Olympic Thoughts

August 24, 2008

The Olympics are over and I’m sad. What will keep me up until all hours now; I’ll have to find something else. So I thought I’d wrap up with a few thoughts and observations before we forget about it. It’s like Erin’s closing ceremonies.

  • The Olympics used to be only for amateur athletes. But as professional sports grew in popularity it became obvious that the Olympians were not the best in the world anymore. Now almost all sports are open to professionals. One notable exception is figure skating in the winter Olympics. I think that they keep it that way because professional (what is popular for people to pay to go see) and amateur figure skating have two different goals. The former is purely to be entertaining while the later is to be as technically and aesthetically proficient as possible. In fact while the main focus of amateur skating is better and more difficult jumping, professional skaters remove difficult jumps they may fail to execute in favor of crowd pleasing dance movement. So the best skater is not always the most entertaining. That’s not the case in other sports. The better technically skilled a basketball player or a swimmer, or even a gymnast is the more likely they are to have professional success.
  • Two of Michael Phelps’s gold medals were won by relay teams. Including the second one when there was an amazing come from behind by the anchor swimmer, Jason Lezak, and the final record breaking eighth gold was the medley relay. It takes a team to be the best.
  • Jackie Chan was just singing in the closing ceremonies. I wonder if they’ll get Pierce Brosnan to sing at the London Olympics. (Wait I think he’s Irish… but he went to school in London does that count?)
  • In synchronized swimming, they do this thing called “deck maneuvers.” They are like dance moves that the teams do before they dive into the water. They are only allowed to spend ten seconds on them and they are not counted in the scoring at all. They kind of remind me of the way we used to do load in for theater competition in high school. We’d practice enough so that we could do it in silence and we’d enter and leave in a single file line. (People thought we were unbelievable pretentious, but I think that they were just jealous.) That certainly was not required and load in was only scored if you took longer than the allowed time and got points deducted. It’s all about making a good impression. If you have it together in the little things you’ll be more likely to have it together in the things that count.
  • I have one more but I think I’ll save it for it’s own special post. Let’s keep the party going.

Walking in a Hurricane

June 24, 2008

I have lovely white crape-myrtles growing in my front yard. And right now they are in full bloom just like every summer. If you haven’t seen them before they are short bushy trees that are native to the south and the tiny white flowers grow in clusters. One of my favorite things about the flowers is that they get heavy when they are in full bloom and make the tree look like an umbrella of flowers. When you walk under them the individual flowers let go and land on your clothes and stick in your hair. I love it. It’s just such a simple and happy thing.

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I think everyone likes to tease their parents (everyone with a good parental relationship anyway.) As the oldest child I get to give mine a hard time about the ways that they were strict on me and then let up on my younger siblings. But I have to say that my favorite story to tell on them is the time they made me walk home in a hurricane.

It was the summer after I finished eighth grade and I was taking summer PE so that I could take an extra elective my freshman year. I think that it was about three weeks and we would get up and go at 8 and have classroom lessons until lunch and then after lunch we would have physical activity till it was time to go home at about three. My parents never took me to school (never is strong but we are talking about maybe 5 times ever.) So in middle school I walked home from school most days less than a mile with my friends, my cousin, and sometimes my sister and brother. So I continued to do that during summer PE but since it was the summer there was not even a bus option.

So one day we had a hurricane watch. It wasn’t close enough that they canceled summer school before we had to show up but they let us go home shortly after we arrived. So I called home to get a ride… I mean a hurricane was coming. And they told me “just walk home.” Just walk home?! I was so mad. Mad enough to huff and cry as I walked home in the rain that was beginning to fall. So I walked, I cried, and I stewed as the wind started to pick up. “I can’t believe they are making me walk home in a hurricane.” And that’s the end of the story that I tell but it’s not really the end.

About half way home something kind of magical happened. The rain had made the temperature drop to a pleasant seventy instead of the usual nineties and hundreds of a typical Florida summer day. And it was still just drizzling. I walked by some white crapemyrtles that were blooming like they do in the summer. The wind was blowing the whole trees and tiny white flowers were being let go in huge swirling clouds. It was indescribably beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it since; I had to be walking in a hurricane.