Category: sports

Olympics: COVID Style

I’m a self-confessed Olympics junkie. Whenever they’re on, I just can’t resist watching them. It doesn’t really matter which sport, and while I generally cheer for the USA, I also root for Germany and Slovakia, and I’m a sucker for any come-from-behind, underdog story. So you would think I’m really looking forward to tonight, when the opening ceremonies kick everything off. (Well, technically it’s already happened, but I generally go for watching the evening highlights. Why? Because I’ve watched the live feeds before, and while NBC’s coverage frustrates me from time to time (since it ignores some sports and usually focuses just on the American angle), they do a very good job of giving context to the sports. Without context, they aren’t nearly as impactful.)

But instead of being 100% hyped, I’m . . . unsure how I feel. On the one hand, Olympics! Yay! But on the other hand, this is going to be an Olympics with very few spectators, held in a country where 83% of the people said they didn’t want them to take place. And that was back in May! It feels in many ways to me like the rest of the world is just sort of forcing the Olympics down Japan’s throat. The country’s at the start of a third wave of COVID, and there have already been multiple reports of athletes coming down with the disease.

I look at rates around the world still, and right now things look like anything other than “COVID is over.” I know people don’t want to go back to masks and social distancing, and I also realize that many people in America are convinced the vaccine is part of some government ploy, but what in the world are we going to do? In the US, my best guess is “nothing.” People will refuse to go back to masks and quarantine. People will refuse to get vaccines. Unvaccinated people will begin to be hospitalized in droves and then die, and then maybe that might convince the unvaccinated that they really maybe better change their mind.

Or maybe that scenario will be totally wrong, and I’m worrying over nothing. For the moment, I’m vaccinated and almost all the people I know are, so I feel somewhat at ease, even if I’m still worried this all results in vaccine-resistant strain of the virus. (Wouldn’t that be fun?)

But I digress.

How can the Olympics do anything but hurt Japan? They get almost none of the tourism dollars. None of the spectator dollars. They’re forced to do something they don’t want to do, and they’re going to lose around $20 billion for that privilege.

So where does that put me? Probably watching to see how they go, but also hoping that things don’t get too bad? I’m going to watch them, because if everyone boycotts watching them, what does that do? It makes what Japan is going through even more terrible. To have them do it all anyway, and then have it all be for nothing? That sounds horrid. But I’m really hoping NBC or the IOC or someone is doing things to help the country out, because this feels very wrong to me, no matter how excited I may want to be to watch some good sports drama.

What do you think?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Super Bowl 2021 Thoughts

Like many (most?) of you, I spent my evening yesterday watching the Buccaneers thrash the Chiefs, in a game that was honestly pretty disappointing, since I thought it would be much more of an even matchup. I mean, I ultimately wanted Tom Brady to win (that’s what TB stands for, right?), mainly because I think it’s a pretty remarkable storyline. He left the Patriots and everyone was saying he was just too old to do anything anymore. People all attributed his success to coaching and a confluence of influences, and then he went and joined . . . Tampa Bay? I mean, when I heard about that move, I thought it was a pretty ignominious way to end your career.

(Honestly, the Patriots should have never, ever, ever let Brady go. When a player has done that much for a team, I’m of the mindset that the team should stick with them to ensure they end their career with that team. Tom Brady was the Patriots. But whatever.)

In any case, Brady managing to win the Super Bowl with a team that had, up until then, only been on the bad side of so-so for the past long while is pretty jaw dropping, in my opinion. Yes, the team didn’t just win on the back of Brady. Their defense played a huge role, and yes, the Chiefs were down some key positions, and it looked like Mahomes was still somewhat injured, but that’s how football goes.

The rest of the game was . . . pleasantly diverting? I mean, it was a good excuse to sit there and eat chips and Oreos for a few hours. The halftime show made me realize I have officially stopped caring at all about current music trends, which is kind of disappointing. I didn’t recognize a single song by The Weeknd, and I found the whole thing just bizarre and fairly boring. Give me Prince or U2 any day of the week.

The ads were fine, though there was a severe lack of monkeys in them. (I don’t ask much from my commercials. Some humor is good, but a good chimpanzee can go a very long way with me.) I still find the ads that are Heartwarming and Special to be . . . strange. What have we come to as a nation when it takes Bruce Springsteen to appear in a Jeep commercial to tell us all to be more unified?

But again, I’ll take just about any excuse to do something different in February. We didn’t have people over or go anywhere. Just watched it with Tomas, Daniela, and MC. (Denisa decided to skip the experience.) It felt like this strange mishmash of normal and not normal. It was the Super Bowl, but there were masks, but there was a crowd, but only half or a quarter as many.

Here’s hoping next year’s game is better, and that life is much more back to normal than it is right now . . .

