BACKGROUND

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Feet on Fire and some M&Ms

I am still in Las Vegas with Dear Husband. We arrived on Friday and we leave tomorrow, which is terribly depressing for me. I LOVE it here and have had such a great time. Friday was an easy day for us. We got here mid-afternoon and had a leisurely evening. We unpacked, rested, and then headed downstairs to the Mexican restaurant here in the Hilton. We didn't want to venture out for food since we were both tired from the flight. The food was great and afterward, we walked around the hotel a bit then went to our room for relaxation.

Saturday was quite a contrast to Friday. We had a good breakfast and then headed out to the strip to see the hotels and shop. Walking was our transportation method of choice. Our first stop was Bonanza Gift and Souvenir Shop where we loaded up on souvenirs. The Stratosphere was next. We walked around the shops there and Dear Husband was going to ride the coaster, but it was closed.

After that, we hit the strip itself where we visited more souvenir shops and we each had a slurpee. Yes, a real slurpee at a real 7-11. We do not have 7-11's in Texas so we get the cheap, knock-off slurpees that just aren't the same. I realize it's a sad commentary on Dear Husband and I, but the slurpees are right up there with the great things we've seen and done on this trip.

After slurpee heaven, we ventured to the Wynn Hotel, which was AMAZING! It reeks opulence everywhere and the waterfall outside was fantastic. It was so peaceful standing there, watching the water. We were both tired at that point having walked several miles and our feet were on fire. We both felt that our feet would fall off before we made it back to our hotel, but thankfully, they decided to stick with us for the duration.

After we'd rested our feet and I had a nice, long soak in the tub, we headed to the Star Trek Experience here in the Hilton. We were both beyond grateful not to have to go anywhere since our feet were still doing a slow burn. I did the Star Trek Experience in 2004 and loved it. Dear Husband thought it was fantastic. We made it just in time - it's closing tomorrow! It's been running for 10 years. We followed up the Experience with dinner at Quark's Bar and Restaurant.

Today, we are heading out to see more hotels and of course the M&M and Coke museum, which Dear Husband is eager to see. I am too actually. I've been here before, but this is his first trip so I decided to let him choose what he'd like to see. I've never been to the M&M museum so that will be fun for us both.

Viva Las Vegas!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Viva Las Vegas...and School Daze

School started for me yesterday. I'm taking a full load of graduate courses this term, which equals 9 credits. My classes are Ethics and the Practice of Psychology, Theories of Psychotherapy, and Advanced Abnormal Psychology. Abnormal Psychology covers "Are you crazy?" ADVANCED Abnormal Psychology covers "Are you really crazy?" The answer to both is yes and yes. I am crazy about somethings and really crazy about others.

I downloaded the syllabi for my classes yesterday. I've received three of the six textbooks I ordered. The others should be here any day now. I'm excited about what I'm studying and I really love all that I am learning. It's a very different experience from anything else I've ever studied in college. It's fascinating and useful on a daily basis because let's face it- we're all crazy in some form or another. The question is "Are we crazy...or really crazy?"

Speaking of crazy, Dear Husband and I are headed to Las Vegas this weekend for some crazy fun. This trip was a generous birthday gift from my father to Dear Husband and I get the benefit of it as well of course. My dad wanted Dear Husband to see the Star Trek Experience at The Hilton. My dad and I went to the Star Trek Experience in 2004 and we both loved it. I am also planning on getting tickets to Cirque Du Soliel. I've always wanted to see a show and there are plenty of options in Vegas. They have Mystere, O, Ka, Love, and Zumanity. I'm not sure which one we'll be seeing yet, but I'm buying tickets tomorrow so we will decide tonight.

In addition to all the fun things we will do, I'm also looking forward to relaxing poolside with a good book. I'm not always a pool person, but I do love hanging out at them when I am at hotels. It's so nice to just veg by the water. Viva Las Vegas!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Observatory

Does anyone else think that life is just one big replay of high school...over and over and over, like it's stuck on some never-ending loop? A co-worker was talking to me today about some office politics going on and it occurred to me that no matter where you work or where you go, anytime there's more than one person involved, you can expect a replay of adolescence (because going through that hell once is just not enough).

