Posts tagged ‘sports’

January 27, 2013


Superbowl is coming up to the excitiment of everybody, pic:

Superbowl is coming up to the excitement of everybody, pic:

THE annual event is coming up.  No it is not Christmas and I certainly don’t mean Valentine’s Day either.  I mean Superbowl, one of the most holy and revered sporting events in the US.  There are others, but I don’t now anything about baseball and World Championships and basketball and whatever very important events they have.  But I know a thing or two about American football and I have been to a Superbowl party for 10 years straight.  That makes me an expert – at least for an expat from Germany.

Every year through some mysterious process which I don’t tend to follow, 2 teams end up playing the Superbowl.  Whoever wins is the champ.  I am sure they get something cute to put on the mantel and tons of money.  This year a catastrophe was narrowly avoided: the home team, the San Francisco 49ers, qualified and the Patriots (the Boston team) was a hot contender to play the 49ers.  Now that would have thrown me into a big conflict over whom to root for as I also spent two extremely educational and very pleasurable years in Boston.  Alas, the Patriots lost to the Ravens (Baltimore) and so I won’t have to face this conflict.  Go 9ers!

If you want to know about the football rules, there are better sources than this blog to educate you.  I can follow the game, yell “interference” with the best of them or say something like “3rd and 8” with a grave face if it pertains to “my team” but the subtleties are lost on me, sort of like off-side in soccer.

The point, though, is that Superbowl is an excuse to party.  And by that I mean drinking beer during the day  and eating food that would generally not pass the “healthy, whole-grain, gluten-free” test but will score high on fat, carbs, spices, and preservatives – and lots of it.  It’s also the day where the man cave turns into the center of the house and the poor schmucks who don’t have a man cave dust off all sorts of comfy reclining chairs that have been banned to the basement by wives with a finer taste in interior design .  Wives/girl-friend pass platters with nacho chips and salsa during the game, chat among themselves and wait for their moments: the abundant ads.  Superbowl ads are super expensive and legendary and anticipated as eagerly as the game.  A classical radio show host question has become: “what do you look forward to most?  The game, the ads or the snacks.”  In recent years companies have started to leak sneak previews of their anticipated ads a couple of weeks before the Superbowl – as if these things were big movies.  This years anticipated ads include VW and Mercedes Benz, Coke, Best Buy and a bunch of others to be found here.

I do enjoy these events, they are so quintessentially American (although, where I live the majority of the Superbowl party attendees are of Indian or Chinese origin) – and a perfect excuse to eat junk food.  Go, 9ers, go!

September 19, 2012


Every year I come back from a summer in Europe to find things changed (and prices for staple foods up).  Last year it was the local Borders bookstore that, along with all others in the nation, was about to close and during its last days of “final final everything must go sale” offered mainly fluffy blankets made of shiny synthetics and left over shelving units.  This year it was the inexplicable disappearance of your local chain Mexican food place which we actually quite liked.  We still find ourselves saying on Sundays “lets go to Baja Fresh” to then add “oh, no.  It’s closed, darn.”  (of course we only say darn because of your son, else stronger language would be used).

Ways to go before Silicon Valley looks anything like this, pic:

This year I came back to a better change: bike paths have appeared.  Nothing like in Germany or Holland but there are bike paths now.  Along busy 4 lane city streets which are pretty much suicidal to ride on, bike paths that suddenly start and just as suddenly stop leaving you to wonder whether you are supposed to just disappear or have a friend with a car pick you up or what.  But bike paths never the less.  And I have actually seen people ride on them: few and tentatively and quite fearful – understandably.  But it is surprising and good.  This is how it starts.  I don’t expect our silicon Valley suburb to ever look like Amsterdam but every little but helps!

September 15, 2012

Upper Hand

This phrase is read this morning in the newspaper in connection with the current unrests in Libya, Egypt and Yemen.  It is an interesting one, actually quite obvious what it means in the context of most sentences – to have /get /keep /regain the upper hand means to have /get /keep /regain a dominant position, the position of power, the advantage over.

The little guy on the right has the upper hand – at least so far.

The phrase is used widely, in sports a team can have the upper hand over another, in war or in politics one group can have the upper hand over the other and at home mom has the upper hand – at least that is what I tell my son.

