Respite Open Thread: Serena Brings the Joy

This made me smile so much!

Respite open thread

***I know some are looking for an update on the little white ball of fluff – who btw, is a grumpy old man despite his sweet looks. I’ve filed a report with the Humane Society, but he’ll stay here as long as I can. He’s up on the neighborhood boards. He ate a bowl of wet cat food (did I mention he’s old and all I have for dog food is BIG crunchies, so I worried about his teeth) and is settled in my front yard, under a big tree. In case his people are driving around looking for him. ***

135 replies
  1. 1
    Hungry Joe says:

    If I played against Serena long enough, I’d definitely win a point … because sooner or later she’s gonna double fault. I might even get lucky and have a framed, spinning mis-hit find its way back to an obscure corner of the court. But that’s what it’d take.

  2. 2
    Elizabelle says:

    Love following the saga of the roaming little white dog. Great idea to have him out in the shade, but where neighbors can see him. Word will get around.

  3. 3
    Central Planning says:

    @Hungry Joe: Same, and that would go for any tennis pro, not just Serena.

  4. 4
    ThresherK says:

    @Hungry Joe: It is a case of mathematics. I don’t remember if the original is “win a point in a game (a literal game)” or not, but: A game is four points. The fewest points she’d need to beat me in two sets of tennis is 48 (4 x 6 x 2) and I can see that happening so easily it’s not funny.

    The only chance I or you would have is to wait for her to hit it into the net. That says it all!

  5. 5
    Baud says:

    the little white ball of fluff – who btw, is a grumpy old man despite his sweet looks.

    Are we talking about the dog or Cole?

  6. 6
    Baud says:


    Hello, traveler. Where are you now?

  7. 7
    Hungry Joe says:

    @Central Planning: Yeah, average players like me would need that kind of luck to win more than a point or two off anyone in the top 2,000 — men or women.

  8. 8
    rikyrah says:

    Glad to hear the update on our little white friend 🤗

  9. 9
    satby says:

    Serena’s amazing and that’s a fun video.

    Hope the grumpy old ball of fluff’s family finds him soon. And I hope they learn to keep him in their yard or walk him on a leash. Over the course of more than 20 years and probably 30 dogs I can count on one hand any dogs wandering off and none of my yards has been fenced. Though my small guy, Bubba has accounted for two of the jail breaks, I blame myself for them because I took my eyes off him. And I found him within the hour. Yes, I’m being judgemental. It’s hard to lose a dog you’re paying attention to.
    Edit: and it’s possible that having had (more than) 30 dogs during that time period has made me very crabby with lax owners, or I would have been able to stick to the usual couple of dogs normal people have 😂

  10. 10
    low-tech cyclist says:

    I have no illusions about being able to hit her stuff. I’ve been playing since I was a kid, but I couldn’t have hit her in my teens, I couldn’t have hit her in my 20s, and I certainly can’t do it now.

    If I had to try, here’s what I’d do: knowing I wouldn’t even be able to bring my racket around before her serve blew on past me, I’d try to bunt her serve with the screen of my tennis racket. I’d at least have a chance of blocking her serve with my racket, and if so, her serve would likely bounce off my racket hard enough to clear the net.

    If I got really lucky, it would behave in some unexpected way that kept her from returning it. But in all likelihood, she’d handle my bunted return easily, and hit a rocket to a corner of the court that I wouldn’t have a prayer of getting to in time. And I’d grin, thank her, and that would be it.

  11. 11
    Baud says:


    our little white friend

    Ok, Cole’s definitely not little.

  12. 12
    Hungry Joe says:

    @ThresherK: Right. She’d almost surely take 48 straight points off me. Then she’d do it again. And again. When she finally double faults or nets one or hits one long, I throw my racket in the air, fall to the ground, then strut off the court in triumph.

  13. 13
    NotMax says:


    At one time kept a dog in my shop. Every once in a while she’d get it into her head to make a break for it when a customer opened the door. Invariably she’d head over to the business a few doors down – the vet. She LOVED going to the vet.

  14. 14
    Baud says:

    I would try coughing loudly as she was in middle of her serve.

  15. 15
    rikyrah says:


    feline (@partygetsme__) Tweeted:
    There is this little girl at my moms house that walks by every other day with some random animal combo following her around.

  16. 16
    MagdaInBlack says:

    Absolutely 💘 love the video 😊

  17. 17
    satby says:

    @NotMax: Not saying they don’t try to run off if they’re adventurous. Just saying if you’re attentive you see it, and corral them fairly quickly. I will concede fireworks and severe thunderstorms may be exceptions to this rule. And then you take precautions like going out only on a leash.

  18. 18
    rikyrah says:


    CNN (@CNN) Tweeted:
    This man sent 33 strangers to college using his life savings from working at the same job as a carpenter for 67 years

  19. 19
    BR says:

    Just a public service announcement — everyone should call their members of congress and senators and say 1) no compromise on the debt ceiling, 2) that means no cutting government services — the deal should reflect Dem priorities, 3) the bill to raise the debt ceiling should eliminate the debt ceiling permanently rather than leaving it for future brinkmanship, and 4) if the GOP wants to shut things down again they’re welcome to do so because the public will rightly blame them.

