Tag Archives: Olympics

We have met the enemy and it is squalor

I am ok. You?

When you spend a lot of time at home (especially in multi-person households) it is easy to let everything go to hell. You have to figure things get grubbier than usual. The only other experience that compares for me is getting cooped up during a major snow storm but it’s a lukewarm comparison. I am keeping up. The stuff I’m avoiding: Stacked dishes in the sink, a funky ambience in the bathroom, piles of papers gathering, overflowing trashcans, unmade beds, loads of unwashed laundry. Living in squalor would just make it all worse.😐

I consider myself fortunate, well, in a number of ways, but in no small part because HOME is pretty much my favorite place. I absolutely love being outdoors in nature (and need to be) but I don’t want to live there. Being at home isn’t a huge change for me. Over the years, particularly during the time I’ve had this blog, I have really worked to make Home a good place to be.

It happened that my everyday food stockpiling coincided with the quarantining/pandemic. By happenstance I bought a lot of food in January and February. But for that I’d be a lot more anxious. Last March I blogged What does Colette eat? , a list of all the food I had on-hand. Why? I made the list for myself, in part so I could keep track of what I needed to buy at any given time but shared it because I thought it might be interesting or helpful. Last week I made a new list. It”s handwritten and not blog-ready but it is very similar.

I’m not a big fan of groups in the best of times (generally preferring the company of one other person at a time) so there again I am not struggling greatly but my connection to people, to humanity, is writ large. I feel very connected to other people; to other bloggers, to people across the U.S., to people around the world. Never have I felt in my decades, such a sense that to some degree or another, we are all experiencing the same thing. I am also thinking about all the people I’ve known and cared about. This doesn’t mean I want to “reach out” or anything like that; it’s just thinking and remembering.

I really feel for people in worse circumstances. I am impressed by all those whose jobs put them at risk. I’m sure they are frightened but still they continue their work. It was a small thing but I put a hand-written THANK YOU on the door when trash & recycling collectors came on their regular schedule. Think of how it would be if people weren’t still filling these and other roles (of many stripes) either out of sickness or fear.

The people who were nice before are still being nice and the people who were jerks are still being jerks.

I saw on on TV that people were putting up Christmas lights to cheer up their neighborhoods which I thought was charming (I guess so long as it doesn’t tax the power grid 😢). I put lights out too.

On a community Facebook group someone posted about putting teddy bears in the window for children to see (I don’t know if that’s everywhere). I don’t have a teddy bear (just two small stuffed animals whose fur might suffer from condensation 😯) so I collected a few friends to display. (My boy Gumby was previously seen here demonstrating tricks I do at the playground.)

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At times I tear up watching the news. The news about the postponed Olympics made me cry outright. Not because I think that’s worse than thousands dead and sickened but maybe because it shows just how big this is combined with a long-standing emotional response to the Games – I’m not sure.  When emotions are running high it’s hard to know what will trip them, even obscure or seemingly unrelated things. Anyone who’s gone through raw grief will likely recognize that phenomena as true.

My father’s parents (long dead) were from northern Italy and came to the U.S. as young adults, only to later return to Italy with their first four children, including my father, only to again come to the U.S. but despite being half-Italian, I claim no true connection to the region, which has been so hard hit by the virus. I honestly don’t know how to think about it. There is this: you keep hearing about all these old people dying (in Italy and elsewhere) and there can be a tendency to think, well, they’re OLD. But old people have had plenty of time to touch many lives, they probably have friends, children, grandchildren, maybe great grandchildren. They leave behind people who will mourn them, who wouldn’t want a demise like this virus for them but a peaceful, family-gathered, or “quietly dying in their sleep” end. I relate from that view.

Is it weird or what to see VP Pence looking and acting more presidential than the president?!

I take comfort from certain leaders and certain people in the public eye. I have been surprised that TMZ is striking the right note for me, a mix of information, genuine emotion, humor and even a little dishing.  I enjoy Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest together. Before this I didn’t habitually watch their morning show, Live With Kelly and Ryan, and had very little interest in their interviews but liked the first ten or so minutes of the show where they banter and share news, personal and otherwise, when I happened to catch it. Now that they are respectively self-quaranteened and doing the show, I find them and the show very relatable, including the celebrity interviews. Maybe it’s because I believe the affection between them? I find the Dr Phil show very formulaic (and pandering to ratings with its content ) and usually avoid it but the man himself has been compelling since I first saw him long ago. He says things that help me, going way back. I still have notes I took after Sep 11, 2001 about the suggestions and advice he had for people on how to cope. Anyway, he’s gone to a podcast style of his daily TV show and I expect to watch. He makes sense and has a crackerjack mind.

