Sunday, November 6, 2016

Day Six, Don't Fix - NaNoWriMo 2016

WORD COUNT: 16,018

Obviously, not as productive today, but that's okay. I did clean the kitchen and bathroom and clean my sheets, so I think that should count as a couple extra words.

My heroine got attacked today! I had no idea where to go, and decided to write an action scene. Sometimes, ideas come out if you just sidetrack yourself enough. I don't know if an actual idea came out, but hey, I got a thousand or so words out of it, and she still isn't fully out of the situation. I'll have to deal with the cleanup and fallout tomorrow morning, I guess. We'll see what happens; she argued with her husband last time, so I don't think she should fight with him again. Something else needs to happen.

I have an idea for between chapters, too. I think I'll try and include little blurbs like the back of books, which give a little bit of the idea of the plot. Of course, they are only giving the A-plot, which is my B-plot, so it will highlight the usual plotline. That might be fun. I might need to take it out, but hey, that's for December. It's something fun to do now.

About one-third done--hooray!

PROMPT: Today's prompt is a free character for you. Add the following character to your novel: The parent of your antagonist, who is actually quite a nice person if you get to know them

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Day Five and Thrive - NaNoWriMo 2016


A very productive writing day, if I do say so myself! We had the coffee crawl (I'm still at it, actually, but I think I'm done with the noveling portion), so I had four hours of focus time. The write for fifty minutes, walk/break for ten minutes rhythm was really good. Including me, there were five people, so turnout is lower than what I would have hoped, but the people who came seemed to enjoy it. I would like to do it again next year...we will see.

In other news, I'm enjoying my novel today. We will see if I ever get a proper plot, but I like playing with tropes. I had a Dr. Horrible reference and a TV Tropes reference, so that was good. I don't know if I will stick with this in December, but I'm having fun for now, and writing chick lit is a fun experience. I should have figured that I would need to add some fantasy bits to it to manage.

Anyway. Another write-in tomorrow night. But I'm doing pretty well for day five. Yay!

PROMPT: A free sentence for you to include in your novel! Include the following sentence: “To be fair, if it hadn’t smelled like cheese, none of this would have happened.”

Friday, November 4, 2016

Day Four's No Bore - NaNoWriMo 2016


Progress is being made! I did show off a few potential plotlines in the past two writing sessions--I got my B-Plot started by revealing the supervillain, and the A-Plot started by having a promotion dangled in front of my protagonist's fate. Will that be enough plot to continue this book? We'll see. It's just a first draft. If I get bored, I can throw in some time travel or something. I've done that before.

Writing in the morning is weird. I do like going to work knowing that I don't have to sit down and write later in the day. And the headspace thing isn't as much of an issue as I thought it could be, especially if I have music playing. It helps that it is dark outside. Maybe that's more my preference: I like it to be dark outside.

(I've always been a bigger fan of nighttime over daytime. It's more exciting.)

In other news, my write-in last night had a record turnout. 18 people, I think? It was strong. We will see if they all come back next week, but I'm excited. Who knew that the secret was to have it at the library and not at the Happy Donuts? The things you learn as an ML.


PROMPT: Here's a fun one for you. Have your protagonist tell someone about their first crush!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Day Three is Free - NaNoWriMo 2016

Word count: 3583 (Oh, hush. I have a write-in later.)

Lately I have been writing to The Last Five Years soundtrack, which doesn't really make for the most optimistic writing experience. But I think that when I write, I want my brain to be quiet, and I have the songs stuck in my head. So if I play the songs, they don't play in my head, and I have more free space to write. That's nice.

I just have no idea about my plot. I know what I want to do. I want the B plot to be the A plot, but I don't know what that B plot is. Ooh, maybe I'll start my A plot (which is going to be my B plot) tonight. I'll have a break-in and superhero fight in the living room. Excellent. There's my A plot (that's my B plot). BUT I STILL DON'T HAVE A FULL PLOT. I was thinking, vaguely, there could be a fraud plotline, but that's BORING and I don't know enough about fraud anyway.

This is why I should stick to fantasy. I can make that stuff up if I don't know it.

Hmm. Maybe I'm trying to be too fancy. This is a story about the love interests of superheroes. Normally, their arcs are simple. Trying to become an actor. Trying to discover new physics-y stuff. Running a company. And then they are held hostage at the wrong times. So...maybe a person who wants to get a promotion or something but gets fired for being unreliable because she keeps on being held hostage? That could be interesting.

This may be a good thought. I should have figured this out last week.

PROMPT: Today's prompt is one of my all-time favorites! Include the music you are listening to in your novel. Silence, a podcast, or other sounds all work too!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Day Two Is Through - NaNoWriMo 2016


Well, Day Two isn't technically over, but I got to the word goal for today, so that counts. Maybe I'll do a bit more later. Today was definitely very dialogue-heavy, and I started some subplots from the background characters, but I haven't started my main plot. Mostly because I'm still not sure what it is. Maybe I'll get inspiration for that tomorrow.

Writing in the morning is slow. I have to wake up first. I've heard of people who just pick their laptop off from the floor and start writing, and so far, that isn't me. It takes me twenty minutes or so to wake up before I can get going. But on the bright side, I ran a word sprint this morning, and people were very polite. It's interesting to see an entirely different group of people writing. People writing in different languages, in different time zones. Not many people in PT up at 6:00 to write.

(To be fair, I wish I wasn't either.)

Well, on to day three tomorrow. Hopefully I'll find my main plot by then.

PROMPT: Today you get a free sentence! Include the following sentence in your novel: “The fish tasted weirdly like chicken.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Day One Begins! - NaNoWriMo 2016

(A note - I will be attempting to post a little NaNo discussion and prompt every day this month. Key word there is "attempt". Last time I tried to do something similar, I fizzled out day 12. But hope springs eternal.)

I come to you with a word count of zero, so that's probably a less than ideal way for me to start NaNoWriMo 2016. Usually, I like to stay up late on Halloween so I can get a day ahead of schedule before I go to sleep, but this year that did not happen. Instead, I woke up early to write, only to make breakfast, do the dishes, and engage in productive procrastination.

It'll be odd, trying to do most of my writing in the morning instead of at night. I've always been a nighttime writer. I like the headspace of knowing that everyone else is asleep and the world belongs to me. Technically, that is still as true at 6AM as it is at 11AM, so maybe it's just a habit dying hard.

Well, we shall see in either case. It's time to start writing. Wish me luck!

PROMPT: Today I give you a free character! Try to add the following character to your novel: A 90-year-old who thinks they are still as spry and energetic as a teenager. (They are not.)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Trials 2016, Day One Live Blog


Day One. Trials. To determine the Olympic team, which most people are fairly sure will be Simone, Aly, Gabby, Laurie, and Madison. But there's intrigue to be had, gymnastics to be done, and alternates to choose (I'm guessing Maggie, Ragan, and Ashton for the alternates, but if Maggie isn't ready Mykayla can swoop in).

Big news of the day: rumor, which may or may not be confirmed (some reporters are being slippery) is that Gabby Douglas fired one of her coaches, Kittia Carpenter, in the past two weeks. Kittia was on site yesterday, though, so it may be a today thing. We shall see.

To live blogging!

5:48pm PT: I'm bored.

5:55: Ok, so that Gabby news seems pretty confirmed. She's a big girl, she can make her own decisions, but it does seem awfully late to be doing that. It's July. The Olympics are in a month. Most training from here on out will be in the big group. Why go through that upheaval now?

5:58: Oooh, my screen went black. Does that mean we are getting close? Please tell me it means that we are getting close.

6:00: IT IS SIX O'CLOCK, START STREAMING. Also, my laptop keyboard is dying. I hope it can survive the Olympics and NaNo. It may not.

6:02: The screen just flickered again, which seems like a hopeful sign.

