Tag Archives: Olympics

A Hectic Morning

As has become tradition in the lighthouse, we like to celebrate the anniversary of this blog each year on February 9. Seven years ago now! Each year I wonder how much longer will this thing go on? At first, I thought: a year would be cool, then it quickly became two. Five seemed like a good place to wrap things up, but then it sort of kept going. Some months it is almost impossible to find inspiration and motivation to write anything, and other months see multiple posts. I’ve never missed a month in the past 7 years, (I don’t think), and I wear that minimal consistency with a bit of pride, I have to admit.

So here is our 8th “Morning” post. Looking ahead, maybe we’ll even make it to an even ten years? I think, looking back on this project, being able to say I’ve “maintained a blog” for a DECADE sounds way cooler than saying ALMOST A DECADE, right? Our daughter will be almost 12 by then, on the cusp of being a teenager. Probably a good time to turn the lens off of family life at that point, for her sake and ours. (I can hear all of you saying, “Darn, just when it’s about to get good!”)

But that means we still have three years together, you and I. (God willing). And to quote Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption, “And if you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further?”

I called this post “A Hectic Morning” because in addition to one of my staff taking a “family sick” day, another staff person is super sick with a cold but still dragged herself in to do a couple of children’s programs (but most likely will head home after that) and most of my part-time staff are either working at other branches, maxed out on hours, or are out-of-town, so it may be the ol’ champ here this afternoon, manning the library/lighthouse singlehandedly. (Well, not actually single-handedly, but AT DIMINISHED CAPACITY). And yet I still find a quick moment to honour the day with a blog post. I have my priorities, you guys.

Speaking of our daughter, I overheard this little exchange on the schoolyard this morning that I thought you might enjoy it. It involves my daughter and one of her little pals, Marcos, who is in her grade (three) but not in her class this year. Marcos came up to her and gave her a big hug and said:

Marcos: “Hey A______, remember in grade one when we would talk all the time about Paw Patrol and then watch Paw Patrol? That was fun”.

Daughter: “Yeah”.

Marcos (a little hestitant): “Do you still like Paw Patrol“?

Daughter: “Yeah”.

Marcos (quickly and softly): “Me too”.

Daughter: “SORT of”.

Happy Anniversary, Mountains Beyond Mountains! There always seems to be another mountain to check out. Glad you are checking them out with me.

Oh, and Happy Winter Olympics, everybody! Cue the David Foster!

 

 

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Thing(s) I love, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

I thought I’d start this thing on Valentine’s Day last year where I make a list of things I love, and I only got as far as garlic bread before I gave up.

Then, about a week ago, when I was going back through the ol’ posts looking for something suitable to read at a story night (and as it turned out my name didn’t get drawn so it didn’t matter anyway), I was reminded of my garlic bread post and thought two things:

1. Maybe I can read out this thing on garlic bread at the story night.

2. Maybe I should think of writing another post for Valentine’s Day about something I love.

Well I wisely chose a different post to read out (and then didn’t read, as it turned out) and I couldn’t really come up with anything that I loved. I guess I’m just not that enthused about anything right now.

So I came up with this half-assed thing. Sorry guys, maybe I’ll try harder next year.

1. The Olympics

All right, so we’re sort of at the midpoint of the 2014 Winter Olympics coming to us from 9 hours in the future out of Sochi, Russia.

There’s been nothing but bad press leading up to these games, right? I mean, Russia’s ridiculous anti-gay laws, the ongoing suppression of human rights most recently and publicly demonstrated through the arrest and conviction of Pussy Riot, and of course those saucy Chechens, always poised to blow stuff up.

And then you got the early reports last week from snide western journalists tweeting pics of spartan accommodation, questionable toilets (but come on, maybe it’d be fun to poop next to a friend. maybe us “westerners” don’t know what we are missing) unfinished venues and this horrible report of wild dogs and the concerted effort to KILL them (sorry Jamie, I should have put a spoiler in here). Maybe they are not killing them, maybe they are all going to a farm somewhere where they are being retrained to perform in the first “all dog” version of Chekov’s Uncle Vanya. Because you know, if you introduce a newspaper in the first act, someone’s gotta piddle on that newspaper by the end of the play, am I right? I’m not even going to mention the weirdness of having a “summer seaside resort town” hosting the games with no snow. I mean, it would be like Vancouver hosting them or some damn thing, right?