  20. 20
  21. 21
    Original Lee says:

    Finally having a chance to check in. I spent most of yesterday helping a friend harvest honey. In some respects, doing it in the heat is easier because the honey flows better when it’s warm. And it’s fun. It just takes a fair amount of logistics. He got about 75 pounds, which is pretty good, and later this week I’ll go over to help him bottle the honey and purify the wax. He’s still deciding what to do with the wax he’s keeping (most of it is going back to the bees).

  22. 22
    BR says:


    Actually, any front pagers want to do a phone bank thread? We should be calling about this. It’s not as exciting as other things, but the economy is what the GOP is counting on for the election next year, and they want to keep doing corporate raider style governance to keep the market juiced even if it hurts everyone else.

  23. 23
    Jerry says:

    I woke up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday and was feeling like ass. I watched the Serena video and it instantly put in a great mood. Thanks for posting it so I could watch it again

  24. 24

    One of my neighbors went on a “mystery tour” last week. She knew it would be a 4-day bus tour, but not where it would go. They picked her up at 6am, and she went off with total strangers. The guide on the bus was in some sort of costume and dropped hints as they drove for four hours. Mr DAW said it sounded like a kidnapping.

    Turned out they were touring Iowa! They stayed in Des Moines and went to the Amana colonies, Hoover museum, farm museum, etc. She apparently had a good time.

  25. 25
    Mnemosyne says:


    Given that both times this little dude showed up at TaMara’s it was immediately after a big rainstorm, I suspect there may be some extenuating circumstances.

  26. 26
    tokyokie says:

    My niece in the Philippines recently made the national finals for her age group, and I doubt, other than double faults, I could win a point playing her, much less Serena. And that’s assuming I got into really good shape and practice a lot.

  27. 27
    debbie says:



    Around here, all I get are dogs and their charges. Watching body language gives me a good indication of the relationships, which can be amusing. But a deer and cats!

  28. 28
    Michael Cain says:

    Most of us mere mortals don’t/can’t understand just how good the top athletes are in their sports. Some years back I got to warm up with an 84-year-old man who had been an Olympic epee medalist when he was young. His legs were shot to the point that he just stood in one place, never moved his feet at all. I didn’t score a single touch on him, but he absolutely hammered me. Most of his touches I barely saw coming.

  29. 29
    patrick II says:

    Little known fact:
    From Slate:

    A month ago at the Bank of the West Classic, Germany’s Sabine Lisicki hit a serve 131 miles per hour—the fastest ever recorded in women’s tennis.
    That’s not just fast for a woman. Lisicki’s record-setting shot—which broke Venus Williams’ mark of 129 mph—is faster than any serve Roger Federer has hit in 2014, according to statistics provided to me by the Association of Tennis Professionals.

  30. 30
    Another Scott says:

    Serena’s amazing. She’s also earned about $50M more than the next highest lifetime winnings woman player – her sister Venus. Who is also amazing.

    In other good news, PPP Poll released July 19:

    The lion’s share of discussion about the states Democrats need to win to take back the White House in 2020 has focused on the trio of Midwestern states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Those states do indeed present the clearest path to 270 electoral votes and our early polling has found that Democrats are well positioned in them. But new PPP surveys in a pair of states- Georgia and North Carolina- that combined have only voted Democratic for President once in the last 27 years- show a possible backup plan to victory in the South as well.

    Trump is underwater in both Georgia (which he won by 5 points in 2016) and North Carolina (which he won by 4 points in 2016.) In Georgia 45% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 49% who disapprove and in North Carolina 46% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 48% who disapprove. In Georgia Trump trails a generic Democrat for reelection 50-46, and in North Carolina Trump trails a generic Democrat for reelection 49-44. We wouldn’t go so far as to say Trump is an underdog based on these numbers- Democrats may very well end up with a candidate who’s not as strong as Good Old Generic- but we see them as toss ups if Trump remains as unpopular as he is right now.

    Even though Georgia hasn’t voted Democratic for President since 1992 and North Carolina has only voted Democratic for President once since 1976 (2008) it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that either of these states is looking competitive for next year.


    (Emphasis added.)

    ¿Por qué no los dos?

    Why not, indeed.


  31. 31
    debbie says:


    If you’re lucky, you reach out and block a serve back to her. But then what? Wait to be slammed? ;-)

  32. 32
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    I love that, in that video, she is so clearly trying to be polite and hit the ball directly to the guys so they have a chance, and they STILL can’t get anywhere near it.

    And then when they figure out that she can basically do target shooting with her racket and ball … 🥰

  33. 33
    debbie says:

    @patrick II:

    I watched Roscoe Tanner serve at more than 150 mph. Or, more accurately, I heard it and then saw it rolling around at the back of the court.