6:03: IT HAS STARTED!!! Props to Laurie for not wearing anything too red or pink-ish. AND THERE IS OLYMPIC-Y MUSIC AND I WANT TO CRY.

6:05: I'm so glad they are showing us shots of athletes sitting around and doing nothing instead of gymnastics.

6:06: Maggie's vault! An Amanar would be HUGE and potentially change the presumed team. Aand...just the double, messy legs in the air, very nice landing. I don't know if that is going to make enough of an impact to usurp anyone.

6:07: Oh, NBC is confirming the coaching change? Well, they are PC-ifying it. But they are confirming that there's a change.

6:09: So after five minutes of just staring at Gabby, we now get to see Gabby walking to the floor. Hmm. NBC is reeeeeeally enjoying this storyline. 15.1 for Maggie, BTW.

6:11: Here's Gabby on floor. Falls out of her spin a touch early. First pass is well in bounds, as is second, but the back tuck after the second pass might not count as connected--big pause. Double pike is clean, dismount is a double back. It works, but it isn't her best floor routine. Hoppy and a little messy.

6:14: 14.65 for Gabby. She isn't making it for floor, but as of right now, that's hurting her opportunity to do the AA.

6:17: Laurie's vault. DTY, hits the table early but clean.

6:18: Mykayla's floor. Difficult tumbling but she isn't always clean, so let's see...Moors was great! Bend legs, but definitely laid out. Second pass is a double double, also good. Leaps are great--she is killing it. UGH wolf turn, but possibly the fastest one you will see. Dismount was messy--did she step out? Maybe not. Oh wait, this is the dismount--triple twist. It works! That's helping the alternate case. Awesome job.

6:21: 15.15 for Laurie. Beats Maggie, which is key. Laurie's the third TF vaulter as of right now.

6:22: Aly floor! Yaaaaaaaaay, this is one of my favourites. First pass much like it always is and well in bounds, which is what kept her out of FX finals last year, so that's good. Second pass is very, I don't know, efficient? These operatic arm waves are so improved from four years ago. Third pass---DANG that double layout was straight. DWTS helped her, I think. Dismount is a double pike, clean, tiny bounce. That's what will get her to Rio. :D

6:24: 14.8 for Skinner. Now Simone's vault--huge amplitude for her Amanar! Too much power, big step and a small hop. 16.0. Now the second vault, the Cheng, slightly low on the landing--block issues, maybe? The Amanar was definitely better.

6:27: 15.45 for Aly. cough*FX Silver*cough

6:31: Making dinner, BRB.

6:36: Missed Maggie's bars but they looked okay. Now, Gabby and the DTY--big step. I don't see why she isn't Amanar-ing, the double looks fine and she seems to have time for the extra half a twist. 15.1. 14.55 for Maggie, which isn't as high as it could (should?) be.

6:39: The "Skinner" (one-armed Cheng). Good form but I don't see how she can do it with one hand. It technically touches but it's mostly her other hand. She just taps down one. 15.5. And now the Amanar--wait that's a double. She just did a double. Was that intentional? Yeah, she wouldn't have been able to land an Amanar.

6:41: Oh, Andrea Joyce is making people cry again. That's sweet. Oh, she...DID SHE JUST DO THAT. Did she mention Dallas as something good? UGH.

6:42: Laurie should have caught that in the bars warmup. Now the real deal.  Messy first Tkatchev was really close, second is fine, down to the low bar piouettes--oooh huge peel. And then another form break. Oh, no. Poor transition to high bar, but the dismount is good...hmm. I don't think that will hugely cost her but another bars issue on Sunday may make people question her bars readiness. Interesting Martha reaction...

6:47: 14.6 for Laurie, which better than I expected, and now ALY VVAULT AHHHHHH. Okay. Messy. OOB. Helicopter legs. She's alive. I'll survive. 15.25, so the team will probably take that.

6:50: Oh hey, Kocian vault? I thought Kocian wasn't supposed to vault. Kocian don't care! FTY clean, nice backup.

6:51: Simone on bars. She's still struggling on that one pirouette, but everything else looks clean. PERFECT dismount, stuck. Hooray! Okay, not her greatest, but she's still fine. It's just a small leg separation, really.

6:54: Ashton on bars. Let's listen up! Her pirouettes are so lovely, and her transititons. Jager could have been better, sticks the dismount. She may outscore Kocian, but Kocian's AA ability is probably the deciding factor. 15.75? Well, the scoring is all screwed up tonight, but it's a huge shame if they leave that at home.

6:57: Why are we having a commercial about a potential Olympic city? There's no point! The IOC isn't watching commercials.

6:58: Rankings! 1. Biles 30.950 2. Raisman 30.700 3. Skinner 30.300 4. Hernandez 30.050 5t. Douglas, Dowell 29.750. Good job for Brenna! Good job for Skinner! This is bad news for Ragan (alternate chances) and Maggie (chances period). My heart will break if we leave Maggie behind.

7:02: Gabby on bars--clean-ish, but it could be better, big step with the dismount. That helps her a ton.

7:03: Gabby peaks closer to the end of the year. We saw it in 2011, 2012, and 2015. I wonder if that will play into the decision. 15.4.

7:05: Mykayla bars--nothing to worry about, she's not making things for bars but this looks quite nice. Nice landing. My heart is breaking, but her alternate case is growing.

7:06: Can Andrea please retire? Pretty please? 14.3 for Skinner, which is great. I can't see her making the main team, but she shouldn't have any regrets.

7:08: Aly bars. Oh, dear. NBC is trying to make drama--Aly's strength isn't bars, we know that, but she seems like a safe second AAer at the moment. Small separations but that has improved since Nationals, methinks. Those bars are fine for qualification.

7:09: Laurie beam. This is going to be important, she's needed for beam. Leaps are pretty but I question the connection. Saves her aerial sequence she looked quite off. Sheep jump has a small stumble. This is all just a little too slow--I think the judging here has been nice but I don't know if these connections will work for Rio. Double pike dismount, low but not terribly so. Hmm.

7:11: That save looks even better in slow motion.

7:12: Aly got 14.45. That's overscored, but compared to everything else tonight...that works! (Apparently "that works" is my motto tonight. Well, the team's mostly decided, so "that works" is all you need.)

7:17: Maddie's UB. Clean, stuck landing, maybe one missed handstand? But that's awesome! Hello UB specialist, how are you?

7:18: An approving nod from Martha? Kocian family needs to start booking flights.

7:19: Simone BB. OH NO SHE flubs the wolf turn. I've NEVER seen her do that before. She doesn't look too rattled. It will count as a turn, but not as a 2.5 turn. Anyway, everything looks efficient. (15.75 for Madison, which is the same as Ashton, haha.) Simone's dismount is low, but stuck. VERY nice recovery for her, but she's upset. That'll work, but she can improve.

7:22: I do enjoy this Kocian v. Locklear graphic from NBC, though. Anyway. Locklear on beam. She competes it because she has to, I don't even imagine her going in qualifications. Aerial series, and she's off. Oh, dear. NBC lies, she wouldn't be doing BB in qualification, That's Douglas/Hernandez/Raisman/Biles.  Beautiful leaps, waits a while for the dismount...she looks disappointed. She needed to be perfect to get the spot from Madison and that won't help.

7:24: 15.2 for Simone, and she's angry. Ashton's nearly in tears. I can't see her losing the alternate spot over that, but maybe I'm wrong. 13.2 for Ashton.

7:27: Ragan beam. Bobble on her full, a few little stumbles. Stumbles out of the sheep jump, too, and sticks her double Arabian dismount. Nice, nice. 14.9, which--given the scoring tonight--is not the best.

7:30: Maggie's beam. Two wolf turns. Clean....and she falls. She gets up fast, but...I don't even want to type it, but that might cost her chances. That's an issue. Dismount is fine.

