura and I can’t seem to get enough Olympic action at the Water Cube.  There is something about swimming that draws you in.  Phelps is a big draw.  It also helps that the United States seems to get two out of three medals in almost every event.  The moving green line indicating world record pace adds another dimension to each race as well.

Then there is good old Bella Caroli giving his insights to Bob Costas each night.  Caroli is like that great uncle who is just old enough to not care about what he says and is slightly racist.  You can feel the tension on set whenever he starts talking about how the Chinese women’s team is still wearing underoos.

But this is about what I don’t like:

  • Diving: There are multiple things I don’t like about this one thing.  First of all, I can’t tell the difference between a good and bad dive. Then there are the curiously small swim suits the men wear.  Finally, the constant showering after each dive.  You would think there is radioactive waste in that pool.
  • Enough Volleyball Already: I think 50% of the coverage on NBC involves volleyball. I have also noticed that every beach volleyball player wears a number on their jersey/bra.  That number is always either 1 or 2.
  • Presidential Campaign Commercials:  I thought living in the reddest of red states made me immune from having to sit through thirty seconds of political idolatry.
  • “Syncro” Diving: All the same reasons, except double.
  • More Sports: Swimming and Gymnastics are great and all, but what about all the other events that are going on.  How ’bout some badminton highlights?

Reveille XIII Becomes New Texas A&M Mascot

11 08 2008

I was hoping they would move away from the “pure breed” collie, but it is nice to know there will be something on the sidelines.  Maybe this one won’t be as crazy.

Olympic Fever

11 08 2008

Since Friday night, when the television has been on it has been tuned to an NBC channel covering the Olympics.  I have always enjoyed watching the Olympics, but this year I have to admit it has gone a bit overboard.  Even Laura has gotten in on the action, flipping between volleyball matches and swimming in order to maximize our sportage.

The biggest reason we have been avid views was the opening ceremonies.  Anyone who saw it has to admit it was pretty cool.  Although Laura’s comment that a dictatorial communist regime can force its people to do anything no matter the cost was pretty entertaining as well.  In order to celebrate the opening ceremonies, Laura brought home fried won tons and spring rolls while I whipped up my signature stir-fry.  Nothing like a mega dose of MSG to get a night off to a good start.

Favorite Olympic Things so far:

  • Direct TV’s interactive menu with detailed event listing and medal count
  • NBC’s online video.  I can pick four different events to watch at once in addition to my television!  I am pretty sure it is impossible to enjoy that much sport at once, but I like the fact that I could enjoy it.
  • Men’s 400m Freestyle Relay.  I almost felt sorry for the French. Almost.  If you missed this one, you have to find the video online and watch it.
  • Just watched the Men’s Team Gymnastics, and I hate to admit it. . .but it was pretty intense. The USA surprised everyone and got a hard earned bronze.

Being Hawkeye’s Roomate

7 08 2008

One of my favorite things about having cable is TV Land.  For some reason whenever I turn on the TV,  I see this show is on and I can’t help but tune in.  It has been my favorite sitcom for a few years now in spite of the look I get from people my own age when I tell them this.  Not to mention it has always been the only show which has made me laugh out loud and get “a little verklempt.”

It hasn’t always been my favorite show.  When I was in middle and high school I thought it was the worst show on television.  I never understood why my Dad always seemed to be watching it.  There were clues, however, that I would one day see the light and admit the comic genius of Hawkeye and crew.  My Mom has told anyone who would listen that as a baby, whenever I would hear the tune “Suicide is Painless” (the theme song the M*A*S*H) I would settle down and eventually fall asleep.

Even though I know each of the characters in this show always complain about how much they hate being there, I decided long ago that if I had to be a character in a TV show, it would be M*A*S*H.  I have never watched a show with characters who are more likable and do something meaningful at the same time.  As much as I liked watching Seinfeld of The Simpson’s, the character’s lives always seemed incomplete at best and depressing the rest of time.  It begs the question, though: if you had to choose any television show to become a character in which one would it be.  It should be noted that you are not taking the place of a character, but being added to the ensemble.

Curious to know what you think. . .

My Dog. . .Deacon

5 08 2008

Yes, I know my dog is named Deacon and I am a deacon at my church.  I admit it is a little odd, but when Laura and I named him (years before I thought about being a deacon) we had just moved away from our first apartment on Deacon Ave.  Not to mention the name means servant, which is what a good dog should be, right?  Now that we have that out of the way.

I wanted to give a little “shout-out” to Deacon as the summer winds down.  During the summer I start to feel a special bond with our dog since I am around the house all day.  For example, on those days when Laura leaves early and I lay in bed for a while longer, Deacon will jump on the bed and burrow next to me.  Naps on the couch with Deacon curled up around my feet are a close second.  I get to see how his daily goal is to find any bedroom door left open so he can push the covers and pillows around until he has made a little nest for lounging.  When you walk in to the room he will look up at you like, “you left the door open?”  Then roll over on his back in absolute submission.  He has a uncanny ability to find the three square feet with the most cushioning possible.

