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Austrian weightlifters competing for Germany!

On MSNBC in the middle of the night they showed Matthias Steiner win the gold in the 105+ KG group. His clean and jerk was over 500 pounds. I have to say I liked that he had to adjust himself in his tight singlet before every lift.

Sadly, he lost his wife in an auto accident last year. I guess the gold medal helps, but could he use some consoling? :-)

Hmm. How hard is it to become a weightlifter? Am I too old?
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Wait a minute, the Olympics are on, and McDonalds has commercials on, but where's the game? You know, the one where you pull off the tabs on the fries and drinks and they give you a sport to watch the results of?

Why am I not getting a free order of fries because the men's swimming relay team won a gold medal? What's happened McDonalds? Can we no longer afford to put out some food for those of us who are not in training? I want my McFlurry because someone won a bronze medal in trampoline!

Instead we just get those ads with McDonalds attempt to create a Chick-fil-A sandwich, and sell it on Sundays. The ads show atheletes who I'm sure would never go near something deep fried (except for the rifle-shooting guys, they don't care about fitness, they have a gun).

Oh, I know I've gotten too olympic-centric here, but i have to admit that NBC has been doing a little better in sports diversity this year - not on the prime-time broadcast, mind you, but on the cable channels. I've seen some doubles badminton and men's field hockey. Still, I think they could do better if they really embrace the internet for more than just clips and highlights. I do see that I can watch a women's team handball feed right now, so maybe there's some progress being made here. Still, it seems to be sports that none of the broadcast stations are showing. The swimming events wouldn't be on the net.

Otherwise, the weekend was dull, since I had to work Saturday. We did a big batch of nothing...well I did. Chris actually planted some flowers. Now we have to do some cleaning this week as Chris' parents are coming in next weekend.
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Time for a few answers...

First, [ profile] braddumm asks: "Explain the moniker "Eggwards"

Back in college all of the Tubads - the tuba section of the Univ. of Houston Marching Band - got nicknames. There's a some thought put into the names and a big naming ceremony for the new guys, much like what you see in "Animal House." I was given the nickname "Egg". Two reasons for that, first, I was new to playing tuba and second it was a description of my shape - belly shape mostly. Needless to say, the name stuck.

When first getting on the internet i needed a name, and I was surprised to see that Egg was already taken. Occasionally people would take my last name, Edwards, and mix it up with the nickname putting it together, hence Eggwards. It's been my online persona ever since.

Once i started getting involved with the bear community I still used the same name and never really changed to something bear or cub related.

Second, Peter ([ profile] texaspenguin) asks: "What's your favorite part about Dallas?"

That's a tough one. I like that the restaurants are easy to find. heh. There's some good people, but it's hard to get together, especially when you're not one to be outgoing and get everyone together.

Really, Dallas for me means a connection to my family, but it's more of a past connection when my grandparents were still alive. now that they are gone, i find I don't have that much of a connection with the rest of the family, or the city. For all the bragging, Dallas is pretty dull and average. Frankly, San Antonio and Austin are really more interesting cities, though I doubt I'd move to either one.

Sorry, I'm a poor ambassador for the city.

Then there's a barrage of questions from Carlos ([ profile] paladincub21):

"Have you ever found me attractive?"

Well, I'd have to say I've only seen a couple of pictures of you, and there's some good things, but I'd really have to meet you to know better.

"More seriously, being gay and being into sports is easy for some, hard for others. What has your experience been putting the two together."

Well, I'm not sporty. I seem to lack the physical makeup and the skills to really play sports well. I liked playing softball, but I knew I sucked, and the team wanted to be more competitive so it wasn't fun anymore. I'd love to play on a less-competitive basis, but there's not a league that I've found like that here in Dallas.

As for being a fan, i think I was a bigger fan when I was alone and sports were a good way to kill the time. Right now I just don't have many people in my life that really watch sports, so I find myself drifting away from getting involved there as well. I'll still watch an Astros game now and then, and I'll watch what's going on when we go out to sports bars, but that's about it.

