Random Thoughts

August 16, 2012

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Crunchy doesn’t have an article today.  She does, however, have a new baby boy.  He was born yesterday morning.  That’s 4 little boys in her house now …

I don’t feel like writing an article about one particular thought this week, so I’ll bounce around a bit.

Olympics

I didn’t get the chance to watch nearly as much of the Olympics as I would have like.  I did make an effort to keep up on what was going on, though.

My personal highlight was Jake Varner’s wrestling gold medal.  Jake and I share an alma mater – Iowa State University.  I’m very proud to have Varner add his name to a collection of Iowa State wrestlers who have gone on to win gold – including living legends Dan Gable and Cael Sanderson. 

London organizer Sebastian Coe caught some flak for failing to state that Michael Phelps was the greatest Olympian ever.  While Phelps is definitely one of the greatest ever, Coe was caught in the difficult position of trying to compare athletes from different sports.  Swimming (and track) afford an athlete more opportunities to medal.  Let’s take boxing, for example.  If a boxer were to match Phelps’s record of 22 medal, it would require medals in 22 consecutive Olympic games, spanning 84 years.  While in raw numbers, this would simply match Phelps, in reality it would be a far more impressive feat.  If we only look at raw medal counts, this would mean that only athletes from a handful of sports could ever make the claim to be “great” Olympians.  It’s simply not feasible for boxers, wrestlers, basketball players, or hockey players to win 10+ medals.

Melky

Melky Cabrera was one of the feel good stories on 2012.  He was hitting .346 for the year and was the All Star game MVP.  After years of struggling, Cabrera was putting up good seasons in back to back year and appeared to be turning into a very good major league player.  The dream season came to a crashing halt Wednesday, when Cabrera was suspended 50 games for using testosterone.  The loss of Cabrera puts the playoff chances of the Giants in serious doubt.

Paul Ryan

Mitt Romney selected Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate.  Expect the budget to become a major issue in debates.  Ryan’s budget plan was the one the Republican congress pitted against Obama’sd budget.

Aside from a stint as driver of the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, Ryan has worked in the political arena his entire career.

What are you watching?

I managed to get a chance to see Avatar this week.  I found the story very enjoyable.  While I usually don’t dig too hard to find a deeper meaning in a movie (I prefer to simply be entertained), it’s pretty hard to misss the point of Avatar.  It’s a sci-fi movie, but also has an interesting love story.  I definitely recommend it.
 

 

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Are The Olympics Ruined By Spoilers?

July 31, 2012

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Old Philips TV
The Goodman Family Olympic Consumption Smart Device (OCSD)

My only complaint about the Olympics is that they happen once every 4 years (or technically once every two years if you figure the alternating winter and summer games….but who is counting)

The games are well underway now in London, with many medals already handed out.

NBC has 7 different stations on my television availability to view differing venues from the Olympics. These dwindle throughout the day, as the events on these stations by and large are shown live as they happen. NBC in an attempt to maximize viewers and advertising revenue does however hold back not showing some of the events and keeps those aside for the telecast every night on the “main” network channel.

The time difference depending on what part of the United States you live is a minimum of 5 hours. That means by the time you are seeing any of the events in prime time television, the athletes are already asleep for the night. (Assuming they are not partying it up in the Olympic Village that is)

Many question in this age of Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, if this is necessary. The athletes competing in the events posting pictures and sharing results immediately as things happen. Most all of the major web bases news sites – USA Today, Yahoo, Fox Sports, etc. all report the action as it happens, meaning anyone looking at their computer at work throughout the day is already going to know the outcome before they get home for the evening.

While many may like to know the results as they occur… I am too old school. I remember the excitement of watching the 1980 Men’s Hockey Team, seeing Bruce Jenner finish the mile and Nadia landing a perfect ten on our family’s less than perfect grainy console television set back in 1976.

These events were long done and over, but unless you had someone calling you from the event, or had a real fast carrier pigeon, you didn’t know any better until you watched in on television that night.

For that reason, I take a 17 day hiatus from any of the internet sites with the sole purpose of keeping it surprise for me and my family as we watch the coverage after dinner each evening.

I prefer to yell at the TV as if I am part of the action. I swear those swimmers can hear me in the crowd.

Speaking of yelling….

 

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Jordyn Wieber of t...

Was Jordyn Wieber robbed of a spot in the all-around finals?

One of the best interviews I have seen on Olympic coverage is Bela Karolyi being very outspoken about the fact that only two gymnasts are allowed from each country to qualify for the gymnastic all around finals. 24 gymnasts qualify to the all- around but only two are allowed from country. This on the heels of reigning world all- around champion Jordyn Weiber being knocked out by two of her other teammates,

“What a travesty!” Karolyi said in an interview. “How someone can afford to cut one of the best gymnasts?”

