Boston and the Olympics

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I thought this was really funny and so true! It was in the Boston Globe today-

“Dear United States Olympic Committee:

You may think Bostonians don’t want to host the Olympics, but then you don’t know Boston.

We love to complain.

We love to hate that we complain.

We are difficult people. Just ask the British.

Out where you are in Colorado, everyone is so damn happy. You and your 300 days of sunshine. And now all that legalized marijuana makes everything oh so groovy.

Rocky Mountain High we are not. We get a kick out of knocking people down, putting everyone in their place when they get too big, too successful, too soon. If the Games were ever held here, revenge would be an Olympic sport.

At this point, you’re probably saying to yourselves: What on God’s green earth is this place they call Boston? It looks like something out of a gladiator movie. How fast can we move our five-ring circus to LA?

Seriously, your first instincts were right — an old city reborn, the world capital of life sciences, a walkable and affordable Games.

But before that, we will throw tantrums like 2-year-olds. Maybe it looks like a freak show to you. To us, it’s all normal.

Don’t be scared. We just need this moment. This is how we operate around here. When we calm down, we get down to business, but always on our terms, never yours.

If we act up again — oh, and we will — remember what sets Boston apart. Ultimately, we are a city of champions. The 21st century has only just begun, but Boston teams have already brought home four Super Bowls, three World Series, an NBA banner, and a Stanley Cup.

En garde, Paris.

It takes time for Bostonians to come around on anything. The Big Dig spanned four decades from proposal to completion. Rebuilding the Boston Garden took nearly three decades. All the while we moaned and groaned.

Today we can’t imagine our city without a depressed Central Artery that gave way to the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, the Zakim bridge, and the bustling Seaport District. The Garden put us in the big leagues to host all-star games, NCAA tournaments, mega concert acts like the Rolling Stones, and the Democratic National Convention.

Our Olympic naysaying can be heard ’round the world, but it can only make the Boston bid better. We like to put people and their ideas through the wringer. And we save the sharpest knives for outsiders swooping in and trying to tell us what to do with our city.

Welcome to Boston.

Our poll numbers on hosting the Olympics are frighteningly low — they dropped to 36 per cent in March. Blame it on PTSD after suffering through more than 100 inches of snow this winter. We couldn’t even get ourselves to work, let alone think about hosting the world. Of course, it was really wonderful. It gave us a whole new vein of complaints.

Now much of the squawking about the Summer Games comes from the lack of a solid plan from Boston 2024, the privately held group organizing the region’s bid. Stingy Bostonians also worry that taxpayers will be on the hook if costs go over budget.

The newly installed chairman of Boston 2024, Bain Capital executive and Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca, wants to get it right this go-around. He promises to deliver by the end of June a plan that is fiscally responsible and leaves long-term benefits for the city.

Stick with us, USOC. I know we’re trying your patience. But it’ll all come together. It always does.

Or it won’t. And we’ll complain about that, too.”

by Shirley Leung

Olympic Stadium in Berlin

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I really wanted to go see the Olympic Stadium where “The Boys in the Boat” rowed to their victory and Louie Zamperini(Unbroken) ran in the Olympics in 1936. If you haven’t read both of these books you should-very inspirational stories. I loved them both. The history that they both cover about this particular Olympics and it being in Berlin is fascinating. Arriving in Berlin, during the summer of 1936, Olympic athletes like Zamperini saw swastikas flying everywhere.  The “Juden Verboten” signs – forbidding entry to Jewish people – were temporarily out of sight.

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The stadium has been all revamped since then, of course, and they use it mostly for their soccer team and games.

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I found the plaque for Jesse Owens’ wins. Pleased with the performance of German athletes, and with the games in general, Hitler was nonetheless distressed by the numerous victories of Owens, a talented African-American who dominated his events.  Winning four medals, Owens did not win-over a prejudiced Hitler who – according to Albert Speer – was upset about Owens’ accomplishments:

Each of the German victories, and there were a surprising number of these, made [Adolf Hitler] happy, but he was highly annoyed by the series of triumphs by the marvelous colored American runner, Jesse Owens.  (Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich.)