It is always so interesting who comes into the spotlight at crisis points. That Dr Fauci is rocking it. So are some governors including mine. Regular people online make a big difference too if only to distract us with humor. I am grateful to all.

I am here on the blog to distract myself in part, and hopefully to offer a little distraction. If all goes well I expect to be blogging more. I think it’ll help me. I want the connection. I think I will write about the typical topics I do, deliberately. I don’t want to focus only on the virus and its effects. I hope that is okay.

We are requested to stay home where I am but not yet ordered to.  My work has little contact with people and I can stay 6′ away so I can work some which is good on several fronts. The numbers of infection are still rising. I just don’t want to get sick but I felt that before. All winter I was working to not get the flu.

I would say I have a low grade level of agitation.

People are cooking & baking at home, they say. I was already doing that and am just trying to keep up good habits. Even so, I crave foods I wasn’t going to be having anyway, whether because they are too expensive – a huge plate of steamed shellfish – or not a usual thing I let myself eat – bags of chips and candy.😐

There are not bombs falling on my community or soldiers in the streets.  It IS scary but not the scariest, not at all. Perspective. Isn’t that what everything, always, is about?

There wll be scholars writing about this time for years to come. There will be crackpots ranting. There will be movies. It will be taught or mentioned in school curriculums. The worldwide pandemic of 2020.

Remember a few weeks ago? The impeachment, Harry and Meghan, the Australian wildfires? I haven’t heard a peep about any of them. Gone. (Although the absurd Kanye/Kim/Taylor thing got renewed steam in the last day or so. Way to rise to the occasion!😕)

I feel badly for the kids missing proms and graduations – I remember what a big deal everything associated with school and my friends was to me when I was in their place – and love that some jurisdictions promise to do these events for them later.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to have real problems or concerns now that are in addition to the pandemic fears, people with cancer or advanced stages of diseases.  They have to fear/wonder if they will still get the treatment and medications they need and if they will contract the virus further compromising their original illnesses.

Illness and disease have been wiping out populations for a very long time. I think that we’re taken aback that it can still happen independent of how prosperous or technologically advanced a society is. Money and advances will help but they can’t prevent every bad bit of business that comes along. We grow so accustomed to our structures and routines in western countries, so assured in our worlds. Events like weather and pandemics are equal opportunity.

A couple thoughts as the Olympics wind down

On whole I have really enjoyed the 2018 Olympics.. I missed Bob Costas and Scott Hamilton and only saw one Mary Carillo piece. (Did I just miss them somehow?? Despite watching a lot of Olympics – not all – I learned almost nothing about South Korea. There seemed to be far fewer “human interest” pieces.)

One thing I find a little disconcerting throughout – the way a child often does on encountering adults dressed up in costumes with animal heads at amusement parks or other venues – is the visual effect of the uniforms now worn in the various sports. It makes everyone look like they are visitors from another planet or possibly from the future. Have you seen the headgear on the snowboarders? Only figure skaters wear no protective gear when performing – if they crack their head on the ice or their partner accidentally slices their skin with a skating blade, oh well. It’s the only sport that is fully about creating an illusion, safety be damned. (If you have any interest here’s a recent article with old photos on changes in US winter uniforms over the years; apparently the snowboarder/astronaut look is intentional!)

In both winter and summer Olympics the TV viewer is sometimes shown a projected visual “line” onscreen in sports like speed skating and swimming indicating where the current leader or record holder was in their race. Watching these moving lines, which are so cool, made me think that if the actual race participants could see them TOO, like a carrot on a stick, I bet they’d move faster.
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Why I’ll be watching the Winter Olympics

I want to get this post in here now when there’s still a little time before the Winter Olympics begin. I’ve been a fan of the Olympics, summer and winter, going back to childhood. I’m not fanatical; I can’t recite a lot of facts & figures or remember exactly which Olympics happened in which place. Nonetheless I have a strong emotional bond to the games and find a lot of meaning in watching them on TV.

