Thursday, January 22, 2015

Boston 2024

After all the run up to the US Olympic committee, I think I forgot to mention that they actually did get a pick made.  They choose Boston.  The belief is that the US is the front runner for the games because they've gone so long without hosting them.  If Boston wins, it will have been 28 years since the Atlanta games.  Since the US provides a huge amount of the advertising and support, it only makes sense that they'd get good treatment in terms of hosting.
Anyway, they've released some pictures of the proposed sites.  It looks pretty good.  I especially like the idea of holding events on famous University grounds. 
I look forward to it!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Salmon Recipe

On the ride home today, DF asked me if I know how to cook a salmon.  I don't but he was kind enough to give me the recipe.  

Step 1. Get a big fish.
Step 2. Peel the skin off.
Step 3. Cut it in pieces.
Step 4. Leave a big half.
Step 5. Put it in the oven in a long pan.
Step 6. Cook it for maybe 30 minutes.
Step 7. Slice it up into little pieces.
Step 8. Eat.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Joy of Myth

Last week my dad got me a book called 'The Well Trained Mind' (Amazon link).  It's basically a book about the educational upbringing of your children with a heavy emphasis on home-schooling.  While I'm not about to go the home-schooling route, the book seems like an excellent plan for those who do.  I'll be using it as a big ol' suggestion box for things to supplement the education the kids are getting at school.
One thing that it emphasizes is exposing young children to the myths and stories of the classic world.  This means the Greeks and Egyptians of course, but it also suggests the Babylonians and Chinese and such.  We've touched on some of these but probably not enough.
This Sunday we went to the bookstore so that Relia could use her new kids club discount card.  While she was looking at books, I noticed a large bookshelf dedicated to children's versions of the classics.  I grabbed the opportunity and picked up a book of Greek myths.  I showed it to DF and he quickly turned up his nose.
Well, so be it.  I simply told him that the next time I read them bedtime stories, we were going to read from that and I didn't really care if he objected.  I picked a story about Hercules.  He was hooked.  He loved it.  He insisted on another story and then insisted that the FP Gal read from it the next night.  This shouldn't be a surprise, I suppose.  The Greek myths have captivated readers for literally millennia. 
So now I'll go back and find another one.  There was a book on Roman myths (which probably covers much of the same cast).  I'll look for the Egyptians and the Chinese too.  It feels like a world has opened for him. 
Several worlds.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Olympic Stadium Woes

There is an interesting NYT article about the proposed stadium for Tokyo's upcoming 2020 Olympics.  They're fighting over the size and cost of the thing and (especially) its post-Olympic future. 
Officials here have reacted to the public outcry by reducing the proposed stadium’s size and budget. Ms. Hadid’s earlier version came in at about $2.5 billion, more than twice the $1.1 billion originally allocated for the stadium.
The Sport Council at first called for a retractable roof to soundproof future cultural events like concerts. The steep cost of building and maintaining such an apparatus, critics said, would take away valuable materials and financial resources still needed for reconstruction after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
After sustained objections from critics, including Mr. Maki and the 2013 Pritzker winner Toyo Ito, the Japanese government reduced the stadium’s budget to $1.37 billion and its site to 52 acres, down from 71. The revised design still includes a retractable roof.
This made me think of a recent article I saw about the proposed sites for a 2024 San Francisco Olympics.
While San Francisco is the named city in its bid, the proposal for the Games is a regional effort. Venues stretch from San Pablo Reservoir in the East Bay for rowing to the San Jose Convention Center for judo, wrestling and tae kwon do, but 17 of the 26 venues would be in San Francisco. Bid organizers, led by San Francisco Giants President and CEO Larry Baer, who won over Lee on the idea, stress that their plan is evolving. A number of backup sites are available if needed.
But as it stands, 23 of the 26 planned venues are either already built, like Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara; in development, like the Golden State Warriors’ arena in San Francisco’s Mission Bay; or will be temporary, including a $350 million, 65,000-seat “pop-up” stadium on a damp stretch of land in Brisbane where track and field events and the Opening and Closing ceremonies would be held.
Rather than go the route of the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, where construction of major venues helped drive costs to an estimated $44 billion, San Francisco is trying to apply the model used in London in 2012. The Games there were concentrated primarily in existing, temporary or shrinkable facilities and ended with a surplus, according to the London organizing committee’s year-after financial report.
 So in Tokyo, they're talking about a $1370 million dollar stadium while in SF, they're talking about $350 million.  It sounds like SF would have a more temporary approach.  (I think that's what 'pop-up' means.)  While Tokyo wants something permanent and useful beyond 2020.  Both approaches have something to say for them.  Beijing spent a boatload of money on their very pretty site but it's now mostly empty.  The future prospect must be in place before moving forward for it to make financial sense.

