Thursday, August 21, 2008


The Special Olympics are winding down in Beijing this week. This is the first time I've gotten the chance to watch them consistently and I must say they are just as inspirational, if not moreso, than the regular Olympics.

I think it's because you can see the sacrifice the athletes make. With the regular Olympics, you know they train their butt off, but you don’t actually see it. Here, you can at least see some of the difficulties the athletes face.

So, with over a month of Olympics of some sort going on in Beijing, here is a collection of some of the Olympic sports I've seen on TV:

Marathon Swimming

Tae Kwon Do

Wrestling (& Special)





Basketball (& Special)




Rifle Shooting

Swimming (Special)

Synchronized Swimming

Phelps Swimming

Some sort of horse trotting event that wasn't Equestrian and I couldn't believe it was an Olympic sport

Indoor Volleyball

Outdoor Volleyball

Sitting Volleyball (Special)

Ping Pong (& Special)

Track (& Special)




Pole Vault

Long Jump


Weight Lifting

Water Polo


Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I SIGNED UP for the gym yesterday and ended up seeing the 5-on-5 Olympic Men’s Chinese Brawl won by the personal trainers. Here’s how it went down:

I walk into the sales room, and asked:

Sales Guy: SIGN UP?

That’s right. He understood the word with more letters instead of the ones with less.

We sit down in the break area and talk about the price. There are a few guys off to our left, hanging out near the juice bar. All seems calm, normal. I’ll be out of here in a couple minutes with my four month membership. At least, that’s what I thought --- until two of them started pushing each other. The next thing you know they’re fist-fighting. And no sooner do they start brawling than five more guys rush into the room and attack his buddies.

The maylay is in full throttle and I give up my front row seats in favor of the ones on the other side of the room. At first I thought it was amusing – “Hey, these two guys are gonna fight.” But when the other five came in the room, it all seemed coordinated and I didn’t know what was going on. One of the guys made a run for the front desk when one of the personal trainers took him down Brian Dawkins’ style.

It was pretty crazy and the whole incident was over in about 15 minutes. Watching it wind down was bizarre. No one really came in to break up the fight. The guys just got tired of punching each other so they stopped fighting, grabbed each other’s collars, and walked into a room to give diplomacy a try.

At this point, the sales guy made his way over to me and said, “Sorry about that. Where were we?”

Tough loss

This is up there with the Mets' collapse last season. Over the past ten days, I've watched Olympic sports that I never knew existed and it looks like I picked the wrong time to start watching Men's 50m rifle shooting. Is this getting any press in America?

In this sport, a typical score is 9 or 10. The highest you can get is 11. Anything below 7 is very abnormal. This guy was up by 3 points going into the last round. All he needed was a 6.7 for the gold.

He then shot a 4.4, which is unheard of for a pro. As a result, Slovenia picked up their first medal and China won another gold. Our boy finished fourth.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Of Mice and Mars

Last week, a fellow English teacher mentioned that scientists were close to confirming the presence of water on Mars and he followed it up with, “where there is water, there is life.” It was a simple statement, and I've now confirmed that he’s right, at least about the latter.

I moved into my new place three weeks ago. Despite all my pets, I dig it a lot. The neighbors are cool, the air conditioner works, it's quiet at night, and everything I need is within walking distance. However, here are a few key differences between how you and I are living:
Your landlord speaks English.
You don’t need to leave your apartment to go to the bathroom.
Your stove, washing machine, toilet, bathroom sink, shower, and kitchen sink are not within inches of each other (bathroom + kitchen = bathchen). Mine are.
You don’t have a pole that extends from your bedroom window so you can dry clothes. I do.
Your washing machine doesn’t leak. And it is this last point that makes all the difference.

A day or two after moving in, I did my first load of laundry. I noticed the following day that there was a small trickle leading from the washer to the shower drain and thought nothing of it. I knew there would be grit and wrinkles in the new place. I mean, what do you expect for $220 a month?

But shortly after the leak discovery, other signs of life started popping up – ants, roaches, and mice – around the bathchen. The following day, I discovered mosquito bites on my left arm. Good times. Today, I went to the supermarket and bought factory-strength Raid. In addition to removing the first layer of paint on the counter, this stuff eradicated all bugs this side of the Yangtze.

Now, I just need to figure out what to do about the mice.