23 February 2014

Sochi Success

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 0937

sochi_logoIt’s always sad when the Olympics are nearing an end. You know that you’ll have to wait another 4 years (well, 2 years, really, even though the Winter Games are much better) for them to come around again. Going into this year’s Olympics in Sochi, I wrote a post about not being as excited as I have been other years. That was partly because I was busy in the weeks leading up to the Olympics, but moreso because of the location. Prior to the start of the games we heard nothing but stories of how hotels weren’t ready, terrorist attacks were a real possibility, the Russian government would curtail some human rights, Sochi had gone so far over budget, stray dogs would be slaughtered and so many other negative things. Now, with the closing ceremony less than 24 hours away, the games seem to have gone off without a major hitch. Bob Costas even made it back so we didn’t have to endure any more of Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera!

What’s more important, it seems like everyone, myself included caught the Olympic spirit once the competition got underway. I watched way more of these olypics than I expected. Thanks to my DVR, I recorded dozens of hours worth of Olympic broadcasts. The best part is being able to fast forward past the stuff I don’t want to see like figure skating and cross country and catch all of the events I do want to see. I even got into curling a little bit this year for the first time.

Did Russia deserve the host the games? I’m probably not qualified to answer that question. Did they pull it off successfully? It certainly appears so!

16 February 2014

Olympic athletes being cyber-bullied? People are pathetic.

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 0002

I understand that the Olympics are a competition, but I can’t imagine what kind of miserable human being watches a young British athlete see her Olympic dreams dashed and responds by sending her threatening messages? Do these same people see an injured person or animal on the ground and rush over to them to kick and stomp on them?

Especially because they say the harassing messages possibly came from South Korea, I hope Christie makes a great comeback at PyeongChang in 2018!

Read Elise Christie’s story here.

07 February 2014

Early thoughts on the Eve of Sochi 2014

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 0111

sochi_logoAnyone who has been following my blog for a number of years knows that I’m a fan of the Olympics, especially the Winter Games. Heck, it’s the only sporting event I actually care at all about except maybe an occasional Philllies game. I’ve been a fan pretty much all of my life and can name the host city for each winter and summer Olympics since I was born. I think I became interested when my mother bought me a little eagle mascot from the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Typically, as the games get closer, I get my television viewing schedule all set (a task that is made infinitely easier now that the DVR has been invented), load up the appropriate apps on my phone, sign up for e-mail alerts, etc. I’ve done those things this year, but even though it’s easier than ever to follow what’s going on at the games these days by following Twitter or Instagram, the excitement isn’t there as usual; at least not for me.

With less than 24 hours until the opening ceremonies, most of the news coming out of Sochi is about topics such as the abysmal condition of many of the hotels that the media are being housed in. I know people love to hate the media, but I do think they deserve water in their hotels. Other articles talk about the risk of a terrorist attack. Every Olympic Games carries a certain level of security concerns but when the Summer Games were in London 2 years ago, we didn’t park warships off the coast in case the need to evacuate Americans arose. On the bright side, if any terrorists show up (and I hope they don’t), perhaps the Russian government can send one of the contracted dog murder squads after them.

Regardless of all this, I’ll be watching the Olympics as usual. After all, it only comes every 4 years. I just hope Russia can pull it off and manage to avoid making regret taking the time to watch. At least I’ll be watching from the comfort of my home where I have running water, doorknobs, shower curtains and no ferrel dogs or construction workers living in my bedroom.

18 August 2012

Belated Olympic Coverage Thoughts

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 2331

In an earlier post I commented that my posts tend to be more plentiful during the Olympics. As it turns out, I was on vacation in Michigan for the entire second week of the London 2012 Games so I just finished watching all of the events that my DVR could hold plus the Closing Ceremonies. (For somehwat obvious reasons, I don’t mention online in any form when I’m on vacation.)

I did keep up with London 2012 while away thanks to constant alerts on my phone and a few nights of watching the games on TV. One of the cool things about being right near our neighbors to the north is that you can watch Canadian TV. So, I got to watch some of CTV’s coverage of the Olympics. It was fun to watch something other than just NBC’s coverage.

That leads me to the main topic of this post, NBC’s coverage of the games. Before I left, I wrote a post about the tribute to terror victims that NBC chose to cut out of the Opening Ceremonies broadcast and replace with, of all things, Ryan Seacrest interviewing Michael Phelps. (I’m not so much against an interview with the now most decorated Olympian of all time, but show it at some other time. You’ve got 2 weeks of shows ahead.) Add that to the fact that the supposed expert commentary consisted of Matt Lauer and Meridith Vieira demonstrating how clueless they are and I definately think it wasn’t NBC’s finest hour. That being said, I think the whole #NBCFail movement was a bit harsh about the tape delayed coverage. There’s a simple reason why the events were shown on tape delay. Very few people are at home to watch the Olympics at 2 pm Eastern. Personally, I was really glad to see that the overall amount of coverage was huge. Between 6 TV channels and the online streaming it was physically impossible to watch all of the coverage. I do, however, think that NBC should have live streamed events even if they were going to be on the “big show” in primetime.