Louie Zamperini did not compete against Jesse Owens.  Instead, he ran the 5,000 meters – a long race that was not his forte – against a group of Finns who’d been winning the race for years.

Biding his time, he initially misjudged how fast his competitors would run.  When he realized he needed to move more quickly, he kicked into high gear, finishing in 14:46.8 – the fastest 5,000-meter time for an American in 1936.  He finished his last lap in 56 seconds.

Later, when he met Hitler, Louie was surprised that the German leader remembered him.  “Ah,” he said.  “You’re the boy with the fast finish.”

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This is the plaque for “the boys in the boat”-” achter” is  the eight man boat. Out of the depths of the Depression this is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.

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Bombas Socks (It To You!)

 

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I am always impressed with start up companies and/or entrepreneurs.  I would like to highlight 3 over the next few days that I have come across lately and gotten to know.

The first is a company called Bombas. This is from their website:

We wanted to create something scalable. The solution? A company that donates a pair of socks for every pair sold. The more socks we sell, the more we can donate. And how do you sell a lot of socks? Design something better than anything on the market.
Bee Better
The word Bombas is derived from the Latin word for bumblebee. Bees work together to make the hive a better place. We like that. When we say Bee Better, we mean it as a mantra, a way of approaching every day. It’s stitched into the inside of every pair of Bombas for a reason. It’s a reminder to push yourself harder to be better at your athletic pursuits. A reminder that these socks are engineered and designed with thought to bee better. A reminder that you helped someone in need with your purchase. And a reminder that we’re all connected and little improvements can add up to make a big difference.
Giving Back
For every pair of Bombas you purchase, we’ll donate a pair to someone in need. Already this year, we’re committed to donating tens of thousands of pairs of socks, with lots more to come. It’s the reason we started this company and the motivation to keep designing and producing better socks.

Rio de Janeiro

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Standing atop the Corcovado Mountain with his arms spread out, this enormous statue of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) has been embracing the people of Rio since its inauguration in 1931. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the imposing structure of soapstone and cement provides panoramic views of Rio beyond compare.

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Named after the traditional sugarloaves used long ago, the Sugarloaf Mountain is a tall peak rising at the Guanabar Bay in the Atlantic Ocean. At the top you have magnificent views of the sparkling Rio beaches, statue of Christ the Redeemer and the green forests. Although most visitors arrive by a cable car ( which takes 2-3 minutes) others can test their enthusiasm and energy by climbing the mountain.

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I found out where Copacabana and Ipanema are!

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Although Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) is celebrated in towns and villages throughout Brazil and other Catholic countries, Rio de Janeiro has long been regarded as the Carnival capital of the world. The Rio Carnaval is not only the biggest Carnival, it is also a benchmark against which every other carnival is compared and one of the most interesting artistic events on the globe.  Foreign visitors to it alone number around 500,000 every year.

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This colorful tiled stairway is the work of Chilean artist Jorge Selaron, self-taught. Having traveled the world, Selarón moved to Rio in 1983.There are 215 steps that he entirely covered with majolica collected in urban areas of Rio or donated by visitors from all around the world. Since 1990, Selarón  laid over 2000 tiles, mainly red-colored: unique pieces representing a “tribute to the Brazilian people”.

 

A True Mother’s Day

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I just loved what Kevin Durant said about his Mom as he won the MVP for the NBA this year:

EDMOND, Okla. — The human habit of being swayed by the moment at hand is as old as the world itself, but it was hard not to leave Kevin Durant’s NBA MVP acceptance speech with the strong belief that there will never be another one like it.

The Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose made people reach for the tissues during his 2011 speech, when the point guard told personal stories about his childhood and paid touching homage to his mother as she sat just a few feet away inside the United Center. Others before him have tugged at our heartstrings and comported themselves with aplomb as well.