What did you all think about it? I realize that my perceptions can be heavily skewed by living deep in the heart of Patriots country for so long. Did everyone else want to see Brady do well, or were you all rooting for the Chiefs?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Intex Inflatable Kayak Review

Back at Christmas, I made a fairly significant impulse purchase to surprise the family: three inflatable kayaks. There was a pretty incredible sale going on at the time (maybe there were just too many inflatable kayaks on the market?), and I picked up all three for just over $200, total. (Checking the prices now, it would cost me $970.) Of course, my family has never owned kayaks, and we’d only been kayaking once before, when we had some at one of the vacation houses we rented. Still, that seemed like a really good price, and when it’s Christmas, Denisa can attest to how itchy my index finger gets on that buy button.

So we had the kayaks. Yay. But we still hadn’t actually used the kayaks until Saturday. There always seemed to be reasons that kept us from going out. It was too cold. Too hot. Too buggy. But really, a big part of it was that I had no clue how hard or easy it would be to set them up and use them, so that was just a mental block that made it so other reasons seemed easy to listen to.

For the Fourth, we headed to Flagstaff Lake with some friends and took the kayaks for a spin, and I’m ready now to give an overview of how they went and whether or not I’m happy with the purchase.

First, a general comment about the kayaks. They were all surprisingly easy to set up. They each come with a foot pump that puts out a ton of air very quickly. We could inflate a kayak in five minutes or less, I’d guess. There might have been instructions somewhere on how to set them up. I did it on the fly, and it wasn’t difficult. (The one trick was that on one of them, there was an extra screw to tighten to make sure the air didn’t leak out. It was frustrating until I figured that out.)

They deflated easily as well. You just open up a large gasket, and the air rushes out. There’s still some toothpaste-tube-rolling to get the air out, but it’s nothing that’s too onerous. Really, all the things I was worried about related to using an inflatable craft didn’t materialize. Easy to set up and take down, and easy to use out on the water.

All of the kayaks come with their own case (though the quality of the bags leaves much to be desired) and paddles. We used the paddles exclusively for them. They weren’t incredible, but they were totally adequate, and I really appreciated that they could break down and be transported without problems. I fit all three kayaks (deflated) into my Toyota Prius trunk, plus five life jackets. These really are small, and they’re not that heavy.

As I said, I bought three of them. Each of them has their own pros and cons. Why did I buy three different models? Well, for one thing, I needed kayaks for 5 people. So that’s two 2 person and one 1 person. At that point, why not mix it up a bit? I wasn’t sure which one would be best, so I decided to go with the pokemon route and just catch ’em all.

The single person kayak was great. It was the most nimble on the water, and I had no complaints about it at all. If I were wanting to go kayaking just with Denisa, I think I’d honestly rather have two single person kayaks instead of a double, but that has more to do with the mechanics of learning to paddle in tandem than it does with the actual crafts.

The 2 person Explorer model was fine as well. Some more storage, and the same general quality as the one person. The 2 person Excursion Pro is a step up from the other models. A better build design, more rugged material, and so it’s a bit sturdier. I didn’t see such a huge difference that made me wish I’d bought two of it instead one of each 2 person, however. Maybe if I were planning on using them all the time, then that would make a difference.

Overall, I’m very glad with the purchase, and I think we’ll definitely use them again. They all handled very well in the water, and I never felt at risk of sinking or tipping. They were sturdy and just as reliable as the solid-sided kayaks I used before. (Again, though, this is coming from a total novice.) My kids used them all as well, with 12 year old and 16 year old taking turns with the single person.

Would I want to pay almost $1,000 for all of them? Well, no. That seems like a lot to shell out for inflatable kayaks. But if they were to go on a good sale again? Definitely. If I had a truck or an easy way to transport non-inflatable kayaks, that would be one thing. I don’t, so this seems like a great substitute.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

The Accidental Sports Parent

It never crossed my mind that one day I might end up the parent of a high school athlete. I was about as far from an athlete in high school as I am today, and that’s saying something. Back in Council Rock, the school was enormous. My graduating class had 850 students in it. With a school that size, I suppose it’s fairly natural that there will be distinct cliques within it. Groups of students who identify primarily by their main interests. There were very fully developed, robust programs in everything from band to chorus to drama to a whole slew of sports, and then there were the typical array of classes according to difficulty level.

I was in all the most difficult classes. That was my first priority. Second was band. Almost all of my friends were in band or orchestra, though I was tangentially involved in drama. I was in a play, and I had a number of friends in drama, but it wasn’t what I identified most with. There were smaller connections as well (the school paper, for example), and I had a few friends outside those spheres, but that was almost always because they were in the other honors classes with me. I had one very close friend on cross country, but I never paid any attention to what he did when he was competing. It simply didn’t interest me at all, so it remained a mystery.

