Just Off the Podium

This time of year I find myself doing a little cyber “spring cleaning”. I know, it’s not spring yet and I could simply busy an alcohol wipe on the keyboard or fog the monitor with Windex, but I’m talking about electronic purging here: files, emails, photos, and the like.  I even reset passwords.  When I’m done giving the Delete button a workout I pick up my laptop and hope for something more light-as-a-feather.  Nope, but at least my digital house is in order for another year.  Just like my blog.

The Winter Olympics start tomorrow, did’ja know? (You didn’t? Shame on you! Pay more attention!)  With the fifteen-hour time difference to Colorado I’ll be lucky to catch ten percent of the action, but I still seek out the good stuff.  Downhill skiing and figure skating are my favorites.  So much skill and grace there, with the occasional feel-good story thrown in for the heartstrings.  But skill and grace only matter if they amount to medals, right? We hang our hats on gold or silver triumphs, even bronze. As for the poor lass or lad in fourth place? Hardly a mention. Fourth place is swept harshly into the performance dustpan, to be dumped on a heap of lesser statistics seldom referenced again. Fourth place can be a mere hundredth of something from the medals podium. Inches. Seconds. Points.


Fourth place at the Olympics is an apt way to describe a lot of topics I consider for my weekly blog posts.  You see, part of my writing madness method is to cull interesting bits from my daily newsfeed; fodder for future posts.  I store these bits in an electronic folder and then pull back the curtain when I need a topic.  But not just any topic, loyal readers.  Heavens no, my topics don’t make the medal stand unless they successfully sift through five filters:

  1. Is the topic substantial enough for an entire post?
  2. Is the topic somewhat off the beaten path of “breaking news”?
  3. Is the topic worth a little more research (or as I like to call it, “continuing education”)?
  4. Is the topic an easy target for grins and giggles?
  5. Can I weave a personal memory or two into the topic’s fabric?

Take away just one filter and the topic isn’t a winner.  No medal… er, post for you, little news story.  Instead, the topic sits idle in the folder gathering cyber-dust until I decide it’s never going to make the cut.  Then I “Delete”.  Before I do this time, however, I thought you’d enjoy a smattering of the near misses; the fourth-place finishes if you will.  Here are ten interesting-but-not-quite-good-enough topics sitting just off the podium:

  • Asparagus.  A recipe for the healthy, non-cruciferous vegetable was published smack dab in the middle of an official Belgian law database, side-by-side with national legislation and royal decrees.  Food for thought?
  • Mercury (the planet).  A European-Japanese space probe passed within 124 miles of the Mercury’s 800°F surface on its seven-year mission, collecting images and sending them back to Earth.  Now that’s what I call “hot shots”.
  • Qantas.  Last May the airline offered a “flight to nowhere” for travel-starved Australians wanting a better view of the late-month supermoon.  Tickets ran upwards of $1,000 USD and sold out immediately.  Travel-starved indeed.
  • Cannabis.  If you live in Ontario, Canada, Uber Eats will be happy to deliver an order of recreational cannabis to your front door.  I’m sure this new service makes the country’s rampant illegal pot producers very happy.
  • Robots.  The world’s first living robots (or “xenobots”), each less than a millimeter wide, can now reproduce.  They could already move about, work together, and self-heal before this more disturbing evolution.  In a word, YIKES!
  • Style.  Billionaire heiress Ivy Getty got married last November at San Francisco’s City Hall in a wedding dress covered with mirror shards.  She referred to her dress as “… just like everything I could’ve dreamed of and more.” Really?  I don’t think I want to meet Ivy Getty.
  • Taco Bell.  The Bell now offers a monthly taco subscription for those who join their rewards program.  $10 gets you a free taco every day of the month.  The Bell saw a 20% increase in rewards program membership when they began offering the subscription.  Confirmed: we Americans are hopelessly addicted to fast food.
  • Bees.  May 20th is World Bee Day.  You can find a lot of interesting trivia about bees on the Web.  They communicate by dancing.  They use tools.  They get mad if they haven’t eaten in a while.  The more you learn about bees, the more you realize they’ll probably take over the world one day.
  • Contact Lenses.  A company has designed the first “smart” contact lens, capable of delivering real-time information to the eye.  The lens connects to your smartphone and generates an image similar to what you’d see on your screen.  So the next time you see someone with “eyes glazed over”, don’t be so sure they’re falling asleep.
  • Millennium Tower – A 58-story building in downtown San Francisco has been leaning to the northwest at a rate of 3 inches per year, for a total of 24 inches so far.  If I were one of the owners of the building’s 419 luxury apartments I wouldn’t be sleeping so well.  I say get ahold of engineers in Pisa, Italy.  Their world-famous leaning tower is predicted to remain standing for another 200 years.

Maybe one of these topics grabs your attention and you want to learn more.  Go for it.  In fact, write a blog post about it.  I’ll read your version of the story and maybe say, “Crud; missed a good one there.”  But probably not, because I didn’t consider the topic podium-worthy.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch the Olympics (fifteen hours after the fact).  I don’t want to miss those medal ceremonies.


Lego Grand Piano – Update #3

Today’s portion of the concert was difficult (read about my hesitant warm-up in Let’s Make Music!).  Bag #3 – of 21 bags of pieces – was smaller than the first two so I figured this step would go quickly.  Wrong.  Bag #3 contained tiny, tiny pieces and I don’t have nimble, nimble fingers!

The picture here is the “before Bag #3” while the picture below is the “after”. Notice the difference? There’s now a series of posts running upper left to lower right like a fence.  I can make the posts move up and down with my finger.  Inner workings of the piano keys!

