Monday, August 25, 2008

The End

Well, the Olympics are coming to an end. It is always a sad time. Now we have to wait for 2 more years until we can have another two full weeks of thrilling competitions in Calgary. (Thank goodness there is only a one hour time difference for us to deal with in 2010.)

As the games come to an end I actually have new hope for my own Olympic dreams. At age 33, despite Oksana Chusovitina's and Dara Torres' amazing medal wins, I've known for quite some time that I have no chance to ever make an Olympic team...not to mention the fact that I am not athletically talented in any way, shape or form.

I've always thought that curling, equestrian and sailing were my only chances. But since I don't own a horse or a boat or have the money to buy either, that pretty much just leaves me with curling. But before we pick up and move to Wisconsin and become cheeseheads I've found a new hope...Rowing.

Did you watch the rowing? The USA women won the Eights. In rowing there is this little woman that sits in the front and says "stroke, stroke, stroke". That's it. That's what she does. You basically have to have good rhythm. You don't even need a loud voice because they give you a microphone. I could do that. How hard could it be? London 2012 here I come!

What? You have to be 5' 2'' and 100 pounds so you don't weigh down the boat too much? Oh. In that case....Oshkosh here we come!

On second thought maybe I should turn to track and field. Although I have no real speed to speak of I'm pretty sure that I could hang on to the baton. So no matter how slowly I went I would still finish better than we did this year.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm Sick

Actually my computer is.

We've got a virus.

We infected both our home computer and our laptop.

We are paralyzed in an information void.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Four Questions

#1 Why isn't golf an Olympic sport?

(I'm not saying it should be. I don't like golf and I wouldn't watch it even if it was an Olympic sport...but if badminton is an Olympic sport....I'm just saying. It seems to have worldwide appeal and I'm sure most cities already have a big golf course where the tournament could be played. Just a thought.)*

#2 Where is Michael Phelps' dad?

(Is he dead? I don't think so. Is he totally estranged from his son? Maybe. Is he totally oblivious as to what is going on in Beijing? He can't be that dumb. Has the media just not succeeded in finding him, be it at home or abroad? No chance. Is he like Ashley Judd's dad...just hanging out behind the scenes as an unseen supporter? Could be.)**

#3 What happened to the one armed giant swing in men's high bar?

(Did I miss it or was Igor Cassina, the Italian gymnast, the only one who did a one armed giant swing? That used to be a standard in Olympic highbar routines. I'm sad to see it disappear. It must not carry enough of a difficulty rating.)***

#4 Why is Australia the only team that does not use the colors of their flag as their team colors?

(Where do they get the yellow and blue...which at times is yellow and green or yellow and turquoise? Why don't they use red, white and blue like half of the other teams on the planet? Are they thumbing their noses at the British in their refusal to acknowledge their flag? Are they just making a fashion statement? Are yellow and blue the national colors of

* I know it shocks some of you...but I don't watch EVERY Olympic sport. I don't do basketball, tennis, soccer, field hockey, handball or badminton. Golf would fall on this list too if it were ever instated as a sport.

**Yahoo actually did an article on this after I wrote this post. You can read about it HERE. No real answers exaclty, though.

***On a similar note I was sad to see that the big flying scissor legs were not very prevalent on the pommel horse (except for the American) or floor routine for the men. I've also always thought that a woman that could do a few spins of those on floor would be a show stopper. Maybe next time in the gala someone should try that. BTW...the gala was a let down. The ice skating exhibitions are always so great and entertaining. The gymansts could learn a lot from them.

****I must admit that I did not recognize this disparity. Brian noticed it and brought it to my attention. Now I'm really wondering about it. I applaud them for being unique. Maybe the Germans should try some random colors too. That black, orange and yellow is really not becoming on most people.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

One of the big stories of the Olympic games is the fact that this may be the last time that baseball and softball are contested. The irony is that they are being removed for opposite reasons.

Softball has been in the Olympics only since the 1996 games in Atlanta. The US has won gold every time. So the IOC says that we are too dominate and it isn't a competitive sport for the rest of the world...therefore not worth continuing.

Isn't that the point? Shouldn't we be trying to win every year? What is stopping the other countries from putting teams together and working hard to beat us? Have we ever won a medal in badminton or handball (which by the way looks nothing like the handball I've seen looks more like soccer played with your hands instead of your feet)? Should those sports be eliminated because they are dominated by the Asian countries?

Now baseball is in a different boat. The IOC says the competitors are not good enough. They want professionals, MLB players, big name stars, similar to the Basketball and Hockey teams which are usually a NBA and NHL all star team. The problem of course is that the Summer Olympics take place during the MLB season and no pros can come compete. (I doubt MLB is going to take a break like the NHL does for the Olympics.)

Personally I'm thrilled that pros can't play in Olympic baseball. I think the acceptance of professional athletes into the Olympic games was one of the worst things to ever happen to events like basketball and hockey. To me the Olympics are about "average" people. Working people. Not professional atletes. It is about guys that work at Home Depot during the day and then train for 6 hours at night because they love the sport...not because they are being paid millions of dollars. Baseball is one of those sports where the US has a tryout and anybody can make it. Guys who have never been able to break through to the majors or even guys that have never been able to break in to the minors can make the team. Which makes for pretty even competition with the rest of the world. If we allowed MLB players in wouldn't baseball be dominated by the US and then eliminated anyway.

