Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pawn shops and restaurants

"I don’t want to be a supermodel; I want to be a role model." — Queen Latifah 

DURING OUR FREE time in Omaha at the Olympic swimming trials between the preliminary races in the morning and the semis and finals in the evening, I suggested to Paul that we do something we always say we wish we had time for — visit pawn shops.

We like going to architectural salvage places, antique shops, used book and records shops, Army/Navy surplus stores and pawn shops. Hey, one person's trash is another one's treasure. We hit at least seven of them. 

Paul is always on the lookout for musical instruments and audio and photography equipment. I'm a sucker for antique lighting, and I'll usually look through the records and CDs. Paul didn't score any instruments, but at the last shop he found a 55 to 200 mm zoom for our Nikon. You'll notice the improvement in the quality of the photos from the trials due to that lens.

I bought two CDs for a $1 each; both proved to be a learning experience. The first one is The Columbia Album of Cole Porter — all Cole Porter songs played by Michel Legrand and his orchestra. How can you possibly go wrong with Cole Porter?! 

I'll tell you how: by having this dude, Legrand, in charge. The orchestration is just weird and down right awful at times, and when I say "weird" I don't mean in a good way, but I'm still glad I bought it. I didn't realize how many songs Cole Porter wrote or how many of them have the word "love" in the title. I suggested to Paul and Richard Early that the Turner Center Jazz Orchstra have an all-Cole-Porter concert, and I think they might.

The second CD is the original soundtrack recording from the movie Living Out Loud. Queen Latifah sings three songs, and she is just friggin' awesome.

The Queen herself.

I put in the CD while we were driving and asked Paul to guess who was singing. He couldn't. Neither one of us had any idea what a phenomenal singer she is!!! I played it later when our friend Kit was visiting and for Paul's mom. It turns out that both own another CD by Queen Latifah called The Dana Owens AlbumPaul's mom won the prize, though, for being the only one able to guess whose voice it was. We are definitely buying that CD.

We found two restaurants particularly enjoyable: McFoster's Natural Kind Cafe and Nicola's Italian Wine and Faire. McFoster's is a vegetarian restaurant. We discovered it a few years back, and we're glad they're still around. Here's a link to their site. We liked it so much that we ate at McFoster's three times in four days — brunch, lunch or dinner. Have anything on the menu; you'll love it. It's worth the drive from Des Moines just to eat there.

Nicola's is a quaint, family-owned restaurant in Old Market. We ate outside on the patio, and both of us loved our dinners. Reasonably priced, charming atmosphere; we recommend it. My only complaint was that the tomato in my salad tasted like food-service-bought-by-the-box produce. If they can get locally-grown, ripe tomatoes, they'll be perfect. They're located on the corner of 13th and Jackson Streets

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tour de Lance

"It's not about the bike." — Lance Armstrong, professional bicyclist — the title of his book

I'M THINKING he's right, it's not about the bike. It's about the drugs.

The Tour de France has often been called the Tour de Lance because Lance Armstrong dominated it for so long, but as more allegations of doping surface, the question is — did he or didn't he. Unfortunately, I think he did. There's way too much smoke not to be a fire in there somewhere. Too many of his former teammates have come forward saying that they witnessed him in the act.


And with guys like Roger Clemens, you gotta wonder why it takes so long to get it that they're doping! When a player suddenly has a neck the size of a tree trunk, something besides power workouts has to be going on.

Roger Clemens or the Incredible Hulk?

Sometimes I question whether it's worth the effort to try and keep chemical enhancement out of sports. What if we let those who are so inclined ingest or inject whatever they choose? 

But what about the athletes who want to find out what their bodies are capable of purely on their own who would then be at a competitive disadvantage? I propose two separate 'divisions' for every sport — performance enhanced and au natural. We'll see whether it's Frankensports or unadulterated athleticism that pulls in the crowds. I vote for the latter. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

First woman coach

"The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, 'It's a girl.'" Shirley Chisholm

I'M GLAD IT'S happened, but you gotta admit it's pretty pathetic that it's taken this long. We finally have a woman, Teri McKeever, as head coach of the women's Olympic swim team. Unfortunately, she has three men as assistant coaches. I will be in favor of that when the head coach of the men's team has three female assistant coaches.

Here's her picture. Below you'll also find the women's Olympic swimming team listed.

A bunch of men and Teri McKeever.