Still, I'd love to get back to playing Fantasy Baseball again. I wonder if I should ask if people on LJ would be interesting to try it again.

"You weren't out very long before you started dating/partnered? I know you love your husband, but how do you feel about how quickly it all happened?"

It was fast, but I think I had gotten to the time of my life where I was looking for something like that. I was more than happy to have something solid and lasting among all of the chaos. I think if Chris wasn't in my life, and I was just going out here and there, I still wouldn't be out to my parents right now. I probably am still a little naive because I didn't spend a long time in the pool, a little less well versed about the community and such, but I think it's worked out great.

And lastly, "What do you like best about your partner? What do you like the least?"

Put me on the spot will you? I like that he understands me, mostly, and he does understand that I'm still a little undercooked and emotionally difficult. Heck, I don't always know myself who I am, and I'm less than confident in many ways. He deals with that well.

I think we both share the worst trait, and that we're both a little passive-agressive. Sometimes i'd like him to take the lead, and often it's the same time he'd like me to do the same. This often comes up when we are going out to eat dinner and we haven't decided on a place. We both just want the other to make a decision, but neither one of us wants to put out an idea that might be shot down. Sometimes decision-making can take a while for the two of us.

Should you be inclined to ask me a question, you can do so HERE, where comments are screened.
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Today two of the best guys to ever play baseball, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's a good moment for the sport as lately there hasn't bee a lot of talk about the good guys. In the next few days we'll see one of the people that I think is a bad guy tie, and then pass the all time record for home runs in a career. It's a sad statement that shows that baseball in general doesn't have it's house in order.

Although I'm still happy to go across the USA traveling to ballpark to ballpark, I'm finding that I'm not keeping up with the sport as much as I used to. When I was single it was easy to watch a game on television on some night. It was easier to keep up with the team when I had friends who loved sports.

Heck, to speak to my friend Hans, you had to talk sports. He loves all sports, keeps up with everything and even works for Fox Sports Net these days. It was easy when I played fantasy sports. Now I find it's not a big part of my life. I can talk to coworkers about this and that, and occasionally keep up with their conversations, but I really don't know the players like I used to. I don't know basketball at all, so that's a conversation I stay out of, and the guys in the office are all Cowboys fans, and I really loathe the Cowboys.

Heck I was talking about David Beckham the other day with Hans over email and he though it would be a big deal, and I told him that he's too immersed in sports to see that the USA still doesn't care about soccer, and this does little to change it.

My parents were Cowboy fans too, back in the day. Being from Dallas it just seemed the natural thing to be. Back then it was easy because Tom Landry was the coach and the team was made of solid winners. I remember many Thanksgiving days where we cleared out the dinner table just in time to watch the Cowboys.

When I was about 7 or 8 I was given a Roger Staubach uniform, complete with helmet. I don't remember wearing it for much, and I grew out of it quickly as my weight expanded in those years. Years later I bought a Texans jersey when the new team moved into Houston that is now too big for me. I shouldn't buy football paraphernalia.

Still, football never became my number one sport. The Cowboys got a new asshole of an owner and the Houston Oilers would only break your heart. It wasn't until we moved to Houston that I started watching baseball.

Baseball had a couple of things going for it. One was the slower, methodical game. there was a difference in the way it was played, not a brutal sport by any means, it's slow, paces and leaves time to ponder the what-ifs. What if he threw a slider instead of a fastball, what if he chose to throw to third instead of second. There there were the stories. A good baseball announcer can weave tales of days gone by while still giving you the balls and strikes. It's a dedication to the history of the game that you don't get with other sports that seem to mostly live in the now. Baseball seems to relish in it past.

It's also a sport that you can easily read a book in, or study through and not miss anything because the voices get louder and there's plenty of time for an instant replay.