Denisa and I never enrolled the kids in any sports programs. No youth football. No little league. No soccer. They’re all active skiers, but they never expressed much of an interest in trying for the ski teams. They’ve gotten into music, and they’ve done some summer activities like tennis and rock climbing, but they’ve generally been focused elsewhere. (DC and MC both expressed fleeting interest in dance. That didn’t happen for a litany of reasons.)

His freshman year, Tomas was very active in school activities. Math club, the Franklin County Fiddlers, and Robotics dominated his afternoons. That seemed like more than enough to keep him occupied. But what I didn’t realize was that in a school with just around 150 in a graduating class, there can be a whole lot more bleed through between cliques than there seemed to be in my school. A ton of kids who are in Fiddlers are also on Cross Country, for example, including many of his close friends.

So when he expressed interest in joining the team, Denisa and I were perhaps a bit surprised, but definitely encouraging. What was one more after school activity, more or less? What I failed to realize was just how all encompassing a sport can be. Denisa went to the first big meeting, and . . . wow. Practice after school every day. Meets most weekends. Team dinners the night before meets. Fundraisers. Practices in the summer. For the first two and a half months of the year, he’s going to be living the Cross Country life.

And I still don’t know where I fit into all of that as a parent. Do I go to the team dinners? Do I go to all the different meets? What do I do there? Can you even see anything at a cross country event? Maybe I should have been paying better attention back in high school. Do I go to away meets? Home meets? I just don’t know where I fit into all of this. On the one hand, I want to be supportive. On the other, I recognize and remember that not all parents are involved to the same extent. My parents were never really “band parents” the way some of my friends’ parents were, and I was fine with that. They came to a number of events, but by no means all of the many marching band competitions.

This isn’t a high level of stress for me or anything. I know it’ll all iron itself out, and Tomas isn’t worried about it either. But it’s still interesting to find myself in a wholly new situation that kind of sprang out at me out of the blue. Certainly much more respect for all the school athletes and their dedication to their sport. I had no idea.

Go Cougars! (Lucky for me the high school and BYU share the same mascot, so at least that all lines up nicely.) 🙂

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Adventures in Cooking: Super Bowl Time

I watch very little professional football, but I do watch the Super Bowl each year. Why? Because I like all the stuff around it. The ads. The halftime show. Sometimes the game. Yesterday’s game left a fair bit to be desired, unless you love a great defensive showdown, which I don’t. I was rooting for the Patriots, because there are two teams almost everyone in this area loves. The Red Sox and the Patriots. And since there’s no way I could ever love the Red Sox, I choose to root for the Patriots. (Which makes me an extremely unusual combination: A Yankee/Patriots fan. Yes, somehow I’ve become a mixture of two of the most-hated fan bases in the country. FWIW, I like the Eagles more than the Patriots, so there’s that.)

But I digress.

One of the other things I love about the Super Bowl is the excuse for a good party. I’ve been going to Super Bowl parties for years and years. Even when there isn’t one to go to, I try to make the event special at home. This year we’d just done Groundhog Day, so the Super Bowl turned into a family affair. I had plans, however. Chili, corn bread, brownies, chips and dips. It was going to be great.

Except a key player in that plan was Denisa. I could do the brownies no problem. Dips? Sure. In a pinch, I could probably even do corn bread, though I’ve never done it before. But chili that doesn’t involve just opening a can and putting it in the microwave? Chili that involves . . . cutting onions AND celery AND carrots? And even mincing garlic?

That is decidedly in the Denisa Realm, a land of mystery and wonder, where magically delicious things originate, though we’re not quite sure how.

And Denisa, even though she doesn’t like football, was up for it. Until she got sick. It was at that point that I had to decide how much I wanted this to be a real party event. Just how committed was I to the cause?

I made my first chili-from-scratch yesterday. I also made brownies and corn bread. In the end, it all turned out well. Denisa wanted to make a vegetarian chili, which I stuck with. I burned the vegetables some, and I almost burned the chili to the bottom of the pot. I also discovered we were out of chili powder, but I called an audible and stuck some taco seasoning in, instead. I was fairly worried that instead of chili, we’d be eating taco flavored water, but in the end it all turned out fine.

Did I develop a love for cooking in the process? Reader, I did not. But I was proud in the end that it all turned out okay, even if I was kind of grumpy and pessimistic in the middle of the adventure.

Would I do it again if Denisa got sick and couldn’t cook? Sure. Maybe next time I won’t even burn the vegetables . . .

As for the game and party itself, it was all just kind of okay. The game was kind of boring, the ads were mostly meh, and I really didn’t like the halftime show. The food was good, though. So there’s that.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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