And then, of course, this had to happen during one of the preliminaries.

So for all of these reasons (and many more than I can’t think of right off the top of my head) many people have decided to boycott these games. I really respect that. I am always happy to see and hear people who feel strongly about something actually do something about it. I’ve heard of boycotts from merely not watching the games, to actually boycotting sponsors of the games like VISA and McDonald’s, to even boycotting the outdoors generally. “Hey man, I thought about going skating, but you know I can’t because: Olympics.”

Even though I agree with the reasons why people are boycotting, (except for the dog thing. Who WOULDN’T want to see an all dog version of Uncle Vanya right?) I just wasn’t feeling any particular motivation to join in with them. In fact, I just hoped that we could all get through this thing without anything horribly bad happening and then we could get on with our lives. Maybe I could boycott by just ignoring the whole thing.

So I watched the opening ceremony, and got the feeling that there was a lot of tension going on behind the scenes. The stadium wasn’t full, and you got the sense that people were smiling with their teeth but not with their eyes, and it all sort of felt sad. But then, the countries started walking in (one of my favourite things about the ceremony, actually. It’s the olympics equivalent of watching the players get introduced at MLB’s All Star Game) and then all of a sudden it was Canada’s turn. I had stayed away from most of the coverage leading up to the Games, so our uniforms were a surprise to me. I felt a sudden and rather unexpected warm rush of pride as I saw this red sea of Hudson’s Bay Company coats march into the stadium. The one black stripe across the bottom was genius. It called out the classic HBC blanket that was a staple of many of our childhoods and a touchstone for what winter means around here. At that moment, I knew I wouldn’t be boycotting these games. I couldn’t. I had to watch them. I was hooked. Despite the 9 hour delay and the busyness of this week, I’ve managed to watch quite a few events (or at least the highlights) and will most likely glue myself to the TV over this upcoming long weekend and into next week. Every time we win a medal, or do something amazing, my heart glows a bit brighter. And considering the long winter we’re having, I’ll take a little warmth wherever I can get it.

So there. Something I love. The Olympics. Despite everything.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Here’s a little pic that a friend posted on Facebook to keep it all in perspective.

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Faster, Higher, Stronger, Wetter

Do you have the itch yet?

Are you ready to drink the kool aid with me?

The Olympic opening ceremonies are just a couple of days away, and I’m pretty excited. Unlike the World Cup, in which I pretend to like soccer every four years, I genuinely love watching the Olympics. I think I like the winter games slightly better. This may be because it’s on during the winter when I am likely to be watching more TV, and it also probably has to do with the fact that Canada has a better chance at winning the big events in the winter games over the summer ones. I think my favourite summer event is the marathon. I think I just like to see the countryside of a particular country on that particular day and time. And there’s always a chance to see some dude puking, which you don’t normally get to see at other events.

This year, a member of the platinum circle of “Mountains Beyond Mountains” is actually in England for a holiday and to soak up some of the Olympic atmosphere. She doesn’t know it, but she’s actually a sleeper correspondent for this blog, and as soon as she reads the words “Faster, Higher, Stronger, Wetter” she’ll be activated and will begin to, um, correspond for us. That’s the plan, anyway. I hope those hypnotism lessons were worth the money…

You may well know that this is the first year that baseball and softball are not included. Dropped like a randy ferret, I suppose. To make room for golf and rugby in 2016? This makes me sad, of course, because baseball is the game of games, a national pastime in one country, and inarguably the best game around for curious names. (Stubby Clapp, anyone?)

But I hold no ill will towards the IOC. They have to make changes here and there to keep up with the times and all that.

To that end, there is a list of my top 5 favourite (here he goes with those DAMN lists again! I hear you say) former Olympic events, not including baseball.