“But that is not the reason. How can it be a reason?” Karolyi, who coached teams from Romania and the U.S. to Olympic gold, said of the rule. “To eliminate somebody because a teammate beat her. Still among the first four gymnasts in the world, and still you’re eliminated?”

Bob Costas did his best to keep Karolyi from leaping out of his chair, but Bela is entertaining regardless if you agree with him or not.

Costas used the line to compare the “two per country” limit as not allowing the third best team in the ACC to make the NCCA tournament.

Maybe a bit of a stretch in terms of an analogy, but it is about the best I have heard.

Bottom line every Olympic Games has winners and losers. Great stories and colossal disappointments. Out of adversity many good things happen.

The remaining days of the 30th Olympiad are sure to bring us that if nothing else.

Until Next Time, Stay classy Jordyn Wieber!!!

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Top News Stories Of 2012

December 28, 2011

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A lot of sites are highlighting the top news stories of 2011.  It’s pretty easy to do them in hindsight – how about a look forward at the top news stories of 2012.

Here are my three news stories to follow in 2012.

The presidential election

Hundreds of millions (or even billions) of dollars will be spent to obtain a job that pays a mere $400,000 per year.  Since I live in Iowa, I’ve been deluged with commercials for many months.  I can’t wait for the caucuses to be over, so that the politicians can focus on New Hampshire.  My prediction is that the economy will bounce back and Obama will ride the economic uptick to a re-election.  I’m not saying that he’ll cause the recovery, just that he’ll get the credit for it (which is fair, since presidents also get blamed for things they don’t cause.

In addition to the presidential election, there will also be elections for all of the seats in the House of Representatives and 1/3 of the seats in the Senate.  These don’t get as much attention, but they are just as important.  While the political writers on The Soap Boxers will cover the serious political news, I’ll handle the snarky stories (which coven will Christine O’Donnell join in 2012) on my new site, Donkey and Elephant Show.

The world will end

December 21 is just 359 days away.  If you happen to be in Australia on November 13 and fear that the end of the world has arrived early, don’t worry – you’re just seeing a total solar eclipse.  You’ve still got 38 days to live.

I’ve given some advice for the end of days.  Sadly, I do expect that quite a few people will saddle themselves with debt under the assumption that the world will end on December 21 and they won’t have to repay the money.  If the sun rises on December 22, we may see a spike in the number of bankruptcies.  (Sadly, I’m not kidding).

Olympics

I’m an Olympic junkie.  During the 2012 Summer games in London, I will once again learn the nuances of many sports that I pay no attention to at any other time (kayaking?).  Of particular note to me is that fact that 2004 Olympic gold medalist Cael Sanderson will attempt to win another gold in 2012.

Not only are the Olympics a great showcase for sports, but it’s also a great way to learn about other countries and cultures.  Certainly we’ll learn a lot about London during the Games, but also about countries like Trinidad and Tobago.  Have kids who hate geography but love sports?  Let them watch the Olympics and they’ll pick up some geography (and maybe even learn something about world politics).

While I’ll like watch just about anything, my main focus will be on track and field, especially since baseball has been dropped as an Olympic sport (sigh).

Your thoughts

What stories will you be following in 2012?
 

 

I Know That I Can’t Take It No More … It Ain’t No Lie

February 18, 2010

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Bye, Bye, Bayh. No, it’s not the N’Sync song I’m talking about. It’s Evan Bayh, the rarely buzzed about Senator from Indiana. Bayh announced on February 15 (coincidently just days before his filing deadline) that he wouldn’t be seeking reelection to the Senate. First, Kennedy in the House and now Bayh. Now, many people believe that this is due to the failing support of the Mighty and Powerful Oz…or Ob. Which is quite possible. Maybe he just decided he didn’t want “to be just another fool in this game for two so” he’s leaving them behind. Or could it be that now that healthcare reform is considered dead and the fact that his wife, Susan, is on many corporate boards, including health Insurance mogul Wellpoint, he knew that he would not stand a chance.

Many media outlets weren’t even saying he was a Democrat, which I find hysterical. I think it is “Tearing up their heart” that Democrats are bailing ship. “I wanted to see him out that door” even though I’ve heard him referred to as a conservative. HA! He’s a conservative just like a RINO would be conservative. He just didn’t “want to be the loser and I’ve had enough”. But the truth remains he’s “Gone”.

