Thursday, June 24, 2010

Red, white and blue...

This post was to be centered around good news stories from the Pacific Rim. No particular reason behind that other than a couple articles happened to wander past my line of sight. But then a couple of things happened in the wide world of sports I just had to note. My apologies to those who are non-athletic...

The small nation of Slovakia put together an incredible upset of defending World Cup champions Italy, 3-2, that sent the former republic of the Soviet Union to their first World Cup as an independent nation and the Azurri home to a very unhappy public. What turned out to be the game-winning goal came from Kamil Kopunek, a little-used substitute, who scored
in the 89th minute on his first touch. and the New York Time’s Goal blog have excellent coverage of the match.

Then I found out via ESPN the absolutely epic Wimbledon tennis match between American John Isner and France’s Nicholas Mahut had finally ended. Isner was the second American to stage a comeback on the international stage this week. He pulled out a 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68 win in 11 hours spread over three days. Jim Caple has a funny article on on all that has changed since the match began “way back when.” The match set records for most games in a match (183), most games in a set (138), most combined aces (215), most individual aces (Isner 112) and, certainly, longest match. And get this, it was Isner’s first-ever win at Wimbledon...

And of course, one cannot help but mention the other (group of) American(s) who made a comeback yesterday. Striker Landon Donovan pulled the US back from the brink of despair by knocking in a goal in stoppage time to send the red, white and blue through to their first World Cup since 1930. I’m not even a soccer fan, and I may have cracked my knee on the bottom of my desk and yelled, albeit quietly, when I heard the “goooooooooal!” cry. 

I’m sure you can find an endless number of stories about the game, so I thought I’d include some YouTube videos of the reaction around the country to the “goal heard ‘round the world” here (shot in the style of “Saving Private Ryan”), here (love the woman in the pink) and here (my favorite part of this one might be the dude in the front who lifts a bar stool into the air and then sprays the people around him with a random drink from the bar).

And in case you're wondering why I've included Slovakia in a post entitled "Red, white and blue" and whose other stories center on the USA, check out this photo.

(Top photo courtesy of Suzanne Plunkett-Pool/Getty Images)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Daddy's girl...

Last year, I was late with my Fathers' Day post. This year, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Fathers' Day, I've made sure to be early.
Fathers' Day also came early for the families of the men rescued in Colombia. According to The Guardian, four former Farc hostages were reunited with their families, including one man who'd never met his two sons, this past Monday. The Colombian government sent 300 men to outnumber the guerrillas and raid the camp to bring the men home.

The Houston Chronicle's Lisa Falkenberg wrote her column yesterday on her daughter's "father favoritism." Falkenberg cites mountains of research to tell you things any Daddy's girl already knows - we're more "confident and independent" and we have "advantages over others in academic achievement, in dealing with authority and pursuing goals and are more likely to avoid teen pregnancy, abusive relationships, eating disorders and problems with drugs and alcohol." She also notes "... good fathers and father figures are a precious treasure." Her account of her child and husband's relationship is adorable, by the way...

So thanks to my personal precious treasure for being an excellent father. At my newly advanced age, I am perfectly fine with saying you were usually right, and I turned out great because of it (even if I would have been loathe to admit that then). Happy early Fathers' Day!

(Photo courtesy of The Guardian)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

To Sir, with love...

"Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."
This is the definition of success coach John Wooden hit upon when frustrated by the grading system in place at the high school where he taught English. As definitions of broad topics go, this one is pretty succinct. However, in what became a hallmark of a storied life, Wooden was dissatisfied with it and strove to do better. He spent the next 14 years coming up with 25 behaviors he felt were essential to practice in order to reach success. He ordered them into a pyramid in 1948, and unlike so much in this world, that diagram has remains as relevant now as it was in the aftermath of World War II.
I am returning home to a small town to become a teacher and striving to find success in my life, but that is where the parallels between John Wooden and myself end. The man who single-handedly made thousands, if not millions of lives better, passed away a week ago at the age of 99. I sincerely doubt I, or anyone else in the near future, will make the kind of impact Mr. Wooden did. He was king of the sports world but never forgot he started out a peasant.
Many, many news organizations have eulogized Mr. Wooden, but the article I really feel captures how singular a life he led is Rick Reilly's from Reilly's first line is about as accurate as a sentence could ever be - "The awful thing about knowing John Wooden was that when you left him, you realized how weak you were as a man."
The Wall Street Journal did a story on Mr. Wooden, which offers a little background on his life before winning 10 national basketball titles at UCLA. I think what I enjoyed learning the most from this article was that his nickname at Purdue was the India Rubber Man, because while he fell, apparently, a fair amount while dribbling - "He bounces back to his feet immediately and is away once more." That is a pretty good metaphor for how Mr. Wooden lived his life.
Mr. Wooden was known for his pithy but epically true suggestions on how to live your life, and listed ten of their favorites. My favorite from the list is no. 9 -"The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team." Take that, Kobe/LeBron/Jeter/Big Ben/etc...
The LA Times's TJ Simers appears to have been close to Mr. Wooden, and his article reflecting on Mr. Wooden's life is a nice twist on the usual bestowal of sainthood. While John Wooden would have my vote to be a secular saint, Simers focuses on the devilish good humor that colored Mr. Wooden's life, mentioning at the end of the article how he used the occasion of a nationally televised special to give the author a singing bass. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A grab bag of sorts...

Okay, so it has not been a good two weeks for the blog. Last week I just couldn't manage to get a post together, and this week I had Internet issues. But, not to be defeated, I have "try try again"-ed and am now posting.

Without further ado... As Geekologie says, this is your daily dose of awwww. It's a video of baby Jonathan having his cochlear implant activated and hearing his mother's voice for the first time. It's a short little video but watching his reaction is just adorable.

The Chicago Tribune had a story on someone at the other end of her life. Sister Charitas Prince, a Franciscan nun, recently celebrated her 80th year of service - a milestone reached by no other nun in the 166-year history of the order. The 99 year-old woman will be joined by 14 other sisters on June 19 to celebrate their jubilees. Together the 15 women have 900 years of service to the order.

Finally, Yahoo! posted an article on Indra Tamang, an Nepalese man who went from rags to riches - literally. After befriending a rich American at the hotel where he worked, Tamang faithfully served his patron and that patron's sister for nearly 40 years. With the deaths of both patrons, Tamang garnered headlines and attention all over New York when the news broke he had inherited their estate. As I read that, I thought, "Poor guy. He'll never see a penny of it. The family will fight for years." But the article went on to say the woman's estranged daughter wanted no part of her mother's estate and had not contested the gift.