Do you have a happy place?

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a happy place. A place or an activity where stresses and strains of the outside world never intrude. Or if they do, it is never for very long. 

For me, table tennis is my happy place. There is something about concentrating on the little white ball, that pushes all stress away. Table tennis is a sport where it doesn't matter your age, ability or agility- you can still compete and be competitive. Table tennis is a sport that is easy to learn but hard to perfect. It is very like chess- there is quite a bit of strategy mixed in with enormous skill, and the pace is... fast. 

Note that I call this table tennis and not ping pong. For me, ping pong is what you play in your basement with your family, or in a bar with your friends. You are relaxed about following the rules.

Table tennis is something different entirely... it is more than a basement game, and much, much more than a bar game. There are strict rules, and sanctioned tournaments, and US Table Tennis ratings, and lessons, and coaching, and... you get the idea. 

Over the July 4th week Kevin and I went to Fort Worth, Texas to compete in the US Nationals. We had a blast. 

US Nationals 2023 FW

The event was held in the Fort Worth Convention Center. 

FW Convention Center

There were well over 100 tables set up.

2023 US Nationals me and the hall

Events started on Monday July 3rd- and ended on Friday, July 7th. I competed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Kevin finished his events on Thursday. 

Kevin and I entered the rated 3100 Doubles competition. This was the first time for us to be competing in a doubles event. I was completely intimidated when I realized that for the very first round, we had to play on court 1. I don't EVER expect to play on court 1. So, while HUGELY intimidating, it also was quite the experience. There were 2 umpires, who watched our every movement quite closely. I am so grateful for the experience. (And no we did not win or progress beyond round 1.) 

2023 US Nationals Doubles Round 1 Crt 1

Note our super cute and matching shirts.

Did we win and bring home medals and trophies? 

2023 US Nationals Trophies

NO. Because that's not why we do this. 

We competed and played to the very best of our abilities. We came away from the week filled with enthusiasm for the next tournament- whether it be large like the Nationals, or small like one played at our local club. Table tennis is a very addictive sport. 



Superbowl XLVI (Giants vs Patriots) Ad Round Up

Underdog NY Giants beat out Tom Brady's Patriots in a very exciting last couple of minutes. I think the Patriots outfoxed themselves with allowing the Giant touchdown in the last heart beats of the game. Brady was unable to turn things around.

As for the ads this year, they did not disappoint. In years past the car ads have not been worth very much comment, but this year they really surprised.

Best Car Ad:

First Place : Audi "Daylight in a headlight". Vampires party it up, until vampire driving the new audi arrives to "let the party begin" only he inadvertantly destroys the vamp partygoers. Nice and edgy, quirky and funny. Kudo's to Audi.

Second Place : Fiat "Sexy Italian Woman." A geeky looking guy is walking down the street with his coffee when he spies this gorgeous sexy woman bending over in the street. She catches him looking and starts to dress him down. It gets very heated. And then the woman turns into the latest Fiat. Very cute, and very funny.

Third Place - VW "Fat Dog loses weight". Fat golden retriever implements extreme weight loss regimen in order to fit through doggy door so he can chase after the VW car.

Honorable Mentions:

Acura - Leno/ Steinfield

Honda CR-V - Matthew Broderick's "Day Off"

Kia "Dream Dust"

Hyundai races cheetah, but cheetah (clever cat) has a better idea, and goes after guy.

As a matter of principle I refuse to mention any of the Chevy, Government Motors ads. Nice to see taxpayer money at work!

This year I think Pepsi beat Coke. Pepsi fielded two ads - King Elton John/ Pepsi for All; and the Coke guy winning Pepsi for life. Coke fielded three ads, of depressed polar bears, "Opening Happiness". Cute, but depressing.

There only seems to be one make of beer ad that was fielded. So come on competition, I am sure there are other brands and makes of beer out there? Hellooooo! So I don't plan to comment on any of those beer ads, because they were all from the same manufacturer.

I have to mention the Go Daddy ads. They are still milking the first GoDaddy ad that created the so called controversy. It is still cute, but I think it's getting a little old. There is one ad that I think deserves mention, and that is the "little kid has to pee in the pool." Not sure what it was advertizing - I think some sort of tax service. I am not a David Beckham fan. So the ad of him in his tighty whities doesn't do anything for me. Now, Mark Harmon from NCIS... oh yeah baby! Other ad that I thought hit the right note for a superbowl ad was the Sketchers ad - pug beats out greyhounds by wearing "regulation" shoes. Very cute.

To sum up, the ads that scored the most with me need to be cute, funny, and/ or clever. This is that one day a year when diets do not matter.

Superbowl XLV Green Bay Packers vs Pittsburgh Steelers, and the great Ad roundup

Kevin and I have just finished watching a very satisfying Superbowl. The Packers played superbly. In the first half Steeler QB, Big Ben seemed very tentative, and the rest of the team did not seem to be in it to win it. Most un Steeler like. The Steelers really brought it in the second half, but they were unable to stop Green Bay. Final score 31 - 25.

For me this Superbowl had the best half time show with the Black Eyed Peas. Sound was unbalanced, but visually it was great.

And now, drumroll please, the Superbowl XLV Great Ad Roundup.

Usually I really don't pay too much attention to car adverts. But this year, the car adverts were quite interesting. Ads not mentioned here are the forgettable one's. For me, the best Car advert was the 21st Century Beetle advert with a black beetle in racing stripes running around through an insect world. So out of all the car ads that were memorable:-

The Best:

1. 21st Century Beetle

Honorable Mentions:

1. Chevy - "Rescue - little boy in well, cave, whale, volcano etc."

2. VW Passat - Darth Vadar (kid)

3. Audi - the Great Escape.

The next category I looked at was Beer. The only ones that stick after the game are the Bud Light ads and the Budweiser ads. I thought some of these were cute, but I don't think any of them really stood out. So I am not goint to give any of these any awards. Just not out there enough.