As I grew older, there was another aspect of the game I enjoyed, the men. In football you don't really get to know most of the players because they are kept in the helmet and pads. You can see the face of a man in baseball, and they seemed accessible. Heck, I've talked to baseball players, even interviewing a few in my brief stint as a sports reporter in college. I think I knew more about them than other athletes because their stories were told every night.

of course, some of them were hot - damed hot. It was worth watching the games to see them come up to bat.

It's been good being an Astros fan for the last several seasons. There were several division championships and good teams. There were players like Nolan Ryan to watch. I got to watch several seasons with two good players, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, both who played their entire career with the Astros, both who should go to the Hall of Fame (Biggio is a lock, Bagwell more on the bubble) Two players who don't have the questions about steroids that many of their peers do.

Sadly there was also Ken Caminitti, the guy who started with the astros, went to the Padres and became a star for a while, but eventually revealed his steroid use. I found it sad that he eventually died of a heart attack helped along by the steroids, but fueled by his use of cocaine. I met him a couple of as hell and dumb as an ox.

That's part of losing interest. The Rangers are as they were when my grandfather followed them, awful. It's harder to get interested in it when the astros are only on certain nights here, and it seems like the team is about to go into a rebuilding mold as the older players retire. Chris isn't gung ho, so we don't watch together. this and the sport seems to be making some really bad moves as we all watch Barry Bonds take the other most celebrated record in the sport. Sadly he already has the most homers in a single season, and there's still a cloud over his head.

Football lost me when the Oiler's left, and we went for a few years in Houston without a team, and now it's easy to not care about football fever here. Basketball sucks, and hockey tickets are too expensive. I no longer find myself watching ESPN SportsCenter to keep up with Hans. I'm definitely losing interest in sports, especially when so many new sports are trying to take the spotlight - like mixed martial arts.

It's funny, people think I'm strange for loving baseball, and now I guess I'm becoming one of those baseball fans that loved an era of baseball, that time when you fell in love with it. It seems like the era is ending, I'm doubtful, with current leadership that means the steroids era is ending, but hey, that's their own implosion to deal with. It can't be any worse than the way wrestling and cycling have been handling their drug problems, right?

Still, I like going over to BW3 and playing some trivia and watching the sports here and there. Today, sadly they had NASCAR on, but off in a corner were Ripken and Gwynn (and actually, Tony Gwynn, always a little chubbier than the average player, was hot, too) showed that there were some good guys in sports, and that should be rewarded.
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➜First, a couple of sidelines. The coverage of the life of Lady Bird Johnson is interesting. I'm really surprised by her and what she did in an era when first ladies really weren't supposed to do anything. Now they are all supposed to have their pet causes. Lady bird doesn't seem like one to cause too much of a fuss, or be much of a feminist or anything, but she was a pretty early environmentalist in her own way.

She was a very prominent Texas, and quite the southern lady. I must put seeing the Lady Bird wildflower center on my list of thing to do.

➜BW3 isn't as interesting when the trivia game is down. Also, the new cub waiter should be our waiter. He delivered our food, but another gal actually served us.

As we were there, some of the televisions were tuned into the Major League Soccer game. The game wasn't very interesting, and this was certainly highlighted by ESPN's coverage. Every few minutes there was an announcement or a commercial telling you the "David Beckham is coming to America on July 21!!!" You couldn't get away from it. it was like the Second Coming had been announced.

So yeah, the local MLS team in Dallas has a big billboard also promoting this, saying that Beckham is coming to Dallas (for the LA Galaxy's one game against Dallas) oh, and tickets are STILL available. This billboard has been up since March.

Let's face it, here he's a lot less famous than his wife. She got more attention for the announcement of a reunion tour of the Spice Girls. In the middle of tonight's Houston vs. Chicago game, the announcers were so bored they did a phone interview with the LA coach about the arrival of such a superstar. I was really wanting the coach to say, "Oh, he's just another player," but it's more likely the league officials were forcing him to make this a "big deal."