This is the opinion I held all week as I watched the events I’d recorded. (Yes, I know the fact that I watched most events nearly a week late, makes me care even less about a 5 hour tape delay on NBC’s part.) Then tonight I watched the closing ceremonies. The coverage wasn’t bad. Even if we did have to listen to Ryan Seacrest a bit, at least we weren’t subjected to Matt and Meredith wondering who the Spice Girls were. But then as the ceremonies were winding down NBC found a new and creative way to piss off viewers. They broke away from the ceremony to air a full episode of a new show they’re premiering this fall. I was able to fast forward through it and see the end of the show, but it didn’t make it any less infuriating a commercial is one thing but a 44 minute show???

Speaking of commercials I did catch the commercial for NBC’s coverage of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games and it made me hope the next 2 years go fast. Here’s hoping NBC learns from their mistakes before then. I won’t hold my breath.

29 July 2012

View the Tribute Segment that NBC Edited Out

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 0114

The Opening Ceremonies of the London 2012 Summer Olympics were impressive for many reasons. If the Beijing Opening Ceremonies represented how creepily impressive thousands of people all thinking alike can be, then the London ceremonies showed the world what can be accomplished when creativity and free thought are allowed and put to their fullest use.

While watching the impressive event on NBC, it appeared that we were seeing the entire ceremony minus the many commercial breaks. Apparently, that wasn’t the case. It’s now known that NBC edited out a 6 minute segment that represented a somber memorial tribute. It was not officially for the victims of the 7 July 2005 terror attacks in London, but it did feature photos of the victims of those attacks which occurred only days after London was awarded the 2012 Summer Games. The segment can be viewed in BBC One’s broadcast right here.

There’s a bit of an uproar online about this editing choice by NBC. I definitely disagree with the removal of this segment. When I watch the ceremonies I want to experience them as they were intended, not as NBC wants me to see them. I recorded them, so I could fast forward any part I didn’t want to see. The only thing (besides commercials) that I skipped over was Paul McCartney’s performance. (Sorry, I’m not a Beatles fan at all.) Additionally, I see nothing wrong with acknowledging the attacks. During the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, the attacks of September 11th were acknowledged.

The part of the outrage I cannot get behind is the comparison of NBC now showing the tribute segment to the IOC’s refusual to acknowledge the 1972 terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics that year. Obviously, I am neither pro-terrorist or anti-Israel, but I think the IOC made the right decision by deciding against holding anything more than the small gathering that they held in the Olympic Village. The 7/7 attacks took place in the host city, London, right after games were awarded. The murder of Israeli atheletes occurred 40 years ago in a different country. That does not make it any less of a tragedy, but there was also a bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics; should we acknowledge that too? Should every Olympic related tragedy be acknowledged at every opening ceremony? Just because you don’t mention something constantly, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen or that it wasn’t tragic.

28 July 2012

The Online Olympics

Category: Interesting Links,Randomness — Posted by Michael at 2331

I usually write many more posts in my blog during the Olympics than I do in the intervening years. The Olympics are also the only time (other than the occassional Phillies World Series appearance) that you’ll ever see sports of any kind mentioned on my website. However, usually I’m writing them as I watch the Games on television. This year that’s changing some. The more widely popular events are on the primetime broadcast and (my favorite) the late night broadcast. But what if you want to watch the women’s badminton preliminaries or for some odd reason, any fencing match. Then you’ll be glad (as I am) that NBC is live streaming every round of every sport at which they have a camera. While you can view it on their website, the best way is to download the NBC Olympics Live Extra app.  (Fair warning: You must be a cable or satellite subscriber to view NBC’s online content.)

20 February 2010

Medals have tech in them

Category: Randomness,Technology — Posted by Michael at 1939

Vancouver Gold Medal

The medals being presented at the Vancouver Winter Games have the distinction of being “first” in several ways. It’s the first time they aren’t flat. These medals are of an undulating design. Basically, that means they look wrinkled. Personally, I’m still not sure if i like that feature or not.

They also are the first medals that aren’t all the same. Each medal is etched with a randomly cropped portion of a piece of Canadian First Nation artwork representing orca whales.

However, the part that most caught my attention is the fact that the Vancouver medals have technology in them, but not in the way that you think. They don’t have chips in them. They actually have old technology items in them! Some of the metal used to mint the medals came from recycled e-waste. E-waste is a huge problem. I deal with it at work and at home. Old computer equipment and electronics build up at an astounding rate. I know that recycling a small amount of gold, silver and copper and reusing it in Olympic medals isn’t exactly going to solve the problem, but it’s nice to see an opportunity to better publicize the issue. I’m just sorry that I haven’t seen more about this in the media coverage or even on the VANOC website.

