Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Love Lucy

Meet Lucy.  Lucy, as my son has named her, is our resident sunbird.  On Friday she started making a nest in the pomegranate tree on my balcony.

We are incredibly excited that she has chose our balcony to nest.  The tree is right near the window, so we can watch her in action.

We are trying to keep our distance, and the cats indoors.  We do go chase away the random crow, aggressive bulbuls and other bullies of the hood that try to interfere.

Fingers crossed she will feel safe and we will get some babies to observe.  I am not a wildlife photographer, but be sure I'll take this opportunity to experiment.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Agony of Defeat

Bad Gastein, Austria

Last week we took a family ski trip to Austria.  I was a little apprehensive as I hadn't skied in years, and I was never that great at it anyway.

My first ski experience was as an adult in Turkey, 15 or so years ago.  Long story short, I went up to the top of the mountain with my husband and friends who assured me I could ride the lift down.  We all assumed incorrectly, so instead of walking, I skied down.

Before I set off on this experiment, I asked for some basic instructions from my husband.  He had skied all his life so could not really remember how to tell me technically what I needed to do.  He told me some tips, but this resulted in a grand slalom like (using the term "like" very loosely here) performance where I only kept going faster.  As I approached the end, I realized I did not ask how to stop. I could only throw myself on the ground.

Flashback to the US in the 1970's.

Most Gen X'ers that grew up in the US will remember the "Agony of Defeat" guy from the ABC Sports show on television.  It was there, every weekend of our youth, we saw a ski jumper suffer a horrific crash over a small shack like structure, through a fence and into some people.   The producers of the show created this dramatic introduction for sporting events, and this ski tragedy coincided with the phrase "The Agony of Defeat".

It was at this moment we always saw the Slovenian ski jumper, Vinko Bogota, experience Agony. Fortunately, he was fine, but we never knew that.  I grew up being brainwashed that skiing would result in death, or a near death experience.

Since my first Agony experience, I took a few ski lessons and I can ski.  I'm not so great, but I know the basics.  However, I kept thinking of Vinko throughout this entire trip.

I took some refresher lessons, but still, as I looked over the mountain and I passed the red slopes that would qualify as black slopes in many other countries, I could see him - and myself - flying off the side of the mountain.

I eventually became more comfortable with the slopes again.  But it got me thinking, what happened to this guy? Did he ski again? Who was he?  Did ABC ever pay him for using his agony to dramatize sports?  I refer to him by name above, but I did not even know his origin before I looked him up.

After some research, it seems I am not the only one that recalls that vivid vision that represented the lowest of lows after "The thrill of victory".

I was pleased to learn he is still alive and survived his Agony.  The stories I have read said he only suffered a mild concussion that day. Wow!  Thanks to impressional 1970's ABC drama, I was anticipating dismemberment.

He was even recognized at a sport awards event years ago.  When introduced he received a standing ovation by many world famous athletes.  Muhammad Ali and others asked for his autograph.

I was so thrilled for Vinko.  I am pleased to learn he is known, recognized and seemed content in his interviews.

Thankfully, I made it down my mountain without much Agony of Defeat.  My son took a few lessons on this trip and can now easily ski circles around me.  He would pass me and then stop and wait for me to catch up.  On one of those stops, he turned back to me and said "Mommy, you are doing pretty good."

….Even better than Muhammad Ali asking for an autograph.

If you didn't grow up in the US, or you did and want to relive it, or learn where Vinko is now, here are a few links:
The ABC Wide World of Sports Introduction
Vinko Bogota
Wide World of Sports Flashback (This one is my favorite because at about 4 minutes into it, it shows his standing ovation)