Thursday, 16 July 2009

I love It When She Answers Her Own Questions

"You know what sounds good right now? I don't know. Something yummy!"

Listening to: The wife, in bed

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Sometimes Even "I Told You So' Is Too Much

Remember a few years ago the woman who became the oldest new mother at the age of 66?

Well a strange thing happened on Saturday, she died, at the age of 69.

I have nothing else to say.

Monday, 13 July 2009

What A Weekend!

This weekend sucked pretty much.

On the run up to it we were both looking forward to having some well deserved quality time together. It was going to be good.

Sometimes though life seems to like to kick us in the teeth. This weekend was one of those times. After the bills were paid off on Friday we had a little bit less money than we had realised. What was left over wasn't going to buy what we needed for the rest of the week. Horrible times. Lots of stress, frustration resulted in a whole lot of stubbornness for two people who can be too much alike at times. The only solution I saw to the whole horrible situation was to swallow my pride and do something that in normal circumstances I would never want to do. Which made neither of us happy. This solution to our unfortunate situation meant that for the two days we had been looking forward to so much we barely saw one another and had none of the good times we had been dreaming of.

By Sunday though things had improved enough of an extent that we could at least spend some quality time together without the stress of the previous two days. The sun was shining. We had 50 minutes to ourselves, a beautiful field of wheat, a quiet road and a moment where I almost got to convince her to jump on in the car. It was such a beautiful moment I almost want to get this picture blown up and put on the wall as a keepsake.

If only that speeding motorist hadn't come round the corner at that moment, waving his finger, it might have been an even nicer memory.

Ah well, in this car I don't think there would have been much left to the imagination what we were up to.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

When Sporting Idols Were Human

Today when Real Madrid can spend 80 million pounds on a Portuguese footballer and 56 million on another Brazilian and can afford to pay them weekly wages on top that most of us can't dream of in a lifetime of working its almost hard to imagine that sport didn't always have such superstars. In sport there has always been athletes that have excelled above the rest but not all got the lifestyle that today's top athletes can expect.

I was just reading the story behind a new song written by Blair Douglas, a founding member of Runrig, the song is about a man named Giovanni "Johnny" Moscardini, who though born in Scotland in 1897 who went on to have a successful football career in Italy during the 20s and 30s. He became the top scorer for his club Pisa, before playing for the Italian national team where he was capped 9 times only to give it all up to help run his Uncle's ice cream shop back in Scotland. Somehow I just don't see Ronaldo or Kaka doing likewise. They might well send a cheque back home to a relative that needed some help but I doubt they'd be willing to give up their priviliged lifestyle to physically help the family business.

Yet sporting history is littered with interesting stories. Around the same time when Giovanni was playing football for Italy a Scottish runner was refusing to run his best event at the 1924 Olympics, the 100 meters, because it clashed with his religious beliefs. The heats were to be run on a Sunday so Eric Liddell, a devout protestant, felt that with it being the day of the Sabbath he could not compete. Instead he decided to train for the 400 meters, another event he was good at but was only expected to come 3rd in. A lot of today's 100 meter sprinters will double up on the 200 meters but it takes a special athlete to be able to compete at both 100 and 400 meters such is the differences in the discipline of the two events.

As it turned out, he not only won the race but set a new world record.

After his athletics career was over he continued his Missionary work in China, staying on to carry his work in 1941 when the British government advice was to leave due to the war between China & Japan. The Japanese later overtook the mission station with its members interned at the Weifang Internment Camp. Liddell died of a brain tumour hastened by malnourishment and overwork in 1945, months before the Japanese surrended. An unfortunate end for a man that was so admired by his peers for not only his athletic ability but for the man he was.

Its not only the athletes of the distant past that have interesting life stories, more recent athletes have done so as well. Take the story of amateur Scottish cyclist Graham Obree. When his bike shop failed with the burden of bad debts he decided that the way out of his problems was to beat the World hour velodrome record which had stood for 9 years. Unlike his English rival, Chris Boardman, who had access to the help of the UK Olympic team for coaching and sponsorship as well as custom made carbon fibre superbikes thanks to the backing of Lotus, Graham had to not only design his own training regime but build his own bike from left over stock from his shop and parts from an old washing machine.

The bike he subsequently designed had an unusual riding position, which he later became famous for, because not only was it aerodynamic but also because it allowed him to put more pressure on the pedals allowing him to get up to speed without the need for standing up. On his first attempt at the record he failed but he had booked the track for 24 hours so decided to come back early next morning to try again. In order to prevent his body from seizing up while he slept, he made himself drink pint after pint of water so that he would have to wake up every two hours for toilet trips which allowed him to stretch his muscles. With so much punishment on his body it should have been a waste of time even going back on track. The day before he had been fresh and had failed the old record by a kilometer, but this time the effort was not in vain and he beat the record by over 400 meters.

