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Sunday, 25 July 2010

Conference fun

I was at a conference this week in St. Louis, (photos up tomorrow if I remember). It was my first trip to Missouri, which is the sixth state that I've visited (not including Michigan, where I spent time at Detroit Airport).

The drive was six hours, which is nothing in modern America. St. Louis as a city is like a lot of American cities. Dead near the centre. Old factories lie abandoned. Instead of re-utilising these buildings, new ones are built on the edges.

We stayed in the conference hotel, in the city centre, next to the baseball stadium. The hotels were standard. Every hotel seems the same these days. Same bathroom, same beds. Same white towels. Absolutely not the place you want to spend any sort of time, and so possibly perfect for a conference.

One thing that did get me was the alarm clock. Why are they all set to get off at midnight? I mean, set and turned on. This has happened to me 3 times and I still fail to check. It went off again on the first light. My is roomate and I turned off the alarm, and the following night it was turned on again. Only this time we checked. I can only assume that the staff do it deliberately.

Needless to say, conference hotels don't provide breakfast, except at exorbitant cost and so one has to spend lots of money at local eateries, who then proceed to charge you for someone else's dinner. I've got a claim in about that, but I won't hear anything for 90 days.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

The end of the World (Cup)

The world cup ends today. I've had the very surprising privilege to be able to watch a significant portion of the event. I was surprised to find that some of the matches were shown live on ABC and more surprised that I could watch the rest of them online at ESPN.

I guess the world's most watched sporting event makes an impact, even here. I say this because Americans tend to be much more interested in American invented sports such as American football, baseball and basketball.

The USA football team was ranked 14th in the world coming into the tournament so we should have expected them to have a good chance. However, there was much rejoicing when they beat lowly Algeria in extra time to get to the second round. I understand that I don't have a leg to stand on, given England's abject performance in this cup, but it seemed to me that given the ranking of the USA team then a last 16 place would be the minimum that they should expect. In fact, the should be disappointed that they didn't make the semis given the route that the had. Yet, the progress to the second round was treated with much surprise and joy, but I'm sure they would expect much more from teams and athletes in other sports.

Football is still seen as the younger sibling, the minor sport, the game that foreigner's play. This is despite the fact that there are a lot of schoolkids playing organised football.

The attitude towards football in America can be summed up nicely in this blog. Basically, the author decides on how what he really dislikes about the world cup and how they should be improved. He dislikes draws and points out that there have only been two draws in the last 10 years in the NFL (neglecting to mention that the rules are designed to have a winner in that sport - because seemingly American's can't start sporting fixtures where no one comes out a winner). He dislikes the yellow cards saying that he finds it funny as if the piece of card has some power and says that if a ref tried that in the NBA he would get beaten up by the players. The implication that of course American sports are tougher. Well, here's some news. The yellow card does have power because if you get two of them you get sent off and that hurts your team.

He's not the only one. The sports anchors on ESPN have been banging on about video technology in the sport. Whilst I agree on goal line technology, I don't want to see the flow of the game interrupted by coach's challenges. Alexi Lalas, former US defender, was asked 'Isn't it time that soccer had this technology' and his response was 'along the lines of I know it offends our American sensibilities, but no, soccer is an objective sport and that's the way it should stay'.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Up, up and away

This isn't the first time I've blogged. Though the new templates and other things will take some time getting used to. Expect some changes as I become more accustomed to the dark ways of template design.

I've had 3 blogs before. My first was an internet diary. The second was a true blog. I deleted both because they were either too personal or too boring. I've also got a Sim City 4 blog relating my fun building up a region in that game.

This new blog will a bit different to my previous attempts. Firstly, I'm taking out as much personal stuff as possible. I want to be as light hearted as possible, though I know that's not always in my nature.

I want to take a look at my experiences of being an Englishman in the Mid-west and all the fun that en-tales. I will not be posting daily, unless I think of something that has to be posted. Either way, I hope you enjoy it.