  34. 34
    Raven says:

    @Michael Cain: Pat Conroy talks about that in “My Losing Season”. He was an all-state point guard in South Carolina and played at the Citadel. He recounts playing against dudes that he had no chance against. All this bullshit about “work ethic” does supplant innate ability.

  35. 35
    zhena gogolia says:


    Good idea.

  36. 36
    Another Scott says:

    @debbie: Google tells me the record (in a tournament) is Samuel Groth’s 163.7 mph serve in 2012. Presumably that number will continue to go up (slowly) over time as racquets improve and players continue to get stronger.

    McEnroe puts the women’s game down, but they’re amazing in their own way. (And as J often says, in a way it’s harder to win 2 out of 3 than 3 out of 5 (there’s less chance to come back from a slow start).)


  37. 37
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    From one of last night’s threads: WRT the Serena thing, one of my good friends in law school had been a girls doubles state champ in IL. She was a leftie, but she would switch to right-handed so that she had to do some work to keep me from taking a point from her. Against Serena, I doubt that i could return a serve.

  38. 38
    Elizabelle says:

    @Baud: Hello bud. Home in Richmond, VA for a whole week now. The world travels are over, for a year or two. Very tempted to move out to California, but decided to stay here through 2020 so I can volunteer and politic more. Decided my voice would count for more on the East coast.

    Kind of nice to be back. Loving the air con.

    ETA: D’uh! No manners! How is YOUR summer coming along?

  39. 39
    NotMax says:

    @zhena gogolia

    Did you by any chance try that Gogol series on Prime? Have to admit I gave up on it part way through. What a mess.

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Raven: Work ethic comes into play when people have similar levels of talent.

  41. 41
    smintheus says:

    I just listened to a high quality tape of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. I’m pretty sure he did say, as he always claimed, “That’s one small step for a man…” The “a” is naturally all but swallowed up when pronounced in many American dialects: “furr’ah man”. I could just barely detect the “ah” on the tape.

  42. 42
    Spanky says:

    @smintheus: Ahyep. I’ve always heard it in there too.

  43. 43
    JR says:

    She could have beaten those clowns with a ping pong paddle.

    David Foster Wallace had a good bit about tennis in his otherwise up and down magnum opus.

  44. 44
    Kay says:

    My husband plays amateur tennis- a lot- he plays on two teams in two states- and he doesn’t have any illusions at all that she’s an elite athlete and she would kick his ass without breaking a sweat. They have an elaborate ranking system in amateur tennis, so I don’t think people who play in those groups have any illusions. We have an A Team and a B Team here and there’s only 30000 people in this county so you could play once a week and take lessons (most of them take lessons, too) just in the county group and never be as good as the best players even in that small pool.
    I don’t even follow sports or know the rules I can tell the difference watching her and watching them. It’s a big difference! These people are delusional.

  45. 45
    Raven says:

    @JR: He taught in my program at the Urbana Park District.

  46. 46
    smintheus says:

    @Raven: There are some sports where innate ability is sine qua non, such as track. But in others, especially complex team sports like soccer and hockey, hard work plus intensity plus smarts can turn a moderately athletic player into a star. An example would be Patrice Bergeron in hockey. He’s not anywhere near comparable in athleticism/speed/strength to plenty of players who are by any measure much worse than him.

  47. 47
    Immanentize says:


    These people are delusional.

    “These people” all have peni$es which distorts their thinking about actually being second (or third, etc.) rate.

  48. 48
    germy says:

    History isn’t far away.

    It is theoretically possible that there's a 90 year old living today who spoke to someone with first-hand memories of speaking to someone who knew Catherine the Great/James Cook/ Madame de Pompadour/ Bonnie Prince Charlie/American Revolution/French Revolution.— Rebecca Rideal (@RebeccaRideal) July 16, 2019

    I often think about this. In the 80s I used to visit a centenarian lady who remembered her grandparents telling her about the Battle of Waterloo— Dr Francis Young (@DrFrancisYoung) July 18, 2019

  49. 49
    NotMax says:


    But- but- Bobby Riggs.

    :) :) :)

  50. 50
    Kay says:

    I don’t follow sports but I’ve spent my entire life around people who do – they seem to love it so much there must be something to it, but I just never got what that was. I’m glad they have this hobby. Anyway, it’s like a soundtrack in the background and I prefer tennis and baseball over football and basketball because I like how tennis and baseball sound.

  51. 51
  52. 52
    RAVEN says:

    @smintheus: There’s an exception to every rule.

  53. 53
    NotMax says:

    This link is from a year ago, so cannot speak to any mortality in the interim but still pretty amazing.

    Harrison Ruffin Tyler, 89, is one of two living grandsons of President John Tyler, who was born in 1790, one year after George Washington was sworn in as president.
    Here’s how it happened. John Tyler became president in 1841. He had eight children with his first wife, who died while he was in office. At 52, he married 22-year-old Julia Gardiner. They had seven children, for a total of 15 — the most of any president. He was 63 when son Lyon Tyler was born, whose first wife also died. Lyon also had a very young second wife, and was 75 years old when Harrison Tyler was born in 1928. Source</a.