Haley Anderson - 10K Open Water 
Elizabeth Beisel – 200 Backstroke, 400 IM 
Dana Vollmer - 100 Fly, 800 Free Relay 
Allison Schmitt - 400 Free, 200 Free, 400 Free Relay, 800 Free Relay 
Missy Franklin – 100 Free, 100m Backstroke, 200 Backstroke, 200 Free, 400 Free Relay, 800 Free Relay 
Breeja Larson – 100 Breaststroke 
Lauren Perdue – 800 Free Relay 
Caitlin Leverenz – 400 IM , 200m IM 
Cammile Adams – 200 Fly 
Kathleen Hersey – 200 Fly 
Claire Donahue – 100 Fly 
Chloe Sutton – 400 Free 
Rachel Bootsma – 100 Back 
Rebecca Soni – 100 Breast, 200 Breast 
Ariana Kukors – 200 IM 
Micah Lawrence – 200 Breast 
Jessica Hardy – 50 Free, 100 Free, 400 Free Relay 
Lia Neal – 400 Free Relay 
Katie Ledecky – 800 Free 
Kate Ziegler – 800 Free 
Amanda Weir – 400 Free Relay 
Natalie Coughlin – 400 Free Relay 
Shannon Vreeland – 800 Free Rela
Alyssa Anderson – 800 Free Relay 
Kara Lynn Joyce – 50 Free

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Cloud eight

"Cloud nine gets all the publicity, but cloud eight actually is cheaper, less crowded, and has a better view." George Carlin

Paul AND I weren't sure we were going to able to attend the Olympic Swimming Trials held in Omaha June 25 to August 2 since Paul was still recovering from a brown recluse spider bite, so we ended up making our hotel reservations at the very last minute. 

Four years ago, we attended the Trials on a whim and also booked a place to stay in the nick of time. I secured a room at a Clarion Hotel and felt extremely fortunate to have found anything at all, especially at such a reasonable rate.

We felt like we'd lucked out, but when we drove to where the Clarion was supposed to be, we couldn't see it anywhere. There was, however, a hotel called the Clarino on that spot. It didn't look necessarily open, and we began to think we'd been scammed. 

It turned out an Indian family had purchased the Clarion and to save money, had switched the N and the O to change the name from the Clarion Hotel to Clarino Hotel since it was no longer part of the Clarion chain. The evidence of the letter swapping was obvious; the big illuminated letters had left an imprint of their original positions.

The hotel had seen its better days, but it was clean, and considering that we were happy to find accommodation anywhere and at such a low price, we weren't complaining.

This time around I wanted to find a better place to stay, but since we were once again searching at the 11th hour, we discovered that area hotels had tripled their normal rates; a $100 room was now $300 (or more) for Thursday and Friday, and Saturday night was sold out entirely. 

Paul suggested staying at the Clarino again, but I demurred and asked for a little more time to search the internet before we had to resort to that. Eventually I found a hotel that looked pretty nice called the Carol. The rates weren't inflated and amazingly they had availability for all three nights. 

All was well, and I was relieved that we weren't having to stay at the Clarino

Thursday afternoon when we drove into Omaha, Paul was navigating to our hotel when he noticed that it was kind of in the same neck of the woods as the old Clarino/former Clarion. As he made the last few turns he exclaimed, "Kelly! This isn't near the Clarino. It IS the Clarino." We about died laughing! 

Yup, they'd done it again. They removed the I and the N and rearranged the letters to turn Clarino into CarolWhen we checked in I said to the desk clerk — the same Indian man as four years ago, "The next time we come back you're probably going to be the Cal."

They'd gotten new furniture for the rooms, which perked the place up a bit, and except for the fact that although we could regulate the temperature inside our rooms to our satisfaction, the owner hadn't deemed it necessary to cool the lobby or hallways — it was fine. 

The other oddity was that there was a living room couch in the lobby where two elderly family members — in a traditional sari and whatever the male equivalent is — perched with a laptop studying out loud for their citizen test. "What is the name of the ocean on the eastern coast of the United States?" "Who was the first president of the United States?" "What is the White House?" 

Rather appropriate I suppose for an event leading up to the international Olympics and almost the Fourth of July.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Quote for the day

"I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself." — Marlene Dietrich

A FRIEND OF ours, the delightful Sue Smith, often shares a quote on Facebook, Her selections always provide a good laugh. I'm going to borrow her idea, although not her quotes — okay I might steal one or two —  and have some sort of pithy, funny, inspirational or, from time to time, snarky quote whenever I write an entry on Hey Look

Paul and I have at least three books of quotations on our bookshelves at home, ones I purchased before I met him, because I like the power of words, and as far as I'm concerned, I always need the benefit of the wisdom, courage, morality and humanity of others as a guide for how to live.

From here out, I'll have a "quote for the day", however I'm also going to go backwards in time and add one to every previous post. It will take me awhile, for sure. So in case you're interested, although I'm sure you have much more important things to do, you can go back in time with me. They'll always be at the top of the page, so you won't have to search to find them.

