A few random notes.
The girls swim season is off to a solid start. L moved up an age group this year, and is now swimming full, 25-yard lengths of the pool instead of the 6-and-under, 12-yard lengths. It’s been a good challenge for her. We were especially proud of her last night. The team we were swimming against has a family that we’ve had a minor conflict with over the years. Nothing serious, silly neighbor stuff, but they’re also not a family we want to spend any time with. L was matched up with their daughter, who coincidentally was born on the exact same day, in the backstroke. And L freaking smoked her! It was probably L’s best backstroke swim ever; she only hit the lane divider once and that didn’t slow her down at all. And she scored one for the family in the process!
C and M are both doing fine. They’re in the age groups where the kids who swim year-round really begin to separate themselves. So the only time our girls swim in heat one is in relays if there aren’t enough girls for two heats. But they’re having fun.
I didn’t get to start watching games until Monday, but I’m enjoying having soccer on ESPN all day. This triple-header stuff during the group phase is fantastic. I watched every minute of Belgium-Italy and was thrilled with how the Azzurri played. Just a fantastic effort in taking out one of the tournament favorites in a year not much was expected from the Italians.
I was able to watch a good chunk of Iceland-Portugal yesterday before swimming. It was magical watching the Iceland fans sing their national anthem. Those were some happy folks! They got even happier when their side tied the heavy favorites in the second half on a beautiful goal by Birkir Bjarnason. Even better was noted ass Christiano Ronaldo complaing about the Icelanders celebration after the game. Some folks have suggested that he’s doing a Kobe and playing up his image as the villain. I don’t buy it. I think he’s genuinely a selfish, shallow person who was bothered that a country playing in its first-ever major tournament were excited about earning a draw against one of the best teams in the world.
Speaking of magical, former German national and Arsenal goaltender Jens Lehmann posted this video from Paris.
What a magic! I’m saying that constantly for the next month.
I’m very much looking forward to the ancestral battle tomorrow, as Wales battle England. When it comes to my ancestry, I’m pretty watered-down. I believe most of Northern Europe is in my blood. If I did an exhaustive tracing of my roots, I have a feeling I might be more French than anything else. Which is terrible to consider. But my last name came from Wales, so I generally call myself Welsh. Since I generally dislike the English national team, I’ll be rooting extra hard against them tomorrow.
A couple huge world events have passed without any comment from me. The first, the death of Muhammad Ali, came while we were on vacation. Because of that, I missed much of the coverage that followed. I did learn of his death in the most old school manner possible: the next morning I went for a walk around the Fenway area and, passing through our hotel lobby, saw the complimentary copies of the Boston Globe that had the new written in huge typeface above the fold. I had shut down the old Twitter machine roughly 15 minutes before the news broke the previous night.
Anyway, I did not grow up loving Ali. I had an odd, contrarian streak in me even as a very young kid. If things seemed to be loved by all, I went the opposite way. I hated the Beatles growing up because my parents and all their friends loved them. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I finally acknowledged the Beatles are the best band ever.
My dislike of Ali came later, as my parents weren’t big boxing fans. I just remember when I first learned about him hearing how he was “The Champ,” was aging, and that a lot of people thought he shouldn’t be fighting anymore. So I decided I didn’t like him, without knowing anything about him. I remember waking up and hearing that he had lost to Leon Spinks in 1978. This was huge news where we lived, in southeast Missouri, since Spinks was from the St. Louis area. I was thrilled that a local kid had topped the aging icon.
Over the years, I slowly learned more about Ali and came to admire him. But he wasn’t like a big part of my life or anything. This was a moment that was obviously coming based on his age and his disease, so it wasn’t much of a shock. If anything, it came as a relief, as Parkinson’s is a mutherfucker.
Like so many public figures, Ali was a complex dude. For every thing I admire about him, there are also aspects of his life that make me cringe. But I’ve always measured people on the concept of balance. I think Ali did more good and worthy of praise than bad and worthy of scorn.
The Red Sox game I attended was the day after his death, and the team offered a moment of silence in Ali’s honor. In the brief accounting of his life, the PA announcer pointed out that Ali rose from the streets of Louisville to the most recognizable man in the world. That’s a hell of a thing, isn’t it?
Second, Orlando. There is no correct word to use to describe my reaction, or feelings. Because we’ve used them all before. Like the “thoughts and prayers” our elected leaders keep offering after mass shootings, saying I’m shocked, devastated, furious, depressed, etc by the latest one does nothing.
We keep being shocked, devastated, furious, depressed, and offering thoughts and prayers, but nothing changes. This will happen again in a week. Or month if we’re lucky. But this is the world we’ve chosen. This is what happens when guns are not viewed as a symbol of freedom, but as freedom itself. This is what happens when a minority of the country views a document written before the discovery of electricity, before radio and TV, before we landed on the moon, hell, before we freed the slaves, as something that can not be altered. A document written when our weapons were slow to load, difficult to aim, and unreliable. Not when weapons spit out highly accurate, incredibly destructive ammunition at the rate of dozens per minute.
It is possible to have reasonable conversations about guns. I don’t like guns, but I don’t think that people who have been trained to use them shouldn’t have access to handguns or hunting rifles. But there is no reasonable argument for allowing the general public to have weapons created for the sole purpose of killing or wounding the greatest number of enemy soldiers as quickly as possible. Not one. Yet suggesting that we get rid of assault rifles and ban ammunition designed for warfare is seen as an idea that will cripple the core concepts our country is formed on by enough people in power to keep it from ever happening. If Sandy Hook didn’t change anything, nothing ever will.
- Which, I should point out, I – and much of my family – thought we were actually German until the 1990s, when an uncle did some research and discovered our family came from Wales rather than Germany. I’ve also got Irish and Danish blood in me. ↩
- Please note not my favorite. That would be the Clash. But the Beatles are in my top 5. ↩