Speaking of being “Gone”, anyone seen Al Gore lately? Last week, a Senate hearing was postponed on “Global Warming” due to a record snowfall in D.C. That’s all I got on that. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

I just wanted to add, Go Team USA!! Bring home the Gold! But don’t tell the Obama Administration that you did. They may want to melt it down for another stimulus. That being said, it’s been one year since the stimulus bill passed. Only 6% of Americans believe the stimulus created jobs. 7% of Americans believe Elvis Presley is still alive. Who knows, maybe the crazy cat lady down the street who visits Graceland every year is on to something. Or not.

Technology Ruins The Olympics

February 17, 2010

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Here we are at the Winter Olympics once again, the home of patriotism, teamwork, athleticism, and technology? Yes, technology, the Winter Olympics is full of it. Just two years ago I can remember reporters discussing how changes to swimsuits have lead to faster swimming, and even then I couldn’t help but think of how much bigger a part technology plays in the Winter Olympics, and how much of an effect it probably has on the outcome.

The Winter Olympics definitely outweighs the Summer Olympics in the “gear” category. From bobsleds to skis, from ice skates to guns, gear is the name of the game at the Winter Olympics. It might just not be the best man who wins, but the man with the best equipment who wins in Vancouver.

I believe the king of the Winter Olympics technology has got to be the bobsled. In a sport where every second counts the quality of the equipment is going to matter that much more. An olympic bobsled can cost upwards of $100,000 USD. This is just an insane amount of money, you want to talk about a sport for only the rich. Polo has nothing on bobsledding.

I can’t help but imagine how well a $100,000 USD bobsled would perform compared to a $5,000 USD bobsled. With years of testing in wind tunnels, scientists fine tuning every angle, and air drag cut down to near zero, I’d hate to believe that the difference between gold and silver medals might come down to the research and money put in by the host country to develop a high quality sled.

I just don’t believe that technology should play such a large part in the Olympics. I think the winner of the gold medal should be the most dedicated and talented team, not the group of guys thrown together in a sled that costs more than the combined income of my wife and I. That is just ridiculous. In this day of multi thousand dollar snowboards and uniforms made of materials originally designed for NASA, I’ve got to say, what’s the point?

Olympic Anticipation

December 22, 2009

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The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are quickly approaching. I’m really starting to get geared up. Most people are familiar with the more traditional sports of skiing and skating, and today’s kids are familar with the X-games style sports. Today, I’ll introduce you to a few more sports.

Luge

My favorite winter Olympic sport, bar none, is luge. In fact, it’s my second favorite overall sport to watch – behind only baseball. So, then, what is luge, exactly? It’s a bit like the bobsled (bobsleigh) event, except that the repo man took 95% of your sled. You launch yourself from the top of the luge track, quickly get into positon (on your back, feet first) and use your feet to steer the sled as you fly doing the track at speeds that can exceed 90 mph! Sometimes you get to the finish line still atop the sled, sometimes you don’t. There is single luge (my favorite) and doubles luge. I haven’t had the chance to actually try luge personally, but I love watching it. I’ll definitely have my DVR set, so that I don’t miss a moment of action.

I am proposing that The Soap Boxers adopt the USA luge team as our official team to follow in the Olympics. 

Do I have a favorite luge athelete?  Of course.  It’s Erin Hamlin (@ErinHamlin on Twitter).  Hamlin made her Olympic debut as a 19 year old in the 2006 games in Torino.  Hamlin shocked the world by winning a gold medal at the 2009 FIL World Luge Championships.  It was the first time in 15 years that a German woman failed to win at an Olympic, World Championship, or European Championship event.  On December 13, Hamlin picked up her first ever World Cup medal, winning the bronze at an even in Lillehammer, Norway.  I’ll go out on a limb and predict an upset of the Germans and a triumphant Hamlin slide down the course at Whistler.

Skeleton

If you think flying down a hill on an ice track at 90 mph while steeting with your feet … imagine doing it headfirst, on your stomach.  That’s skeleton.  Skeleton, luge, and bobsledding (bobsleigh) all trace their origins to St. Moriz, Switzerland.  Skeleton was an Olympic sport when the games were held in St. Moritz when the games were held their in 1928 and 1942.  In 2002, they were permanently added to the Olympics.  I’m not as much of a fan of skeleton as I am of luge, but perhaps it’s because I’ve been watching Olympic luge since I was a kid.

Biathlon

The biathlon is a sport that involves skiing and shooting.  Seems like an odd combination, doesn’t it?  Who on earth would create such a sport?