In the process of looking for relevant quotes to our time spent in Omaha watching the Olympic swimming trials, I found the one below, and it was just too great to bury in a past post with the possibility of not having it seen by anyone, so here it is:

Being your best is not so much about overcoming the barriers other people place in front of you as it is about overcoming the barriers we place in front of ourselves. It has nothing to do with how many times you win or lose. It has no relation to where you finish in a race or whether you break world records. But it does have everything to do with having the vision to dream, the courage to recover from adversity and the determination never to be shifted from your goals. — 
Kieren Perkins, three-time Olympic medalist in long distance swimming 
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Beauty queen

"If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat."
 — Mark Twain, Notebook, 1894

THE LOVELY MISS Shiva; she's a Maine Coon.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Big red truck(s)

"I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine." — Kurt Vonnegut

YIKES. This was the view from our house about half an hour ago when the restaurant next door, Yanni's, apparently had a fire. This picture doesn't do it justice; there were actually six fire trucks altogether and at least one police car. One gigantic ladder truck pulled up in front after I took the photo, and the others weren't visible using my iPhone camera.

Wow, you can't say that Ankeny emergency personnel aren't responsive. There were all manner of firefighters in full regalia, including carrying axes. They pulled out one hose and used it, and 45 minutes to an hour later, all departed.

Paul was so tired from playing a gig last night and a really long, hot one today, 9:00 AM to 2:00 in the afternoon, that when I gently tried to rouse him enough to tell him that there were six fire trucks next door, he mumbled, "Uh huh, fire next door, six trucks, uh huh," and went right back to sleep.

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Yankee Doodle Pops

"Weather forecast for tonight: Dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning." George Carlin

EVERY YEAR THE Des Moines Symphony puts on a free concert on the grounds of the state capitol to celebrate the Fourth of July, complete with accompanying fireworks of course. It wouldn't be practical or safe to have thousands of people driving, parking and trying to find places for blankets and chairs in the dusk to darkness necessary for fireworks, so there's always an opening act as a draw beforehand while it's still bright sun.

This year it was the Turner Center Jazz Orchestra that Paul plays in. I was lucky enough to have a seat in the front row of the VIP section, and Paul joined me there after his performance for the rest of the night. 

Governor Terry Branstad and his family were seated in the front row with us, a few chairs away, and after the concert, Paul said, "There aren't many advantages to being married to a trombone player, but every now and then, you get to have as good a seat as the governor's." 

Here are some pictures from the night.

Richard Early is the executive director of the Des Moines Symphony. He arranged
for the TJCO to be the opening act. Jim Eklof on drums has been the drummer for
 40 years for, as Johnny Carson always referred to her, The Marvelous Marilyn Maye.

Paul in the center, Joel Poppen on trumpet (right),
Jim Bovinette (left), and Don Jaques on saxophone in front.

The wonderful Janey Hooper sang some tunes with the band.

Drake University professor Andy Classen is
the conductor of the TJCO. 
Part of the Des Moines Symphony's string section.

Music and fireworks.

Conductor Joseph Giunta congratulate
concertmaster Jonathan Sturm.

The Iowa State Capitol.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Dara Torres in the women's 50m freestyle Olympic trials

"A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." — Eleanor Roosevelt

SUNDAY NIGHT AT the Olympic swimming trials we also saw the two semi-finals races in the women's 50m freestyle. In the second semi, we were privileged to see the fabulous and amazing Dara Torres.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about her. 

"Torres is the first and only swimmer from the United States to compete in five Olympic Games (1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008), and, at age 41, is the oldest swimmer ever to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic team. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, she competed in the 50-meter freestyle, 4x100-meter medley relay, and 4x100-meter freestyle relay, and won silver medals in all three events.

"Torres has won twelve Olympic medals (four gold, four silver, four bronze), five of which she won in the 2000 Summer Olympics, when at age 33, she was the oldest member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Swim Team. She has also won at least one medal in each of the five Olympics in which she has competed, making her one of only a handful of Olympians to earn medals in five different Games.

"On August 1, 2007, at age 40 (just 15 months after giving birth to her first child), she won gold in the 100-meter freestyle at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, her fourteenth national championship. On August 4, she broke her own American record in the 50-meter freestyle, 26 years after she first set the American record at just 15 years old."

Paul and I were lucky enough to see her compete four years ago at the Olympic trials when she secured a spot on the team for the 2008 Olympics where she earned a silver medal in the 50m freestyle beating young women half her age.

Four of the swimmers in the first heat of the women's 50m semi-final.

Off the blocks in the first heat.

Dara Torres splashes her face before the start of the second heat.