In years past I’d watch the games and by the end I’d get super-excited for the next ones but then a couple years would pass and by the time the Olympics rolled around again, I’d be distracted by other matters and not so gung-ho and it’d take awhile to “get into” them again. This was a a mistake.  I have learned is to DIVE IN RIGHT AWAY. No, I can’t sit through all 18 hours of the Opening Ceremonies, but I make a point to watch a little and some of whatever sport follows the next day or two. I find that jumping in gets me excited and invested; I quickly feel like part of them. When I have dragged my heels and not leaped in, I’d typically regret it because soon enough they’d be over and I’d be wanting more.

I have my favorite sports, sure, but I’ll watch a little of a lot of things. I am amazed by what human beings are able to do. That alone holds me spellbound. I can’t skate or ski  or snow board or ride a bobsled but I sure enjoy watching people who can. The levels of skill people have reached in these sports – and so many others – is phenomenal.  When you watch the Olympics for awhile, you begin to feel like a professional judge too and sling around the language the commentators use: “He didn’t get enough air on that half-pipe.” “She has her legs under her today.” And always: “Look at that amplitude!”

I will watch sports I see no point in; like the luge. How did this become a sport? I don’t know. “Jim, they’re reaching speeds of 110 miles an hour on this turn in the track, which we call Dead Luger’s Curve.”

Bob Kostas, NBC’s main desk anchor for the Olympics since 1992 – 1992!! – has stepped down. I’m a bit disgruntled about this – I loved having him at that desk pulling things together in his affable, confident way – so I’m mighty curious to see how things go without him. At least the humorous Mary Carillo will still be doing her taped segments that focus on the host country’s culture and people. If you see one of her segments coming on, watch it. Learning about the host country is one of the games’ pleasures and she’s a fun commentator.

The Olympics make the world feel smaller. This year in particular I personally really need to feel that. I want to hear about things that unite us. I want to see countries “getting along” at least in the spirit of competitive games. Even North and South Korea have had a little thaw; the two countries’ athletes will march together in the Opening Ceremonies and the women’s hockey team will feature a conjoined team. I’m not naive enough to think “okay, great, everything will be fine now!” but I still find these small things heartening.

Whoever NBC packages as the “it” athletes of the games – the ones they promote and push on the viewing audience – will probably not be the heroes of the games. The Olympics always bring surprises, some good, some not so much. Sometimes a person touted as the best flames out at the games while an up-and-comer nobody had heard of steals the show.  I love this part, watching things unfold.

I am athletically inclined and fit but I am not brilliantly skilled in an sport. I can appreciate what it must take both to become so and to remain so, especially with younger, stronger athletes always coming along behind you. (Note: I will be rooting for Shaun White.)  When you watch the Olympics your notions about age become entirely skewed. An “old lady” in skating  is 28. The announcers will make such a fuss, they’ll make it sound like she left her walker at the rink’s edge before hobbling onto the Olympic ice.

When I watch the Olympics, I feel motivated. I make sure I don’t just sit on my ass in front of the TV for two plus weeks straight. I like to “participate” in my own little manner. I’ll do push-ups during commercials or other little physical things that help keep me in shape.  I have no dreams of joining any Olympic team but I like to maintain myself at my own level. If  THEY can do THAT, surely I can take a long walk!

I will cry. I alway cry when I watch the Olympics. Watching someone do something they’ve worked all their life for moves me. I love seeing the parents in the audience waving their flags and signs; they look like people you know, regular folk.  Sometimes an athlete will surprise themselves with the brilliance of their performance and break down in joyful tears. A winning team will jump on each other and hug as one moving animal. A hard-luck story,  of a skater who traveled 8 hours a day to reach the rink to practice,  or an athlete who learned to ski on cardboard skis or something  in a poverty-stricken sad lttle part of the world, never fails to get me where I live.

 

Short Thought 152 (Olympics)

There is a certain absurdity in watching the Olympics and hearing the announcers constantly harp on how old some of the participants are, such as 27, or 31, or lord help them 35. The 35-year old, they said, was the last one off the blocks in his freestyle race. “Well, he’s OLD,” I quipped, “He probably didn’t hear the buzzer.”