SPORTS! Yay! – Thoughts on the Olympics

Getty Images – Synchronized Male Platform Diving

Ok, so, I think a key component to enjoying the Olympics is having television.

That may be super obvious, but for the last eight years, I didn’t have television (we owned a TV in Davis, but had nothing coming to it). In 2004 and 2006, I watched a little bit and started a Very-Important-Tradition of watching the Opening Ceremonies with my friend Drew, but what I caught was always at other people’s homes.

In 2008 and 2010, I had no TV and no cable, I tried watching parts of the Bejing games on my computer while living in Ithaca, but it was basically a bust. The screen was tiny, the advertisements were huge, and the internet was slow.

Now, we come to the last two weeks, where I have seriously main-lined some Olympics coverage. (At least main-lined for me – watching anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours of coverage a day). This has been steadily helped by our excellent and large TVs, the wonders of the DVR, and my super-fan sister (who has possibly watched everything. I left for work one morning, and she had the TV showing one thing, the computer another, and was checking other updates on her phone).

I started out the two weeks at a lovely Opening Ceremonies party at Syche and Drew’s. (As I said, a Very-Important-Tradition). We ate foods of the world (including lumpia, which may have made my month) and alternatively enjoyed and were snarky about the spectacle. (I really enjoyed it up to the dance/technology montage, which I didn’t understand and was so very long).

After that, I would just watch whatever my sister was watching. Sometimes briefly, and sometimes being sucked in for the whole prime time segment. (This first Wednesday, I came home from the gym, sat down for a moment and got majorly sucked into swimming & men’s gymnastics). My favorites have been: synchronized male platform diving, track in general and the women’s 4×100 relay in specific (which the Americans kicked ass in), all the swimming relays, BMX (though, Jesus Christ that is brutal), and then, today, the women’s Modern Pentathlon.

Donna Vakalis in the equestrian portion of the Modern Pentathlon

I watched the women’s Modern Pentathlon because one of the Canadian athletes, Donna Vakalis, is a Jordan Jesse Go! listener. This show, my favorite podcast, has a segment called “Momentous Occasions” where listeners leave messages about the exciting things in their lives – people call about weddings and babies and craft projects and more. Donna called to say she would be competing in the London games, and Jordan and Jesse followed up that call the next week with a phone call to learn more about Donna’s story.

It was super interesting and kind of insane. The Modern Pentathlon was created to be a collection of sports a modern (at that time early 1900) solider would need to know. It is four events: fencing, swimming, riding an unknown horse, and a running/shooting combination. And it all happens in one day! The NY Times article about it is entitled In Modern Pentathlon, a Day of Madness. We watched the second half of the women’s competition today, and I was super impressed.

So, thanks to my sister and the MaxFun community, I watched and was invested in much of the Olympics. I almost can’t wait for the next summer games. As Andy Zaltzman said “How am I going to last four years without being able to remember to care about rowing?”

(That leads me to a side recommendation: Andy Zaltsman and the Bugle have done daily recaps of the games. They are hilarious, relatively short, and I think would hold up way beyond the games ending. Go! Listen!)

On the Road!

Last weekend, Carolyn and I drove down to Chula Vista (about 10 miles south of San Diego) for her internship at the Olympic Training Center (OTC). She is going to be working with the sports medicine team for the US athletes prepping for the Olympics in BMX Biking, Field Hockey, Track & Field, and … I always forget one… Anyway, it is very exciting, and I’m proud of her.

I played the big sister role – heading down to be a second driver, to help carry heavy things, and deal with any minor crisis that arrive when moving. And, let me say, after having my major moves be across the country and via plane, moving via car is much more civilized.

Here is a little photographic story about our trip:

7:30am: Carolyn and all her stuff, and the lovely little red car that carried us down the coast.

9AM – We hit the road after filling the car with gas, and us with caffeine.

I drove first, and as we listened to the Sklar Brothers great comedy record Hendersons and Daughters, we went past a TON of CHP and one Weiner-mobile – much to Carolyn’s delight:

Erin, you don’t understand. It’s a Weiner and mo-BILE. – Carolyn, (possible inaccurately quoted, =P )

Eventually she fell asleep, and I switched over to the audiobook for Mary Roach’s Stiff. After about three hours of driving (and still being a relatively inexperienced driver, especially at long-distances), I had to get out and walk around. We stopped and the rest stop had the above interesting machinery.

Carolyn took over driving, and I slept until the must-have stop at In-N-Out. Then we drove on through the Grapevine, seeing some lovely vistas like the above. Anthony Bourdain’s excellent memoir Kitchen Confidentiall kept us entertained and slightly disgusted until we hit Anaheim and started listening to the very exciting 49er v. Saints playoff game.

The closer we got to Chula Vista the more intense the game got, and each time Carolyn got frustrated with the proceedings she would turn the radio off, which I found hysterical.

5:15pm – We were just pulling into Chula Vista as the crazy last few minutes of the game went down. So exciting!! Go Niners!

All in all, it was a very pleasant drive and we the whole drive took about 8 hours, which was great.

After we rested and got cleaned up some, we met our cousin Darcy for dinner in San Diego. (As long as there is no traffic, it seems like everything is 14 minutes away between San Diego/Chula Vista/Coronado). We went to the R Gang Eatery, and had a ton of delicious food including Brussels sprouts and the bone marrow & beef cheeks dish above. While eating, Darcy entertained us with hilarious stories of her life as an office temp and nanny as she studies for the MCAT.

Sunday, 11AM – After dinner we went back to the motel and collapsed. In the morning, we checked out and headed to San Diego for brunch. And I, apparently, dressed in every pattern I owned….

Brunch was at the Mission, as recommended by my old friend Deirdre. It was very good, and way, way too much food. I think Carolyn’s french toast could’ve fed three people.

12:30pm – We did our major site-seeing at Coronado, on the beach and at the Hotel del Coronado. A beautiful and awesome place that I would love to spend more time at.

Coronado - Carolyn let me take a million photos of her. This was one of my favorites.

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