Running Build Time: 3.3 hours.  Musical accompaniment: Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A. Leftover pieces: 2

Conductor’s Notes: I’m starting to get comfortable with leftover pieces.  I’ve ended up with a few after each bag so far.  Doesn’t mean I don’t go back and check my work to be sure I didn’t overlook a step.  Also, I couldn’t find a piece today.  I thought Lego forgot to put it in the box.  Took me three scourings of my Bag #3 pile of pieces (and a little sweat) before I realized it was sitting there right in front of me.  Utterly unnerving.

Author: Dave

Three hundred posts would suggest I have something to say… This blog was born from a desire to elevate the English language, highlighting eloquent words from days gone by. The stories I share are snippets of life itself, and each comes with a bonus: a dusted-off word I hope you’ll go on to use more often. Read “Deutschland-ish Improvements” to learn about my backyard European wish list. Try “Slush Fun” for the throwback years of the 7-Eleven convenience store. Or drink in "Iced Coffee" to discover the plight of the rural French cafe. On the lighter side, read "Late Night Racquet Sports" for my adventures with our latest moth invasion. As Walt Whitman said, “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Here then, my verse. Welcome to Life In A Word.

19 thoughts on “Just Off the Podium”

  1. We watched some of the Olympics last night. Was fun for us because they did more than lip service to the strengths of Canadians in Women’s Hockey and Curling!
    Nice to see the progress on your LEGO piano. I know what you mean about left over pieces – though I’m getting used to the fact that there are always left over pieces of small little things.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would expect Canada to excel in both of those sports Margy, men and women! I find it funny certain events start before the Opening Ceremonies, but I guess they need more than two weeks to pair down the participants to make it to the medals.


  3. Nice post, while I like asparagus, glad you didn’t post about it. LOL Piano is looking GRAND! Olympics, I hear there is a great female skier. Raised in America, but representing China. Last name — GOO, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As a kid the Olympics seemed special, a chance for an underdog to win. Now they seem corporate, less about amateurs, more about advertising. I’m sure we’ll watch some events, but with less enthusiasm than I once felt. Good reminder that they’ve started.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I try to be patriotic and watch a little but knowing the results before you watch takes all the thrill out of it. The fifteen-hour time difference (for me) really puts a damper on things.


  6. I haven’t watched the Winter Olympics in a while and don’t know any of the competitors anymore. I used to love the figure skating, singles mostly, occasionally I’d watch the ice dancing. I liked the stars of the 90s with the Battle of the Brians (Brian Orser and Brian Boitano) and the women who were tops were Debi Thomas and Katarina Witt. It was the only sport I’ve ever sat down and watched – my late mom and I would watch all the Olympics qualifying competitions which I believe were on ABC Wide World of Sports on Saturdays. The good ol’ days of nail-biting for our favorites. We had the hoopla of the whacking of Nancy Kerrigan’s knee by Tonya Harding’s rogue pals right here in Detroit. My boss and I worked late that night on a Court of Appeals brief and left the office to walk to a Fed Ex office and heard police sirens/ambulances and later learned the reason why. We were around the corner from Cobo Arena.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Snowboarding and freestyle skiing are getting a lot of attention – the so-called sports of the next generation. They’re fun to watch but I have no idea how they’re judged nor what is considered an easy move versus a difficult one. Honestly, I’ve never learned all of figure skating’s moves either (what’s a triple salchow?). But you make an interesting point, Linda. I can’t name a single Winter Olympics athlete from any country, except the U.S.’s Mikaela Shiffren. Not one ice skater! Maybe a few Olympics from now we’ll have more household names.


  8. I like your 4th place winners and think they all would have made good blogs. But I did not know that about cannabis and I live here – not that I’m interested. Normally I would watch the opening ceremonies but forgot, but usually tune in for the hockey if we’re playing, but I don’t know with all the tension in the world these days I wonder if the Olympics have lost some of their appeal. Is it normal to have pieces of Lego left over from each pack?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have assurance from two other readers about the leftover Legos, Joni. Better than missing pieces, right? My own interest in the Olympics is completely compromised by the significant time difference. If the medal performances were broadcast live in the evening hours in Colorado I’d be watching a whole lot more. BTW didn’t hear a peep about the Opening Ceremonies (good or bad). And my fourth-place finishers are yours for the taking (especially that “Canada one”). There’s probably an interesting story to be told behind one or two of those headlines.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Crud, I would have found each of those topics appealing. Not appealing enough to write about (I am already at about max research time) but certainly appealing to read after someone else writes about it.

    And the idea of cleaning out electronic files? Good grief, that seemed to be the one place where letting things go has no consequences.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Call me a victim of my own need to be organized, JP, but somehow the process brings me comfort. For the blog specifically, I like to know whatever topic remaining on my list is “medal-worthy”. Even after my clean-up I still have a healthy count, thanks to the strange and unusual world we live in.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I do like watching figure skating, I feel so bad when they fall. I also love snowboarding and will miss Shaun White when he retires. It was nice when the Olympics were in Brazil so we didn’t have a time difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just read about Mikaela Shiffrin’s fall in the giant slalom and it breaks my heart. She’s held to such a high standard with her past performances, so anything less than gold makes the wrong kind of headlines. I can’t imagine the pressure. In a sport where hundredths of a second separate gold and silver, Shiffrin and her competitors deserve more credit for simply participating.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Dave,
    I also have been trying to do some digital cleaning of my computer at work. It feels like a losing battle though.
    I enjoyed reading about your blog selection process. All your podium rejects seemed very interesting to me.
    Good progress on the piano!!
    Blessings to you! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

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