7:32: Standings! 1. Biles 46.150 2. Hernandez 45.550 3. Raisman 45.150 4. Douglas 44.850 5. Skinner 44.600. That's more like what I'd expect. Skinner's doing wonderfully, though.

7:38: I did some research! Raisman usually scores a touch higher than Laurie on beam vs. floor, although floor scoring seems much more generous than beam right now. So we will see.

7:39: Aly on beam. Given how shakey beam has been today, this is extra important. She looks confident mounting though. Layout isn't as nice as it was two weeks ago, but solid. Pike jump is great and I do love me a pike jump. Her connections have improved. Front flip is slightly off, and her L spin gets wobbly.  Patterson is great, as always, just a small hop. Well, she can do it better, but given everything that's been happening on beam tonight, she should be happy.

7:42: Laurie floor. Aly stumbled, so can Laurie get the second spot? It's a fun routine. Double layout has some leg separation. Did she go out on her second pass? I couldn't tell but it looked close. Good good! She should beat Aly tonight.

7:44: 14.8 for Aly, which seems fair.

7:45: Madison on beam, which isn't hugely important but somewhat important. Nice start with her back full, doesn't quite get the connection into her sheep jump. Clean finish. Good girl!

7:47: 15.3 for Laurie tonight which seems rather overscored. Her bars were overscored tonight, too.  She beats Aly by .9, but I'm not sold on Laurie being the second AAer. They're both going to Rio, but I don't buy Laurie's scores tonight.

7:48: 14.7 for Madison. Yup, Kocian family, you better be free.

7:49: How would a wink be a deduction?? No wink deductions, please.

7:50: Simone floor! Biles has a jump out it. Shimmy, oh wait, her second pass is the Biles--well they were both beautiful. Wolf turn is fine. Double Arabian is a little messier than it normally is, though. Nice rebound from beam. She's gonna be such a superstar in a month.

7:57: Oh my goodness, Ragan looks just like her mother. Ooh, she was off on that third pass. Sorry, not commenting as much as I've gotten into her routine--I like it, although it is a little too cutesy for me. Well done, Ragan! 14.5. It was good, but there were some form issues.

8:02: Gabby's beam. Shuffles on her front somersault. Back full is great. IDK about some of these connections--off on another somersault too. And she's off on her L-turn! Man, the beam has been brutal tonight. The L-turn was not the easiest, Nastia. Dismount is a double, it's fine, but that is interesting.

8:04: I hear Maggie's floor was good.

8:06: 13.7 for Gabby. You know, I really don't think Martha is going to change the team last minute. But Skinner KILLED it tonight, and she's got a medal potential on Vault. Maybe note a huge potential, but some potential--more than Gabby on any even other than the AA, and there are two other medal-worthy AAers. There's a question, anyway.

1. Biles 61.850 2. Hernandez 60.850 3. Raisman 59.950 4. Skinner 59.450 5. Smith 58.700. Maggie is 6th, Gabby's down in 7th. Oh, things could get interesting. There's some beam questions to be had, and almost everyone has spots for improvement. If things aren't cleaned up on Sunday that presumptive team may change.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Nationals 2016, Day Two Live Blog

I continue to assure you that this won't turn into a gymnastics blog. I wasn't even planning on doing this. But I was bored while waiting for routines to start, so here I am, live blogging away.

Story of the night: Simone's fourth National Championship. However, keep an eye on Laurie Hernandez, who looks Rio bound at the moment, and Ragan Smith, who appears to be on the outside looking in. We may want to keep an eye on Madison Kocian and Ashton Locklear for bars, but rumor has it that the team is going to made of five AAers and we'll be leaving both of them at home even though they are potential bars medals. Why do we do this when we're on track to win by 4 points or so? Because.


6:01 - Fine, I'm grabbing some lemonade.

6:03 - It begins!! Ooh, the leotard game is strong tonight. The Al game is...Al-ish. Gabby's hair game is nice! I like that she's changing it up.

6:04 - Gabby never does well at Nationals. Re-watch 2011 if you want. She fell off beam three times, and she ended up at Worlds.

6:05 - Gabby's bars. Nice handstands, nice tkatchev, changes bars...WHAT WHAT WHAT. Oh man, that's unusual. Gabby never has bars issues. Some sort of missed bars handstand on the low bar. Good job staying on; that was impressive. But it's going to hurt both the D and the E.

6:07 - Oof, that's not a happy Gabby.

6:07 - Maggie's beam. Better Wolf turn than last night. Leaps, those look fine. Her legs are just entirely covered in tape, aren't they? This is loads better than last night (well, Friday). Switch ring could have been cleaner. She's beginning to look a little bit more tentative than she did at the beginning of the routine. Dismount has a step, but that's much better than night one.

6:09 - Gabby should be happy with that score, all things considered.

6:10 - I DON'T CARE ABOUT RAISMAN PARENT FLUFF. I mean, I enjoy it, but not right now.

6:11 - Al's floor! Go Aly go Aly go Aly. First pass--YES, in bounds. Oh man, this routine has really improved since the start of the season. Spin was a little wonky.  I get why people don't like her choreography, but it works. Third pass is a double layout, that's good. Split leaps are much better than four years ago. Final pass is a double pike, nice! I don't think she is going to defend her national floor title tonight, unless Simone has major issues, but that should get her silver here and in Rio.

6:14 - Madison Kocian on bars, this is worth watching. Clean, clean. Nice handstands, wonderful extensions, stuck landing. There wasn't much to talk about because it was all great!  Her extension is beautiful. Oh, why can't we bring a bars specialist??

6:16 - Laurie vault! What's with NBC actually showing us routines? Not the best block on her vault, step on landing. Not very far from the table, either. That doesn't hurt her case, but doesn't help it either.

6:17 - YES AL WE GET THE SCORING SYSTEM stop with the colored shapes.

6:18 - I would like Simone's leotard about five times more without the collar.

6:20 - Made some tea. May eventually make dinner. Ooh, we are back!

6:21 - Baumann bars! I really don't get why she can't do bars. She is beautiful on them--and this routine shows flashes of what it could be like--but she doesn't have quite the difficulty. Can't we add some nice piroutettes? Acceptable routine, though.

6:22 - SIMONE FLOOR ALERT ALERT. Oh, we are just going to watch Simone stand around instead of you know, any gymnastics. Because I'm here to watch people stand around.

6:24 - It begins! How does she tumble so high? Second pass (the Biles) is good. The choreo between her second and third pass isn't as good as the rest of it. Third pass, almost stuck, it looks like she could add another element after that. Fourth pass is great, we have the butt-layout that I love, and done! *cough*gold medals*cough*

6:28 - Why are there so many fast food commercials?

6:29 - Standings: 1. Biles 78.950 2. Raisman 76.150 3. Hernandez 75.250 4. Kocian 73.850 5. Douglas 73.400. I'm not trusting the Raisman/Hernandez ranking until after Aly's beam, and Gabby should beat Madison--although if she doesn't, that could make things veeeeeeery interesting.

6:30 - The latest episode of Build Your Olympic Team!!! That's every day if you are on the gymternet. It isn't that special. But I like the music and Rio shots, it makes it sound ~so important~. Oh, hey Bela.

6:32 - We're not getting any gymnastics until after more commercials, are we? Darn it, I should have made dinner now. Back to commercials!

6:35 - Skinner vault! Tim feels proud of himself. One armed Cheng! I feel we could give a little bonus for that and start a new trend of one-armed vaults. I don't know if we are ready for the revolution though. 15.25 for the Cheng, now the Amanar. OOB, but a decent Amanar. I wonder if that'll actually score higher than the Cheng?

6:38 - Oh, the gymternet is now the gymnastics police? Nice, Al. Ragan on bars--DOWN ON TKATCHEV. That's problematic; she can't afford a bars fall, even if she would be going for beam. Routine is fine otherwise hop on landing, but that is going to cost her something in the Rio Rankings. She'll still make trials, but...we'll see.