In the battle between Pepsi Max and Coke, I think Coke wins. Coke fielded two very different adverts. In past Superbowls Coke has opted for whimsical, fantasy related themes. This year they fielded one fantasy one which I am calling the Battle of the Dragons, and the other, is the one that I thought was the best was the Coke advert I am calling "Border Guards."

So for battle Pepsi vs Coke:


Coke - Border Guards

Honorable Mention:

Coke - Battle of the Dragons.

 Doritos seems to have in past Superbowls fielded some really good ads. This year was no exception. There were three Doritos adverts: - Dog blasts through door, Sucking fingers, and house sitter resurects Grand pa. I liked house sitter resurects grand pa.

Other Adverts that deserve mention are the Bridgestone adverts - Reply All, and Bridge 'n Beaver.

Last but not least I have to report of the adverts. They fielded two adverts and my favorite is the Joan Rivers advert. Super clever and super funny.

March Madness

March Madness - a 3 week period during which people watch their brackets, and the scores, and hope that their bracketology has paid off. Well, I won my second year in a row Men's NCAA Bracket. And I am the one who knows the least about basketball, especially college basketball.

I get to keep my little trophy for another year, and I get a free lunch, as well as bragging rights. 

Who would have thought?

Superbowl XLII & the Commercials

Underdogs, New York Giants beat the not so Perfect Patriots in a very exciting game 17-14. In the final quarter I was hiding behind Kevin - because I could not look. Eli Manning, Peyton's little brother played superbly. The Giants' Defense were spectacular - breaking through the Pats front line and constantly pressurizing Tom Brady, the Patriot Quarterback. The strategy worked. Brady didn't have the time to make those long passes. Instead the Patriots had to rely on shorter passes, when Brady wasn't being sacked.

The commercials this year were okay. I think I may have set my expectations a little high. I really didn't think they lived up to the hype.

Since I loathe car commercials I refuse to mention any of them.

Honorable Mentions:

1. Pepsi Diet Max
Weird but kind of cool see digitally engineered lizards dancing to "Thriller" Correction the dancing lizards were advertising water. Oops

2. Go Daddy
Now that Danica is their spokesperson the commercials are tame. Kevin is still mourning the exit of the first Go Daddy Girl.

3. Hank the Horse (Beer Commercial)
I loved Hank the horse being taken through his training by spotty dog with background music from Rocky. Beer commercials are starting to feel like car commercials - boring.


1. Fedex Carrier Pigeon
Especially the last scene - the effects of the giant carrier pigeons on packages, and people. Superb.

2. Bridgestone Tires (Animal only.)
I loved the series of animals (starting with the pesky squirrel) all screaming as the car approaches, but thanks to the tires, manages to swerve and avoid each creature. Didn't like the people version.

3. Coke
I loved the Coke Commercial - the one with the Republican and Democrat leaving their debate to go and get a coke, and have a tour of DC. Great commercial.

As for all the rest - If I don't remember them after 24 hours, then they are not worth mentioning.

Football season begins

Ahhh. I can feel a slight drop in the morning temperature. Leaves are starting to turn. Fall approaches. What does this mean (apart from the fact that I, the twice a year gardener, have to start getting busy again in the garden) - it means that Football Season has begun.

Last weekend the Bronco's had a nail biting finish with the Bill's - scoring to win in the last seconds. Sunday they take on the dreaded Raiders. In between we have had the Patriots (Kevin's team) fined heavily for taping an opponent's signals at practice. It's just like a soap opera.

On a more serious note - the injury of Bills Tight End, Kevin Everett really does bring it home - this exciting sport is also a dangerous sport. Kevin Everett broke his neck while tackling a Bronco. The prognosis to date looks promising... he may be able to walk again.

My Early in the Season Wish List:
The Bronco's rookie QB Jay Cutler is going to have an amazing season. (I know he played a little last year - but he is still a rookie, and a very talented rookie at that.)
My advice to the rest of the team is guard him well. Especially when you play the Steelers, aka the Bumble Bees (because of their black and yellow team colors which make them look like large bumble bees.) Etched in my memory is that terrible "take down" of the Bengal QB Carson Palmer by a Steeler. Examine the replay and I rest my case. It would be terrible for us if our QB got injured in that way. So guard him well.

Olympic report back

I am getting close to being all olympicked out. As always the coverage has been excellent - just not enough curling! (Joke: - no offense to curling fans, but curling?... an olympic sport? You have got to be joking!) By far the most exciting events to watch for a sofa radish such as myself are:

Downhill/ alpine skiing. (Downhill, super-G, giant slalom etc)

Freestyle skiing

And anything with snowboarding in it. I just love the snowboarding events. From the half pipe to the snowboarding cross events I find them incredibly TV-genic! Also there is something super cool about these competitors. They are athletes, but they are also incredibly hip and happening. Ultra cool.

I love figure skating, and I have been known to TiVo figure skating competitions. But they haven't grabbed me at this olympics quite as much as last olympics. I am not sure whether it is the new scoring system that they have. There was something so appealing about the perfect 6. I think I may be a little jaded from all the other sports coverage.

Speed skating is also quite exciting to watch. Boy do they go fast. The tension and excitement of the race, coupled with some exciting factors: the competitors jockeying for position, and the inevitable tangles and crashes. Great television and great entertainment.