Sunday, February 28, 2010

Post-Olympic Blues

So that's it, then. They're over. Done. Gone. No more Olympic skiing, skating, snowboarding, hockey, luge....

It was so fun to watch as the athletes, the best in the world, did simply amazing things. Skiing unbelievably fast around a tiny track. Performing flips and turns and twists mid-air on a snowboard or with skis. Ballet on ice. Sliding down a track at 90 miles an hour on a sled. And hockey played with the passion to win not just for your team, but for your nation.

I've had two weeks of the constant Winter Olympics presence, and now it's gone. For four years. It feels like a favorite visitor has left to go home. I'll miss them.

Just two and a half years until my next Olympic "fix": the Summer Olympics in London, in 2012.

Monday, February 22, 2010

SPAM inspirations

My friend sent me this:
Did you know that SPAM haiku
is now called SPAM-ku?

Here is a sample
(Far better than I can write
five seven five -- hard!):

Does SPAM contain tongues?
When you eat it, does it taste
you as you taste it?

--Chris Fishel,

Did that make you laugh?
Click here, to see many more
at this cool web site:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Spam Rant, and a SPAM Story

First, the rant:

Lately it seems every time I log on, I have a bunch of "unmoderated comments" to review.

And every time, most or all of them are spam. In the words of Monty Python's Vikings: "Spam spam spam spam...."*

I am so sick of these spammers!!

Note to spammers:

-- I can't read Japanese kanji. Nor Arabic. Nor Russian.

-- I don't need or want to call this number to chat or click that link to get that prescription. (I don't even have the "equipment" that particular prescription goes with!)

-- I don't want to invest my life savings with some numbnut who can't spell and whose best marketing technique involves leaving poorly written spam comments on a post about my grandpa dying, about how I can make "millons" if I'll just click on the link.

It's annoying, and it's stupid. Does anyone click on these links? Does anyone call those numbers? What are these spammers hoping to accomplish?!?

Oh, how I wish they would just go away... I'd wish worse for them, but I'm trying to avoid that whole bad karma thing...

On the other hand (as my Dad, or Grandpa Simpson, sometimes says before launching into a ten volume novel recited from memory)... that reminds me of a story:

When I was in college, my friend - I'll call him Scott, since that was his name - had some goofy housemates (I'll call them Jim and Martin, to protect the privacy of the innocent) and goofy parents. His parents once sent him a box of treats, and in the box were all sorts of wonderful and mostly non-perishable stuff that college students might enjoy. Things like homemade cookies and brownies. Boxes of cereal and Pop Tarts and muffin mix. Cans of soup. Packages of cookies and crackers. Chocolate. And a can of SPAM* brand canned pork product.

Yes, you read that right. SPAM. A staple in every college kid's kitchen, right? Plus, Scott was Jewish, so he technically wasn't supposed to eat pork products. It was very clear that his parents sent it to him as a joke.

It worked. His housemates laughed and teased him mercilessly when he pulled that one out of the box!

So, Scott did what any normal college kid would do. He waited until his housemates were in class and he hid the SPAM in Martin's sock drawer.

Martin had a sense of humor. So, when he found the SPAM a few days later, he put it in the soapdish in Jim's bathroom. And Jim put it in Scott's bed. And Scott put it in Martin's backpack so he'd find it during class. And so on and so on until eventually someone found a small box to put it in, and hid it in the top of Jim's closet.

The guys got involved with other things and sort of forgot about the SPAM.

Until months later, when Jim was looking for a winter sweater or some such, he came across the box and opened it..... "What the...? OH! The SPAM!!"

So, he did what any normal college kid would do... he wrapped the box and gave it to Scott as a holiday gift.

That can of SPAM made the rounds between those three guys for years. Every few weeks or months, someone would find it and surreptitiously hide it or (after they all moved away after college) would wrap and mail it to one of the others. Last I heard, Jim, who was getting a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics at MIT, received a small can of SPAM as a birthday gift from his best pal across the country....