The origin of the term seems to go back to a game:  a player grabs a stick with his/her hand the next one puts his hand on top and the first one on top of that and so they go until they reach the end of the stick.  Whoever manages to squeeze in the last hand wins.  Apparently this method was also used – or maybe is -on playgrounds for selection of impromptu baseball teams, the captain who has the upper hand gets to choose the first player for his team from the group of kids wanting to play.

April 30, 2011

Gym Parking Lot

I go to the gym three times a week, sometimes more.  I go there to exercise and move my body.  I assume most people who go to the gym would do it for the same reason.  Why else would you hang out in a sort of smelly noise place with people dressed in unattractive outfits?

Rather wait than walk, pic:

I do take my car to the gym most always for a variety of reasons and do feel somewhat guilty about it – I should really use the bike.  So I get to the parking lot in front of the gym and more times than not witness the following scene: big car waiting, indicator lights on  for some guy to open the car, open the trunk, then put his bag in, than futz around a bit, then futz a bit more, then getting in the car, grabbing a bottle of water, having a drink, turning the car on, buckling up, having another drink, checking email on the smart phone and then – finally, slowly – drive out.

If the parking lot was full I’d do the same but – for crying out loud – there is a parking spot, in fact two or three right there, all you have to do is walk ten more meters to the gym entrance.  Not happening.  People rather wait – patiently to my amazement – for the guy to stop futzing around and leaving than walking 10 more meters before they hop on the treadmill.

This must be one the most irrational behaviors ever.  I cannot (unless it rains

cats or dog or you are in North Dakota in February with below zero Fahrenheit temps) think of any even moderately good reason to behave that way.

April 25, 2011

Going hiking

Going hiking in this country is always fun for a variety of reasons.  For one, there are absolutely amazingly beautiful spots, like the Sierra Nevada not too far from where I live.  The other fun part is to watch people.  Now people watching is a favorite pastime of many Americans but it is generally done in a shopping mall or a sidewalk cafe.  But, really, a National Park is much more interesting venue.

What's appropriate for a Sierrs crossing isn't for a walk in the park, pic:

There are several categories of people to watch but I have the most fun with the extremes.  Let’s start with the gear nuts.  Going on a 2 mile hike these guys are equipped like they are about to climb Mount Everest:  the latest and most expensive of branded pants, jackets and backpacks are used, expensive water bottles, hiking sticks, shoes, performance food, goggles, sun hats, and  socks for $25 a pair are being shown off.  Its more like going to an outdoors fashion show.  Even the kids are outfitted like little professionals.  Today I saw two kids, aged 4 or 5 or thereabouts walking with little helmets, each with a camel back and a high-end coordinated outfit of pants and jacket.  How far can the little rascals go to be needing a camel back?  I am a great fan of taking enough water 9as long as my husband carries it) – but you don’t need three galons for a moderate 2 mile hike.  Trust me!

The other extreme are the people in flipflops and shorts at 8000 feet elevation, no water, no food and no idea that that big gray cloud at the horizon could bring ice cold rain in about 30 minutes from now.  I have seen grandmas in clogs climbing around on slippery, wet rocks, Indian women in strapy sandals on paths entirely covered in snow, girls in mini skirts and ballerinas trying to go up Mount Whitney (almost 14,500 feet = almost 4,500 meters).  I have rushed down mountains in drizzly weather with temperatures in the 40s while guys in shorts and beach sandals just started to climb the mountain, apparently thinking they are cool.  If I hear another story about somebody getting lost in the local county park for three days I am not surprised.

People watching is always fun!

March 14, 2011

Gym terms

another perfect excuse to show Daniel Craig shirtless, pic: offmybirdchest.

I just got home from the gym and that gave me the idea to write about a few “gym terms”.  lets start with gym, when I first moved to the US I did not know what a gym was, I knew fitness studios – that’s what we call those places back in Germany – but gym, as in the abbreviation of gymnasium  – no idea, or rather the wrong idea as Gymnasium is a form of high-school in Germany.

Anyway, I got gym sorted out and have morphed into somewhat of a gym rat over the last couple of years.  A gym rat is somebody who frequents a gym regularly.  Sometimes people like that are also called gym bunnies – but when in doubt I personally prefer to be a gym rat over a gym bunny.  Bunnies just don’t portrait the idea of a strong body all that well.

