Category Archives: sport

Public displays

Not of affection, but of religion. I stumbled on the recent hubbub over an American football player, Tim Tebow, who likes to pray a lot during a game. A fan decided his pose was one for the internet meme world, and started a hilarious website called “Tebowing” where people pose in the same style (like “The Thinker”). Now part of the joke is that you are doing this while everyone else around you is doing their normal thing… like playing a football game, or in the case of the internet meme people, a wide variety of things to various degrees of hilarity.

The problem is, at the moment there is a contingent of the American public and press who are pretty upset about the fact that two players in last week’s opposing side also struck the Tebowing pose when they had managed to get on the right side of defensive plays where Tebow was humiliated. See articles here and here. The quarterback himself seems to be generally in good spirits about the entire thing, and is not the one criticizing the opposing players.

Now I, as I said, find this amusing and was hoping to find a friend to join in the fun and do some photographs in front of major English landmarks to submit to the site. I have a few ideas as to which of my American-in-the-UK friends might be up for this sort of chicanery! But I also have really strong feelings about the entire phenomenon. Whenever religious expression supposedly involves very public actions, I cringe a bit. I consider religion or spirituality to be a very personal thing. I consider prayer, especially, to be a very personal thing. So this kneeling in the end zone thing is something that I would typically consider affectatious and for the benefit of the observers, not related to the spiritual interior of the person putting on the show. But interestingly enough, in America, and especially in American football, this is a widely accepted practice. This is one of those places where I’m more comfortable in my local environment than in my native one. Maybe I really am becoming European.

Bits and bobs revisited

I’ve done this before when I had a bunch of random US-UK tabs open in my browser window. In the spirit of the game, I will leave them in the random order they’re in, and not edit the order to group things on common topics, hopefully creating an interesting non-pattern.

There we have it, bits and bobs for a crazy Thursday. I took my team to the pub tonight to introduce a few new recruits, and it turns out that if you count passports, birthplaces, long-time residence locations and birthplaces of parents, we are a mini-United Nations with all 6 inhabited continents represented, most more than once, and a remarkably complicated set of allegiances. This I love about my line of work. Although it just reinforces my relatively new prejudice that I get along best with people who have also been expats or closely allied with expats…

Aussie update

I have been in Australia since Saturday morning (it’s Tuesday evening now) but until 5 minutes ago, I had no internet access other than what was on my phone. I almost didn’t notice because I’ve been so busy, and since I could check key emails on my phone it was not so horrid, but I sure felt like something was missing. I’ve already been in two Australian cities and will depart for the third on this trip tomorrow, so it will take some time to catch up! But for now, photographs from the amazing Saturday afternoon Aussie Rules football match that saw the 150-year old Melbourne Demons football club win in a complicated and emotional victory.

Ds field

Ds goal kick

Ds end zone

Cricket and the Giant Killers

I admit it freely, I’m a complete cricket nut. It’s always a shock to my UK colleagues when the subject comes up; apparently, although the first ever international match was played between the US and Canada in NY, and the first UK international tour was of North America, it is assumed that Americans have never heard of the sport. I started watching classic one day matches on the old “Fox Sports World” channel in the states, long before I moved to the UK, and after receiving as a gift the book “A Mathematician’s Apology.” So forgive me for this brief sports-related interlude, but it’s going to be an exciting cricket-y summer here in the UK.

Given today’s rainy weather, I’m not sure there will be new cricket news coming out of the world Twenty20 today, but the news the last few days has been pretty exciting. I was completely shocked yesterday morning to find that the Netherlands, a country in which cricket is listed as the “25th most popular sport” (I dare you to come up with 24 other sports…), stunned the English at Lord’s in the World Twenty20 tournament opener. The press coverage of the defeat was alarmist, to say the least:

Never in the error-strewn history of English cricket, never in the rich 195-year history of Lord’s, has there been a day as dark.

Now as an Aussie cricket fan ahead of the Ashes, I was feeling pretty good, for about 4 hours. Until the Aussies got totally crushed by a resurgent West Indies team (the same team that beat England in a recent test series, albeit one marred by poor pitches and draws).

I was secretly delighted in both results. Clearly there is some ambiguity ahead of the Ashes matches between the UK and Australia later this summer, with both teams in mediocre form. But more importantly, as a fan, I think it’s good for cricket to see some matches won by the underdogs. And there is no better underdog result than the Dutch one. And I’m not just saying that because of my grandmother’s link to Dordrecht. The sport needs to expand to survive; for all the criticism I’ve heard about the US and its “world” titles in sports in which few other countries compete at a professional level (Am. football, baseball, ice hockey–although the case for international baseball is better than for the others) cricket suffers from having only about 8 sides competing at the world level. Twenty20 brings the opportunity, just as the one-day game did earlier on, for teams to get involved in a shorter form of the game, thus requiring less investment than keeping a professional test side. After all, the Dutchmen who humbled the English on Friday are part-timers. And they won’t easily forget their win at the spiritual home of cricket. I say it’s good for the game. Now if only the Americans would get their act together and join up.

