Friday Flashback:  1996 Summer Olympics

On September 18, 1990 Atlanta, Georgia celebrated when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selected the city to host the 1996 Olympic Games.  I remember the announcement on television and celebrated when Atlanta was picked to be the host.  It was an incredible event for the State of Georgia and the first time in history that the Olympic Games had been held in the Southern United States.  On July 19, 1996 the games were officially opened by President Bill Clinton.  Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic torch and received a replacement gold medal for his boxing victory in the 1960 Summer Olympics.

Almost 200 nations participated in the games.  The United States topped the medal count with 101 overall medals and 44 gold medals.  The United States women’s gymnastics team won their first gold medal.  Shannon Miller won the gold medal on the balance beam event.  The most memorable performance was when Kerri Strug vaulted with an injured ankle and landed on one foot.

In track and field, Donovan Bailey of Canada won the men’s 100 meter to set a new world record of 9.84 seconds.  He also was the anchor in his team’s gold medal-winning 4 x 100 meter relay.  

The U.S. Women’s soccer team won the first gold medal in women’s soccer.

Although Atlanta was the central base for the Olympic Games, several other Southern cities also had a chance to get a part in the Olympic Games.  Columbus, Georgia hosted softball at Golden Park, Lake Lanier was home to Canoeing (sprint) and Rowing events, and Savannah, Georgia was home to sailing events.

One of the more forgettable images from the Olympics was Izzy, a futuristic character which you would have a hard time describing.  Izzy wasn’t very popular and was pretty much a marketing disaster.

At the closing ceremony, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch ruffled a few feathers by simply saying “Well done, Atlanta” when he had traditionally commented after each games that the host had hosted the best Olympics ever.  Most Atlanta and Georgia residents took that as a slight to their hosting of the games.

Perhaps one reason to the perceived slight was that the games were marred by a bombing on July 27 which killed one person and wounded 111 others.  It was later determined that Eric Robert Ruudolph had committed the attack in protest of abortions.  Initially it was believed that security guard Richard Jewell had been guilty of the bombing but was later cleared.

Several structures built for the games have been converted for use today.   Centennial Olympic Stadium became Turner Field and the home of the Atlanta Braves.  Olympic Village now serves as housing for Georgia State University and Georgia Tech.  The Omni was replaced by Philips Arena.  Centennial Olympic Park continues as a lasting memorial of the games that made Atlanta golden during the summer of 1996.


Team of the Week:  Hartford Yard Goats

If you’re a minor league baseball player and you play for a team called the yard goats, you would be playing on a Double-A team in Hartford, Connecticut.  The Yard Goats are an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies in the Eastern League.  They are currently third place in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division with a record of 61-45.  They are nine games out of first place.

The Yard Goats were named as part of a “name-the-team” contest which drew over 6,000 submissions.  The name actually is in reference to a railroad slang term for a switch engine which moves trains around a rail yard to prepare them for another locomotive; however the team’s logo features a goat chomping on a baseball bat.

Catcher Troy Stein leads the Yard Goats with a .429 batting average.  German Marquez leads the pitching staff with a 9-5 record and has pitched in 128.2 innings this season.  

In the latest news for the team, owner Josh Solomon has threatened to move the team if the new stadium is not completed by the end of 2016.  The Yard Goats were supposed to move into Dunkin Donuts Park this season but construction delays have left the team without a home for the rest of their inaugural season in Hartford.    The franchise moved from New Britain, Connecticut to Hartford this season.

An Eternal Perspective

I recently heard a preacher give his definition of being relevant.   He said “If it’s not eternal it’s not relevant”.  That statement woke me.  Am I not thinking enough about eternal things?  Have I been much too preoccupied with material things?  The Bible tells us to lay up our treasures in heaven.  (Matthew 6:20)
What exactly does that mean?  We can’t literally put physical things there.  

It means we should have our priorities on eternal things more that temporary things.  We get so wrapped up in things of the material world.  Money, jobs and other material things.  The truth is that it doesn’t matter if you are a believer or not, when we die we aren’t going to take any of this with us.  Some believe that when we die that’s it.  Done.  Finished.  Okay we’ll see how well that works out.  I’m sorry but maybe I’m silly but I choose to believe that we are eternal creatures.  There is something there for us on the other side of death. 

So what treasures can we lay up for ourselves in heaven?   

The main thing is our relationship with God.  We will all face him one day.  Do we value our relationship with Him now or do we have to be shown proof that He even exists?   What would He have to do for you to believe?  For many years I wasted time asking and pleading for God to speak to me in an audible voice or have some sort of burning bush experience.  I never got it.

I learned two things:

  1. God isn’t going to be coerced into proving His existence
  2. God speaks in the silence

God doesn’t play “Let’s Make A Deal” to anyone.  He’s God and we’re not.  You either believe in Him or you don’t.  Sadly, For years I had gotten caught up in the emotionalism of a Pentecostal church.  I’m not saying God isn’t there, but for me He was that still small voice.  Not in the miracles and spiritual spooky things or speaking in tongues.  When we are loud, it is easy to distract ourselves from our real problems.  The quietness brings us close to God and forces us to see who we really are.  

Eternal things are the most relevant things of all.  We can ignore it but the day will come for us all.  

I think we should all live in doing the best we can and do good for others as best we can.  In a world that is selfish and impatient we should display the best example of being unselfish and patience. 