At a time when most professional cyclists seemed to be ruining the sport by competing with the aid of illegal drugs the World governing cycling body (the UCI) seemed to be more concerned that the evolution of the bicycle was making it possible for a disproportionate improvement to track records. So they banned the unusual elbows tucked in riding position that Graham had used to set his record, which meant that this necessitated the need for a new bike to be designed and built if he was to continue racing after Chris Boardman broke it a week after he had set it.

His new bike had yet another unusual riding position, later to be named the Superman position because of the way his arms were outstretched in front of him as he rode. He used this new bike to win the World Championship pursuit.

Not bad for someone who had to get over bouts of depression, which at times in his life was so severe that he had tried to kill himself not once but twice. The first time as a child when he was only saved by the luck of his father getting off of work unusually early and once as an adult after his brother died of a car crash, this time being saved by a woman who was checking out a barn.

To me its unusual stories like that can make Sport so much more interesting than impressive skills and crazy income levels and the building of expensive superteams such as Real Madrid.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Watch Out Guys, Thanks To Some Clever Boffins We Might Just Have Become A Little Bit Less Useful

Apparently a team of scientists in England have claimed that they can make sperm from stem cells. This may be bad news for us guys because producing sperm by the gazillion was one of the few things that we were exclusively good at, for no good reason other than we could. If we aren't required for that in future what will we be needed for?

But seriously, what were they thinking? There are at least 5 billion people on this planet, maybe closer to 6 or 7 (sorry I haven't been counting and too lazy to get my facts straight), even if less than half of those were sperm producing males that makes up a lot xy and xx chromosomes swimming about. That's not even including those being kept at optimum temperature in the fridges of Sperm Banks. So my question is - why? Yeth I know that there are a lot of people out there wanting babies that can't have them because the guy in the relationship is struggling to do his bit, because his swimmers just don't seem interested but really I hardly think that the world has a shortage of usable sperm. Maybe there is a reason that men are getting less fertile as time goes by, it might well just have been predesigned in our make up that as our numbers grew we were diluting our reproductive abilities so that 7 billion didn't quickly become 27 billion.

I don't want to be seen to belittle the issue of infertile men but with all the current sources of spermatozoa alternatives could these boffins not have put some research into something more useful and necessary, like I don't know perhaps increasing food production for all the people that already here and all the people that are going to be here in future? Or do these 'intellectuals' only do things because they think they can or for their own ego and the respect of their peers?

Listening to: "Helplessly Hoping" Crosby, Stills & Nash

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Reminiscing & Discovering Utah

Occasionally I miss things from back home. Its a mixture of things depending on the day or what I am doing.

If I am eating it might be things like HP Sauce on my chips. Utah fry sauce is ok, but at the end of the day its only ketchup and mayonnaise, no big deal. HP sauce is different, you can get it here in the British store but at $4 for the small bottle its a little pricey, especially when you know the real price. So I guess for now I'm stuck using ketchup or fry sauce.

Speaking of fries, I much prefer British style cut chips to fries. I might be flaco myself but those skinny little things don't do it for me, I like my chips meaty. Thankfully I have a wife who will on occasion cut them the way I like em. I think she loves me or something.

I miss my Irn Bru that I used to drink by the gallon, but although again it is possible for me to get it in the Scottish store I just don't know if I can justify a 30 minute trip downtown for the $2 small plastic bottles, especially when for some reason it tastes much better chilled in the glass bottles that aren't available here. Strangely I think I even miss the Irn Bru adverts, they are far more wittier than anything that seems to available here.

If I am watching tv I might miss the BBC. Sure you can get BBC America, but thats crap. Very few programs on it are BBC programs, a lot of whats on it is programs that few people want to watch back in the UK like How Clean Is Your House. Blah. Where is the good stuff that the BBC is good at like the Natural History programs or Wimbledon coverage.

Of course when it comes right down to it TV isn't that serious a thing to miss, not when I didn't watch too much of it anyway. I do on occasions miss places more, like being able to spend a few hours around Loch Lomond, go away for a couple of days in Skye or go hiking in Glen Lyon for example. But I'm finding even that isn't that big a deal when I have a whole new beautiful country to explore, this time with company by my side which is fun, but maybe we do need to prepare some food before we leave the house so that we can enjoy it a bit longer.

For now at least, even the blue skies of Utah in Summer is still a novel experience for someone who is used to cloud cover. Its taken my eyes some time to get used to it, and will probably take my pale skin even longer but it makes a nice change. Back home it seemed like it just wasn't fair that the most time scenes like below would occur would be on a winters day when it so cold that you would have to wrap up to enjoy it.