Lesson #76: Olympic Medals

Yay for you! The Olympics close today and you don’t have to hear about them ever again. Yay! No more posts about curling or Nordic combined — because it will be four years before I watch those events again, super hot thirds or not. You’re screwed if you think you’re getting out of hockey posts, though. That, my friend, is out of the question.*

Anyway, since it’s all over and done with today, I thought it was time to find out what the medals are actually made of.**

I’m actually pretty surprised to learn that both the gold and silver medals are required to be sterling silver. I’d have expected them just to be plated. The gold medals are additionally required to be gilded with at least six grams of 24K gold. The last solid gold medals were awarded at the 1912 Games. Unsurprisingly, the bronze medals are made from a copper alloy. You know, the way bronze has been made since always. As far as size, even that is regulated. Olympic medals must be at least 60mm in diameter and 3mm thick. The Vancouver medals are 100mm in diameter.***

*But you’ll probably get a two month break until the playoffs start and I rediscover that I suck at watching playoff hockey. You’d be surprised how quickly I unlearn that lesson. Anyway, all of this assumes I survive tonight’s Canada/US gold medal game. There’s a good chance my heart explodes in my chest before the end of regulation.

**Two things that are apropos of nothing…1. I really like the Vancouver medals. I know there are a lot of people who hate them, but I think they’re cool. 2. I saw a picture of the women’s figure skaters at the medal ceremony from the other night and it was hilarious; the medals just look ginormous on those tiny little girls.

***More information here and here.

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Lesson #75: A Little Bit of Everything

Well, not everything. I’ve had an odd day today. I’m dog-sitting for The Vet while she and Lawyer Housemate are in England for the England/Ireland Six Nations rugby match courtesy of one of Lawyer Housemate’s super rich clients. So I’ve had the dog. She’s a great dog, but she doesn’t love that The Vet and Lawyer Housemate are gone. She’s not a dog that can be in a room without a person, or even in a room with a person who is reading. She’s been needy. In fact, I put her to bed an hour ago and she’s still whining. I’m resisting the urge to go down and get her.

So what I’ve learned today has been sort of stunted and distracted and wholly un-useful.

1. While a dog may know to walk to heel, it may just decide to be spiteful and not do that at all, even when commanded and/or bribed with treats.

2. The third for the Canadian men’s curling team is GORGEOUS. And a fireman in his non-curling life. *swoon*

Autobiographical note: Club Manager Housemate, a friend of his and I spent two and a half hours watching the final and mocking ourselves over the fact that it was 1 on a Saturday night and we were watching curling. Completely sober.

3. One of my cousins works for a company that sponsors the curling team the aforementioned super hot guy* curls for and curls with him once or twice a year at corporate events. I know this because after I made a comment on my Facebook about the hotness, he sent me a picture from last winter that said “I think you’ll like the guy on my right. I’ll say hi for you the next time I see him.”

4. Having nothing to do with learning anything specific, this is a video clip of exactly why I love books.

*Super hot guy actually has a name. It’s John Morris.

Lesson #74: Curling Shoes

My options for sports last night were limited. Much as I love hockey, I can’t deal with women’s hockey; it’s boring. I like a perfectly executed hip check like I saw in the Switzerland/USA game on Wednesday and women’s hockey doesn’t offer that.*¬† So a friend and I decided to watch curling. He’s kind of been keeping up with it, I can’t usually be bothered. But when given the option of the men’s semifinals or the women’s hockey final, I chose the lesser of the evils. Anyway, about 3/4 of the way through the Canada/Sweden match (game?) I have decided that I can’t figure out the shoes. I ask my friend. He doesn’t know. We move into a conversation about bathroom assassinations.**

So today’s goal was to find out how curlers can slide at will and have traction at will. The answer is ridiculously simple. One shoe, called the slider, is soled with teflon and allows the wearer to slide down the ice. The other shoe has a rough tread to give the wearer traction while sweeping (or walking). The whole concept is kind of like a skateboard in the sense that you push with one foot and glide with the other.

*I should state for the record, as both he and my dad suggested that I’m setting women’s lib back 50 years, that I feel this way about a lot of women’s team sports. I refuse to watch women’s football too (though I prefer women’s volleyball). As a rule, women’s sports are slower and more technical and while they might be “prettier”, I like grit. And speed. And power. I’m not against women playing the games at all; by all means go, play, have fun! I know I did when I played football, volleyball and rugby! I just don’t want to watch them.