    Tyler was the 10th president of the U.S.

  54. 54
    germy says:

    This poem, by Ross Gay:

    A Small Needful Fact

    Is that Eric Garner worked
    for some time for the Parks and Rec.
    Horticultural Department, which means,
    perhaps, that with his very large hands,
    perhaps, in all likelihood,
    he put gently into the earth
    some plants which, most likely,
    some of them, in all likelihood,
    continue to grow, continue
    to do what such plants do, like house
    and feed small and necessary creatures,
    like being pleasant to touch and smell,
    like converting sunlight
    into food, like making it easier
    for us to breathe.

  55. 55
    smintheus says:

    @germy: I once tried to teach some students about the nearness of history and the qualities of oral history, but it was a fiasco. Was teaching Herodotus at the Naval Academy, so I told the midshipmen to interview a WWII vet (many retirees were living in town) about their memories of some aspect of the war they’d witnessed. Instead, all the mids but one came back with reports of general knowledge about the war, things that no vet would have witnessed. IOW, a big dud.

  56. 56
    SFAW says:

    @Hungry Joe:
    @Central Planning:

    Even though I’ve never played a single game of tennis, I think I MAYBE could win a point from Serena.

    I couldn’t win any points when she’s serving, of course. But I have a feeling that, when I was serving, my “performance” would be so unique, that it would induce paroxysms of laughter from Serena, possibly leading to hypoxia for a second — and that’s when I would STRIKE!

    Of course, if that dastardly plan didn’t work, then I’m screwed.

  57. 57
    Kay says:


    They’re different. My daughter plays tennis for fun. Her husband was (briefly) a professional hockey player on whatever the farm league of hockey is- so never got out of that lowest tier and quit, thank God, because he’s not delusional. But he’s a good athlete. She taught him tennis and he was beating her regularly almost immediately.

  58. 58
    NotMax says:


    Whoopsie. #53 above was meant to be Inventor.

    Mea culpa.

  59. 59
    zhena gogolia says:


    My father saw Emperor Franz Josef! Not as impressive as your examples, but my students are amazed.

    But then they’re amazed that I was alive to see the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.

    Scary fact: the 20th century is now ancient history for them.

  60. 60
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kay: @Immanentize: I hope that you’re not bagging on the actual guys in the video. They seem to be quite aware that she can kick their asses and they look like they are having a blast just being there.

    @germy: One of my great grandmothers was the daughter of a Civil War veteran who served under Sherman all they from Vicksburg through the triumphal parade in DC. She lived with my grandparents and I was around her every time we visited. She died in 1971.

  61. 61
    trollhattan says:

    Fancied myself a good cyclist and would occasionally glom onto the local Tue-Thu p.m. river training ride. I could keep up but at some point the pros would exchange a bat signal and motor off, dropping the pack like we were nothing.

    They’re just built different. And the Lanterne Rouge of Le Tour is better than 99.99% of cyclists. There’s just no faking that.

  62. 62
    zhena gogolia says:


    Oh, I have to admit I didn’t try. Recent Russian pop culture is pretty repellent.

    I ran across a YouTube clip from a Russian TV show from the mid-1990s last night and I almost cried. It was so much nicer then. Post-USSR, pre-Putin is my favorite.

  63. 63
    zhena gogolia says:


    Was it a mess as in violent, or just stupid?

  64. 64
    smintheus says:

    @RAVEN: It’s not a rare exception in some sports. The nature of certain team sports gives a premium to players who can see the game in 4 dimensions, can magnify their abilities in how they play with/against others, can understand how to deceive opponents, etc. Those things complement athleticism to an extraordinary degree. Every year several of the most highly ranked draft picks wash out of the NHL because they have too little beyond pure athleticism.

  65. 65
    NotMax says:

    @zhena gogolia

    A mess as in trying to combine genres to create a narrative. As always, YMMV.

  66. 66
    James E Powell says:


    David Foster Wallace had a good bit about tennis in his otherwise up and down magnum opus.

    Assume you mean the more talked about than read Infinite Jest. But it was his essays on tennis – collected in the book String Theory – that I really loved. I am one of those who like Wallace’s non-fiction work and interviews much more than his fiction.

  67. 67
    germy says:

    @James E Powell: Is it true that some of his non-fiction work turned out to be fiction?

  68. 68
    SFAW says:


    Amazing. Google does not indicate whether he, or his older brother Lyon Jr. — who apparently was also alive last year — has passed on. (Although my Google-fu ain’t the best in the world.)

  69. 69
    Raven says:

    @smintheus: And I contend that ability IS part of athleticism. Ted Williams was a great hitter, fisherman and fighter pilot because of his vision.

  70. 70
    Original Lee says:

    @germy: I can see that. My grandmother used to tell me about her grandmother getting the check from her grandfather’s service in the Union Army. A friend is the grandson of a drummer boy for the Union Army. His grandfather married very late and his father was born when his grandfather was in his 60s, and my friend was born 60 years after that.

