I love the Olympics. I really do. I love the concept that countries can come together, engage in friendly competition, and do it in the spirit of peace and harmony. And I love the fact that we constantly make this concept a reality. Sure, it's only for two weeks, but it's better than nothing.
The XXIX Summer Olympics are now over, firmly placed in our rear-view mirrors. But going forward, we should remember the goal of the Olympic Movement: to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
Now, let me get off my soapbox (I'm so glad I decided to purchase one instead of renting), and let's rant. Just for the record, I wrote this much closer to the end of the Olympics, but thanks to my little time bandit of a daughter, it's just now going up.
Let's Share the Medal Love
An aspect that underlines this Olympics, and all Olympics, is the medal count. Some people want to see which country will brings home the most hardware. And depending on how you list'em helps stoke a little national pride. Do we count total medals (which the USA uses because at 110 total medals that puts us at #1), or do we count greatest number of Gold Medals (which China uses because at 51 Golds it puts them at #1). But really, it's not about that. The Games have never been about that. It's about the athletes.
It's about athletes like Michael Phelps, who did the amazing in winning 8 Gold Medals (as many Gold Medals as Italy. In fact, only 8 countries won more Gold Medals than Phelps himself). And it's about athletes like Tuvshinbayar Naidan, who won Mongolia's first EVER Gold Medal, when he was victorious in the 100 kg weight class in Judo (fun fact: before this win, Mongolia was the country that won the most medals without winning a gold). It's also about athletes like Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain, who won the very first medal in that country's history, and it was a Gold Medal win in Track & Field's 1500 meter event.
While a lot has been made about the countries at the top of the medal count, let share the love and highlight the countries that came to Beijing and left with only one medal. These solo medals are probably a little extra special as they typically go to countries that don't have a strong sports system. Let's review:
Bahrain: 1 Gold Medal = the aforementioned Track & Field - Men's 1500m
Cameroon: 1 Gold Medal = Track & Field - Women's Triple Jump
Panama: 1 Gold Medal = Track & Field - Men's Long Jump
Tunisia: 1 Gold Medal = Swimming - Men's 1500m Freestyle
Chile: 1 Silver Medal = Tennis - Men's Singles
Ecuador: 1 Silver Medal = Track & Field - Men's 20km Walk
Iceland: 1 Silver Medal = Team Handball - Men's
Malaysia: 1 Silver Medal = Badminton - Men's Singles
Singapore: 1 Silver Medal = Table Tennis - Women's Team
South Africa: 1 Silver Medal = Track & Field - Men's Long Jump
Sudan: 1 Silver Medal = Track & Field - Men's 800m
Vietnam: 1 Silver Medal = Weightlifting - Men's 56kg
Afghanistan: 1 Bronze Medal = Taekwondo - Men's Under 58kg
Egypt: 1 Bronze Medal = Judo - Men's 96kg
Israel: 1 Bronze Medal = Sailing - Men's RS:X
Mauritius: 1 Bronze Medal = Boxing - Men's Bantamweight (54kg)
Moldova: 1 Bronze Medal = Boxing - Men's Bantamweight (54kg) [yes, same as the guy above. Both guys lost in the semi-finals and both automatically get bronzes.]
Togo: 1 Bronze Medal = Kayaking - Men's K1
Venezuela: 1 Bronze Medal = Taekwondo - Women's Under 49kg
Yes, we can say that Belarus won as many medals as all these countries combined (19), but that in no way diminishes the accomplishments of the medalists above. In fact, these cats will most likely come home as national heroes. So to these countries that came to play and didn't walk home empty-handed, I salute you.
Wow. Just Wow.
Yes, Phelps may be the greatest Olympian ever, but one performance, I believe, was better than Phelps. That of Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt. Wow. When a guy in the 100 meter dash can run so fast, that he realizes with 30 meters to go that he's all alone, and starts to showboat a bit, and STILL beat the world record... just wow. Ato Bolden in the NBC announcer's booth got it right when he said that if Bolt hadn't eased up at the end, he could have easily tickled something in the range of 9.5 seconds.
And then in the 200 meters, Bolt was all alone, but this time, he gave it all he had to break that world record. A record that everyone thought was unbeatable. Wow. As I told Val after the win in the 100 meters, "He's going to be pissing in cups for days."
Oh Hey, I Like That Sport
I forgot how much I enjoy indoor volleyball. And I've so pleased that they have gone to rally scoring.
Weightlifting is bizarrely riveting and may be my favorite Olympic sport... to watch.
CNBC was pretty much all boxing, all the time. Yet, I saw zero judo or taekwondo. I would have liked to have seen those sports, too (and not because an athlete kicked a ref in the head, either).
I really need to see more of Team Handball. Just so I can form an opinion about it.
Those ring insets on the medals are made of jade. Groovy.
So the Olympics are over, and now, I wait until Vancouver 2010 for the next Winter Games and London 2012 for the next Summer Games. And as always, it'll be too long a wait.
