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Sports: Injury Time

June 15th, 2019 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

I suppose this began when I began regularly watching the National Football League, again, for the first time in two decades.

Injuries. Injuries everywhere.

But now, the ugly injuries are by no means concentrated in the realm of football.

They are everywhere. As NBA fans could tell you after Kevin Durant ruptured his Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and Golden State teammate Klay Thompson blew out his knee in Game 6.

I have not done the math … I’m not sure anyone has … but I feel like we are seeing more major injuries in the field of sports than ever before.

I believe one crucial, perhaps overriding consideration is the pace of play.

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Iceland: Go or No Go?

June 12th, 2019 · No Comments · Iceland, tourism, Travel, Uncategorized

Two full days in Iceland, as well as one very long evening and one very early morning.

Enough to have an opinion on the little island in the upper reaches of the north Atlantic?

Of course it is.

We all make snap judgments, some snappier than others, given on how long we are around a new vacation spot.

Thinking of going to Iceland? Then here are some concepts to take into account.

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The Church on the Hill

June 9th, 2019 · No Comments · Iceland, Lutherans, tourism, Travel

Seven of us are sharing a comfortable home near the port and downtown of Reykjavik, capital and biggest city of Iceland.

On our first night there, I noticed an interesting, modern church that seemed to be made of pentagonal blocks. The whole of it was painted white. And it was about 100 yards from where we are staying, up on a hill with a great view of the bay.

So, next morning was Sunday morning, and I wasn’t quite sure when services were, or if I might be interested in them … so I climbed up the hill at 10:30 or so, and opened the door, and walked to the entrance of the nave where a four-person choir was practicing.

I also saw a tall, dignified-looking man who is the minister of the congregation, who spotted me and came over. I said I was a Lutheran from America, and he seemed pleased, given that he is a Lutheran minister for a Lutheran chuch … and he invited me to their 11 a.m. service.

I said I would see him then.

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Iceland Required Viewing: The Golden Circle Tour

June 8th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Travel

Some tourists travel to Iceland planning a lengthy stay. A week, or more, which probably includes outdoorsy activities. Climbing mountains and such. Hiking up dormant volcanoes. Deep-sea fishing.

Or perhaps they want to take a leisurely drive around the edges of the world’s 13th-biggest island, spending nights in tiny hotels or under a tent. Waiting for the Northern Lights to make their ghostly appearance.

Without consulting with the Iceland chamber of commerce, I’m going to say that a significant majority of tourists here are thinking of a shorter stay. Three days, maybe four.

And for those people, it becomes clear that they pretty much have to take a particular all-day trip — on the Golden Circle. A four- or five-stop bus trip to the best of Iceland’s scenery within a one-day drive of Reykjavik, the capital.

Today was the day we did it. Our group of six climbed aboard a small bus and turned our lot over to a young woman who didn’t cotton to tourists who didn’t make it back to the bus in the time she had allotted and perhaps drove a bit faster than was needed.

But that is not germane to our job here. What matters is four fairly spectacular stops in what constitutes a loop of the southwest bit of the country.

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A Weekend in Iceland

June 7th, 2019 · 1 Comment · tourism, Travel


Always wanted to go to Iceland. And here we are.

When flying to Europe from Southern California, on the great circle route, people can sometimes see Iceland from 35,000 feet, looking cool and inviting, and it seems a bit odd that we never went on down and landed and looked around. We finally did.

We arrived today in the mid-afternoon, after two plane rides to exit France.

Iceland seems a bit unreal. Almost off the grid, floating out there in the frigid north Atlantic, a bit of it extending inside the Arctic Circle.

To a guy from southern California, where it is warm and dry, mostly empty Iceland, up there between Norway and Greenland … well, it must be a long way from a big city.

That is not quite the case. We went from Paris to the capital city Reykjavik in less than three hours; to get from Los Angeles to Chicago takes longer. That takes care of the “long”. Now for the “big city”. Reykjavik has a population of about 130,000, but when suburbs are added, the capital (and environs) boast have 250,000, which is about two-thirds of Iceland’s total population.