* According to Hormel's SPAM website, Hormel does not object to the use of the slang word "spam" to denote unsolicited commercial email (which it calls "UCE") (or, presumably, to denote unsolicited commercial blog comments ("UCBC"?)).

(Well, they might have objected, but as their website makes clear, that battle has been fought and lost already).

However, Hormel explains, one should spell the slang word with lowercase letters, and when spelling the name of the pork product produced by Hormel, one should use all capital letters, like so: SPAM.

Did you know that the original term "spam" to denote UCE came from a Monty Python skit, in which a group of Vikings sang an increasingly loud chorus of "spam, spam, spam, spam...." drowning out all other conversation? (I remember that skit, but I didn't realize that was the origin of the word "spam" to mean unwanted commercial messages ....) As Hormel explains, the analogy to the increasing volume of unwanted, unsolicited commercial email is apt - it certainly drowns out other correspondence. Same with UCBCs, I suppose.


By the way, if there are any SPAM lovers out there reading this (and I understand there are literally millions of SPAM lovers worldwide!), feel free to tell me all about how much you love your SPAM canned pork products. You likely won't convince me to eat any, but hey, one never knows.... perhaps I'll send a can of SPAM to the most convincing entrant.

And if there are any spam lovers (or spam writers) out there reading this, I don't want to hear about it at all. Just one word for you: DON'T! Don't read, don't comment, and especially, don't leave me any spam!!! (Nor any SPAM, for that matter).

Thank you. Enough said.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

LegalMist's Amazing Super Bowl Prediction 2010

Once again, LegalMist has dusted off her crystal ball and will now predict the winner of this year's Super Bowl.

(Sadly, my Cardinals aren't in it this year - but my Aunt Lou's Saints are, so you'd better believe LegalMist is tuning in to the Super Bowl this afternoon/evening! I wouldn't miss it for the world.)

My Aunt Lou (see here for more about my "Aunt Lou") said that when New Orleans won the playoff game that got them to the king of all bowl games, New Orleans felt like Mardi Gras had come early. Everyone was celebrating, everyone was smiling ... the whole city just felt "alive."

New Orleans needs this. It still has not fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina. It will always be a vibrant, beautiful city, with much history and life to it, but Katrina definitely robbed some of its "joie de vivre." The Saints playing in the Super Bowl has restored some of that. And because they need it so badly, want it so badly, and are so happy to be competing in this most fantastic king of bowl games, surely the Saints will have their miracle and will win.

All of that is a very long intro for a very short conclusion - my prediction:

Saints, 31

Colts, 24

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, everyone!

Photo by Isobel T on flickr, used under a creative commons Attribution/Noncommercial/No Derivative Works license.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

To My Daughter, and Her Team

To my dear daughter:

I am so proud of you today.

You finished your last basketball game of the season with pride in your effort and joy all over your face.

You were born tiny - 5 pounds, 1.8 ounces. You have hovered between the 5th and 10th percentile for height your whole life.

You are the smallest girl on your team, and your team (the only team of 6th graders in a league of teams that have a few 6th and 7th graders and lots of 8th graders) is the smallest team in the league. There were games in which you were the smallest girl on the court, and the tallest girl towered over you by two feet or more. There were games in which the tallest girl on your team was about the same height as the smallest girl on the other team. Anyone would have predicted it and, indeed, it happened. Your team lost 11 games, and won only one.

And yet, I don't consider the season a disaster. There could have been tears, and frustration, and a "loser" attitude. You could have vowed never to play again.

Instead -- wow, what you learned this basketball season!

I'll never forget that first game. The girls on the other team ranged from 5'8" to 6'2". And they weren't twigs, either. Not a soul on your team is over 5'8". Your entire team looked wide-eyed and lost. You didn't know what to do, or how to do it. This was nothing like your team practices! You stood and chewed your fingernails and watched helplessly as the other team (Amazon women, I tell you - just huge!) shot basket after basket. One of your teammates saved you from a scoreless first game by making a free throw. I think the final score was 44 - 1.