6:40 - AHHH SIMONE'S AMANAR AHH AHHH AHHHHHHHHH. That was beautiful.  Oh, shut up Al, let's look at the Amanar again. Oh, that's the best Amanar I've seen. 16.2?!?!?!?!???????????? GIVE HER A 16.3. Cheng is bouncy.

6:43 - Still freaking about the Amanar, but on to Baumann beam! Good work so far, floaty layout., hop-ish thing after the switch ring. Dismount has a low chest, but good. It's not perfect, but it can work.

6:44 - Laurie bars! Some messy legs on the low bar, nice Tkatchev(s), on to low bar, misses a handstand on the return to the high bar, bounce on the dismount. That'll do, Hernandez, that'll do.

6:46 - ALY VAULT SOMEONE HOLD ME. Ok, ok, okay...out of bounds, but she's aliiiiiiiiiiiiive. Okay, that'll work. No ACL tear = happy Christine.

6:49 - NASCAR commercials make a little bit more sense on this channel, although if I wanted to watch people drive I would just hang out on the 101 overpass all day.

6:50 - 15.5 for Aly's vault, now onto Gabby on beam. Slight hesitation between somersault and leap. Flight series is fine. Full is solid. This is an improved routine from the other night, but I don't know if she will get any of these connections, she's somewhat slow. Balance check on the spin, but a teeny one. Just the dismount, pretty much stuck! Solid, but she could work on the connections.

6:52 - Apparently, Al, Tim, et al., are mad with us on Twitter. I feel this means we're doing things right.

6:53 - Don't show me sobbing John Orozco. I don't need to cry about MAG any more this weekend.

6:55 - More NASCAR commercials. What happened to the Under Armour one? I liked that one.

6:56 - STANDINGS: 1. Biles 95.150 2. Raisman 91.650 3. Hernandez 90.400 4. Douglas 88.450 5. Kocian 88.100. And with that, I'm making dinner--back in a bit.

7:05 - I missed Ashton's bars, but they had some small issues. That isn't as helpful.

7:06 - Laurie on beam. A few balance checks and low landing--hmm. Good, but could be better.

7:09 - Simone bars. Wobble on the low bar, solid back up to the high, tkatchev, stuck her dismount cold. Wobble is fine; she's already got her passport stamped for Rio.

7:12 - Dinner finished, and we're back at a NASCAR commercial.

7:13 - Now I'm done with dinner, we get tons of commercials. Of course.

7:14 - Gabby on floor. I don't really like this routine, I know she's trying to make it sound Rio-y, but oh well. I guess electronica is her thing. Lands her second pass OOB, leaps are fine. Spin is questionable too. Third pass is stuck. Final pass has a shuffle. Not her best routine--hmm.

7:17- Aly on bars. Wheee. Just don't fall, Aly. some nice swinging, but she doesn't have the best form, she's short on quite a few handstands and her legs keep separating. Dismount could have been stuck but there's a shuffle--it works! Not in TF, but it works in qualification. (And, possibly, potentially, AA...but let's stop jinxing it now.)

7:18 - Ragan on beam. This is important, especially after Friday and the bars flub. Layout is much better than Friday. Fights after her full, but it's to her feet. Dismount is a Patterson, nice landing. Good for her!

7:21 - STANDINGS: 1. Biles 109.900 2. Raisman 105.800 3. Hernandez 105.700 4. Douglas 102.900 5. Kocian 102.700. Gabby's got fourth unless something drastic happens. Raisman (beam) vs. Hernandez (floor) will be interesting.

7:24 - I'm going to be a sloppy mess come trials. Eek.

7:25 - A Laurie dance montage. That is....interesting. We're going to watch her in a few minutes, don't you realize that?

7:30 - I'm ignoring Andrea (a good rule of thumb for life), and doing some research. Generally speaking, Aly's beam outscores Laurie's floor most of the time, sometimes by half a point.

7:31 - Laurie's floor. This is such an NCAA routine, I love it (this is a completement). I love the hair flick before the third pass. Dismount is stuck, but slightly messy. Nicely done! A good first senior nationals for her. Well, it's in Aly's court now.

7:33 - I'm making up drama for second place since there is zero for first place.

7:34 - BIG bounce out of Gabby's DTY. Yeah, she can possibly fit in that extra half twist. We will see.

7:35 - 14.8 for Laurie on floor. That seems slightly high to me? Simone beam. Slight weird thing with the wolf turn, her foot hits the beam at the end, and her barani is slightly off. Balance check at the end of her flight series. She really does just need to phone it in right now, but still. Missed a connection between the second and third leap in her series. Lands the dismount, and that is four in a row! ~QUEEN SIMONE~. Oh, she's mad. Mad doesn't mean bad though.

7:39  - I would pay major $$$ to have Simone replace Nastia.

7:41 - Maggie on bars. Oooh, she misses her transition to highbar, and has to fight one handstand. That...that won't help. (Noooooooooooooo.) Sad Maggie is sad. The ending was solid though.

7:44 - Knee close-ups are why I watch this sport.

7:45 Aly beam, here we go! Mount is good. Layout is beautiful! That is so improved. I love pike jumps. This is a much more fluid routine than some of the others have been. This is old school, traditional Raisman. Flight series is solid, on to the dismount...Patterson dismount, hop but great! YESSSSSSSSSS!!!! That should get her second.

7:47 - The hug cam is better than the knee cam, I guess. Eek, 13.6 for Maggie on bars. PHONE STOP FREEZING ON ME.

7:49 - Trying to get my phone back up. Stay tuned...

7:50 - I missed Mykayla's what's Aly's score??? INTERNET< TELL ME! Oh, Mykayla had three falls? Agh, that hurts her alternate chances. Oh, it was a Sacramone-style fall, AND she splits the beam.

7:52 - Ashton on beam. How many people are opening with a wolf turn now? It feels like half of the national team. She isn't as fluid as some of the others, and there isn't the difficulty, but....ooooh, she fought her cartwheel and won. Good for her! Dismount has a step, but well fought! NOW SOMEONE TELL ME ALY'S SCORE.

7:54 - 15.3 for Aly! YAAAAAAAAAS. That's her first silver--she had previously always been in third. Yaaaay.

7:55 - FINAL STANDINGS: 1. Biles 125.000 2. Raisman 121.100 3. Hernandez 120.500 4. Douglas 117.800 5. Kocian 116.450. 125. That is ridiculous.

7:58 - Biles, Raisman, Hernandez, Douglas, Kocian, Hundley, Baumann and Smith are all invited to Trials automatically. I would guess that Maggie Nichols and Ashton Locklear get invites to Trials, maybe Mykayla too. I don't know when we will get that announcement, though; last year it was that night, but it doesn't look like they are announcing it on the broadcast.

7:59 - I don't like hearing Al and Tim talk about Laurie. It feels skeevy.

Trials is in two weeks! I AM NOT READY.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Pac Rims 2016 Live Blog

I promise this isn't turning into a gymnastics blog. It's a me blog. But me happens to be focusing on gymnastics a lot lately, so here I am!

Tonight's entertainment is the second rotation of the Pacific Rim Championships, which has a team of six US women: Aly Raisman (my favorite and of the Fierce five), Simone Biles (the best in the world), Ashton Locklear (her bars are inspirational), Brenna Dowell (lots of people like Brenna; I am somewhat meh but feel sorry for her all the time), Laurie Hernandez (HER FLOOR HER FLOOR HER FLOOR), and Ragan Smith (who is probably under accusations of being underage by the Chinese with a touch of irony, because she don't look sixteen).

I need lots of wine prepare for Aly's vault, so time to pour me a glass. I have to watch on my phone, so sadly you don't get the setup, but picture the wine.

