In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

Category: sports Page 1 of 7


I can’t be sure it was grade five but it feels like it was.

Some of my classmates and I decided to play baseball at recess. The large yard beside the school was occupied by most of the children doing various activities so we went to the smaller empty yard in front of the school. How I got to be the pitcher, I don’t remember. Given the small size of the yard, I had to stand uncomfortably close to the batter and I didn’t like this at all. The best thing I could think of was to turn around after I threw the ball. At least I wouldn’t be hit in the face.

The one of the class athletes took the bat. Now I was even more afraid, especially given that we were using a hardball. I pitched and quickly turned. There bat cracked and a split second later, all I could see was white. I don’t recall when I realized it, but the ball hit me square in the back of the head. By the time my vision returned, I was off to the side of the yard, perhaps six metres away. One of my classmates likened me to a Timex watch because I took a licking and kept on ticking. I was still dizzy though I seem to have managed to walk to the side of the yard, perhaps with help, without falling.

Back in those days, if you had a mishap and remained conscious, weren’t bleeding too badly, and had no broken bones, you were all right and the game continued. I seemed okay and I recall we didn’t even tell any adults. Why would we? The game did continue but without me.

The only after effect, and I can’t even be certain that it was related, is for the next 20 or 30 years, I would occasionally have my vision fill with white and clear a few seconds later. I would also get partially dizzy and have to stop moving to avoid falling. This would happen with varying frequency but it never happened more than once every month or two. By the time I was 16, I was worried about what would happen if these ‘whiteouts’ ever happened while I was driving, but they never did.

I don’t think they happen any more, but I can’t be totally sure. I do recall more recent similar occurrences where I feel a bit dizzy for a few seconds, but I don’t lose my vision. These happen even less often.

Surely there is nothing to be gained by pursuing it now, but I really do wonder what effect it had. With all the recent talk of how head injuries and concussions are far more serious than we realized, I’m certain it did affect me but I can’t be sure how serious it was.

I wonder how things might have been different if I had decided against baseball that day, long ago.

Damned statistics

It seems that the facts of what happened depends on who you choose to tell you about them.

I typically check the CBC News site for the medal standings during the Olympics. Here are the final standings according to a screen capture I just made:

The official site at tells a similar story:

But NBC has a different story to tell:

The source data is the same, but the presentation gives a different standing.

It’s interesting. I had a further look around and every site based in the United States ranks the medal standings on the total number of medals earned, giving themselves a better finishing position. Every site based in the United States, that is, save one. The exception is the Associated Press. Everywhere else in the world, gold medals determine the standings, with the silver and bronze used as tie-breakers. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and neither is right or wrong, but I look forward to the day when sorting by the total number of medals gives the United States a worse position in the standings. What will the American media do then? Do I really need to ask?

For the record, these were the sites I found that sorted the standings as NBC did: CBS News, the Chicago Tribune, CNN, ESPN, Fox News, the Huffington Post (including the Canadian site), the NY Times, Sports illustrated, USA today, and the Washington Post.

This hearkens back to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Donovan Bailey won the gold medal for the 100 metre race with a world record time of 9.84 seconds. The US media traditionally referred to the winner of the 100 metre race as the world’s fastest man. But Bailey is a Canadian! Can’t have that, right? Happily, Michael Johnson won the gold medal for the 200 metre race, and he is American, so the US media called him the worlds fastest man.

Being the country next door gives us remarkably easy access to American media, so this uniquely sorted medal standing is nothing new, but it does allow another insight into the American mind.

The Boss

Welcome to the latest addition to my Forza 5 garage, the 1969 Boss 302 Ford Mustang, in Spartan Assault livery. I’m just launching from the start line of the Top Gear test track in Dunsfold.

Isn’t she pretty?

To my great amusement, image capture within Forza 5 is far more ‘photographic’ than I ever expected. One uses the two thumbsticks to move around and toward or away from the vehicle. Straight-forward, right? What I wasn’t expecting is that one can also set the aperture and shutter-speed! These aren’t absolute values of proper f‑stops and fractions of a second, but rather a slider of small/large and fast/slow, respectively. The reason absolute values are not required is because the exposure not coupled to the aperture and shutter speed. That is, you set the exposure with the exposure slider, the amount of motion-blur with the shutter speed slider, and the depth of field with the aperture slider. Totally bizarre, but very convenient!

CBC News Network, not cool

To my complete amazement, the CBC is starting to run teasers about the 2014 winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. My goodness, the games are a year away! Yea, we’ve read that the CBC managed to get the broadcast rights, but are they planning a year’s worth of ads? Really?

Even if I weren’t annoyed enough at the Olympics to not want to see them at all, I’d still be annoyed at this jumping the ad gun.

The only bright side is that I’ve seen there ads only on the CBC News Network, so far. I don’t have cable, so while I’m at home, I won’t see these ads … until they start running on the main CBC television channels.

Sochi and Rio de Janeiro on the CBC

Listening to the radio on my way home yesterday, I heard the news that the CBC has acquired the Canadian broadcast rights to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I was immediately excited.

Then I realized that I really don’t care.

The logo of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games is a trademark owned by the International Olympic Committee. It appears here in a nominative fair use capacity and I certainly make no claim to the mark, so don't sue me, you repugnant bastards!

The logo of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games is a trademark owned by the International Olympic Committee. It appears here in a nominative fair use capacity and I certainly make no claim to the mark, so don’t sue me, you repugnant bastards!

CTV has the rights to the London games and I haven’t watched any broadcast television since they’ve started. This is a definite change as I used to watch every moment of coverage that I could when I was younger. You’d think I’d be even more glued to the gorgeous high-def broadcast, but you’d be wrong.

This wasn’t something I’d planned. It was never a conscious thought. It’s just a matter of my growing more and more disenchanted with the Olympics over time. It’s come to the point where I’m utterly uninterested in watching any events. The furthest I go is looking at the medal standings when I open the CBC News page.

The games are big business. There was at least one corruption scandal involving the IOC itself. The Olympic organizers require special protections for far more than their trademarks in the host country, and they harshly enforcement these rules. They’re also draconian in their rules about social media and what the athletes can and can’t say using the medium. It should be about the sports and the athletes, but it doesn’t feel that way.

I have few good things to say about companies that forget customers are their customers and treat them as more of an annoyance, but I think the Olympics is certainly the worst in this regard. I respect and admire the athletes and their accomplishments, but I can no longer stomach the Olympic machine and its product.

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