Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What next? Kickboard events?

This topic might not seem timely, but it was an interesting topic of conversation at the Showers' family dinner table the other night. It may also raise the ire of some of my not so loyal readers and maybe, just maybe, get them to post a comment. Here's hoping.

The topic of conversation that got us all in a tizzy was the sport of swimming. Namely the plethora of events in the sport of swimming. The swimmers it seems have discovered a way to give away more Olympic medals than any other sport. The gymnasts try hard to keep up with the swimmers in this department, but they still have a lot to learn. You see, these swimmers have the nerve to not just have a race to see who can go from point A to point B the fastest. They make up different ways you can get there and each way is its own event.
Sure, running races are run at different distance lengths as are speed skating races. I don't begrudge swimming the different events for different lengths of the race. I do take exception to there being four different methods of swimming with each being its own race and a fifth race thrown in called the "Medley" where you use all four. This would be like if running events were broken down into different ways of running. We would have the 100 metre backwards running, the hundred metres with hands clasped behind your head, the 100 metre freestyle, and the 100 metre duck walk.

Freestyle? It's called the freestyle because you can use whatever method you like, but everyone uses the front crawl. It's the fastest way to swim. Why have a race that doesn't allow you to propel yourself in the fastest way possible? That's called race walking and we all know how silly that is.

Imagine if when Dick Flosberry invented a new method to do the high jump, known as the Flosberry Flop, that high jump split into two events. One event for people using the "scissors" method and another for the floppers. No, high jumpers were not that silly. They realized the point was who could jump the highest and if there was a new way to jump higher then people should use it to jump higher.

Keep an eye on those cross-country skiers. They've been watching the swimmers and are making attempts to copy the swimmers medal hogging ways in the winter olympics. They've now got two methods used in separate events. There are events using the "classic" or traditional technique and ones in which you can use the newer skating technique (or essentially freestyle - whatever works best). Not only that but they have different events based on how the race is started. Some are called mass starts and others are pursuit events (staggered start with the best time winning). This is a disturbing development.

If swimmers or cross country skiers were running hockey, they'd have one league for players using curved sticks and another "classic" league with players using straight sticks. Basketball players would compete in games like we see today, but there would be other games that did not allow jump shots and players would have to shoot free throws underhanded. I could go on, but you get the picture.

As bad as I may be trying to make these swimmers out to be, it is in fact worse than this. You see, the swimmers started out with just freestyle events in the first Olympics. Then they weren't satisfied with just being able to win a few medals, so they started inventing new, get this, slower ways to swim so they could compete for medals in these one hand behind their back type races. I'm sure the international swimming federation is right now sitting in their boardroom trying to think of new slow ways to swim, so they can further increase their medal haul and have the next Michael Phelps dominate the Olympic coverage. Shame on you swimmers. Your Mark Spitz is no Carl Lewis.

Carl Lewis won his multiple medals by doing multiple things. He ran and he jumped.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Safety Fast!

This summer I had the obligation to ride an ATV around the dunes of Oregon. This was not an activity that I would choose to do, but I did not want to rob my teenage son of the joys of riding around the dunes and he required my presence to be allowed to ride. So ride I did. Yee haw!

In addition to needing my adult presence, there was also a requirement that we listen to a safety presentation. This safety presentation consisted of a five minute video and some additional information explained to us in person. We also had to read a sheet of information. This five minute video had enough information for about a twenty minute lecture and was delivered with breakneck speed. It was comical really. Clearly the intent was to meet the requirement of delivering the safety information. Whether we were able to take it in or not was not much of a concern.

My son and I survived our experience in the dunes that day with our bodies and manhood in tact. Well maybe that's a slight exaggeration on the latter point. Safety first after all.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Big Oil is Fairer Than Big Banks

Today I'm going to talk about something that's not really annoying, but just plain silly. I'm inspired to do so because I've noticed that the local Esso station has decided to stop the insanity and post a gas price of $1.12. What's so special about that you say?

Why is it that gas prices are posted to the tenth of a cent as in $1.11.9. I can think of nothing else that is priced to the tenth of cent. Why gasoline? It's craziness. On a 50 litre tank of gas the difference between paying $1.11.9 and $1.12 is five cents. I guess five cents a tank can add up. And you thought the gas companies were trying to rip us off.

At the same time that gas prices are posted in giant signs outside the stations in what is at least fair to the customer, the banks are being weasels by hiding the price of using their ATM's and THIS is annoying. Why is it that the service charge for using an ATM isn't posted on the machine or given right at the start of using the machine? Nope, they have you go through all the steps of taking out money, and then at the very end ask you if the $2.00 or $2.50 or whatever charge is okay with you? How annoying and slimy is that.

And is it just me or is the price of using ATM's going up. No, not all ATM's, but more and more ATM's are going for the $3 charge. The ultimate weasel and price increase move is being perpetrated by an ATM I visited in Safeco field in Seattle, home of the Mariners. It didn't even tell you what the service charge would be, it just had a sign on the machine telling you that you had to accept a service charge if you used the machine. It was a mystery service charge. It didn't even show on the receipt. When I checked my bank records it turned out to be $5. Yeah, yeah, I know I shouldn't be using an ATM in such a place, but I tried it out to find out just how low the ATM business can get. And it can get pretty low.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Who's Your Mama?

During my trip south of the border this summer in the good ole US of A, I commented on the little differences between our two countries. One more difference I noticed but failed to pass along was with regards to the fast food chain, A&W. Our visit to the A&W in Oregon put us on familiar ground as the American establishment was pretty much the same as what we’d find in Canada, except for one glaring difference.

In Canada, A&W bills itself as “The Home of the Burger Family”. There is the Papa Burger, the Mama Burger, the Grandpa Burger, the Teen Burger, the recently introduced Uncle Burger, the Baby Burger and the Mozza Burger. I remember when my Mozza and I used to go for walks together on the beach, but I digress.

In the U.S., the home of family values, the only such burger on the menu was the Papa Burger. No mamas, teens, or grandpas. The other burgers had names like the bacon cheeseburger. What’s up with that? Why keep the Papa, but dump the rest of the family?

Good news is that no matter what side of the border you are on, you can get you’re A&W root beer in a frosty cold glass mug. How awesome is that?