6:55 Oooh, this is a good wine. It's an Italian rose with a chicken on the cover.

6:59 Do wines have covers?



7:02 Am I going to need wine for the Olympics? Will I need to take time off? What time of day is everything, anyway? Probably around noon. Maybe just the afternoon off, then...YES THE STREAM HAS STARTED ohnoit'sAl

7:03 This is not the last team competition before the Olympics. Europeans, for starters. Stop lying, Al (I shouldn't expect so much of him, I know).

7:05 This is really strong wine. Excellent.

7:07 UGH it's still commercials, I think. Maybe. How many people watch Access Hollywood, anyway? Is it really that many more than gymnastics in an Olympic year?

7:08 Ok, after a brief description we got nothing. The Youtube Steam (here) is also showing nothing, so at least this is not a Christine's phone issue.

 Wait my phone restarted the introduction? Ah, well. It is per the Youtube, anyway.

7:10 Wait China's here? I missed that.

7:11 YES TIM SMONE HAS THE CHENG AND ALL IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD oh no don't let Tim talk about Laurie. He's gross about her. Don't let him! Please, NBC, I beg of you. Ooooh, awkward on-air silence. Hahahahah. Al schadenfreude makes these technical difficulties a dream.

7:13 YAAAY BRENNA'S FLOOR wait my stream went out again. This doesn't happen when it's on tv, you know.

7:14 Floor is back but I missed it except for the final pass. There's Brenna. She's being very Brenna, not the most controlled landings but some excellent tumbling.

7:15 Nastia calls Ragan "cute". Nastia called the Chinese gymnasts "kids". Ugh, this is all racism. Also, of course she has Kim Zmeskal, she is trained by her!

7:16 Oh, that's a good point--Brenna had music! At Worlds she didn't get music. Time for Ragan!

7:17 Ragan is using the Addams Family which I think is kind of cute. Stumbles out of first pass, slightly messy form on the second, but those leaps are spectacular. Those are what leaps should be. However that dancing in the corner is kind of code-whoring. Don't really rate the floor choreography, sort of stumbles out of her turn. Double pike is solid for her final pass. That's a nice routine, pretty solid.

7:18 Yes, I agree with Tim for a change--it's a very playful routine, which suits her (I guess), but I'd rather see something a little more mature for a senior debut.

7:20 TIME FOR LAURIE'S FLOOR ROUTINE YAAAY. She is one of the better dancers. I just wish Tim wouldn't talk about her.

7:21 Great DLO to start. Solid tumbling too on the second pass. Sorry, I'm enjoying this too much to type. She has a nice switch ring, I should give her more credit for that. Pass three was a little crooked, but she lands it okay. You know what, I don't like this routine anywhere near as much as her past routines. This one is kind of devoid of her personality. Her dancing is more going from move to move rather than really dancing, which isn't bad but she used to be so expressive!

7:23 HEY LOOK NBC IS SHOWING US NEW ZEALAND They never show the smaller countries, normally. This could be progress! Or something they can cut for time in the telecast. Hmm. Nice difficult vaults from Courtney McGregor, but she messed up the second one a bit.

7:24 Is Laurie going to Rio? I don't know. Depends on bars. Hmm. 14.95....I can't see her AND Aly going, which means I route for Aly.

7:25 ALY TIME!!! Same first pass as in 2012. She controls it, some messy legs but that's difficult. Needs to work on the double spin a bit. Her dance has improved from 2012. Good second pass too--she has improved a TON since Worlds last year, clearly missing finals made her work and it's paying off! Pass three is the DLO, separated legs but nice. The bouncy part! I like the bouncy part. She hits the splits, which she doesn't always. Final pass--slight bounce, but good. YESSSSSSSS that's what she needs for this summer. YESS YESSSSS YESSSSSSSSSSss.

7:27 Except vault is next, and I need more wine. Mm. This is great wine.

7:28 Where's Gabby? For chicken's sake, Al, you know. She's had two meets, they get two meets (Simone only needs one because she is special).


7:30 Simone time! Oh, this is wonderful. I would love this rotation in Rio. Her new foutine is a bit more rock, and I love it. Wonderful first pass, dancing, second passis the Biles and done wonderfully. Oooh the butt layout, I love the butt layout. They kept the OH! and they've made it Brazilian. This screams "I'm winning gold medals!" and it should. OH this is a fabulous routine. Almost stuck her final pass, just a slight shuffle. Ohhhhhhhhhh, this is going to be an awesome summer. 

7:31 I dunno, I love Simone's music--I hadn't heard of people not liking it? Also, a floor routine to Mary Had A Little Lamb might be kind of awesome. (This could be the wine typing.)

7:34 Hey, the Warriors won! You go, Warriors. Keep winning.

7:35 You know what this live stream needs? That Under Armor commercial.

7:36 I'm hearing Simone broke 16 on floor, which she should if Aly got a 15.6.

7:37 SCORES:
This bodes well for Aly.
7:38 That was not a good DTY from Ragan at all. She's probably competing against Laurie for a spot right now, and Laurie's got the advantage right now for sure. Sigh.
7:39 Laurie's vault! They're sort of competing for the same spot for the Olympics, a fourth AAer, so let's see. Big bounce out of it, I think it is better than Ragan's, but not by too much. Hmm.
7:40 Aly's on vault soon. Time to refill the wine glass.
7:41 Are they seriously showing us McGregor's bars over Dowell's vault? That's shocking. Are NBC being paid by Marta to ignore Brenna? She's not my favorite, like I mentioned, but I do feel sorry for her.
7:42 Aly on vault! She sat it a few weeks ago, so this will be important. Wine? Wine. Stumbles out of it, but she survived? And reeeeeally bad legs. I don't know if she would be used on vault in a TF situation, but maybe, and she needs to work on it. 15.3. Hmm.
7:43 Simone vaults! Simone also has a huge step out of her Amanar? Hmm. Better than Aly, yes, but that is surprising. And now we get a CHENGGGGGG.
7:44 15.8 for her on the Amanar AND IT'S A CHENG AND MAYBE IT IS NOT PERFECT BUT SHE LANDS AND IT ISN'T TERRIBLE AND HOORAY!!!!! She really had to work to get it around, she barely squeezed it in, but....hey, she isn't injured, I'll call this a success.
7:47 Aly did land her Amanar in training better. She's improving. The competitions that matter aren't until summer anyway.

7:49 Al. It must be fascinating for people to be friends but also competing against each other? I find that sad, but if you want to be that devoid of humanity, you can be.

7:51 Trying to find score update, so I missed Megan Chant. Seemed good, though.

7:53 Here we go:

Well Simone's ahead by a lot already. Also, Ragan needs to SLAY on beam. She'd probably be a very good alternate for Rio, now that I think about it.

7:55 They're talking about how Romania has to go the Test Event and Larisa is injured and I'm just sad now. UGH Romania better qualify. I don't care if Germany or France has an off day, but Romania needs to get there somehow. Even if they might earn a much-needed lesson by missing it. I want Ponor.

8:01 OH NO ALY BARS IS COMING. Okay, she's on. Some leg separation. Nice strong swinging that doesn't look terrible. She has some form issues, but you what? That's not her worst bars I've ever seen. That's actually not half-bad. Some form issues, but a really nice swing. Double-front layout, nice. I would take that bars and be happy. I would be quite happy.

8:03 Laurie's bars! Laurie has a nice set of bars. She mounts, and two releases, three releases, some leg separation on the change to low, much cleaner on the return. Swing, swing, dismount isn't stuck, but that's decent. That will do. But will it score higher than Aly's? I'm....not actually sure. I think Aly's were harder? Why can't I do live scoring on my phone! THIS WOULD BE SO MUCH EASIER IF IT WAS ON TELEVISION.

8:05 Tim knows that Laurie has been on the television, because Tim has made grossly inappropriate comments about Laurie on the television.