If Pelé didn't make soccer a big success, I don't think Mr. Posh Spice will, either.

➜OK, and now about today's performance.

Well, it wasn't horrible.

There were lots of ways I could have done better, and I probably overreached in a couple of places, trying to do more, and provide more than necessary, but I wanted to show I could develop my own materials and go beyond what was given. I ran into some time constraint problems, some of it caused by the "participants" arriving late.

One of the biggest problems was our training region, with the programs and test accounts was down, so everything had to be on paper, and I could only demonstrate so far in the live production region. It made it hard to complete the mission.

If there's any way to overwhelm with handouts, I think I did it.

My class was made up of four managers and one corporate trainer. while dealing with this group is tough, having the trainer there was even more difficult as I know from talking with her that she has formal training, and I'm pretty much self-taught, and may be a little more rough around the edges.

I wanted to encourage participation amongst the students, and I wasn't quite sure if the managers would go for it, but how wrong I was. They actually talked to much, and showed a lot more knowledge than a new associate would, so often I would have to try to recover trying to keep them on topic. I'm not sure I reigned them in enough, and I had to drop some of the extras I had planned.

Heck, when I'm nervous I just keep talking, so I was trying to keep myself on message, and here's this group finding ways to make an item good when it was presented as a bad order item. One of them also went on about how his group would process something differently and I had to keep telling him that an entry-level processor isn't trained to do that. It was annoying, and should have been left out of the discussion. I guess I was lucky to get to the actual live demonstration after discussing the reasons why you would reject and item, and having people conflicting on those reasons.

It's training - the only time these things get to be black and white!

I was a little worried about using the "reward" for a good answer, handing out chocolate. I didn't want it to seem like a bribe, but I'd do it in a class anyway, so I did it today. It seemed to excite them. What's training without candy, anyway?

So I should know if I move on to the next round in a week or so, this after the three weeks between round one and today's mess. They started with twelve, had six do the demo, and will narrow it down to two. I'm thinking I didn't knock it out of the park today. Perhaps with some better time management skills i could have done so, but I didn't bomb, either.

I threw in a little joke at the end, a trainer's evaluation sheet who's only choices were that I was great and got the job or I was the best and got the job. It was more the fact that I would think of the detail of an evaluation sheet over what it said, but heck, if I can't promote myself, who can?

I think I did well not to break character, not falling into the trap of saying "oh, you manager's know this already." I even told them, although we won't be able to process items in here, be sure to have your mentor on the floor help you with your first item. Except for having to bring them back on track, I tried not to acknowledge them and anything but new associates.

I had them create name cards for me, a typical training trick to allow the instructor to call people by name. When Chuck wrote Lloyd on his, I only addressed him as Lloyd. They found it funny, but I wasn't joking.

We'll see where they want to go. Apparently they are about to have a training class next month, so they really need a trainer. I hope I showed them that I can hit the ground running, even providing improvements to what's out there, but with these guys I don't know. I'd cross my fingers, but that never works in my favor.
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I'd really much rather be watching the Colt's Offensive Line and the Bear's Brian Urlacher playing with puppies.

The commercials haven't been that entertaining, but the rain has made the game interesting.
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While Chris and I were playing trivia at BW3 tonight I noticed an interesting poll on ESPN News. It's Mark McGwire's first opportunity to be on the ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and of the Baseball Writers (those who vote on the Hall of Fame inductees) only 25% said that they would vote for McGwire on this ballot.

So 75% of the voters surveyed would say no to least on this round. I think it's a shame because I think McGwire (and Sammy Sosa) re-kindled America's interest in baseball for a short time that few players have. Watching the chase for 70 was thrilling and fun.

Of course the fact that the muscle-bound McGwire was frackkin hot is a whole 'nuther addition to his greatness in my book.