Advance, Australia Fair

Having just returned from nearly 3 weeks down under, and having taken over 1,000 photos with my Nikon D70, I was thinking the easiest way to do this would be with a photo-rich summary and then maybe if I feel like expanding on anecdotes later, I can. It was so strange to have little connectivity for all that time, and no ability to post to the blog. It’s funny how one gets used to habit and routine! Although I really did enjoy the time off, and hopefully it will become clear that I used the time wisely!!!

My base was the Mornington Peninsula, about an hour south of Melbourne. This put me in walking distance to the beach.


Melbourne was also an easy train ride away, again with the station in walking distance at the beach end, and the terminus of the train at the fabulous Flinders Street Station.


That dumps one into Federation Square,

where there are restaurants and museums and easy tram links to the rest of the city, like to other museums.


Crucially, you can also easily reach the MCG,


for a little sporting entertainment.


There was wildlife,



and even some wildlife in their natural habitats.



(Speaking of Shane Warne, the best spin bowler of all time, I also went to see “Shane Warne The Musical!” which was both hilarious and really top-quality in the music and staging.)

There were day trips to hike,


and a memorable time off-roading in the bush … in a Hyundai. Not my idea.


Several such adventures included going to the top of tall things to look at things.



But oh, the beach.



Life is short, part 2

The Olympics got off to a bang with pomp, pageantry and fireworks, and then a Minnesota man was stabbed to death while visiting tourist sites in Beijing. In the face of supposedly “massive security”.  And it was not just any Minnesota man, but the CEO of a beloved Minnesota company, Bachmans Floral. I have to admit, I have been ambivalent about these Olympics, of course there are interesting stories, athletes with amazing abilities, but the thing itself seems to have gotten bigger than it should be. Montreal only finished paying off their Olympic debt in 2006, after holding the games in 1976. This year’s games were due to be a mess of protests over China’s human rights record. Now there is this black mark on the latest event. Isn’t it time to stop, to rethink the expense and to consider the many ways that this massive amount of money could be put to better global use?

Observed at the grocery store

Two critical observations from my local Sainsbury’s tonight.

  • On Cheese. They did have some slices of something that looked like American cheese. As in, it was yellow and in a package of individually wrapped slices and called “Cheese-flavoured slices” which I thought was very amusing. They also had something shockingly scary-looking called “Dairylea Nachos” which I bought just for the heck of it. Full report later, but I’m guessing it will be nothing like American nachos. For one, the cheese is the wrong color!
  • On Hokies. Sainsbury’s is for some reason channeling the Virginia Tech sports teams with their odd new color scheme for the uniforms.
    Hokie logo

    Hokie logo

    Sainsbury’s has always been about the Orange but for some amusing reason they have switched the uniforms from UVa colors (dark blue and orange) to the Tech colors (maroon and orange). Can they possibly know here the ramifications of this loyalty switch given the intense rivalry? Are they trying to show much delayed solidarity for the victims of the Tech shooting? Inquiring minds wish to know.

My own life list

One of the bloggers I like to read recently posted a “life list” of things to do, in two parts (1-50, 51-100).  On the one hand, when I think about the state of my life right now (I moved solo to a foreign country to take a highly improbable job) I feel pretty good, but on the other hand it’s good to have goals and dreams.  So here is my own start at a life list, which pretty much falls neatly into just a few categories.

Places I want to visit
1. China
2. Japan
3. South Korea
4. Prague
5. Russia
6. Melbourne
7. New Zealand
8. Machu Picchu
9. Great Zimbabwe
10. Morocco

Sporting events I want to see in person
11. 6-nations rugby
12. Aussie rules
13. World-class cricket
14. Long bike ride with mountains (a la the Tour de France or similar)

15. become fluent in a foreign language
16. learn to use all the buttons on my camera
17. organize all my photographs
18. get promoted
19. buy my own place
20. clean out my old files (hard copy and computer)
21. learn to play the banjo
22. take a full week’s vacation without checking my email
23. write a book (technical)
24. write a book (general audience)
25. get to Friday and have gotten everything done for the week–carry an empty bag home and enjoy the weekend.

I think I’ll stop there for now but there might be more later.  Suggestions welcome, of course!