But none of you gave up. You came back for the next game, and the next game, and the one after that....

And at each successive game, you all looked a little less lost, a little more confident, a little more capable, a little more competitive.

The heartbreaker of the season was the game that you lost in the final seconds, by one point. It was a close game all the way, but your team was leading throughout most of it. This particular team had only 5 girls - I'm sure they must have been tired by the end of the game, with no subs! - so even though they were bigger than your team, it was a lot more evenly matched. It was a fun game, but oh-so-painful to watch as the other team scored the winning basket just as the clock ticked down to zero.

But when you played that team later in the season, you won! It was your team's only victory, and oh it was sweet.

Another highlight, for me: You scored one of the only baskets for your team in last week's game against a bunch of 7th and 8th graders. I was so proud of you! How you managed to throw the ball high enough to get over that gal's arms, and still make the ball go into the basket, I'll never know. But you did, and it was amazing!

And your defense!! At that first game, the girls on the other team could easily walk up to you or your teammates and simply take the ball away, run down the court, and score.

Today, a girl on the other team tried that with you. She was at least a foot taller than you, and outweighed you by at least 30 pounds, but you weren't about to let her get that ball. No way, no how!! You held onto it as if your life depended on it. She grabbed the ball and pulled upward. You held on. She nearly picked you up off your feet. That would have been a sight, huh? Her holding the ball and you hanging onto it, with feet dangling in the breeze? In the end, the referee called a jump-ball, and your team got the possession!

Several times today, I saw you guarding the tallest girl on their team, and actually doing such a great job of getting in her way that she had to pass the ball and couldn't take a shot. Wow. You've really come a long way from the shy girl in the first game of the season. No more fingernail-chewing for you. Oh, no - now it's pure hustle and effort for the entire 24 minute game! Perhaps in recognition of your effort, your teammates even elected you team co-captain. How very cool.

There were some bumps along the way. You played one team - I'll just call them "team B" - that apparently thought they were a hockey team. They pushed and shoved and poked at you every time the ref's turned their backs. They body slammed your players, knocking them down. They called you all names and made mean comments and cursed throughout the game. It was so hard to watch as they literally caused three injuries to your teammates. Despite it all, your team continued to play by the rules, and persevered, and played as well as you could. You lost, as usual, but you won the moral victory. You didn't stoop to their level. And compared with the usual 6-50 or 4-47 losses, the 8-16 loss to Team B didn't seem so bad, really. I kept thinking if they would focus on playing basketball instead of trash-talking and sucker-punching, they might have beat your team as soundly as most of the other teams in the league did!

Your coaches, with the support of your team, decided to concede the second game against that team rather than subject you all to that again. But in the end, the league president called them to the mat. The Team B girls wrote letters of apology, and you all agreed to play them again. Sadly, you were sick and missed that game, but I heard that Team B actually played by the rules and were polite and kind throughout. Your team still lost, but at least it was a fair and fun game! And maybe Team B learned something along the way, too - they didn't have to cheat and trash talk to win a game.

All in all, it was a good season. The 1-11 record your team amassed says absolutely nothing about what you all learned, how hard you all played, the level of talent and hustle you displayed, and what you all accomplished this season.

Every game, you all gave it 100%. You improved steadily throughout the season. You learned the rules and strategies of the game. You learned to play good defense. You learned to take shots when you can. But most of all, you enjoyed it. Every game, you said you had fun. You never whined about losing, or about all the practices. You had fun with your friends. You supported each other. You cheered each other from the sidelines. You smiled a lot. You were a joy to watch.

I am so proud of you.

Love, Mom

P.S. Watch out, league. When these girls hit 8th grade, they will be unstoppable!