**Like you do!

An Addendum to Lesson #62: What I Knew About Nordic Combined

A week and a half ago, I wrote a post about Nordic combined…that’s the one where they hurl themselves off a hill and then sprint ski for 10 km. Not one directly after the other, though a good friend of mine in the Texas capital maintains this would be more fun for the viewer.* I don’t entirely disagree.

Anyway, because there was nothing else on, I was watching the cross-country portion of it and the commentator was telling me at the end that Nordic combined was first included in the Olympics in 1924.

I already knew that, but thanks!**

Anyway, that’s two things from this blog that have popped into my life in a practical way in the past two days. The third can’t be too far away.

*This same friend also thinks there ought to be completely unrelated events put together as a biathlon. His suggestion was a luge/figure skating combination wherein the athlete(s) ride(s) the luge straight onto a skating rink and must immediately perform a routine upon disembarking from the sled. This idea is pretty much the perfect example of why we’re friends.

**Yes, I’m being smug…because I can. And to be fair to Mr. Nordic Combined Commentator, it was a useful piece of trivia and had I not already known it, I would have found it an interesting addition to my knowledge. Which is far more than I can say of the idiots they’ve got doing hockey.

An Addendum to Lesson #8: Slew-Footing In Action

One of my first posts was about a hockey penalty that I didn’t know existed, something called slew-footing. Until last night, I had never seen it. During the third period of the Canada/Russia game, Dan Boyle (Canada/San Jose) and Alexander Semin (Russia/Washington) had a little scuffle behind the net, which ended when Boyle slew-footed Semin at the blue line. Apart from it being a dirty hit and stupid penalty to take, I thought it was awesome. Because I had never seen it called before.* And no one got hurt.

*I’d have thought it decidedly less awesome if the game had been close or we’d been losing and taken that penalty.

Lesson #73: The Wars of the Roses

Is there a more awesome name for a series of wars in history? How violent can wars of roses possibly be?*

The War of the Roses was a medieval civil war that officially spanned from 1455 to 1485 and was fought between two opposing families with interests in the throne. It is so called because the Houses of Lancaster and York were said to be represented by badges bearing red and white roses respectively. Interestingly, the idea of the battling flowers is actually derived from Renaissance literature; in reality, the badges were simply markers for household servants. Neither the House of Lancaster nor the House of York is represented by a rose on its official coat of arms. The name “war of the roses” is, in fact, an even later invention than Shakespeare’s references to the flowers in Henry VI.**

Anyway, the whole bit of contention all came about because the royal family was all related to itself and so there were challenges to the throne of England. Richard the II, son of Edward III was deposed by Henry of Lancaster whose heirs ruled for some time…until Henry the VI. Being childless and not really having an heir, Henry VI was encouraged to appoint Richard, Duke of York and direct descendant of Edward III to an “overseas post” (read: exile). Which Richard didn’t so much love and so he amassed an army. And then there was a whole bit with the York family’s cousins having a feud with some other people and then getting together to fight their enemies together and then their enemies amassed armies*** and then the Duke of York and his army ended up fighting their enemies’ armies (the Lancastrians) for thirty years with the House of York taking all but four of the fifteen battles. Over this time there was also the ascension to the throne of Edward IV (House of York), Henry VI (again), Edward IV (again), Edward V and Richard III (also House of York) before an obscure Welsh relation of Henry VI’s called¬† Henry Tudor marched in with an army of his own, married Edward IV’s daughter, took power as Henry VII and had his family rule over England and Wales for 120 years.****

*Well, given that this took place in the mid- to late 1400s and killed 100,000 – 105,000 people, it was actually pretty violent. Those numbers can be found here, but it should be noted that at least one modern source suggests that the casualty rates were exaggerated by the Tudors and Tudor historians to make themselves look like saviours and since history is written by the victor, this is not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

**That bit of information is here.

***I find this hilarious, because it makes it sound like they’re raising chickens. The idea of just deciding to do so one day and then amassing an army in modernity is absurd.

****More information on the wars of the roses here, here and here.

Lesson #72: Anatidaephobia

I couldn’t actually figure out if this is a real thing or not, but it kept popping up on my Google reader today. Apparently Anatidaephobia is the irrational fear of being watched by a duck. All this makes me think of is the movie Billy Madison. “Stop looking at me, swan!” Seriously.

Anyway, no actual dictionary has a definition for this word, but it’s everywhere…and it turns out that it is a Gary Larson word created for a The Far Side cartoon. Awesome! Unfortunately, I can find no graphic representation of this.