As I told my 4 month old daughter during the closing ceremonies, "Yes, the world can go to hell in handbasket at a moment's notice. But the ideals of peace, hope, and unity do exist, and are very much alive. And even if you can't see them right away, know that they are always there."
July 20, 2008
THE SECOND HOLIDAY IN JULY
The best part about July is the second holiday in the month. What holiday, you ask? Why, it's my birthday on July 24th (a soon-to-be national holiday)!
Of course, all birthday presents are welcome. To those wondering, I'm hoping for Guitar Hero III or Guitar Hero: Aerosmith for either PlayStation 2 or the Xbox 360 (although I need an axe for the 360). And for those who like to donate to charities and non-profits in the names of others, I'm totally down with that, too. My preferred charitable partner is the National Park Foundation (nationalparks.org).
So I invite you to celebrate this holiday any way you see fit. In fact, that may be the best part about my birthday... it gives everyone a reason to party on a random Thursday in the summer.
So, as you might have gathered, we cranked out our first child. A beautiful baby girl by the name of Zoe. Everyone has wished us well, and offered various tidbits of advice. Thanks to everyone for that. But let me share what I have gleamed from this experience.
Life = Soap + Purell
It's amazing how much cleanliness played a factor in the first few weeks. Everything was sanitized, washed, and sanitized again. We have two bottles of Purell strategically placed in the apartment to help achieve our sanitization goals. People walking in our door got hosed down. A gallon of sanitizer was attached to the diaper bag with enough goo to disinfect Luxembourg. We were crazy.
The idea is that you don't want a newborn rolling in the slop with the pigs, and I get that. It's just amazing how instinctual it is to start doing this. We've eased up a bit, but we just want Zoe's immune system to have a fighting chance in developing.
Life = Crap + Regurgitated Formula
The clean phase slowly dissipates into quiet acceptance that maintained cleanliness is an illusion, especially when you add in the Zoe factor. As most have seen, the picture of me covered in spit-up is an example of what to expect. While no other episode as been as potent, my child is too squirrelly to stay on the burp cloth, so many a shirt have fallen victim to her (and I don't want to give her a complex by using a beach towel).
But let's talk crap. For a spell there, I told Val, "I'm tired of her shit. Literally, tired of her shit." At first, it wasn't bad. Sure, it could be plentiful and frequent, but on the whole, not too bad. Then came the crap cannon. Imagine changing your baby's diaper, and she takes a crap. Ok, no big deal, just re-clean and off you go. Now imagine the crap actually shooting out of ass, reaching a distance of 8 inches. I can't, and I witnessed it. I was there. I jumped back (along with my wife) with a stunned look on my face. The next 4 days featured trepidation on our parts during the diaper change, as now, we were dealing with a loaded weapon.
That faded, and then came the stink. No, it's a stench. The best way to describe it is... imagine a rotting raccoon climbed up my daughter's ass. God, I wish I was joking. The foul odor is beyond words.
Look, I could go on and on about my baby's bowel movements, and they eat up a lot of our day (it's Crappenfest every day at our place), but there are better things to deal with.
A Hole in a Wool Sweater
During the first weeks of Zoe's life, I didn't shave. I didn't work, so I didn't have to. But it got to the point where I don't think Zoe appreciated the beard when I would kiss her. I told Val that it must feel like I'm kissing her through a hole in wool sweater. So I shaved my four week old beard (the fact that I had to return to work also expedited this decision). Behold, before and after.
The question Val asked when she took the first picture: "Why aren't you wearing a shirt?" The question Val asked when she saw me clean shaven: "Why do you looking chubbier without the beard?" My response: "Because black is slimming."
The First Gift I Bought Zoe
I've purchased many things for Zoe, but most of the stuff are things she needs. Sure, a few toys have been purchased to help development and whatnot, but the first item that I can call a gift for my daughter is a book. The Daring Book for Girls.
I want my daughter to grow up strong and brave and adventurous. This book should send her on her way. Sure, she can't read it for another 3 years, but she'll enjoy it when she can. For the record, the next major gift I'll get Zoe is her very own Swiss Army Knife. Probably in a couple of years.
My Beautiful Wife
Valerie Joy Peters-Spiropoulos is a trooper. She is constantly praised for pushing out a 10 pound 11 ounce baby through her vagina. But the punishment doesn't end there. She constantly getting her boobs sucked dry, she hasn't gotten more than 5 hours of consecutive sleep since Easter (the Greek one), and she been clawed and scratched by our squirrelly Zoe. And through it all, she looks fantastic. Most people tell me that she looks great and back to her pre-pregnancy glory. Really, you wouldn't know she just had a child by looking at her, except that her ta-tas as a little larger. That brings us to...