Let's take any typical workplace or social group. Tell me you don't recognize at least one, and probably all, of these people:

The Jock: This is the macho guy who struts around like he owns the place. This guy talks about his accomplishments, throws around a wink or two at all the women, and uses phrases like "Hey girl, how are ya?" while patting you on the shoulder or some other place he shouldn't be touching.

The Drama Queen: For this unfortunate soul, every single thing that happens from a paper cut to a pink slip is cause for tears and/or an extremely exaggerated story of how she has been such an unwitting victim of some horrible tragedy. Yeah, it's just awful when the paper jumps right out of the copier tray and attacks your cuticles.

The Bitch: No other word suffices for this beauty. She's the one who scoffs at every idea and talks about everyone behind their backs while being oh so sweet to their face.

The Psycho: This guy has a weird eye twitch and you're fairly certain you saw him on America's Most Wanted once. He is paranoid about being fired, he furtively glances around him all the time, and is certain everyone is out to get him. There is not enough medication in the world for this guy and the next time you see him, it's probably going to be on a poster in the Post Office.

The Volunteer: "Hi, I'm Bimby, I'm head of the welcome committee, we're just SO glad you're here." This is generally accompanied by some bizarre shriek that is usually only heard on the nature shows or upon the discovery of a crime scene.

The Know-It-All: This guy fancies himself a walking Encyclopedia. No need to call a doctor, lawyer, dentist, IT person, or plumber, this guy can fix anything and everything. What he really does is throw a few key phrases around and turns this knob or presses that key all while trying to appear like he has it covered. If he can't figure it out, then it's just not built like it should be. That must be the answer because, after all, he knows it all.

Next time you are in a group somewhere, step back and observe. You will find these people there. I suppose we can all take comfort in the fact that some things never change. Whether you're in high school or the high rise office, it's all the same.

Monday, August 18, 2008

One is Silver and the Other Gold

After the disappointment of not winning a team gold medal, Nastia Liukin earned the most coveted medal in elite gymnastics: the Olympic All-Around gold. She battled her teammate and friend, Shawn Johnson, for the top honor and in the end, came out golden. Shawn Johnson won silver in the all-around, which was noteworthy on its own. American women have NEVER gone 1-2 in the all-around. It was astonishing for us to even be on the all-around medal stand, let alone to have two American women there in the top two spots.

Speaking of medals, it's important to mention here that Alicia Sacramone DID NOT lose the gold medal for the United States in the team final. Even if she hadn't made the mistakes she made, the team still would not have won gold. It was not mathematically possible. I hope she realizes that and is able to let go of the guilt she was feeling about it being her fault.

The U.S. continued its medal haul in the event finals, where Shawn Johnson took silver in the floor exercise and Nastia Liukin was awarded the bronze. The uneven parallel bars saw another silver for Nastia, bringing her medal count to four, equal to her father's four Olympic medals won in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Balance Beam will be the final battle ground for Nastia and Shawn. That will be contested Tuesday at 6 p.m. Beijing time. That means that when I wake up in the morning, I can check the results since we are 13 hours behind China time. I really hope Shawn is able to get a gold medal in this event. She has the routine to do it and I would love to see her finish out her Olympics with at least one gold medal to compliment her trio of silver.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We Are Family

I am so incredibly impressed with the U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team - not because of their ability on the competition floor, but because of their compassion off of it. Alicia Sacramone, team captain, had a disastrous day during the team final. She fell on her beam mount and had several balance checks in the routine. Moving to floor, she stepped out of bounds on a tumbling pass and completely missed one of her tumbling moves, falling to the ground. It has been speculated that these errors cost the team the gold medal.

And yet...the team rallied around her. None of those girls made her feel bad. If anything, they helped her get through it. She is beating herself up for her mistakes, but rather than join in the bashing, the team has let it go. They are happy with their silver medal and are moving on to concentrating on the All-Around, which will take place tomorrow morning in Beijing. It's so wonderful to see a group of young women who understand what it really means to be a team. It's not just celebrating the wins, it's about consoling one another through the losses and making sure that every single team member feels valued, understood, and perhaps most of all for Alicia - forgiven.