It makes no sense to remove one of the most popular sports in the world from the Olympic games. Sure soccer has more fans world wide but baseball is big in America, Canada, Japan, China, Central America and the Carribean. The decision to eliminate the sports will be appealed next year. We'll have to wait until then to see what happens.

My vote is to keep them both and wait for the competition to catch up.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Long Live DVR

How did we live without the ability to record live TV?

I've filled my DVR twice (25 hours X 2) trying to keep up with the Olympics while being in Mexico and our family reunion weekend. Do you know how many VCR tapes that would have been? Not to mention all of the time wasted waiting for them to rewind and fast forward.

There is no way I could have caught all of the equestrian and synchronized swimming on Oxygen and the triathalon and weight lifting on MSNBC while watching the late night coverage of the track and field heats from the previous night without my DVR. Plus, my reality TV shows are still airing new episodes despite the Olympics (if you can believe it) so I have to tape them overnight too.

DVR definitely works for me...BIG TIME.


Brian and I are having a little disagreement about an article we read on Yahoo.

You may have seen the women's pole vault competition between the Russian diva Elena Isinbaeva and the American Jen Stuczynski. Isinbaeva slept through the whole competion because they weren't even jumping heights that could challenge her and then after she won the gold medal...after only two jumps....continued jumping alone until she could break the world record...again.

In contrast Stuczynski had to jump at 3 heights and took 3 tries to pass the last height that put her in place for the silver medal. For her efforts she got basically chewed out by her coach for not being as good as Isinbaeva.

But the story comes from some comments that the American made before the competition. She said, and I quote, "I hope we do some damage and kick some Russian butt."

Brian says that is trash talking and inappropriate for the Olympic games. He also thinks it shows the prejudice of the American media in their lack of coverage of the exchange. He sites the wide coverage of the anti-american comments by Alain Bernard in the relay and the Brazillians kicking May and Walsh off of the #1 practice court as examples of the way comments made by foreigners are splashed everywhere but not comments made by our own athletes.

On the other hand I feel like Stuczynski's comments were the equivalent of "I hope we win. We'll have to beat the Russian in order to do that." No big deal. It's not like she was saying anything negative about Isinbaeva or her skills. She was just naming her biggest competition and her desire to beat her.

What do you think?

Side Note: Any of you that know Brian know that he is the biggest trash talker in all of his fantasy leagues...even taking time out from work to craft carefully worded sarcastic comments to post to his fellow competitors. Is this a double standard? I think so.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Told You So

So far the athletes I have highlighted have been pretty successful at the Olympic games.

Did you see what Oksana Chusovitina did?

The 33 year old woman won a silver medal in the vault. She is the oldest woman gymnast ever to medal.


Better Than Gold

Sure Michael Phelps may have 14 gold medals and 7 new world records but the real prize he has won won't come in Beijing.

Pizza Hut has given Phelps and his teammates free pizza and pasta for a whole year!!

That's quite a prize for a 23 year old guy that eats 10,000 calories a day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

On a Non-Olympic Note

I drove around town quite a bit yesterday with my tank on "E". My low fuel bell had already rung and the light had been on for quite some time.

I finally decided it was time to stop for gas. I just put in $10 worth and went on my way.

My low fuel light didn't even go off! Ugh!

BTW: Gas was only $2.70 in Mexico.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hip Hip Hooray!

She did it! She did it!

Corey Codgell, the young trap shooter I told you about here, has done it. She won the bronze medal! The first time an American woman has ever medaled in trap shooting at the Olympics!

Congratulations, Corey!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Updates

Well I'm back. I had a great trip to Mexico which I'll tell you all about later...but for these next two weeks its all Olympics all the time at the Grove home. I had 13 hours of coverage to catch up on Sunday when I got home and I still haven't watched the opening ceremonies yet. Ahhhhh! But never fear I'll get to them eventually.

In case you aren't a sporty person and haven't been following the games you may want to tune in just for the stories. It's reality tv and soap operas all rolled in to one.

Take for example the story of French swimmer Laure Manaudou. She met and fell in love with hunky Italian swimmer, Marin, who she met at a meet (no pun intended). Fed up with her coach's brutal training tactics she went to Italy to train with her boyfriend. While there she became great friends with another female Italian swimmer, Federica Pelligrini. Italy didn't like the idea of her training with their swimmers so they forced her back to France and a new coach. Then she had a bad and public break up with Marin who is now dating her "former" friend Pelligrini. Weeks later some not very nice photos of her appeared all over the internet and most people believe that Marin and Pelligrini put them there. To top it all off Manaudou's old French coach moved over to coach the Italians and Manaudou and Pellegrini raced head to head at the Olympics. Poor Laure came in 7th out of 8 swimmers. Wow, you can't make this stuff up.