5. Croquet

Before the IOC began deciding what was an official olympic event and what wasn’t, the host country had way more say as to what could be included in the Olympics, and leave it to the French to come with some doozies. Croquet appeared only once, in the 1900 games in Paris. Croquet, also known as “lawn polo” to some, is a game meant for family gatherings involving barbecued meats and cold alcoholic beverages. Is it a game for athletes? I’ll leave that up to you, but it may interest you to know that France swept the competition in 1900, and although a similar game called Roque was played in 1904, croquet itself never appeared again.

4. Tug of War

Tug of War appeared in every Olympics between 1900 and 1920. Like croquet, you may think that Tug of War should remain the exclusive domain of church luncheons, but in fact it was a staple of the ancient games and I guess organizers thought, “Why the hell not?” A combined Sweden/Denmark team won in 1900 with the USA getting the silver. I guess the USA figured out this was a bullshit event and spent the next four years training a crack squad of tuggers because in 1904 the TOP FOUR TEAMS were all from the United States. That doesn’t seem right somehow? A country could enter multiple teams? I guess so, because after a combined Germany/Switzerland team took the gold in 1906, Great Britain owned the podium in 1908. Sweden won it one more time in 1912 and Great Britain took the gold in 1920 before organizers came to their senses and discontinued it. Fun fact: Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera, a tugger for France in 1900, was the first black Olympian!

3. Club Swinging

This sounds like the type of thing that 1960’s era advertising executives would be really good at, but it’s actually a little bit like JUGGLING! The contestant (I can’t bring myself to use the term “athlete” in this instance) holds a bowling pin in each hand and twirls them around to preset choreography. I’m not making this up! The event first appeared in 1904, and then disappeared until strangely returning in 1932. Both times, all three medals went to the United States. Impressive, yes? Although in 1904 there were only three contestants, and in 1932 there were four: three from the US, and one poor beggar from Mexico. Not so fun fact: the gold medalist in 1932, George Roth, was actually unemployed due to the Great Depression, and had to hitchhike to and from the games, juggling clubs for hobo nickels!

2. Live Pigeon Shooting

You know how sometimes at the opening ceremonies of the olympics, or maybe at somebody’s wedding or something you’ll see people releasing doves? You know how you tend you look up and smile as the doves fly around and away, and then you turn to the people around you and smile at them because you’ve all seen something lovely? Well now imagine those doves are actually pigeons and instead of watching them fly away you actually see olympic athletes open fire on them. That’s what happened at the 1900 games in Paris. (Yes, the French again.) You were eliminated if you missed two birds, but that didn’t stop winner Leon de Lunden from Belgium from killing 21 for the gold, Maurice Faure of France killing 20 for the silver, and Aussie Donald MacIntosh killing 18 for the bronze. Apparently 300 birds were killed in all, and it was the only time in Olympic history that animals were intentionally harmed. (Unless you count whatever method Ben Johnson used to get that horse urine in 1988, Heyo!) The weirdest part about this event was that instead of medals, the winner was given 20,000 francs. Even weirder was that the top 4 shooters agreed to split the cash!

1. 200 m Mens Swimming Obstacle Race

There were so many I could have chosen for number one, I really couldn’t decide, but this one is pretty great. Again, we have the French to thank, as it only appeared in the 1900 games. Competitors had to climb a pole, then run over a series of boats, then swim under another series of boats and then swim to the finish line. Oh, and I forgot to mention that they had to do this in the Seine, so you’re dealing with the current and whatever debris you may encounter. I’m sure it was fun to watch and I’m not entirely sure why it didn’t make it to another Olympics. Wouldn’t you love to see Michael Phelps running over boats on the Thames? Maybe they could incorporate a jet-ski or something?

Honourable Mention: Poodle Shaving at the 1900 Paris Games

Now I’ve been known to not let the truth get in the way of a good story, and I so wanted this to be a real event, but apparently this was an April Fools’ gag from the Telegraph and it was picked up as a meme and before you know it legitimate sites were reporting that this was a real event and that the winner would be the person who shaved the most Poodles in a two-hour period. (17, in case you were wondering!) But you know by the sounds of things, if it were to happen anywhere, it would be a good guess that it happened in Paris.

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