He will also follow me around watching me do things and tilt his head to the side every once-in-a-while when my actions confuse him.  Soon I find myself talking to him and asking him questions.  “Would Laura think this is too much mayonnaise for a turkey sandwich?” A few nights ago I had a dream where he talked to me.  It wasn’t one of those dreams where he was talking with some familiar voice in a way that makes you think he has had this ability all along and now has decided to confide in you the fact he is vocal.  It was more like he was uttering his first words.  As if he has understood me for a while, but is now trying to take the next step and say something back.  It sounded like a dog would sound if they were trying to make words with their canine vocal chords. When I remembered the dream later in the day, I stared at him for a while reasonably sure it was a dream.

Deacon is my first dog, so I don’t have anything to measure him by except the time I spend with other people’s dogs.  He seems to like people as much as I have seen any other dog, craving to be in the presence of anyone with hands.  While I admit he can be a little excitable when he sees a person for the first time, the craziness is limited to wagging his tail frantically and sitting as close to the new person as possible–usually on their feet.  Unless you are Ben Dunson, this excitment fades in about one minute.  He has learned just about every trick I have been able to come up with, but what sets Deacon apart from other dogs is his love affair with a blanket.

The first thing Deacon does when I let him in from being in the yard is make run for his blanket, which he picks up, arranges over his front paws and then sucks on.  Yeah, he sucks on it.  Sometimes eyes open, other times eyes closed for a full bliss-out.  Sometimes you can hear a high pitched wine.  We think it stems from the fact that he never spent any time with his mother and had to be bottle-fed.

Deacon’s nemisis is a squirrel.  He has the ability to know it is lurking outside without seeing it, and hates it with a white-hot anger not known to humans.  I have seen the squirrel look down at him from just out of reach on a tree trunk and taunt him by making wierd noises and flicking its tail. At times like this I will find a rock and throw it at the squirrel for no other reason than to show Deacon some moral support.  I believe he appriciates this.  One night Laura let him out into the back yard (like we do multiple times every night) and Deacon stumbled upon a opossum on the back porch.  Ten seconds later the opossum’s neck was broken and Deacon was staring at Laura unsure of what happened.  It is nice to know there is a little terrier somewhere in the pedigree.

There you go.  That’s our dog.

Campaign for President?

24 07 2008

I am the first to admit the presidential race is not very high on my list of conversational topics these days, but I can’t help but notice Sen. Obama’s most recent trip around the world. One might think he is campainging for head of the European Union.  One might also suppose that he must be pretty sure of his impending victory in November to spend time courting people who don’t even live in the United States.

Tour of France for Dummies

10 07 2008

*This was posted originally about a year ago, but has been getting hits from search engines again with the tour starting.  I thought I would edit it a bit and repost it.

I am willing to admit that most people who are going to read this post could really care less about what is going in the Tour right now (especially after last year’s fiasco with doping). I, however, have looked forward to watching it all summer. The great thing about watching the Tour is that it is really five or six races in one. Also each stage of the race is different, showcasing the different talents and specialties of cycling.

The are flat stages where a small group tries to breakaway from the peleton. These usually end with the breakaway being caught and the sprinters fighting their way to the finish line at about 35 mph. Then there are the mountain stages where the elite climbers leave the peleton behind and fight for control of the overall lead. There are also time trials. These are shorter and riders do it individually against the clock. They can’t draft off the riders so it is sometimes called the “race of truth.”

Here are all the different races going on each day:

  1. Stage: Each day’s race is incredibly important to most riders. Many riders hope to win one of these stages during their entire career. With 189 riders each day, it is hard to pick who is going to be the first across the line. Each day’s ride can be as long as 150 miles.
  2. Yellow Jersey: General Classification or “GC.” This is the person who has the best cumulative time over all the stages of the race. In some cases the person wearing yellow does not even come close to winning a stage.
  3. Green Jersey: Points. Every stage has a certain amount of points spread out along the race route. The first three people to pass through these “sprints” get points. The finish line is worth the most points each day. The riders going for green need to always finish the race as close to first as possible.
  4. Polka Dot Jersey: King of the Mountains. The first few riders to cross the summit of each climb earn points too. These are similar to the green jersey points. The longer and steeper the climb, the more points it is worth.
  5. White Jersey: Best Young Rider. This is very similar to the yellow jersey, but only riders 25 or younger are eligible.
  6. Overall Team: The team with the combined best overall time gets a distinction as well.

It is important to note that having one of the jerseys for even one day during the race is the dream of most riders. Even if they don’t finish with the jersey on their shoulders, they will fight to have it for a single day.

If there is nothing else on television over the next few weeks, and you are curious (and you have cable) watch a stage of the Tour. There are two “American” teams in the tour this year, and they are off to a great start with stage wins and multiple jerseys: Garmin-Chipotle and Columbia.  I don’t think an American will win the tour this year, but Kim Kirchen (Luxemburg) of Team Columbia currently holds both the Green and Yellow Jersey.  Check it out, you might get hooked, and then I will have someone to talk to about it.