Maybe you've heard by now of swimmer Dara Torres who is 41 years old and the mother of a 2 year old and competing at her 5th Olympics. But did you know there is another mother competing in gymnastics? Yes, gymnastics. Oksana Chusovitina is a 33 year old mother of a 6 year old boy. A Russian gymnast she put her career on hold when she found out that her son had leukemia. Knowing that Russia did not offer the oncology specialists that could save her son she called on an old friend...the German Women's Gymastics coach. Working together they moved Oksana and her son Alisher to Germany where he successfully completed chemotherapy and Oksana began training with the German team. So now she competes in her 5th Olympics as the oldest woman ever in gymnastics competition at the olympic level.

One more story to pull at your heartstrings is that of US Swimmer Eric Shanteau. One week before the US Olympic Trials in Omaha he found out that he has testicular cancer. He didn't tell anyone on the team until after the trials and got permission from his doctor to go ahead and compete in Beijing. He will undergo surgery as soon as he returns to the states after the games. Watch for him in the finals tonight.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Creative Birthday Gifts

Summer is always a hard time for us financially, but this one was particularily rough. July was a tough month on it's own and then we had two birthdays to celebrate on top of it all. We had to get creative in order to give the kids some great gifts without spending a fortune.

It has been well documented on this blog how much our kids love costumes. Cainan especially changes costumes 4 or 5 times a day. They play with them outside, inside, in bed, in the car and in the pool. So....we have piles of costumes laying around all of the time. We've got big tubs to keep the costumes in but somehow they never seem to end up back in there at the end of the day.

Brian came up with a great solution to the overflowing costumes and a fun, inexpensive birthday present too. He made Cainan a costume rack. It is basically just a board with a series of hooks on it. Then he got online and downloaded the logos of all of their favorite costumes. I used Mod Podge to decoupage the logos onto the board, labeling the hooks for the appropriate costumes.

Isn't it cute? Cainan loved it and he loves hanging his costumes up on their hooks. Believe it or not we didn't have space for all of them. I guess there is always Ryker's birthday.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Old Man

John Dane the Third has been trying to qualify for the Olympics for 40 years.

As the CEO of a yacht company in New Orleans his attempts looked like they might be dashed again when hurricane Katrina destroyed his home and business in 2005. But he rebuilt both and kept on sailing.

Now in Beijing he will be competing in the Star class sailing race at the age of 58. His 30 year old son-in-law will be alongside.

That makes John Dane III the oldest U.S. Olympian and someone to watch.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Nap Time

At Grandma and Grandpa's Place...

...all children took naps at 1 pm every day.

Grandma always made us take naps when we stayed with her...which was pretty often, especially during farming season. She was a firm believer that all kids needed naps (a point that I completely agree with) and furthermore that a good nap could not be taken while wearing jeans (a point that I have proven to be untrue on numerous occasions). If we were wearing knit pants we simply went to the bathroom and lay down on the bed in preparation for naps. But if we were wearing jeans we had to take them off, or at the very least unbutton them, for comfort.

After we were properly attired we got onto the bed. All three of us (more than that if any of our cousins were there) took naps together in one queen sized bed. We all laid with our heads on the pillows and Grandma would lay across the foot of the bed horizontally. That is when nap time oficially began.

Grandma would begin by telling us stories. She told us Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, and all of the other classic nursery rhymes. Then she would start to sing. Sometimes she sang hymns like The Old Rugged Cross, The Unclouded Day and In The Garden. She also sang songs that she remembered from her childhood like October Gave a Party and After the Ball is Over.

It always worked. We were as quiet as church mice when Grandma was talking or singing. Her voice calmed us right down for naps. Maybe we were too quiet. Sometimes Grandma would fall asleep herself in the middle of a story or a song. We would debate amongst ourselves as to whether or not to wake her up. Of course our conversation would wake her up anyway and she would finish the concert and then leave us to our naps.

As I got older I of course didn't think I needed a nap. Grandma still made me lay down "just until the little kids went to sleep". I often went to sleep myself, as she knew I would. But once we were in 1st or 2nd grade she didn't make us take naps anymore. At the time I was thrilled. But now, I'd give anything to have my Grandma lay at the end of my bed and sing me to sleep.

Maybe I can return the favor some day.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Manic Monday

Friday, August 1, 2008

Save on Air Conditioning

Electric bills can be especially high during the summer months when we are all trying to keep cool with our air conditioners. We try to keep ours turned off as much as possible and set on 78 or so when we do have it on. One of the things that keeps us cool and keeps our electric bills down is our attic fan.

An attic fan, or whole house fan, is simply a giant fan that can be installed in the ceiling of your home. It pulls air in from the outside and blows it up into your attic, creating a constant breeze through your home. They work really well when the temperatures are moderate. Of course they don't do anything to combat humidity, but if you get a good enough breeze going it feels pretty good.

Anytime it gets below 80 degrees we turn the air off and turn on the attic fan. We only open the windows in the rooms where we will be so that the breeze is all coming in through those rooms. When we go to bed we only open the windows in our bedrooms to concentrate the cool air there.

Our attic fan has definitely helped us keep our electric bills down.