Dara came in second — good enough to swim in the finals for a chance to earn a spot on the team.

She's a media star.

She didn't finish in the top two the following day and didn't make 
the team, but what a wonderment she is. At 45 she beat scores 
of swimmers half her age in order to swim in the finals.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Men's 50m freestyle Olympic trials

"The water is your friend.  You don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move." — Aleksandr Popov, winner of four gold and five silver Olympic medals in swimming

IT WAS OVER in 21.59 seconds. Here was the lineup.

Lane 1 — Matt Grevers
Lane 2 — Cullen Jones
Lane 3 — Josh Schneider
Lane 4 — Anthony Ervin
Lane 5 — Nathan Adrian
Lane 6 — Jimmy Feigen
Lane 7 — Jason Schnur
Lane 8 — Adam Small

Paul and I were rooting for Cullen Jones in lane 2 and Anthony Ervin in lane 4. We might have seen a total of two nonwhite swimmers competing in the trials, so we were pulling for Cullen to make his mark, and Anthony has a great story. 

He won two Olympic medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics — gold in the men's 50-meter freestyle and silver as a member of the  US 4x100 freestyle relay team. Following those successes, he won two gold medals at the 2001 World Championships, one in the 50m freestyle and the other in the 100m freestyle. 

Then in 2003 at the age of 22, Anthony stopped swimming competitively, and the following year he auctioned off his Olympic gold medal on eBay to aid survivors of the 2004 tsunami. He began training again only recently — 2011 in fact, and then there he was in the pool at these 2012 Olympic Trials trying to stage a comeback at age 31.

Swimming is like track; the one who has the fastest qualifying time from the semifinal races gets lane 4 and then as the lanes go outwards in both directions, the times gets progressively slower. Bearing in mind of course, that at this level they're all incredibly fast, when someone wins from the outside lanes, they've beaten expectations.

The lanes are numbered from right to left.

Off the blocks. Right to left, lane 4 (Anthony Ervin), 5 (Nathan Adrian), 
6 (Jimmy Feigen) and 7 (Jason Shnur). 

From the lower right hand corner, Cullen in lane 2, Josh Schneider in lane 3, 
Anthony in lane 4 and Nathan Adrian in lane 5.
Some sort of record was broken so the flash pots were set off.

Cullen came in first and Ervin second, so both of our faves in this race are going to London. Cullen is in the blue and red cap and Anthony is to his right with his cap off.

The results speak for themselves.
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Women's 800m freestyle Olympic trials

"Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. — Dory, from Finding Nemo

THE WOMEN'S 800 meter freestyle was billed as a showdown between Kate Ziegler in lane 4 and Katie Ledecky in lane 5.

The starting lineup.

At the blocks. Kate Ziegler is in lane 4, Kathleen Ledecky in lane 5 and
Chloe Sutton in lane 6.

Right to left, Kate, Kathleen and Chloe.

From left top to bottom right: Lane 5 (Kathleen Ledecky), lane 4 (Kate Zieigler), 
lane 3 (Gillian Ryan) and lane 2 (Becca Mann) at the buzzer.

Kathleen Lededky was in the lead early on. The question was whether
she'd gone out too hot and could hang on.

Kathleen was still holding on to her lead.
Kathleen going for the gold.

Approaching the seventh lap with Kathleen still in front.

Kathleen a stroke away from victory.

Watch Chloe Sutton (in the yellow cap) who came in fourth.

Chloe bounds out of the pool.

She makes a dash across the deck.

Into her mom's arms. Chloe finished second in the 400m free which qualified her 
for the Olympics. I'm guessing from appearances that she was pretty happy 
with her performance at twice the distance in the 800m.

The results at the finish were:

1st — Katie Ledecky
2nd —Kate Ziegler
3rd — Haley Anderson
4th — Chloe Sutton
5th — Becca Mann
6th — Stephanie Peacock
7th — Gillian Ryan
8th — Danielle Valley
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Men's 100m fly Olympic trials

"You can't put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the father you get." ― Michael Phelps

ANOTHER exciting race, as we rooted for Ryan Lochte to out touch Michael Phelps. Kind of a David and Goliath story, except the giant won. 

Right to left: Ryan Lochte, Tim Phillips and Tom Shields.

World-famous swimming  phenom, Michael Phelps, 
preparing to burn through the water.

Ryan Lochte on the right and Tim Phillips on the left off the blocks.
It was a close race. Ryan Lochte on the right, with Tyler McGill barely leading.
Ryan Lochte and Tim Phillips (white cap) seconds after the finish.


Michael Phelps leaving the pool. He rarely engages with fans.

First place Michael Phelps and second place Tyler McGill.

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