The NYT article mentions the awful mess that Montreal made in '76. 
Montreal’s stadium, for example, designed for the 1976 Olympics by the French architect Roger Taillibert, left the city with more than $2 billion in debt that took 30 years to repay, earning the arena a nickname change from the Big O to the Big Owe. Scheduled events there are sporadic, as they are for the stadium used for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, which has been widely criticized for not having a post-Olympics plan.
 Montreal is tricky as a cautionary tale.  The mayor of the city kind of went crazy with the money.  He treated it as if there was no possible limit.  This included lavish bonuses and an apparent belief that there was no possible way of losing money.  And kind of realistic approach today would give better results.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

10th Blog Anniversary

Ten years ago today, I started this little blog.  It grew and then became less but hasn't puttered out.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

100 Books to read in your Life

A pretty good list from Amazon.  I've already read 42 of them and have another 10 or so on my shelf.  I don't know if this link will stay good or not but I hope it does.

Friday, December 12, 2014

2024 Olympics?

Next week the US Olympic Committee will decide if they'll bid on the 2024 Olympics (I'm betting they will) and may decide on which city they'll put forth to host.  There are four cities on the host list:
  • Boston
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Washington DC
I've long believed that if the US bids on 2024, they will win.  The US hasn't hosted an Olympics since Salt Lake City in 2002 and no summer games since Atlanta in 1996.  Given the importance that the US has, particularly in funding, a 28 year gap is a huge one.
So who gets the nod?  I have absolutely no insider knowledge but I'd like to make some guesses.  Pure speculation to follow.
San Francisco is an interesting choice.  The Bay Area is certainly beautiful.  I'm guessing (I haven't checked into it) that there are enough venues in NoCal to satisfy the sporting requirements.  Between the professional teams (six?) and the number of big time colleges, there must be.  Throw in the big money from Silicon Valley and it's a great region.  Plus, summer temps are reasonable.  The downside?  Traffic would be nightmarish and the region doesn't have nearly enough hotel capacity to handle something like the Olympics.  I'm guessing this would be the first city eliminated.
Los Angeles has hosted the Olympics twice before and done a very good job of it.  They've got the venues.  The city is kinda looking for an excuse to build a stadium (or two) so that it can bring the NFL back.  SoCal is much more distributed than the north.  The geography doesn't make traffic the same issue (though LA certainly has issues).  In the same way, the area is distributed enough that it has more hotel capacity.  I think that it gets knocked out because it has already hosted twice though.
Boston would be intriguing for many reasons.  The city itself would host, but realistically it would be a New England Olympics.  Again, the area has the venues, though it may have to spread the soccer a bit further down the coast.  Not a problem.  The history of the area would make it especially interesting.  The hotel capacity is an issue here though maybe not so much as to knock it out.  Boston also seems to have the most organized local opposition to the games.
Washington DC is (in my mind) the most likely.  From what I've seen they've put in the most cosmetically appealing bid.  DC has an enormous amount of clout and my guess is that the insider/outsider relationship between Congress and residents will mean that spending won't be an issue.  The city also has enormous history and pretty good hotel resources.  (I don't have any feel for traffic or infrastructure there.)  If I had to bet a nickle on the result, I'd place it firmly on the DC spot.