Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sarah's Vacation is Winding Down

We've been very busy while Sarah's been off work, at least by my own recent standards. Her vacation has been quite relaxing for her, but I am going to have to rest up once she returns to work next week. In the meantime, we spent a day just decompressing around the apartment today, which was fine because it was kind of miserable outside and really not worthy of getting out into the world.

The bronze-medal-winning women's soccer team
credit: Paul Hackett/Reuters
I watched quite a bit of the Olympics today for the first time in several days and it was at times quite invigorating but was frustrating, mainly due to the erratic (to put it kindly) coverage of the CTV-headed consortium this year. I did manage to suck it up and watch the last half hour or so of the the bronze medal game in Women's Soccer, so I got to enjoy the amazing finish when Diana Matheson scored the match's only goal with a few seconds left in extra time. I also watched Tonya Verbeek come away with a silver in Freestyle Wrestling in the early afternoon; the odd thing about this is that the bronze medal, even though I really hate soccer, felt so much better than the silver because Canada had to win their last game to get the bronze whereas Verbeek had to lose in the finals to gain the silver. Sometimes sports can be extraordinarily cruel in this way.

Team Handball
credit: Reuters
The "erratic" part of the coverage is another issue altogether. Just a small example: I fell in love with Team Handball at the 1976 Olympics and look forward to seeing it played every four years (it never seems to be televised at any other time). This year, try as I might, I have not yet been able to see one second of Handball on any of the networks carrying the Olympics in North America. I've checked the schedule online to see when the games are supposed to take place; I've spent huge chunks of time tuned into the main channel that Bell offers where the CTV feed is the main screen and four smaller screens display what the other channels, English and French, are carrying at any given moment; I've tried to find out through social media when I might catch a glimpse of this terrific sport, all to no avail. By contrast, this afternoon the awarding of the women's soccer medals - which took forever because there are so many members of each team - was carried live on two of the three English channels while the third showed highlights of the bronze medal game. The two French stations were showing synchronized swimming and various other events; also in highlight mode, no handball to be found. Now, I realize that the bronze medal was incredibly important (and rare) for this country, but I cannot imagine why anyone thought it had to be telecast on two stations at once. At other times I have turned on the tv to discover volleyball in different incarnations being shown on CTV, TSN and Sportsnet all at the same time. I like volleyball, I really do. But I don't think I need to see it for hours on end every single day of the Olympics when there are so many other sports to show, most of which will not hold any interest for most of North America again until 2016. But hey, at least it's not BMX Bicycle Racing (I can't believe that's an Olympic "sport") or Ballroom Dancing (which didn't last long as an event).

There were a couple of highlights today, of course. Usain Bolt defended his Olympic 200 Metre title, becoming the first man in history to win both the 100 and 200 metre races in back-to-back Olympics - and once again he slowed down right at the finish line. What an incredible show he puts on. Also, Canada's Damian Warner put up Personal Best scores in six of the ten events in the Decathlon over the past two days, finishing fifth (four points out of fourth) in his first Olympics...and he's only 22 years old. Look for big things from this man in Rio in 2016

Addie in a rare sunny moment today
When we weren't watching the Olympics we were hanging out together on the computer or playing with Addie, who we've left alone a lot the past few days as we went visiting or worked on my website. She really enjoyed the company and even hunkered down in the basket on my desk again this evening, something she hasn't done in a long time (likely because of the heat). I love it when she sleeps in there: it's one of the rare times she lets me pat and nuzzle her pretty much to my heart's content without getting up and moving just out of reach. She's an odd duck, to be sure. This evening Sarah and I finally watched Limitless which we had recorded many weeks ago (we both really enjoyed it, by the way). Addie was determined to stay downstairs with us but I could see she wasn't really able to get settled so I dropped down onto the floor beside her to see what was up. While down there I noticed that she was right in the path of the air conditioner's flow and was probably quite cold, so I grabbed her favourite blanket and unfolded it for her to lie on and a second, lighter blanket which I put over her so she could curl up in the dark and warmth. She settled almost immediately and didn't come out again until the movie was almost over. Yes...I know my cat.

Now it's time for me to play a couple of computer games and hit the sack. Many thanks to those of you who contributed your thoughts on Facebook and elsewhere about the fledgling that I photographed at the Zoo yesterday. We've now established that it was a Cedar Waxwing who had very likely been out of his nest for a grand total of five minutes or less when we came upon him. Here is that photo again:

Cedar Waxwing fledgling on the fence in front of the cheetah exhibit

And, for comparison purposes, here is a shot of a Cedar Waxwing Fledgling from the site Fine Art America. It seems virtually certain that that's the same species, although the one we saw yesterday was much younger. In fact, we asked about it on a birding site and one of the moderators said it was the youngest he'd ever seen a Cedar Waxwing in a photo. That's one of the luckiest pictures I've ever taken.

But then...that's the Zoo for you. Like I said once before: "I love the Zoo. Always have. But yesterday I got the distinct impression it was loving me right back."


  1. Seeing that fledgling was a rare treat indeed. It amazed me how little it was frightened by people. We were able to get very close to it. I guess fear of people is something that birds learn later?

    1. It does seem that way. Remember that little bird that flew down onto the guitar of that Bluegrass player during the festival? He had no fear of the crowd, the loud sounds of the music or even the singer himself. Makes me even more glad we stuck around until he flew off that fence: there's no telling what other people might have done with that little guy.


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