  71. 71
    RAVEN says:

    @James E Powell:

    For Wallace, life was unstructured. I stopped at placid Blair Park, where he and a high school teammate, John Flygare, taught tennis for five summers. They’d collect cash for the lessons, order pizza out of the proceeds, then turn over whatever was left in the cash box to the Urbana Park District every couple of weeks, Mr. Flygare told me. No one monitored. “I see my kids almost assuming their lives are going to stay structured,” he said. “When we were among ourselves, we were just free.” There were no children in the park that morning, a school day. Soccer nets were up now, signs of an organized sport new to Illinois. An older man walked his dogs alone.

    The worst thing for me is that, while he worked in my program, I didn’t really know him. I had a large staff in the summer.

  72. 72
    smintheus says:

    @trollhattan: Yes, cycling is like track – pure athleticism rules. I was dragooned into my HS track team as a senior and blew all the competition away in the 1/4 mile simply because I had the right musculature for that race, though I had never run it before. I decided not to continue in college because as a sport it seemed unfair to match up unequal people: the person with the right genes is going to win at least 99% of the time.

  73. 73
    NotMax says:

    @zhena gogolia

    Might want to peek in at a Ukrainian series available on Prime, The Dog (original tile Pes). Formulaic to da max, yet engaging and passably entertaining in the long run.

  74. 74
    Raven says:

    @Original Lee: My ancestor was “musician” in the 11th Tennessee. It took me some time to understand that musicians were the Signal Corps in the Civil War. I was also in Signal in Vietnam!

  75. 75
    Sab says:

    @Kay: I am amazed that you are good at law but not at sports. My mother (not a lawyer) always felt that high achievement in sports should be a law school admission requisite like good grades and high test scores. Competition apritude. But lots of klutzes are competetive.

  76. 76
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @smintheus: Those people who are considered mediocre in terms of pure athleticism in any elite sports field are only mediocre in comparison to other people in their sport. Matched up against a weekend athlete who is in pretty good shape there would be no contest.

  77. 77
    Immanentize says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: No, of course not. I’m referring to the Reddit stupids who started this misogynistic meme.

    PS, I am not sure Billie Jean King in her prime could have won a point off Serena today. The game is just so different. She would have a good chance, but might not have made it.
    1973 — The Battle of the Sexes:

    It was largely through the efforts of King, who spearheaded the formation of a new tour and threatened to boycott tournaments, that the pay gap began closing between her colleagues and those on the men’s side.

    Sound familiar, soccer fans?

  78. 78
    zhena gogolia says:



  79. 79
    RAVEN says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I played softball and hoops with a couple of guys who were scholarship football players at Illinois but never made it past the scout team. They were incredible athletes. Did you read about Corey Booker and his “career” at Stanford?

    Cory Booker’s college football struggles echo in his presidential campaign

  80. 80
    NotMax says:


    Title, not tile. (As if that wasn’t obvious enough.)

  81. 81
    zhena gogolia says:


    Do any dogs die?

  82. 82
    Original Lee says:

    @Raven: Very cool. My great-great-grandfather served twice. He was at 2nd Vicksburg as a corporal and was invalided out after a bout of diphtheria. But once he went home and got his health back, he re-enlisted as a training sergeant and served in that capacity until the end of the war.

  83. 83
    Raven says:

    @Original Lee: This fellow died at the Battle of Atlanta.

  84. 84
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @smintheus: No. Those pro cyclists have talent galore, but they also have logged mile after mile in the saddle. As far as high school track goes, pure ability may win at that level, but there is a reason that elite athletes train.

    Again from last night’s thread:
    One of the things that separates the good from the great is the amount of time devoted to practicing. I have seen it in music as well. I was a good violinist, but with my ability all the time in the world would not have advanced me beyond very good. Any extra time spent practicing resulted at best in linear improvement. For the greats, additional time worked with talent to produce improvements that were almost exponential. I got good enough to recognize where I fit in the grand scheme of things but also to really appreciate how good the greats really are and how long a road it takes to get there.

  85. 85
    Raven says:

    The Irishman is going to win the Open!

  86. 86
    smintheus says:

    @Raven: I’m not denying that visual perception is part of athleticism. By “seeing the game in 4 dimensions” I mean the capacity to conceive how the game is going to play out in the 3 physical dimensions and over time. That has nothing to do with athleticism.

    Ted Williams thought carefully about the best way to hit a ball. That’s contributed greatly to his natural athleticism.

  87. 87
    NotMax says:

    @zhena gogolia

    Absolutely, definitively no.

  88. 88
    RAVEN says:

    @smintheus: ok, you win

  89. 89
    Kirklin E Spencer says:

    @zhena gogolia: Well, yes, the 20th century is ancient history to them.

    Stop and wonder – next year’s college freshmen were born in the 21st century. I remember both cell phones and desktop computers becoming reality, but we crossed (in the US) the line of over half the population having at least one of each in the household before 2000, and today it’s a shock to find someone of working age or less who does not have both.