But by the time the Oklahoma City Thunder star was done with his 25-minute speech, done with the interview session afterward and done with the gala-like event that included hundreds of fans and Oklahoma City’s mayor celebrating inside the team’s old practice facility outside of town, the totality of his genuine performance will be tough to top by any measure. He thanked teammates by name, telling personal tales about each of their relationships and why they mattered to him. He thanked his coaches, talking at length about the close bond he has had with coach Scott Brooks since they came together during the Seattle SuperSonics days in 2007.

He was talking through tears long before he addressed his mother, Wanda Pratt, who raised Kevin and his brother, Tony, in a Washington D.C. suburb of Seat Pleasant, Md., and who was there in a fancy white dress on Tuesday. The video montage of Durant’s charity work and unique personality had been impressive, as was the support he had waiting for him outside where all the music and games and frivolity awaited.

When he finally turned his attention to  the woman who has always been his backbone, everything else seemed to fade away. With the room captivated, the son who is truly one of a kind spoke from the heart.

“Single parent with two boys by the time you were 21 years old,” Durant said, crying. “Everybody told us we weren’t supposed to be here. We moved from apartment to apartment by ourselves. One of the best memories I had was when we moved into our first apartment. No bed, no furniture, and we just all sat in a room and just hugged each other. We thought we’d made it.”

As Rose had reminded us just a few years before, these big boys of the NBA are never too old to thank the women who brought them into the world — even when it’s in front of the world. When Durant nearly quit basketball as a seventh-grader, the gangly kid questioning everything from his own talent to the idea that all of this hard work was even worth it and telling his Godfather, Taras “Stink” Brown, that he was done, Wanda was the one who told him to keep going.

Pratt, who worked as a Postal Service mail handler to make ends meet, had grown up on the same rough streets as her boys. She knew that quitting anything at this crucial stage only led youngsters down a dark path. Then during his freshman season at National Christian Academy in Fort Washington, Md., with Durant frustrated at the lack of attention from AAU coaches and tempted by things that tempt kids at that age, he nearly quit again until guess-who intervened.

“I was going to quit, and be a so-called street guy,” he told me in April 2012. “(Pratt) could see it in my eyes and she pulled me to the side one day, and she slapped it out of me. She talked to me, gave me some good words and kind of revved me up a little bit, so ever since then I’ve been on the same path.”

– taken from article by: Sam Amick, USA Today Sports

 

Play Ball!

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Yesterday a good friend(who is from Boston so most photos are Red Sox related!) went to the Baseball Exhibit at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley,CA and reported it was quite amazing. A treasure trove of the most rare baseball memorabilia, all one person’s personal collection. (Anonymous). There are a few different hand quilted wall hangings/bedspreads that are incredible… one of the pictures shown above has hundreds of “autographed baseballs”; the woman sent the cloth to all of the players for their signatures and then she embroidered over them in very fine thread. She hand appliquéd the portraits as well. I can’t begin to imagine how long it took!

One piece of trivia learned: in order to sign 19 year old George Ruth to his first contract, in Baltimore, the team manager had to adopt him. The other players starting referring to him as the manager’s “new babe”….hence the name!

The exhibit  opened on April 4th and will close on September 4th,2014.

Punting On The Backs in Cambridge

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Behind the main line of colleges in Cambridge, along the River Cam, are the Backs (so-called from being the backs of the colleges). Each college owns its own part of the river banks, so it is not possible to walk along the river by the Backs, but you can walk through the college  and cross the river by their bridges. The public  bridges are Magdalene Bridge (pronounced ‘maudlin’), Garret Hostel Bridge (pedestrian and bike only) and Silver Street Bridge. You can walk along Queen’s Road, catching glimpses of the colleges through the trees. The best way to see the Backs is from a punt, a flat bottomed boat which is poled along.

Many tourists visit Cambridge each year to see the historic university, its buildings and the beautiful Backs. King’s College Chapel is the most famous building in Cambridge.

Cambridge University is made up of different colleges, some of which have old and beautiful buildings. The colleges’ buildings are usually arranged around courts. It is possible to walk round some of these and visit chapels and halls.  There are also many fabulous restaurants and great shopping. It is a wonderful day trip if you happen to be in the area!