The fact that I was rooting for him when his St Louis Cardinals were playing in the same division as the Astros means that I really respected his talent...or something. Ok, so I was horny in 1998, not like that's anything new.

Unfortunately, McGwire will always be placed in with the drug-enhanced bunch, even though the evidence is a little shaky. Yes, he copped to using Andro to build muscle, but at the time the supplement wasn't on the banned list. (It is now.) Neither was creatine. Perhaps his leaving baseball in his prime was to get out before more could be found, or a test would come up with something, we'll never know. The fact is, the writers are assuming that he used illegal substances without their being empirical proof.

What some point to as proof is that the pictures of McGwire as a rookie show a much less developed man than he was playing for the Cardinals. Sammy Sosa also went through this transformation at about the same time. During this time supplements and strenght training took leaps ahead, so it's not completely out of place for this to be "natural", but again, I'm not sure we'll really know.

McGwire's record of 70 home runs was surpassed by Barry Bonds, a many with even more allegations against him, and an ongoing investigation. Given that Bonds may surpass the record for career home runs will really question if he's Hall of Fame worthy.

in many cases, holding a record, or being on the top ten of a major record (let's say, number of doubles for a career) would get you in pretty easily, but sadly, in this era anyone who has a record season, or record career is automatically suspect.

Is the question to just go ahead and allow substances, and allow everyone the opportunity to go big, or do we try to keep the sport much as it can? Always there will be those who will try to get an edge, something that might keep them in the game a little longer, or propel them to the stratosphere.

You look at a story of someone who did come forward, who did say that he was taking steroids, Ken Caminiti, and you wonder it it was worth it. Yes, he did win MVP one year, and he was able to play hurt, but in the end, it was a middling career. His admission cost him the Hall, and his own personal demons eventually cost him his life.

So what price fame and glory? McGwire has his head on a little better than Ken Caminitti, so the snub probably won't affect him as much. McGwire has rarely done interviews or appearances since he retired. You're more likely to see disgraced star Pete Rose on the baseball card circuit than you are McGwire.

Still, I would put McGwire in the Hall, all the while I'm rooting against Barry Bonds...perhaps it's hypocritical, but I think much of it just has to do with the man himself. McGwire always seemed appreciative, confident and likable, while Bonds comes off as an arrogant prick. Bonds was never the teammate that McGwire seemed to be despite the sideshow.

Perhaps McGwire will get in on a later ballot, but it looks like for now, the baseball Writers are going to use him to make a statement, that players of the "juiced" era aren't going to be thought of as highly as others. Integrity? Perhaps, but it's sad that it comes down to a man with character to be the sacrificial lamb.
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I still follow Houston news, partially because I like the Houston Chronicle better than the Dallas Morning News or the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. The other reason is that the Chronicle puts all of their comic strips on line (except for Sundays), so I usually read those at work, then skip over to the news part of their website. i can tell you about plaenty of things going on in houston, while I'm more oblivious to goings on here.

So I noticed that the Houston Dynamos won the Major League Soccer Cup over the weekend. I learn this from the Houston paper, but the event happened in the Dallas suburb of Frisco. It's really unimportant, but the Championship game was going on just a few miles away, but I have to learn about it from my old newspaper. Of course with the wonders of Technology, you never have to give up some things when you move.

I wrote about the Houston Dynamo a while back when they moved from San Jose to Houston. They had trouble finding a name, and when they thought they had one, it was seen as offensive to the Mexican-American population (they chose 1836 - the year the Texas defeated the Mexican army). Apparently the team was pretty good when they were in San jose, winning a couple of championships there. They moved because they couldn't attract a crowd.

Well, the games in Houston were watched by half full stadiums, too. While I'll guess that attendance will pick up now that they won a championship, I still think that they will have a hard time keeping an audience.

Look at our last championship team in Houston, no, not the Astros (they were NL champs a year ago, but lost the World Series). The Houston Comets won the first four championships in WNBA history and developed a good following. The last championship was in 2000. They go to the playoffs like clockwork, but their audience has dwindled and now they are up for sale.