    Pretty much every freshman entering college next day was born after the twin towers fell. Germany has always been Germany, not east and west. Their political memories are the presidencies of W, O, and Trump. Most of them grew up through the Great Recession of the 2000’s, so their general experience with life is “Thing always get better, eventually, but you have to work through it.”

    Kinda looking forward to seeing what they make into ancient history.

  90. 90
    Kirk Spencer says:

    darnit I hate autofill.

  91. 91
    opiejeanne says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    Scary fact: the 20th century is now ancient history for them.

    It is! A friend of 59 was lamenting that some younger people he knew thought our Olds celebration of the Apollo 11 moon landing was “quaint”. Quaint! Like, it’s no big deal that we managed to not just send that rocket into space but that got men onto the moon and kept them alive for the entire round trip, with methods of calculation that are so primitive by today’s standards that it’s incredible even to those of us who were alive then.

  92. 92
    Kay says:


    My mother (not a lawyer) always felt that high achievement in sports should be a law school admission requisite like good grades and high test scores. Competition apritude. But lots of klutzes are competetive.

    Honestly I would worry a little about a lawyer who believed that :)
    It’s, um, crazy. My youngest was born with a bad left eye. They did a lot with surgery and therapy, eye patches and such, to get him to where he can drive with glasses. He (I think) will end up going to law school- I can just see the interests he has converging there. He can’t hit a ball consistently if you paid him. It just doesn’t matter for that.
    I mean, if “competitive” is the standard my oldest was fucking vicious in Quiz Bowl, but I;m not sure even that should be the test :)

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  94. 94
    Original Lee says:

    @Raven: I’m sorry to hear that. Amazing that you know all about him.

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    opiejeanne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: My great grandfather, my dad’s grandfather, was a photographer during the Civil War.
    Family rumor that he and his brother were among the contractors used by Matthew Brady; I have been unable to verify this last bit; it came from a source that I can’t entirely discount but also don’t trust very much.

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    smintheus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Which doesn’t alter my point in the slightest. I didn’t argue that random weekend players with no particular athleticism could elevate their games to the level of professionals.

  97. 97
    Raven says:

    This scene on 18 is spectacular!

  98. 98
    raven says:

    @Original Lee: All my life I identified as a Union person. When I moved to Georgia 35 years ago I visited Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield and was directed to the Illinois Monument. About 10 years ago I noticed the notation on the family tree that my uncle did. Jason Figg, Confederate Soldier killed at the Battle of Peachtree Creek, July 21, 1846. That was wrong, Peachtree Creek was the 20th, the Battle of Atlanta was the 21st. His father served in the Union Army and his brother was a Confederate.

  99. 99
    smintheus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: You never miss an opportunity to contradict me, usually by means of straw men. Nowhere do I deny that professional athletes need to train. I stated that in *some* team sports there are aspects to the game the command of which can allow moderately athletic players to eclipse more athletic players.

  100. 100
    Kay says:


    I have a lawyer acquaintance who is kind of a pain in the ass because he makes “observations”, often about me, but the sad part is he’s right a lot. He is an observer of the human condition, specifically, me. So he loves his job and he thinks I like mine and he told me “happy lawyers need to like two out three of 1. clients, 2. judges, and 3. other lawyers” OK, so of course he likes all three (he’s always better than me in his observations) so he’s a happy lawyer. But I am too, he says, because I like 1. my clients and 2. judges. Not other lawyers. 2 out of 3.
    I think that’s generally accurate, sad to say. I just barely tolerate HIM, for example, and here I am in his happy category :)

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    RAVEN says:

    Sean Lowry, Open Champ!

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    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    @satby: My darling Dweebe (long since gone to the Rainbow Bridge) a Chow/German Shepard cross was determined to protect the homestead. But in her mind she could not protect the homestead while she was in the homestead, so she used to breakout of the completely fenced yard wander across the street to the neighbour’s driveway and sit there watching the house. That in her mind was the only way she could protect it. The lengths she would go to to break out of the yard were extraordinary. We figured she was a digger when we first got her so we did the trick of burying chicken wire under the fence so she wouldn’t dig. She would test its limits by moving further and further back to start digging until she found where the chicken wire ended. Then she would dig down, and then along under the fence. One hole we found would have made the Colditz team proud. She went down two feet, then along three feet, then she came across a huge tree root, so went down another foot, under the tree root, and then up and out the other side. We came home to find her sitting in the driveway across the street. We then decided to get an electric fence, not the pet electric fence you understand, but a cattle grade electric fence. Didn’t matter to Dweebe at all. We came home to find her in the neighbour’s drive with an electric fence burn on her belly. I was hanging out laundry one day and saw her by the fence looking at it. I yelled at her “Dweebe you go out and I will beat your butt!” She looked at the fence and looked at me, looked at the fence again and you could see the thought process “Hmmmmm getting out or butt beating, hmmmmm, okay its worth a butt beating” and off she went. She became such good friends with the animal control officer that he would pull his truck up, walk to the neighbour’s driveway and say “Come on Dweebe, time to go home” whereupon she would follow him across the road and he would hoist her up and put her back over the gate. If a dog is DETERMINED to get out, as Dweebe was, there is little you can do about it. I still miss the little fuzzy butt.