You can read more about this on Bloomberg. You can also take a look at all of the past Olympic medals at the IOC site.

19 February 2010

Dumbest Olympic Injury

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 2320

I’m finally catching up tonight on watching all the Olympic events that are recorded on my DVR. Some of the things I’m watching are the downhill which featured some spectacular crashes that hurt just watching them. Then I watched the snowboard half-pipe finals where the American women seem to keep crashing.

After watching these athletes work through injuries and wondering how they persevere, I then read about this German luger who broke a tooth biting his silver medal. I guess it takes a special kind of guy to hurtle down an ice track at 90 mph on a tiny sled. The type of special guy that would chomp into a hunk of medal.

14 February 2010

Olympics time again

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 0038

Vancouver 2010It always seems that my blog gets more use when the Olympics are going on. Ironically, I’m very much not a sports fan except maybe for watching the Phillies. However, I’ve always enjoyed watching the Olympics, especially the Winter Games. I think it’s a combination of the fact that you get to see sports that you don’t see very often (many of which aren’t team sports that I find boring) and the fact that for a few weeks people from various countries actually get together and participate in something just for fun without political posturing and other such silliness.

So, get ready to see more blog entries over the next few weeks, and for the first time some tweets as well.

25 August 2008

Olympic History Online

Category: Interesting Links — Posted by Michael at 2005

Olympic FlagNow that the Beijing Olympics are over … well, they were pretty much over after the first week really, but that’s besides the point … you’ve probably seen all that you want to see about the 2008 Summer Games. However, take a look at the Olympic website for a really cool archive of all past Olympic Games, both Winter and Summer. It shows all medals, torches, logos, major stories, number of participants and much more.

Check it out here.

17 August 2008

Phelps Does It 8 Times

Category: Interesting Links — Posted by Michael at 2257

Michael PhelpsI haven’t posted much about the Olympics this time around partly because the Summer Games don’t interest me as much as the Winter Games. Unless you live in a cave, you have most certainly heard about the most interesting story to come out of Beijing. Of course, I’m talking about Michael Phelps. Everyone hoped he would beat Mark Spitz’s record and win 8 gold medals at these games. Yesterday, he did it. Oh, and did i mention he also set a world record in every single race except one where he “only” set an Olympic record?

There’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been said too many times over, but if you want to relive all 8 of his exciting races, visit NBC’s site for video of each and every race.

09 August 2008

Beijing Olympic Links

Category: Interesting Links,Randomness — Posted by Michael at 2048

What sites am I following to keep up with the Olympics? Mainly, I’m checking out www.nbcolympics.com. Besides Olympic news and updates, it also features a huge amount of streaming video. I’d rather be watching it on TV in HD, but it’s a good way to catch on random and more obscure events.

I’ve also been checking in on the official Olympic site at www.beijing2008.cn. It might not be accessible from some places because one of the side effects of the Olympics being in China is that the official site is in the .cn domain. The Chinese domain is blocked on some networks because a lot of hacking and attacks tend to come out of China.

Interesting Opening Ceremonies

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 0137

Political, environmental and security concerns aside, the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics are officially underway. The opening ceremony was unlike any other. The scale of it was above and beyond a normal opening cermony. China has a lot to prove with these Olympics and they are certainly trying hard.

The ceremony was very impressive. I thought parts were a little boring, but the technology involved was very impressive. The 2008 drummers all drumming was really striking. Though, I thought the funniest thing about it all was that the drummers were told to smile so they seemed less intimidating. (I didn’t actaully see many smiling, and frankly they were quite intimidating!)

08 August 2008

Beijing Olympics – What could go wrong?

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 1804

I’ve always been a huge fan of the Olympics. I like the winter games the best, but I follow the summer games too. This year as the Beijing Summer Olympics get ready to start (Technically they already started, but I’ll skip the confusion of the time difference.) I have to point out that no the fun and excitement of the Olympics are tempered by the problems that could dampen these Olympics.

As you can see in the picture, smog and pollution cloud the skies. There have already been complaints of the press not getting the unfettered internet access that they were promised. I’m sure there will be plenty of protests throughout the games.

I’m not sure what prompted the IOC to decide giving the 2008 Summer Games to China was good idea, but hopefully it will end well. I’m not getting my hope up though.

27 February 2006

One last Olympic Link

Category: Interesting Links,Randomness — Posted by Michael at 2125

OK, OK, so you’re tired of the Olympics. I’ve been talking about the Torino 2006 Winter Olympics for 2 weeks or more now. However, I have to point out one more link that I thought was pretty cool. On the Bejing 2008 Summer Olympics site they have a page that shows all of the medal designs used in every Olympic Games and the torch design as well. You might not agree, but I thought it’s pretty interesting to see how the designs have changed.

View the medals here and the torches here.

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