Face it, the Dynamo's owners though that the hispanic population of Houston would be a natural crowd for soccer, but they'd much rather go to the games featuring visiting teams from Mexico. Those games are packed. Soccer games are filled with kids who play YMCA soccer and their parents. Perhaps they will eventually build an audience, but right now, they'll be fighting with the Comets and the minor league Houston Aeros hockey team for lowest attendance.

The Dynamos had a victory celebration in downtown Houston on Tuesday. They drew 600 people. this out of 4.5 million Houstonians. The Aeros drew more when they won the Calder Cup a few years back. Soccer in America is still very minor league.

Perhaps the Dallas Stars will do well enough to get noticed in the Houston paper. Otherwise, I'll never know.

Oh, and yes, I do know who won Dancing with the Stars. I'm sure I really didn't care, but still, it's interesting what people will watch, and what they'll actually vote for.
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So if the news that Floyd Landis won the Tour de France wasn't a surprise to you, then you were probably one of the millions of americans who thought that no american had a chance at winning, and tuned the whole thing out. Why, since we Americans are a little self-centered, would we care when some other bloke wins a cycling race?

it then comes as a very little shock that Landis was tested, and came up positive for steroids. Any American would come under suspicion, especially after the multiple wins by lance Armstrong, which were always under suspicion by the international community.

There were always rumors, and even some who tried to put up evidence that Armstrong was at least using the after cancer medications to his advantage. Still, after being scrutinized for seven years, it became hard to deny that the man was just athletically gifted.

Still, people didn't know Landis, and suddenly he's on the podium accepting the trophy. All the riders who had been picked to win were in the shadow of another American, and this one, Landis, has a hip injury. How could one get through such a grueling race like that? Landis will have much to explain in the next few days as he will try to defend his title. He'll also be under suspicion in every other race he goes into.

I suppose he'll try to show that whatever showed up in the cup is medicinal, keeping his hip from flaring up during the ride, but on more than one occasion people have been stripped of titles and fired just because they took a banned cough medication prior to competition.

Of course, americans are having enough trouble with the use of steroids, everyone from high school athletes to Barry Bonds, that it's no wonder there's suspicion. When there's so much effort to go higher, faster stronger, and the lure is money, it's a powerful influence to take any advantage your given. so far the American public's reaction has been disapproving, but not condemning.

Still, you have to wonder about this race, and the athletes in it. So a man recovering from cancer (albeit in fine shape) can win seven times, then the next year the race is won by a guy with a bad hip? Heck, I get winded after a few minutes on a bike, and I'm thinking of trying out.

I know, I'm American and don't understand games we aren't good at, like soccer. still, our attempt to export snowmobile jumping hasn't been that successful, right?

I'm going to start placing bets that next year's winner is one of the quadriplegics from the movie "Murderball." This after Steven Hawking is thrown out for trash-talking with his speak and spell.
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So tonight's headline reads "Amendment on Flag Burning Fails by One Vote in Senate." Really, i don't know whether to be happy, because it didn't pass, or sad that there's enough idiots in the Senate who would vote against our freedom to free speech and expression. Sure, it's a little loss, to be sure, but it just becomes one more domino in the loss of freedoms, whether by legislation, or by intimidation.

Strangely this is somewhat related to the recent story involving the New York Times, where the President and his administration have taken the paper to task for printing a story about a "secret" program to watch banking accounts for links to terrorist organizations. The president is trying to say the usual spiel about exposing the administrations spying and surveillance programs will harm the country and we'll show that the terrorists can chuckle and it's just not patriotic!

Personally this is rhetoric that I'm really damned sick of. How long has this "If you're not for us, you're agin' us" crap been going on?