The Norwegian military.  It was created as an exercise for soldiers.

Participants cross-country ski a course, stopping to shoot at targets along the way.  If they miss the targets, they face either a time penalty (the time is added to their skiing time) or are force to ski essentially “penalty laps”.

I’m not a big fan of skiing, and really don’t watching shooting events at all – but I’m fascinated by this event, which combines two completely different disciplines.

All Sorts of Sports

July 16, 2009

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Zach Johnson

Local favorite Zach Johnson (or ZeeJay, as I refer to him) stormed into contention on Sunday, shooting a 12 under par in the final day of the John Deere Classic to finish in a three way tie for second place.  This is not quite as impressive  as it sounds, as Zach (and the rest of the field) were forced to play 36 holes on Sunday.  23 of the players in the Deere then boarded a flight across the Atlantic so that they could play in this week’s British Open.  Oh, sorry, Goodman, The Open.

Matt Cassel

Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel has cashed in on his strong 2008 season with the Patriots by signing a 6 year contract with the Chiefs that will pay him as much as $63 million – with $28 million guaranteed.  This seems like an awful lot of money to pay to a player who still just has one good season under his belt.  I’m really not sure how much downside there would have been by waiting until after the 2009 season – or even after week 8 of the season – to see how Cassel performs outside of New England.  Cassel is definitely a feel-good story, though.  He did not start even one game during college.  It wasn’t that he wasn’t a good quarterback; it was simply that he was sandwiched between Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.  Only an injury to Patriots QB Tom Brady allowed Cassel a starting opportunity.

Pedro Martinez

 The Phillies signed Pedro Martinez to a one year, $1 million deal, with the opportunity to earn $1.5 million more through incentives.  Martinez currently has an ailing shoulder, but should be ready to go in early August.  His presence should give the Phillies a boost in their quest to repeat as world champs.  Pedro’s Hall of Fame caliber career has been derailed by injuries.  I doubt that the 37 year old can make a serious run at 300 wins – he currently stands at 214 – but getting above 250 should erase any doubts about his Hall of Fame status.  Interestingly, Pedro’s next loss will be the 100th of his career.

Danica to NASCAR?

Rumors have been swirling for quite a while about Danica Patrick jumping from Indy to Nascar.  The flames were stoked a bit when she visited Stewart-Haas racing recently.  The race team – 50% owned by 2 time champion and current points leader Tony Stewart – is believe to be interested in adding a driver next year.  Patrick would definitely earn a ton of sponsorship money from Stewart-Haas, and she might be able to learn a lot under the wing of Stewart, who himslf made the jump from Indy to NASCAR.

In other NASCAR news, Jeremy Mayfield has tested positive for meth for a second time.  Also, Mayfield’s step-mother – with who he has a very strained relationship – has filed an affidavit accusing Jeremy of a long history of meth use.  NASCAR is asking for Mayfield’s indefinite suspension to be reinstated.  A judge had previously granted an injunction against the suspension – although Mayfield was not able to race, because no team was willing to give him a ride.

NBA

You won’t  see a lot of NBA news in The Soap Boxers, mostly because Goodman and myself are not big fans of the defenseless game played by the professionals.  However, there are a few interesting stories this week.

The perennial losers known as the Los Angeles Clippers are interested in signing Allen Iverson.  A prolific scoring machine, Iverson has had a tendency to rub teammates and coaches the wrong way, downplaying the importance of activities such as “practice”.  The Clippers might give Iverson the best chance to keep his career alive, although the move might not make a lot of sense from the team’s perspective.

Magic backup center  Marcin Gortat was upset when the team matched the contract he had been offered by the Dallas Mavericks.  The NBA essentially has a right of first refusal, allowing teams to match another team’s offer to a particular player in order to retain the player’s services.  Gortat will be paid a total of $34 million over the next 5 years.  In Orlando, he will back up superstar center Dwight Howard.  If he had been able to sign with Dallas, he would have likely been the starter.  This story might not be done, thought.  It is possible that the Magic are signing Gortat simply so that they can trade him (perhaps to the Mavericks)?

Winter Olympics

The 2010 Winter Olympics are slowly approaching.  For those of you who have been wondering if there will be a “fantasy” style contest for the Olympics on The Soap Boxers, the answer is a resounding YES!  Get your cheat sheets ready.  Some aspects of the contest will include:

  • A limit on the number of US athletes on your team
  • Limits on the number of atheletes from medal-rich sports (speed skating)
  • Points awarded based on gold, silver, and bronze medals.

I ran a similar contest with a few friends for the 2008 Summer Olympics – it was a lot of fun.