Other than working out one might see a ripped body or two at the gym.  Ripped means very low body fat therefore showing of the muscles nicely.   Sometimes one sees a nice six-pack – abdominal muscles that are so well developed that they can be seen as separate muscles strands. It is mostly guys who sport six packs (also called washboard)

Ideally all those muscles are achieve without juice – anabolic steroids that help guys to bulk up but tend to have nasty side effect also known as roid rage (Aggressive behavior after taking large amounts of steroids).

March 11, 2011

Soccer moms

A typical soccer mom, pic:

Soccer moms are a very American species.  The expression is a somewhat derogatory term for generally white middle-class, stay-at-home moms who spend an extraordinary amount of time chauffeuring their kids around – of course in an SUV or a minivan, not a VW Bug – to different sporting events (hence the term soccer) and other enriching after school activities.  Soccer moms generally are married and live in the suburbs.

Created in the 80s the term came into widespread use in the 90s.  It started out as a positive label used by an ambitious female politician for herself to get the message across that she is just like the other moms out there, one of them and therefore a good choice to vote for.

Over the years the term has taken on a negative connotation, one generally thinks of hurried women, planning every second of their children’s life, overburdening them with valuable activities (vs vegging out in front of the TV) and going crazy between volunteering at school, supervising piano practice, driving all over the town for baseball practice while providing healthy snacks.

What gets the soccer moms into the headlines is the belief (whether it is a fact I don’t know) that they are swing voters and able to make a significant difference in the next election.

February 7, 2011

There is the rub

“There is (or there’s) the rub” is another idiom used to indicate that there is a problem or difficulty.  That’s the problem would be an accurate “translation” of the idiom.

This is not what "there's the rub" means, pic: © Bobby Flowers |

However, there is a second possible meaning to the idiom rather than meaning there’ the problem, it can also mean “there is the essence.”  These two meaning s are similar but not identical

The idiom dates back to Shakespeare and in his original context both meanings are implied.  However, over time it seems to have been mainly used for expressing the idea of problem/difficulty rather than essence.

If you thought about a back rub or a massage reading about this  idiom you were wrong.  It is another sports related idiom.  Rubs were obstacles in the game of bowls, which divert the ball from its true course.  Shakespeare is believe to have liked that game quite a bit and he uses Bowl-inspired” idioms frequently.

There’s the rub is an idiom that’s is perfectly acceptable in a personal and business setting.

January 19, 2011

The end of the rope

Let's hope they don't reach the end of the rope on the way down, pic: © Gelyngfjell |

When you reach the end of your rope you are not in a good position – every rock climber rappelling down from a mountain with a rope that falls 30 feet short will intuitively understand that. However, I don’t think that the idiom has its origin in rock-climbing – but it could.

To be at the end of one’s rope means that one has reached the limits of ones patients and endurance – or both. It also implies that one has run out of options – you are stuck in a bad situation with no easy way out.

Here are a couple of examples:

Mother of teenage daughter: “she is defiant and uncooperative and then she wants to go out wearing these mid-riff free T-shirts and high heels.  If I want to talk to her she simply doesn’t listen.  I am at the end of my rope with her.”

Here is an article about parents which – at the end of their rope – sedate their babies.


January 14, 2011

Fish ISO bicycle

Couple of things here.  Firstly, ISO is an acronym for many a thing, like International Organization for Standardization but in personal ads it stands for “in search of” so here this would translate into fish in search of bicycle.

This fish seems to really need its bicycle, pic:

Which brings us to the second point – the expression: like a fish needs a bicycle.  The point is, the fish does not need a bicycle ever and so the bicycle is superfluous.

The slogan is attributed to Gloria Steinem and was originally a feminist slogan ” A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”  That makes this idiom a young one  – as idioms go.

It can, of course be used in other contexts to indicate that something is utterly superfluous.


“I think I am coming down with a cold.  Right now I need a cold like a fish a bicycle.”

There are, however, curiously few google results for that particular idiom and not very many at all that refer to something other than women and men.

The expression is somewhat sarcastic but altogether light-hearted.  It is fine in personal use but on the job I would use it sparingly and if so only with a facial expression and body language to indicate that I mean to make a silly little joke.