Breast vs. Formula
Everyone has an opinion on this; some even question your fitness as a mother if you don't breastfeed. It's surreal. Well, here's my opinion: FEED THE BABY! Val wanted to breastfeed and has. Unfortunately, either Val's not producing enough milk or Zoe is just too hungry for Val's output. So we've supplemented with formula (which according to legend, explains the aforementioned stench). What formula is right for you? Truthfully, ask your pediatrician, and you may just need to experiment.
We tried a lactose-free hypoallergenic formula from Similac and it smelled like Cheez-Its (both going in and coming out). Its use was discontinued. Upon recommendation from the doctor, we're using Enfamil Gentlease, but with the occasionally spitting, a change may be in order. Hey, welcome to fatherhood.
This is Really My Kid
People would commonly ask me, "How does fatherhood feel like?" And the response I would give is that it feels like I'm babysitting someone else's kid. During the first few weeks, I was afraid that someone would come to the door and say, "Hey, thanks for the watching the kid." After 40 days, I don't think anyone is coming, and I'm starting to believe that she's actually mine. Which is cool, because she's cute and I think she likes me.
'Cause I'm Crazy...
I think Zoe needs her own website, with her own domain. Yes, I think she does. If only she had a daddy who was crazy enough, and had the skills to pull it off... wait a minute...
She's Worth It
This last note is to any man out there who is thinking of or planning on becoming a dad. My daughter has taken her toll on us. Financially, emotionally, physically, she has been surprisingly draining on us. But after all that, and knowing that even more lies ahead, I can say with absolutely no doubt and no hesitation: she's worth it. She is so totally worth it.
April 28, 2008
ZOE IS GO!
BabyWatch 2008 has come full term. And now, after 9 long months...
Because I got some time, I thought I would share a hodgepodge of things floating around in the large melon o' mine.
To the fans out there, I was 10 minutes and a martini away from re-launching the random radio show. I constantly get asked when the show is going to come back, and I've typically answered that I wasn't sure. If it does return, it will probably be as a podcast, and the production quality will probably be better by tenfold. But right now, the random radio show remains on hiatus. Although, it was close, and dare I say, breath-holding may not be out of the question.
We're less than two months until our little spawn debuts in the world (although I got a hunch it's going to go long). Excitement is in the air. And just to get it out of the way, A) yes, we have names picked out, but we're not naming the child until we actually see it. B) The due date is April 20th, (making it a Taurus, unless it comes before the 20th which would make it an Aries). C) No, we don't know the sex of the child. Not that we don't want to know, but the kid was uncooperative during the ultrasound. The only thing I can determine is that Val is giving birth to Skeletor from He-Man.
The doctor says a second ultrasound isn't necessary unless it's medically necessary. Val's totally down for not having a medical need for a second one. The baby was just jumping around dancing... probably still rocking out from the Spice Girls concert the night before. Speaking of which...
I can mark that off my "To Do" list.
That day was good from top to bottom, and so was the show. I'm not going to lie to you, it was entertaining. And I finally got to see my Spice Girls in concert. Good times. I could go on, but I don't want to gush.
I stumbled across an original website called, "Garfield minus Garfield." It's premise: when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolor disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life. For example...
I can't say I'm surprised, but the DVD format war ended way sooner than expected. Sony's Blu-Ray dominated the market and Toshiba, just the other day, raised the white flag officially declaring HD-DVD dead.
Whole Foods finally completed its purchase of Wild Oats. If you don't buy organic, this means nothing to you. A few Wild Oats may close, a few may be rebranded. However, in Tustin, there is a super-awesome Whole Foods that is now my new home store (especially since it is closer than the Wild Oats in Long Beach). If you find yourself at The District in Tustin off of Jamboree and Dyer, visit it, and be in awe. Let's just say I haven't seen meat being dry aged in a market before.
You know what I'm excited about (and only second behind my new baby)? The 2008 Anime Expo. I had such a blast doing AX Backstage, that I'm hoping that this year is better than last. Of course, if you want to see some of my handy work from last year's con, visit axbackstage.org and click on "Videos." I'm all over Day 1, got the big interview on Day 2, and sprinkling of me can found on Day 3. Don't be afraid to admit it: I'm holy frakking super awesome.
If you've seen me hobbling around, don't ask. I broke my toe. And I didn't anything dangerous either. I whacked my toe on a dining room chair while carrying salad. That's right, I've survived a 40 foot fall with only minor soreness, and I break a bone in my own home. I don't get it. I really don't. Luckily, I should ready for action when softball season rolls around.
I won the office Oscar pool. Granted, I just picked the BAFTA winners to repeat (which explains why I picked Atonement as Best Film), but since I didn't see any of the movies, I just went with the resources I had. God bless BBC America.
Speaking of BBC America, if you watch Torchwood and have never been to Wales, you're almost inclined to believe that Cardiff should be renamed Gaydiff. I won't deny it: Captain Jack Harkness = good looking man.
Is it obvious that I'm just trying to fill space since I haven't published a What's Up! issue since December?