Iceland is not only a bit mysterious, it also is a little glamorous. Sort of the end of the populated areas of the earth, and to be there … well not everyone goes.

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75 Years Later, France to Allies: ‘Merci’

June 6th, 2019 · No Comments · France, Germany, Paris

Seventy-five years ago today, 150,000 American, British and Canadian troops landed in France to begin the reclamation of Europe and especially France from Nazi Germany.

Recalling D-Day, as June 6, 1944 is known in the U.S., has been a very big thing this week, here in France, and I am more than a little surprised.

France is a proud country with a long history of martial prowess, but World War II had seen French forces almost immediately fall to pieces in the face of a German invasion in 1940. A bit more than four years later, Yanks, Brits and Canucks were dropped into northwest France by parachute, or stormed the beaches from landing craft.

It was the beginning of the end of World War II, the outcome of which has led to seven decades of almost uninterrupted peace in Europe. But the French had not always seemed enthusiastic about conceding they were rescued from occupation by the Yanks, Brits and Canucks.

I have been around long enough to remember watching, on U.S. television in 1964, a special report entitled “D-Day: Plus 20 Years”, and as various recollections of the events of June 6 have rolled around, since, France has not always seemed keen to celebrate. Perhaps because the French in 1944 so clearly could not free themselves.

But this time … I sense a new, perhaps unprecedented French willingness to look back at a time when the country waited for the Allies to come to their succor.

This willingness has been obvious on French television, where the French president Emmanuel Macron, could be seen in the midst of celebrations in England and Normandy, the site of the invasion. Those celebrations included the British prime minister Theresa May and the U.S. president Donald Trump, as well as thousands of tourists keen to be part of the celebration — including hundreds of men who represent the final survivors of the generation that liberated France and the rest of Western Europe. [Read more →]

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My New Competitive Heroes: A Fat Guy and a Librarian

June 4th, 2019 · No Comments · Boxing, Jeopardy!

Two fun developments over the past few days:

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man won the heavyweight boxing championship, and a librarian ended a reign of terror on the game show “Jeopardy!”

Both results were unexpected. And welcome.

The first hero was Andy Ruiz Jr., winning a seventh-round knockout victory over the previously unbeaten Englishman Anthony Joshua … and the second was Emma Boettcher, who played a nearly perfect game to bring closure to the 32-episode rampage of “professional gambler” James Holzhauer on the staid set of “Jeopardy!”

Bravo! Twice over!

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Baseball Attendance Down? High Prices Are to Blame

June 1st, 2019 · 2 Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

I have held a Baseball Writer’s Association of America press credential for the past 30 years or so, which goes a long way toward explaining my shock and horror at the price of Major League Baseball tickets.

BBWAA credential-holders do not pay to enter the stadium. Any MLB stadium.

In my mind, when I get around to buying tickets, I am looking for prices from three decades ago. When even then it seemed a bit pricey for a family of four looking to see their favorite team play — in person.

But now?

A story appeared earlier this week noting that MLB attendance numbers are down for the fourth consecutive season. And we probably could come up with a half-dozen reasons why that might be, but by far the biggest reason has to be:

Cost. The unconscionable cost.

The eye-watering, price-gouging, house-payment-expense of buying tickets, a direct cost placed on fans — some of whom cannot justify to themselves the expense, and which should make baseball’s owners and players take into account a future with lower revenues.

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Read This: Man City, Bad Guys after All?

May 29th, 2019 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Champions League, English Premier League, Football, soccer

It was madness. A moment of weakness. Impressed by Manchester City’s stampede through the Premier League. League, League Cup, FA Cup.

So, on May 12, I had a shout-out, on this blog, for the club and its players, and the owner back in Abu Dhabi.

Big mistake, in retrospect, especially with the publication of a story (link, below) showing malfeasance on the part of numerous clubs both large (especially) and small.

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Pulling for Golden State’s Golden Triangle

May 28th, 2019 · No Comments · Basketball, NBA

Most NBA fans/observers are probably not interested in this. I am.

I want the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA championship, over the Toronto Raptors, and I want them to do it with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green running the show.

I want the return of the Big Three that carried the club to the 2015 championship.

Meaning “pre-Kevin Durant”.

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