Watch the interview with Alicia Sacramone after last night's final. It ends with a team interview that shows their spirit and their true family ties: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CYoo2pkmB4

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gym Dandy

I am a huge gymnastics fan. I have been for most of my life. I've followed the sport since 1988 and have seen all the Olympics since then as well as most of the national championships, the world championships and other competitions in-between.

Last night, Dear Husband and I watched the Men's Team Final and cheered for the U.S. Team as they won a bronze medal. I generally don't follow the men's team, but it was definitely interesting this year since the team lost its only former Olympians (Paul and Morgan Hamm). That meant that every member of the team was new to the Olympic experience.

It was an interesting competition to be sure. Jonathan Horton was unbelievable on the high bar. I have never seen such an incredible dismount that was stuck so well. Jonathan is from Houston so it was extra special to see him compete knowing he is from here. Another Houstonian on the team is Raj Bhavsar, who I had the privilege of meeting in January when I went to the opening of Kevin Mazeika's gym here in Houston. Mazeika is the coach of the team in Beijing. I enjoyed meeting some of the gymnasts and seeing them perform in an exhibition.

One major surprise in the men's competition was Joseph Hagerty's floor routine. It was a total disaster. I have NEVER, in 20 years of following gymnastics, seen anyone step out of bounds while simply standing there. If a gymnast goes out of bounds on the floor, it's usually because they've over rotated one of their acrobatic passes and the momentum takes them out of bounds. They also may have fallen on the final landing and therefore they stumble out of bounds. In Hagerty's case, he was getting ready to perform an element and in stepping back to take off and tumble, he stepped out of bounds. That was an unusual and unnecessary mistake.

On the positive side was the pommel horse competition, which finished the competition for the U.S. men. It was a demonstration of the melting pot that makes up the United States. The three competitors for our team on that appartus were Raj Bhavsar, who is Indian-American, Kevin Tan, who is Chinese-American, and Alexander (Sasha) Artemev, who is Russian. He came to the United States in 1994 with his parents. He became a citizen of the U.S. just six years ago in 2002. I loved that America was really represented in that competition with athletes who have such diverse backgrounds.

I look forward to the Women's Team Final, which will be on in about 10 minutes. I LOVE that we are able to watch the competition live since Beijing is only 13 hours ahead of Houston. It's very exciting to see it all as it's happening. GO TEAM USA!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

I'm not Aesop, I just play him on Blogger

So there's a hurricane in the gulf. It's not likely to be a bad one, it's at Category 1 as of tonight, which is the lowest category for hurricanes. It's supposed to make landfall at Galveston, which is a good hour south of where I'm at. That means we'll get a lot of rain up here, but nothing we can't handle. Our street and backyard will probably flood, but we've been there before. It eventually recedes and all returns to normal. I've never been one to be afraid of weather disasters, in fact I am fascinated by them. That is not to say I'd want to be trapped on the roof of my submerged house ala Hurricane Katrina, but I find storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and such very interesting.

On another note, I thought about something today that I also find interesting. Why is it that when someone is concerned about something in your life, they discuss it with their spouse, mutual friends, etc., but they never bring it to your attention? This has happened to me and friends of mine and it just makes me wonder...if you have a concern about a person, their relationship, their job, or anything else, why discuss it with others? Why not tell the person directly? That just seems like the more respectful thing to do.

A good example of this (which hasn't happened to me personally, THANK GOD, but has happened to people I know) is when you know someone's husband/wife is having an affair and the husband/wife finds out about it and subsequently learns that all his/her friends knew, but no one wanted to say anything. In that case, it would be like being betrayed not only by your spouse, but all your friends too. They all knew that your spouse was making a complete fool out of you and yet, they said nothing.

Now, on the one hand, I can understand that sometimes the person won't believe you anyway. On the other hand, it's worth telling them so that when the dust settles, they will know at least one person wasn't hiding something from them.

That is just one of many examples. It amazes me how everyone is so afraid of confrontation or bad news that they will talk to everyone except the person who really needs to hear the information. The moral of the blog today? Don't be afraid to be direct. Talk to the person who is involved with the situation and not every other person around them.