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    Raven says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: We call Lil Bit “Webee”.

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    opiejeanne says:

    @Original Lee: On my mom’s side, my great great grandfather was wounded at Vicksburg, in the Battle of Yazoo Bayou (Chickasaw Bluffs) in December of 1862. Died of his wounds a week or three months later, depending on which official document you believe. That was my grandfather’s grandfather. On my dad’s side it’s only 3 generations, on my mom’s side it’s four. In four generations on Dad’s side we’re at the Revolutionary War. Takes 5 on Mom’s side to get there, but when you start doing a little genealogy to satisfy the family’s curiosity, it starts to seem like recent history. The Civil War isn’t that long ago. Lewis & Clark isn’t that long ago (mr opiejeanne’s greatX4 grandfather was part of the expedition). 1804-1806

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    Inventor says:

    @raven: He may have died the next day of his wounds.

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    zhena gogolia says:


    Okay, then, I’ll try to remember to check it out!

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    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @smintheus: You were saying that a moderately athletic pro can become a star by having other things such as hard work going for them. My point was that the “moderately athletic pro” is actually an elite athlete.

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    James E Powell says:


    This right here is an article about that very thing. Whether he knew or acknowledged it, I see Wallace’s non-fiction writing following the path of Hunter S Thompson before him, Mencken before him, Twain before him. And probably most essayists or chroniclers before him.

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    Raven says:

    @smintheus: “contradict” you. Who are you, the voice of god?

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    James E Powell says:


    Every year several of the most highly ranked draft picks wash out of the NHL because they have too little beyond pure athleticism.

    Same is true in the NBA. Athletic ability is enough to succeed until one gets to the level where much more is required.

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    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    Once had a competitor, who’d won national championships, that he didn’t understand how another competitor did what he did. This fella worked hard, learned very, very well how to play his game and he was extremely well respected. The fella he couldn’t understand was a party guy, liked the game but really, he just showed up and played. He was amazing. But over time his poor work ethic is what cost him the fame he so much deserved. He would devastate the competition event after event but then he’d party too hard, not play enough and he’d be beatable. He could have been world champion with a work ethic but his true work was partying.

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    opiejeanne says:

    @raven: That’s the classic sorrow of the Civil War, family vs family.

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    Ruckus says:

    Two words. Spud Webb.
    Listed as 5’7″ played point guard in the NBA. Played for 13 yrs, 85-98, his game point avg is 9.9 pts/game. To me he made the game fun to watch because he had talent and knew how to use it, playing very well with people his height should have been a shut down for.

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    Ruckus says:

    Are you saying that they only use the small brain to think with? That the full sized actual brain is often drained of blood whenever the concept of talent is discussed? I’d take offense, if it wasn’t extremely true.

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    smintheus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: And why would I not know that?

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    smintheus says:

    @Raven: Given that I’m not, it’s remarkable that Omnes never responds to one of my comments except to contradict me…or, occasionally, to explain that I don’t understand the full measure of what I just said. You neglected the “straw men” part of my comment.

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    smintheus says:

    @Ruckus: Yes. Team sports are much more responsive to players who know how to maximize even a somewhat limited degree of athletic potential. Their minor leagues are full of extremely athletic players who never learned to pay enough attention to how other players experience the game.

  118. 118
    Ruckus says:

    This is a young country. Right now we are in the early teenage growth spurt era.
    Want proof? I’m not even that old, seven decades and I’ve lived for 30% of the time this country has existed as a country. We’ve lived through a civil war that pitted brother against brother, over slavery and how many years did it take for the civil rights act to even be voted on? My grandparents crossed the country in a horse drawn wagon 101 yrs ago, with my infant dad in it. We’ve seen more changes in this world in the last 100 yrs than in almost all of recored history before that. We’ve been lucky because of geography that in the last 100 yrs, with two world wars, that couldn’t really have been fought before then, we didn’t suffer more than human losses. This made us strong more than anything else, also arrogant, as is often the case with youngsters. And like all arrogance, it is what may harm us more than anything else.

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    Shalimar says:

    In law school, i had a classmate who had been very briefly ranked. Probably the lowest level as far as former pros can get. We played for fun a few times. He won every point where he was actually trying.

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    Brachiator says:


    Yes, cycling is like track – pure athleticism rules.

    But aren’t sports athleticism honed and focused on a particular set of activities? And even cyclists have to pick a good bike, learn to ride it, and learn and apply specific cycling techniques. It’s not just about athleticism.

    I decided not to continue in college because as a sport it seemed unfair to match up unequal people: the person with the right genes is going to win at least 99% of the time.

    Interesting assertion. It would have been interesting to see what the outcome would have been had you continued in college.

    ETA. I’ve read that cheating is practically universal in cycling, and rampant in other sports. Attempts to neutralize the advantages of “pure athleticism.”