8:07 14.8 for Laurie on bars, but I can't find Aly's scores. Now it's Simone! Her "weak" event, which means it's still great and she can qualify for finals. She just looks so nicely effortless, gliding around the bar. Slight fight for that handstand, and stuck layout. This is Simone's year. I'm loving it.

8:10 Brittany Rogers! Great vault except for the step. She was one of my favorites back in 2012, but I am FIRMLY cheering for her this year. I admire anyone who does NCAA and Elite. Good second vault as well.

8:12 Aha! 14.3 for Aly. That's lower than I thought it would be, I thought she had about a point higher difficulty to Laurie? Haha, and they thought they showed Brenna's vault but didn't. This stream is lagging, but the behind-the-scenes stuff is making it worth everything.

8:13 Ashton Locklear! She has a FABULOUS bars routine, she's wonderful on it and should have won a medal at 2014 Worlds in my opinon but got robbed because the judges didn't notice a missing number from a Chinese gymnast's outfit. Oh, such a lovely swing, legs flued togethed, nice lines, perfect handstands. Stuck landing!! Oh, this is going to be an interesting year for her. I think she can get an alternate spot, but I don't know about a full spot--I feel that Madison Kocian is more likely for a full spot. I'd like it if she was there though.

8:15 15.55 for Ashton on bars, that's solid. And Ragan! She's so tiny that she can do a lot of good moves on bars, she doesn't have to worry about hitting the bar. Solid bars. That'll help her case.

8:18 Wait, a piano-y version of the gymnastics tune? That's weird.

8:22 15.25 for Brenna! I can't see her being picked, I honestly think Marta's got something against her, but that's awesome. Rooting for her, even if she isn't my favorite.

8:23 Who is standing in Simone's way? Herself, essentially. Yeah, Gabby is coming after her, and Larisa, and maaaaybe Aliya on a good day, but Simone's got to fall for any of them to have a chance.

8:25 Looking for scores, but my understanding is that Simone is winning, Aly behind by 1.8, Laurie behind by .55. Time to Ashton's beam! She needs it for a chance, but she's really not a beam person. You know, she just doesn't have the difficulty that she needs--it's an okay routine, okay form (although a bit slippy on those turns), but it's not that hard. Leaps are well connected. Lunges after her dismount, but it'll help her case.  

8:29 They're taking a while for this score, that's odd. Okay, 14.450. Yeah, that's seems about right (inflated, of course, but alright).

8:31 Ragan's beam! Double wolf turn to start, solid jumping and flipping. Her feet are probably small, that's got to help as well. Ooh, she has a pike jump, I love pike jumps. Dismount is almost stuck. That's her strongest event, beam, and she can definitely earn some points here. She had a bit of a rough start to the competition, but she came back nicely.

8:33 Aly's next for beam! She's a solid beamworker--bronze in 2012--and hasn't really had problems here. Slightly off on her punch front, great layout though. She always does that lie-down on the beam, it's her thing. She needs to work on her connections, there's about half of them that she won't get credit for. Ooh, those turns were solid. Patterson dismount, insanely difficult, and almost perfect! Lands with her body well up. That's was excellent. She should get silver here.

8:36 Laurie's up next! Laurie looks like she had her makeup done by Aly, which unfortunately isn't a compliment. Sassy beam routine, definitely getting her connections. Hmm, maybe I spoke too soon about Aly getting a silver. Oooh, the Game of Thrones floor music is in the background (One of the New Zealanders uses it, I believe). Laurie has a slight stumble and then dismount, chest pretty low but stuck. Hmm. I need the live scoring now.


8:41 Quickly turned off the stream for scores! 14.8 for Aly on beam, and 15.25 for Laurie....I need to check the difficulty scores, I could have sworn Aly was above that. Anyway, Aly's ahead by a tenth, so it should be Simone/Aly/Laurie. I'll take that. Ragan is behind by about a point which doesn't bode well for her...        

8:44 Simone on beam! Yaaaay for a pike jump. Solid series, she was slightl tentative at the beginning but she's much more solid now. She should be getting most of the connections. Stuck Patterson, YES. That's it. Ohh, I have been on board with her for three years, when this summer comes I'm totally going to say TOLD YOU SO for the next quad.

8:46 A 62.45 IN THE AA?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!????????????? Good grief, Simone, you're breaking the code.

8:51 The results!

And to end things, I hope the US doesn't ever wear that shade of fuchsia again. It's hideous.

On to Classics!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

SCAM 2016 Liveblog

Hello! SCAM is today! So I am live blogging. 

What is SCAM? It is a gymnastics competition that has a long and storied history of Americans winning even when they shouldn't. It is a scam! Hence the nickname. 

Two American competitiors on the WAG side today--2012 Olympic AA Champion, Gabby Douglas, and Maggie Nichols. Both were on the Worlds team last year, and both are trying to get on the Olympic team this year. If they picked the team today, they would probably both make it, but Trials isn't today. SCAM is. 

Anyway. Starting at 10:00, when it is televised on NBC. 

10:01 Hey, NBC changed their music! It is the same tune but a little more subtle. Hmm. I don't know if I like it. 

10:02 lolol Al forgot Tim's name. Al schadenfreude is a true joy. 

10:03 Sam's path is NOT the same as Gabby's. Gabby took some time off and then came back last year. Sam kept competing and got injured. Also, MAG gymnasts have an easier time as they get into their twenties. Hmph. Nice vault from Sam, though. 


10:05 Oh, blah blah SCAM is so prestigious blah blah. 

10:06 hmm. Comparable vaults for Nichols and Douglas upon rewatch. 

10:07 Maggie's bars were quite nice. She has a lovely swing. Some leg separation, particularly on the Doyle layout dismount, but nothing super serious. I don't know if she will catch Gabby yet, but she has a chance come beam and floor. 

10:08 Gabby's bars. Ahhhh. You would never think that American's have so many bars issues? And I guess beam is turning into the new issue. Anyway. Cleaner than Maggie's. 

10:10 Awwww, baby Gabby flashback. 

Maggie got a 14.633. Gabby is at 15.266. Woot!

10:12 Mai isn't really a bars swinger. Wait until her floor!

No, Simone isn't here. She doesn't need to be. Her standing on the team wouldn't be changed by competing (and undoubtedly winning). So stop trying to make up rumors about why she isn't here. 

Ugh. Why would NBC show international competitors? Let's have another in memoriam feature after this one. It isn't like I'm here for the gymnastics. 😡

10:20 I love that Under Armour commercials. It has Maggie, Mykayla Skinner, and Madison Kocian--but strangely, no Brenna Dowelll, who actually made the worlds team last year (unlike Mykayla, who was the alternate), so I don't quite understand why no Brenna?


10:22 Well, I would say that the Olympics are more exciting than collegiate gymnastics?

10:23 Ugh. Today is not Nile's day. He has had falls, and nothing is how it should be. Poor guy. 

10:24 YES TEAM GB WON A MEDAL AT WORLDS!!!! Yes they did!!!! It was wonderful. Anyway, Amy Tinkler. Nice routine, although it isn't quite as amazing as many of the other British girls. It works in the AA, but I would be surprised if we saw it in TF at any point. Yeah, her score is in the thirteens. It wasn't perfect. 

10:28 Commercials again. I'm starving but I screwed up my back and I can't quite walk far. Like, to the kitchen. So I remain hungry. 

10:30 "...It is called the AMERICAN Cup after all." So that makes it okay for the Americans to always win? It is a Scam, I'm telling you!

10:32 Also, Gabby didn't really dominate in London. She did well, but I feel that domination means lots of medals. She got two. Yeah, that is a third, but it still seems so small for the word domination. 

Oooh, yes. I am here for an Ellie and Amy tie for bronze. 

