Monday, February 24, 2014

Little Bitty BIg News

I suppose if I was keeping some kind of strict standard on the content of this little publication, then things like birth announcements wouldn't be included. People have babies all the time, don't they? No big deal.
Still, there are a couple of things about the birth of Opal Ruth Johannsen that merit special mention. For instance, she (and just for I.D., she's our thirteenth grandchild) wasn't born in a hospital, but in a birthing center. The other noteworthy thing about this eight lb. wonder is that she is named for her maternal great grandfather, whose parents wanted a girl in the early part of the Twentieth Century.  He came out a boy, but that didn't stop his parents from naming him Opal Kneil. His friends took pity on him and called him "Ope". He died of cancer in the sixties, so neither I nor the baby's mother, our youngest, ever met him. But, in this slightly odd way, his name lives on. Baby and mom both doing fine one week into mortality.

I watched a good deal of the Winter Olympic games these past two weeks. It's not as big a show as the Summer Olympics, but there are still plenty of memorable moments, good and sad.
Don't ask me why, but the Winter Games seem to lend themselves to specialization by certain countries in certain events. The Austrians are downhill skiers, the Finns and Norwegians seem to be dominant in cross country skiing and ski jumping and the Russians almost always have top notch figure skating pairs.
This time around, two countries really schooled the rest of the world in things they were already known for. The Canadians are free to pound their chests and declare themselves the ice hockey country. Not only did their men take gold, but their women's team climbed out of what looked like a fatal grave to take out the USA in overtime after trailing by two goals with under four minutes remaining in regulation. If you're on the wrong end of that game, it's a little like a lifetime sentence of "loser". Hard to put behind you? More like impossible - the ugly gorilla following in your footsteps for, oh, three or four decades. But what can you say, other than "Well (gag) done, Canada."
Then there's the Netherlands - a country with flat terrain which lends itself to speed skating by having a large system of irrigation canals that freeze in winter. "Forget that skiing stuff. I'll race you on this canal to that windmill two miles from here." All the Dutch did this time around was to reach in with both hands and take away just about every medal worth having, all while dressed in blinding orange. It isn't a big country by any stretch, but they've got a competitive niche, and they're not giving it up.    


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