I know personally that the financial surveillance program was not a secret because i've had training on it. It's a part of the PATRIOT act. the Times wasn't telling anything that people didn't know, and really, most people expected. It's just another attempt by this administration to stifle the free press by labeling them as un-american and trying to drive more people away from the "liberal media".

It's also the fact that the administration needs to handle the press like they did in 2004, trying to keep them guessing if they should print stories that would be detrimental to the President's approval ratings. There were many stories about Bush that questioning editors kept from the public, and if the administration can strong arm them from continuing to pile on story after story as we head into another election, then all the better.

Of course, the Republicans in the Senate are already fighting to appeal to their base, first with the Marriage Amendment, and today with the flag-burning amendment. what proves your patriotism by trying to defend a symbol of it? Not knowing the difference between the important issues and problems of this country and putting all your energy into working on an easily re-producable symbol.

Besides, how much flag-burning has occurred in this country lately? Seems like most of that is going on in those damned furen countries. Perhaps we should try to get take out more of those guys, burning our symbol! Sheesh.


OK, on a completely different subject, I'm sort of getting into the whole World Cup thing. I'm not getting into it enough to sit there and watch a full game, it's really too damned boring, but I am getting interested in checking the scores and rooting for a few teams.

Truly, I can't think of much of a reason to actually watch. it's a bunch of guys who rarely even get a shot off on goal, running around. I know this because I've played soccer. Sure, it was YMCA soccer, but trust me, I found little reason to ever care about the actual play of the game. This combined with the fact that all of these guys are in great shape for what they do, means that their thin bodies aren't really that interesting to me. Of course this doesn't compare to the even less sexy WNBA.

Of course, I can't run for 90 seconds, let alone 90 minutes. Nor am I a student of the sports "finer" aspects, whatever they may be.

What excites me about the games is watching the different countries. I was enjoying watching most of the developing world countries get knocked off in the first round. The G8 is where it's at - unless you're the United States. I really had no problem that the US team lost. You can't be good at everything, right? I guess it comes down to the whole US patriotism thing that we just ought to be able to nuke to speak.

Still, a couple of my favories are out, Mexico lost on Saturday and Spain lost today. I guess I can still look forward to Beckham and the English boys and the Germans. If it comes down to those two teams...well, that may be one match worth watching.


Lastly, since gay rugby has become so successful, i think it's time for the gay community to start infiltrating another sport that has only a marginal following in this country. No, not soccer. I'm thinking it's time for a gay cricket league. Heck, it's a sport that has natty uniforms, a gentlemanly pace, and yes, tea time. Boys, it's time to hit the pitch.
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A couple of days ago, Thursday to be exact, was Texas Independence Day. The day commemorates the day that the Texas rebels, now engaged in civil war with Mexico, signed their Declaration of Independence from Mexico. It is not, however, the actual finale of the skirmish with Mexico, as the US Revolutionary War kept going past "Independence Day", so did the Texan's war with the dictatorship of Santa Ana.

In similarity to the American Revolutionary war, the Texans, very different as American Ex-Patriots in northern Mexico colonies, felt that the leadership from far away Saltillo and Mexico City not only didn't respect their rights but also restricted the colonies growth. Mexico, already worried about the size of the anglo colonies wanted to crack down on the settlements and General Santa Ana himself, leader of the military that was ruling Mexico decided to take matters into his own hands.

It wasn't until the Battle of San Jacinto on April 19th, 170 years ago that the Texans finally found victory in sneaking around and finding Santa Ana taking a siesta on the plain that's now next to the Houston Ship Channel. The war ended not because the Texans were stronger, or were superior, they had lost many a man at the Alamo and other battles. They won because they broke the rules of warfare and attacked the Mexican camp when they weren't expecting it.

In fact, Santa Ana had to be brought to Texas General Sam Houston who had been wounded in the ankle earlier. Santa Ana was forced to end the campaign and take his army back to Mexico, and Texas became a republic for a few years before finally gaining statehood in 1846, but still, skirmishes between texas and Mexico continued until Mexico was finally defeated by the US in the Mexican-American War in 1848 that secured California and the southwest for the United States.