10:36 Gabby on beam. It always scares me. But so far, nothing too wobbly. This is very clean, actually. Maybe some uncertainty on the turn. Oh, I love piked jumps. Her dismount wasn't perfect, a little low, but that honestly is one of her best beam routines.

10:39 14.966?? SLAY GIRL. 

10:40 Under Armour commercial again! I still really like it. 

10:41 "Some weekends only last a few days," says the Hamptons Inn spokeslady. No, I'm pretty sure that all weekends are like that. 

10:43 Oh hey, a MAG routine! Parallel bars isn't my favorite (it just looks painful to land in your armpits), but nice routine from Kato. 

10:46 Yeah, Gabby's score was low, but the dismount was pretty bad. A shame, since that usually doesn't cause the issues, and the rest of her routine was outstanding. 

10:48 Doesn't Maggie look happy? She reminds me of Shawn a little--always so smiley. 


10:51 Yay, PacRims! Simone! A competition in my time zone! It is the little things. 

10:53 More parallel bars, and my armpits hurt. Ooh, and now Ellie Black. Wobble on the double turn, and another balance check. Oh dear, she seems rattled. Better layout, but another big wobble on the full. This is just balance checky all throughout. Messy twisting layout, but she stayed on, so that works. Won't be a nice score though. 

10:56 Under Armour commercial again!

10:58 Oooh, will they mention Gymcastic? They are discussing Kyla and McKayla's retirements, but they seem to be avoiding how she announced it, and the contents of the interview. Well, I guess USAG media people need something to do. 

11:00 Why all these parallel bars routines and no beam? I want some beam! They could time these routines better. 

11:01 Ooh, Amy Tinkler is on beam. She is one of the better beam workers for the Brits, which is good since they always seem to suffer on beam. Her leaps are a little short of 180. Oh, I love her eyeshadow. Triple twist has some messy legs, but that should score higher than Ellie. 

11:03 DARN IT, I MEANT 2016, NOT 2015. I hadn't made that mistake at all this year! Argh. 

11:04 Ooh, Simone voiceover on the PacRims commercial. 

11:06 Huh, Amy scored less than Ellie. I know that judging has been strict on beam today, but that doesn't seem right. I need to look at these D and E scores. 

11:07 Oh, more parallel bars. They better show this many high bars routines too. 

11:11 And another one? This seems ridiculous. But good for those who like MAG, I guess. I'm here for the WAG. 

11:12 Maggie on beam! Lots of wolf turns. I like the jump into front tuck, you don't normally see things in that order. She is hiding some tiny balance checks quite well but with this set of judges she might still get hit. Close to the bell as she dismounts, but in time. Same dismount as Gabby, but cleaner, albeit not perfect.  Hmm. A very hmm-y routine. 

11:16 Looks like the judges did get those balance checks--she scores lower than Gabby. So this is essentially Gabby's to lose? Maggie is a better floor worker, but still. 

Haha, Carlotta's in sixth. Also, it looks like I missed some bars issues by half the competition. Oh well. 

11:26 Volleman on floor. Well, that music screams Rio, doesn't it? Carinvally. Nice, but simple routine. 

11:27 High bar is splatty. Wheeeeee. 

11:29 Ferlito on floor. How Vanessa Ferrari made Italy a gymnasticsy nation is quite impressive. But I've never really liked Ferlito's style. But it was a decent routine, nothing too big in there. It works.

11:32 High bar! My favorite MAG activity. And splatty! Good times all around. 

11:33 Floor is splatty now too, Tabea Alt is down. Her choreography is very 2012, there is something Jordyn Wieber-like about it. Dismount is OOB. 

11:35 Betincourt is splat as well. But he had a great one armed giant. (They are amazing, I don't know how it works, how can you manage with one arm?)

11:38 Under Armour commercial again!

11:47 sorry, trying to get ready to go out. I like Tinkler's floor. Fewer splats now. 

11:50 Maggie's floor was alright, some very nice landings except for the dismount. I preferred her old routine. I liked the flamenco hand waving. 

11:51 Sam goes splat. 

11:52 good score for Maggie on floor. They are kinder here than on beam. 

11:54 Gabby! Just hit and it is yours. And she hits, and that is that!  

It is a SCAM, I tell you!


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuesday Travels: I Still Don't Know The Way To Comic-Con

A sequel.


8:22AM: Ugh, is it time to wake up? Go back to sleep!
8:23AM: I’m getting too old for this.
8:41AM: Computer, you are being slow, and I don’t like it.
8:45AM: In the waiting room. Yawn.
8:49AM: Might as well put Jesus Christ Superstar on, again, since it is still in my head
8:55AM: I was going to clean while in the waiting room, but I am sleepy. Yawn.
9:01AM: Come on, website, work for me.
9:02AM: I am bored!
9:06AM: Oh, good, tickets are being sold.
9:10AM: But when it is my turn??????
9:18AM: They should prioritize my length of time you have had a login and not had tickets. So someone like me can get them.
9:22AM: I hate the yellow ribbon of doom.
9:25AM: UGH, they are running out of Preview Night already? It’s not even 9:30 yet!
9:27AM: NOOOO PREVIEW NIGHT well, I’ll take four days.
9:37AM: nooooo Saturday. Well, I’ll take three days.
9:41AM: NOOOOO FRIDAY. I’ve yet to figure out whether I should get Thursday and Sunday tickets, or just Thursday?
9:46AM: Probably just Thursday.
9:51AM: noooo Thursday. Well, I’ll gun for Sunday instead!
9:57AM: All gone! #SDCC, you evade me once again!
9:58AM: I should get published so I can go as a presenter.
9:59AM: Should I go to GeekyCon instead?


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tuesday Travels - Israel Reflections, Part Two

Yesterday, I discussed my reflections about my Israel trip. Today, I wanted to provide advice/thoughts on the logistic-y aspect of the trip.

We went through Noseworthy Travel, and they definitely did a good job of choosing sites and getting us from spot A to spot B. I liked our tour guide and driver. I would have preferred maybe a little bit less of a breakneck pace, though; our days were stuffed from dawn to dusk, and I would have liked a little bit more time to explore locations and fewer locations per day. Also, they usually took us to a lunch spot and said, "Here's lunch!", which didn't leave an opportunity to either explore during lunchtime or try different options. I had imagined being able to choose a street vendor for lunch, or wandering around a downtown area like Tiberius or Jerusalem for lunchtime, but that only really happened on the last day. Now, the lunch options were fine and tasty for the most part, but it was not what I expected.

The issue was more finding an ATM. As I mentioned in one of my first blog posts, I had expected to go to an ATM and withdraw shekels for the trip, but we didn't stop anywhere with an ATM until Jerusalem. Dollars were accepted everywhere, but some places had highly questionable exchange rates--and some of those places were where the tour company took us for lunch, so it wasn't like there was another option. Maybe I'm too suspicious, but I am curious about any kickbacks or something like that that the tour company got. I know the company said we didn't need to get shekels, but I'm very glad I did, and if I go again I will make sure to start off with a good chunk of shekels in case we don't stop at an ATM.

My other main issue with the travel company was that flight change. We changed flights, which lost us a night in Israel, and we didn't get a formal apology or any refund. Some people said they'd heard that it was the airline that changed our flight, but I heard it was the travel company, and in either case, you would expect something. That left me unimpressed.

The hotels we stayed at, Maagen Eden and the Olive Tree, were great, and I'd recommend them to someone exploring the area.

If I were to go again, the biggest change I would do would be to try and organize my own flights, at least part of the way. The trip included airfare from LAX, and I just booked a separate flight to and from LA, but while sitting in Newark on the way back, I saw several direct flights to SFO, and they looked so lovely. It would have cut maybe three hours off of my trip, which would have been worth the hassle.