Dublin in a Day

My sister was here this week for a mere 4 days, a very American vacation. She needed a change of scenery and was taking advantage of her spring break; I was delighted to have her around if nothing else than to work alongside each other companionably on our matching MacBook laptops. Of the 4 days she was here, 3 of them were completely consumed on my end by my job, but the fourth day (and a Saturday, the one day I week I try not to work too hard) we had set aside to do something fun.

We went to Dublin for the day.

Taking advantage of my near-London location and cheap tickets on Ryanair, we flew into Dublin first thing in the morning, had a great day, and flew back late last night. The idea had started forming in my mind when I returned from Dublin around this time last year; most of my Saturday morning flight back (after 2 nights staying in Dublin) was full of Arsenal supporters with no luggage. I realised that they were just heading over for the match and then back again in the evening. Sports tourism of sorts. This tidbit of information had been in the back of my head for the last 11 months, and a gift voucher from my parents for my recent birthday sealed the deal. Sis and I were going to see what we could do in Dublin in a day. She had never been to Ireland, I had been that one time but had neglected to bring a camera (shocking for a serious amateur photographer!) We had so much fun, and this morning she got up and left for Heathrow, Irish souvenirs in her bag and grinning from ear to ear (although both of us seem to be coming down with colds, which is unfortunate).

We did tourist things that I had not done on my previous (work-related) visit, like the Guinness brewery tour and tasting, and saw the Book of Kells. We wandered around Temple Bar–made all the more exciting by visiting Welsh rugby fans celebrating their team‘s victory against the Irish that afternoon in the Six Nations–and made sure we had a fair comparison to the Guinness by stopping off in a Murphy’s branded pub for a pint. We saw many, many interesting and fun things, and thought in the end that it really was a great city to wander around in for a day. Downtown is not terribly far from the airport, and the downtown is compact and quite walkable.

For lunch, we headed to Parnell street north of the Liffey to find Korean food. We had scoped this out in advance, realizing that being in a major city we were likely to find Korean cuisine. It was not until we were sitting at lunch that we realized we’re developing a real pattern. Two years ago, Sister had to do a work trip to outstate New York, and we had taken advantage of this trip for “sister time,” having me come along on the road trip and amusing myself during her conference and then spending a single night–less than 24 hours total–in NYC. It’s a real point of pride for me that I drove my own car through the Holland tunnel and into Manhattan–I was once a very timid and frightened thing and my post-divorce bravery has included all sorts of adventures. But I digress.

Part of our own adventure there included lunch in Koreatown, Manhattan before departing the next morning. Jump forward a year, to the first time she came to visit me here in my new UK situation, and we spent a day in central London topped off with a fantastic Korean meal. Counting Dublin, we have now three times in the past three years gone to the central district of a major world city for a very short period of time and spent a large fraction of that time seeking out and then eating Korean food. Now it will be something of a challenge to continue this trend, especially with my European address and her moving to Asia in the fall. Where will we go find Korean food next? I should note that we have ordered bibimbap at the restaurants in each of the three cities we’ve been to, so we will soon be able to make comparisons a la the Michelin guides. I should also note that although I love it, I never go out for Korean food without my sister. It’s become our special thing.

My sister and I kept discussing the fact that we loved the novelty of our day trip, and we realized that this was not as crazy as it originally seemed. People in the Bos-Wash do it all the time, and it’s also quite approachable for those of us within short reach of much of Europe. I suspect the returns start to vanish when the flight is more than an hour–Dublin from London fits this category neatly, as does London to many other places that I might try this for in the future. (Of course, my strict friend does not give a person credit for having been to a country or US state that you have not slept in, so the stakes are high… I disagree with his assessment and believe my sis has now seen Dublin and been to Ireland. The passport stamp supports this idea. A flight layover or driving through a state does not count, but a day spent in the city is clearly more valuable than a night in a generic hotel!)

Notes to travelers considering a day trip of this nature:

  • Spare no expense to maximize your time in the city visited. Take a taxi into town, not the slow bus. You only have a day.
  • Do your homework. Get a good guidebook and maps, know where you will start and what your plan is for moving across the city during the day. (Since the rugby match was at 1 on the east side of town, we started on the west side and worked our way back. All was made easier by the fact that I had been to Dublin once before and had some working knowledge of the local geography.)
  • Don’t feel as though you have to keep moving all day. The hour we spent gabbing in the Murphy’s pub was fantastic and it invigorated us to continue our explorations.
  • Buy silly souvenirs. You’ve earned it. You’re also likely in a certain income bracket if you are flitting about the world on day trips!

Sister has gone home now, unfortunately quite delayed in her return flight due to weather, but at least they did take off and touch wood she will get home happy and satisfied with her latest European adventure.

Superbowl: UK connection

Here‘s the inevitable story about UK-born players competing in the superbowl tonight!