Still, somedays you wonder if the battle was ever over.

Just recently the city of Houston was given the San Jose Earthquakes, a Major League Soccer team that's expected to do better in the largely Hispanic Houston than it did in Silicon Valley. It will have a long way to go, as there are plenty of soccer fans in the city, but they are more attracted to the football teams in Mexico and Central America than they are in the American version of the sport. Several of those teams even visit Houston drawing large crowds for their exhibition games.

Of course the exhibition games are usually low priced, and played at several of the city's older stadiums, or at UH's Robertson stadium, which can be rented cheaply. Major League Soccer needs a permanent home, and one that's likely to cost, since the sweetheart deals the Astros, Texans and Rockets got are probably not going to be available to an upstart team that half the city 's population won't care about. Heck, the support for the Comets (Women's Basketball) went down dramatically when they stopped winning championships, hockey has never taken off as the Aeros have been in three different leagues, and Houston's outdoor and indoor soccer teams (the Hurricanes and the Hotshots, among others) never gotten much traction.

one might think it would be good to have a stadium in east Houston to try to engage Hispanic fans, and the land is cheap, but unless ticket prices are also cheap, it isn't likely to work, so I'm sure the new Houston team will have to do what the FC Dallas (formerly the Dallas Burn) has done, find a suburb with soccer-crazed kid population and hope it works. A few years at Dallas' Fair Park proved futile, and the ticket buyers were the people from North Dallas, Plano and Frisco, not from the hispanic areas of town, so the team moved north to a new stadium in a growing suburb.

Unfortunately Houston is very large, and the satellite cities (such as Sugar Land, Katy and Conroe) are not really capable of taking on such a project. Houston also has a sports funding mechanism the other cities lack, so it's pretty much play ball with the big boys, or get relegated to a high school stadium. Of course the Astrodome, while too big, is still empty.

So how does this relate to the revolutionaries of days gone by? Well, when the team was looking for a name, they wanted something traditional that would remind people of the names of European and South american football clubs. The League has been looking to change the flashy names of it's past, like the Burn, into names more like Arsenal and Manchester United. The ownership team of the Houston Club chose the name "1836" - the year of the City of Houston's founding.

Just a note about that. Houston was founded in late August 1836 by two land speculators from New York who were eager to get in on the land rush in the newly minted country. Why they thought swamp land in the heat of August would make an attractive community, I have no idea, but to help sales they put out a flyer in many US cities to buy land in the city of Houston - a city that didn't exist, cleverly named for the war hero and first president. Houston was pumped up by developers then, and it still is today.

But 1836 is also the year of defeat for the Mexican Army, and the soccer club found themselves in hot water with some of the fans they were hoping to get. Apparently citizens of Houston who may have had ancestors at the battle, or just in Mexico in general took offense to the numerical moniker. The battle, long since over on the battlefield, apparently lives on, much like the US Civil war still seems to give some reason to be mad about losing the "War Betwixt the States".

History, is written by the winners, and Texas has gone on to be the wealthy neighbor to some of the poorest areas of Mexico, driving a cultural influx. Now with political activism and political correctness, even a 170 year old fight still smolders.

So the team announced their new name today, the Houston Dynamo. While neither the proposed or the current name really conjures up any greatness, it's interesting to see what will end up offending others, even when the intention was certainly not there. Sports teams are in the business of making money, not driving away potential customers. Still, many Houstonian's would have rather seen the NFL team named the Toros, rather than the bland Texans. Perhaps Texican's would have been more historically accurate and pleasing?

Still, a change is here in Texas as the majority in the state is now Hispanics. Just as the Anglo colonists came in and eventually took over, perhaps the future will reclaim Texas, if not for Mexico itself, for the people who descended from Santa Ana's army. He may get the last laugh after all.


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February 2013



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