Friday Flashback:  United States Basketball League

Summertime is usually the season for baseball and soccer but in the late 1980s a new basketball league was formed as a developmental-type league.  Although the United States Basketball League (USBL) wasn’t officially aligned with the National Basketball Association (NBA), they did produce some talent that eventually became NBA stars.

Tyrone Curtis “Muggsy” Bogues, Manute Bol, Mario Elie, World B. Free, Avery Johnson, Anthony Mason and Michael “Sugar” Ray Richardson all played in the USBL.  

The USBL began play in 1985 as one of the first leagues to play in the summer during the NBA’s offseason.   Atlantic City, Dodge City and Miami won the most titles with three each during the 23 seasons the league was in existence.   In the last two seasons, the league was more of a regional-type league with teams in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Some of the more interesting teams were the Nebraska Cranes, New Jersey Shore Cats, Palm Beach Stingrays and Springfield Fame (home of the Basketball Hall of Fame)

The Kansas Cagerz was the most successful team on the court with a record of 164-127.  

Gift-Wrapped Garbage

garbageYesterday when I got home from work I noticed that our trash had not been picked up as it usually is on Tuesdays.  I thought it was odd.  I checked to make sure and – yep – the trash was still in the container just as I had left it.  I called the HOA who pays for our trash pickup and they referred me to the number for the company.  When I called I was asked “Did you have everything bagged?”

Excuse me?

It’s trash.  As long as it is in the container what does it matter?

Apparently it wasn’t an issue until yesterday that ALL of my garbage wasn’t in a bag.  Since when do we have to put our garbage in a neat, bagged package?  It’s TRASH.  I’m throwing it away.  Next thing they will ask will be for you to wash it before you put it in the container!

I went to the website which lists such rules and it took a while to find them.  In addition to the “gift wrap” rule they have also banned cardboard, yard waste and electronic waste.  I guess that means I can’t dump my 60″ TV in there.

So if I get any cardboard, yard waste or electronic waste then I am stuck with it.  Perhaps I can sell it on Craigslist.

It might surprise you to know that there is a difference between “garbage” and “trash”.  Garbage is refuse which comes from the kitchen or bathroom.  Trash is the waste which comes from anywhere else except the kitchen or bathroom.  Interesting.

So your trash could be another man’s garbage depending on where it came from.  Just make sure to bag it.


Elevator Etiquette Refresher

It happened again this morning.  I was waiting to get off the elevator and the second the doors opened this dude nearly bowled me over to get on.  I have always heard that it was proper etiquette to wait for people to exit the elevator before you get on.  

Every weekday, there are over 120 billion elevator rides.  That’s a lot of people taking the elevator.  There are several rules of etiquette but not everyone knows what they are.

Here’s your refresher course (or initial training) on the proper rules for the elevator.

  1. Stand to the right of the elevator while waiting.  You should always let people exit before boarding.  
  2. Hold the door for someone if they are trying to board unless the elevator is full of people.  Don’t hold it to have a chat with your buddy.  If you need to converse with someone, get off the elevator.
  3. Avoid squeezing into a packed elevator.  Be mindful of personal space.
  4. Do not push the button if it has already been pushed and lit up.  This sends a message that the person who pushed it didn’t push it to your liking or that you are a control freak.
  5. Move to the back and maintain a good distance from others.  Don’t be creepy.
  6. Exit quickly.   If you are in the back, begin making your way to the doors.
  7. Guard your conversation.  Never talk about office gossip or inappropriate subjects.
  8. Respect space.  If there are one or two other people on the elevator, go to separate sides or each corner.  Definitely to do not face someone directly.
  9. Hold all backpacks, briefcases and other materials by your feet.  Remove your backpack on the elevator to avoid hitting people with the straps or bulk of the bag.
  10. Get off the phone!  No one wants to hear your phone conversation.
  11. Practice good manners and hygiene.  Never eat in the elevator and don’t apply perfume.

If you can’t remember these rules at least practice common courtesy if you are in doubt about what to do.  It should be pretty easy to do for just the few minutes you are in the elevator.

You could always take the stairs.  

Team of the Week:  Sioux Falls Storm

They are a football dynasty but most of the United States (outside of South Dakota) have no idea about the indoor football team that has just won their sixth straight title.  Their most recent title was a 55-34 win over the Spokane Empire in the United Bowl in front of over 9,000 fans at Denny Sanford Premier Center on Saturday night. The United Bowl is the title game for the Indoor Football League.

The Storm fell behind early when Spokane quarterback Charles Dowdell hit J.J. Hayes on a touchdown pass to take the early 7-0 lead.  Sioux Falls scored the next 20 points – all in the second quarter – but then the Empire scored with three seconds left in the quarter as the Storm went into halftime with a 20-13 lead.

The Storm stormed out in the third quarter with a 49-yard touchdown pass on their first play when quarterback Lorenzo Brown connected with Mike Tatum.  The Storm found the end zone four more times while the Empire could only put up 21 points.  The Storm sealed the win when Korey Williams found the end zone on a two-yard run late in the fourth quarter.

The Storm finished the season 17-1 and had one of the most unique title runs in the team’s history.  Before the season new league rules forced the Storm to let go of many of their veterans.  Later, a scheduling glitch forced them to wait a month between their season finale and playoff opener.  

Saturday’s title win was the team’s 10th overall title.

The Storm claimed several league awards for the 2016 season:

  • Franchise of the Year
  • Best Fan Base
  • Community Relations Award

Sioux Falls has been playing indoor football since 2000.  They have compiled a record of 225-54 during that time.  They have never had a losing season.