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    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @smintheus: Okay. I am responding to one of comments without disagreeing with you. I agree that you are not god. Happy now?

  122. 122
    Brachiator says:


    A friend of 59 was lamenting that some younger people he knew thought our Olds celebration of the Apollo 11 moon landing was “quaint”. Quaint! Like, it’s no big deal that we managed to not just send that rocket into space but that got men onto the moon and kept them alive for the entire round trip

    One of the things that struck me about the underrated Neil Armstrong movie “First Man” is how the space craft were depicted as noisy tin cans barely held together with bolts and tape, fragile and liable to be torn apart by powerful physical forces.

    Quite a few critics and viewers complained that the filmmakers did not seem to be sufficiently in awe of the rockets and tech.

    Growing up during the era and later visiting space museums and the space flight center in Houston, all this stuff seemed to me to be the latest advance in human technology. But the director of “First Man” was born in 1985, and for them the era was ancient history and the technology a bunch of wonderful antiques.

    I don’t think that they were disrespectful, but they grew up with knowledge of the entire space race. I remember seeing the Apollo space capsule when it was unveiled and thinking it the most beautiful piece of tech I had ever seen.

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    Original Lee says:

    @raven: Wow. That’s an illustration of the Civil War in a nutshell. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, I believe you could be eligible to join The Blue and the Gray, where you have to have an ancestor on each side to belong.

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    Edmund Dantes says:

    Back in the day there were always delusions in Boston of all these guys thinking they were better than Brian Scalabrine (perennial bench guy). “He’s a bum” “why is he even on the team” and so on. So the local radio station staged a 1 on 1 tournament versus him.

    Only guy that even got close to score 5 points on him was a former low level division one basketball player. He destroyed all the weekend warriors.

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    Original Lee says:

    @opiejeanne: Very cool. My ancestors tended to marry early, so the Revolutionary War soldiers are I think 8-9 generations away.

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    Brachiator says:

    @Edmund Dantes:

    Back in the day there were always delusions in Boston of all these guys thinking they were better than Brian Scalabrine (perennial bench guy). “He’s a bum” “why is he even on the team” and so on

    I guess that there is a certain level of fan worship that makes them think that they could play for their beloved team.

    A true fan knows better.

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    smintheus says:

    @Brachiator: In the context of my original statement, cycling is one of those sports where you cannot get to the top unless you have the most elite innate athleticism. Sure, there are other factors that then sort out winners and losers among those elites such as the quality of training, diet and technical support. My point is that certain team sports are not the same in that regard as athletic contests such as track or cycling. In those team sports there are a range of things that lesser athletes can do to surpass others whose pure athleticism they can’t ever hope to match. For example in soccer, at least when I was young, if you could really master bending the ball then you could almost write your own ticket as long as you could do the normal things competently.

    As for track, I guess I’d have been competitive in college. A couple months into my HS season (unwisely competing while down with the flu) I came within 1.5 seconds of matching the state record, which I reckon must have been set at a college meet. But I wasn’t going to spend time at college competing in a sport I just never got anything from. I did try out for the Brown soccer team and ran circles around the varsity players, but the coach was engaged in some kind of crooked scheme by which he routinely rejected walk-ons however qualified. Pretty sure that he was selling back door admissions to prep school kids, because some of his varsity players were grotesquely incompetent. Also, he used ringers (former semi pro-players who weren’t even students) to prop up his terrible squad. As a result, I was so disgusted at the blatant favoritism for rich kids that I had zero interest in playing any other sports there.

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    satby says:

    @germy: I never met him because he died in the 1930s, but my great grandfather Feehan came from Ireland as a 16 year old boy during the famine, which was between 1845-1849. He lived to be 106 years old. My grandmother, his second youngest daughter , could tell us what he had told her about the famine and the Atlantic crossing. When we were older, because both of those stories were harrowing.

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    smintheus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I’d be happy not to read another one of your comments telling me that you’re smarter than I am. It was years ago I got that.

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    smintheus says:

    @satby: Details please.

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    smintheus says:

    @Brachiator: I think as a kid in the ’60s I had both ideas simultaneously. The space technology was amazing cutting edge stuff, and dangerous as all hell. I was all but convinced that the Apollo 11 astronauts would die up there, and for years I feared that one of those capsules would spring a leak and sink in the ocean.

    ETA: Last night I was listening to the CBS broadcast of the Apollo 11 landing, and shortly after it touched down Walter Cronkite started complaining about “those kids” who are tuned out from this marvelous achievement. ??

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    satby says:

    @smintheus: of? The famine or the crossing? TBH, I’ve since been to Ireland and seen both the still empty homesteads from famine losses and the reproduction of the tiny ship that many crossed the Atlantic on. So what I was told as a child is now mingled with what I saw in Ireland.

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    smintheus says:

    @satby: I’d love to hear tales of the crossing.

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    Rob says:

    I just got home from a somewhat stressful visit with my mother and saw this. I am all smiles now.

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    I call bullshit. She’s supposed to be doing it backwards, and in heels.

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