The other idea, which Mum wisely mentioned last week, would have been to go to England for a few days before heading to Israel. A head start of the time change would have really helped, and breaking up the two flights could have also been nice. So if I was to go again, I might do that instead.

Other miscellany:
  • EU plugs, but I definitely saw "Israel Only" adapters. You just need ones for the EU.
  • Expect carbs. Lots and lots of carbs.
  • Drivers are very aggressive, so if you're driving, be prepared. I wouldn't want to drive, but I hate driving, so I might be in the minority there.
Will I go again? I'm not sure. I've seen everything I wanted to see in Israel, with the possible exception of the Jordan River--and then, it's more a matter of wanting to get some photos and possibly wade in it, since I technically did see it. So it's not a must-do again. But I could see, if I have a family, wanting to take them. So maybe I will return in a few decades.

I need a new vacation to start planning. Somebody, invite me somewhere interesting, please.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday Musings - Israel Reflections, Part One

Hello from the US again! I have returned victoriously, and have spent the past few days recovering from my trip. I can't tell if I have done a really poor job of fighting jetlag, or it it's harder this time around because it is 10 hours compared to my usual 8, or if it is  because I'm getting old(er). Hopefully the first one.

The trip back was smooth, and I ended up taking an earlier flight back to SFO, so I got to spend the afternoon napping in a real bed as opposed to an airline lounge. The past few days have mostly been a blur of sleeping, seeing people, and dreading returning to work tomorrow. Just as I was getting used to vacationing, I am sent back to the grind! Oh, well.

I wondered, when I left, how I would remember the trip. I had all these plans for careful Biblical reflection and huge blog posts and spiritual revelations in Israel, and it didn't all happen like I had planned (mostly due to jetlag). We've reached the point where I can't remember what I did on what day, or the names of some of the sites I've been to (I couldn't for the life of me remember what Caesarea Phillipi was called yesterday), and everything sort of seems like a dream now. On that hand, I am very glad that I did spent all of the time blogging (yay!), but I needed to make a conscious effort while in Israel to stop taking photos and blogging and to start experiencing and enjoying. Did people have to remember to do that ten years ago, or is that a new phenomenon? I don't know.

But in reflection, there's definitely a few things I want to take note before my memories go completely fuzzy:

Favorite Site: That's tough. I think I'm going to go with the first day and the Sea of Galilee. The issue with some of the more famous sites is there is that tiny thought, in the back of the mind, that things aren't how they were for Jesus. We don't know if the Via Delorosa is actually the walk to the cross. Some of the ruins in Capernaum are from centuries after Jesus. But the Sea of Galilee is almost the same. The landscape may have changed slightly in the past two millennia, and the plants are nowhere near that old, but it's the same body of water, and the landscape might not be identical but is pretty close. I can now set the scene in my own head, which I appreciate. So yes, Sea of Galilee. I think Mount Carmel is a close second.

Favorite Day: Probably February 3rd, which is the day we got to explore around the Sea of Galilee. That being said, our walking tour of Jerusalem (I can't remember the exact date of that) was amazing as well.

Favorite Non-Traditional Site: As in, the one that most people probably don't get to see. I think it was Tel Dan, up by the Lebanese border. It was really pretty, and the ruins were particularly interesting.

Most Fun Site: Dead Sea. I liked floating like an egg. Maybe it isn't the most Biblical site, but it still was a lot of fun.

Least Favorite Site: Perhaps Meggido, because I'm still not sure why we went there. Yes, it was mentioned in the Bible, but so were other places we didn't get to visit, and it was around that point where I felt satisfied with the number of ruins we had seen. I didn't need to see more. I'd have preferred to see other sites, such as...

Biggest Regret: Why, oh why, couldn't we have stopped at the Jordan River for five minutes? It wasn't out the way; we crossed bridges over it around eight times. Would it have really thrown our schedule off so much if we had pulled over and stretched our legs around there? On the bright side, now I'm really glad I didn't wait to get baptized (for a while, I decided to hold out until the Jordan River, but then I realized that I wasn't sure I could justify that to God, so I got baptized in a swimming pool. Good thing I didn't wait, since we didn't stop).

Favorite Souvenir: Photos and experiences are nice, but I also got a little nativity scene made out of olive wood. That'll be nice, to bring out in thirty years and say that I got it in Jerusalem (remember, we couldn't stop in Bethlehem itself, so Jerusalem will do).

Favorite Memory: On a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Or maybe wading in the Sea of Galilee. Something to do with the Sea of Galilee.

Favorite Food: Pita and hummus. We had some really exceptional ones at the fish restaurant. For specific item, though, that pita bread were herbs and olive oil was delicious--I'm hoping to make some this week. On a slightly related note, I finally tried shawarma at the airport, and it was delicious but not what I expected--it tasted like curry, possibly due to turmeric. Not like the shawarma I have had here.

Overall Impressions: Go. You have to go. The thought that kept on coming back to me, while I was there, was shock that I knew so few people who had been over to Israel. People mentioned, which I was trying to find a friend to go with on the trip, that they didn't feel it was safe or it cost too much money. I never felt unsafe, and the money was definitely well spent. If you ever have the opportunity, GO. Trust me. It was the best trip I've ever taken.

Tomorrow, I'll post reflections of some of the actual logistics of the trip.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Jaffa Gate, Not Jaffa Cake

In the next hour, I will be dropping my bags off outside my room, going down and eating Israeli-Chinese food (I’m scared), and then loading onto the bus to go to the airport. It is our last day here! And despite being excited to go back home, I’m actually very sad as I type that.
This entire trip was simply incredible. I’ve seen so many things, and as I was thinking about the crucifixion today, I realized that the entire landscape (in my mind) was different and much more vivid. I’ve seen where things happened, and that has changed things.
Anyway. I have thoughts. I'll blog them from home, since I am rushing to finish this post ahead of our departure.
Today we started off at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. No pictures were allowed inside, but suffice to say that it was a very intense experience. We only had seventy-eighty minutes to look around and I probably only got through a quarter (if that) of everything there, but I'm not sure I could have handled much more of it.

The outside of the museum
The gate into the museum

 Trees, like that above, were planted around the museum to memorialize Gentiles who had helped at least one Jew survive. The specific one above is for a woman who was a plumber in one of the Concentration Camps, and smuggled over a thousand children out of the camps in her van. She even had a dog who would bark when the Nazi guards were coming! She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work, but lost to Obama (the year Obama got it before he was elected) (sigh).

Once you are out of the museum, there's a lovely landscape. It is what you need after everything you've seen and thought about inside.

Next stop--the Garden Tomb!

I found out a bit more about this site versus the Church of the Holy Sepulchre today. Essentially, this site is the Protestant's opinion of where Jesus was crucified and buried, since it takes place outside of the city gates, it is where Jews were often killed by the Romans for crimes, and it seems unlikely that there were two places to kill Jews.

In the Garden

There was a road where those buses are parked, and that is probably where the cross would have been--they have found holes in the ground where crosses were probably put. The Romans wanted the Jews to be buried by the road, so people could see what happened if you cross Rome. The top of the hill was where they stoned people--St. Stephen was stoned up there.

The tomb is at the other end of the garden. There are quite a few other tombs in the area, but this one isn't populated and isn't connected to any other tombs, while most have several chambers for relatives and the like.

I know it seems like there are a lot of people in the tomb, but trust me--it was empty. :)

The cross on the wall is from when a Byzantine church was located around the tomb, which was destroyed by the Persians. The cross on the wall was the Byzantine version of the symbol--it has Jesus' initials, and the alpha and omega at the very end.

One last stop--the Jaffa Gate! It was in a busy area with a shopping mall right nearby, filled with classic American stores like Gap and American Outfitters. It was a stark return to reality and modern society after so many days of inspecting ruins and focusing on history.

And that was it! We went back to the hotel, where I had a quick nap (got to start going back to PST) and packed. My bag is very full-the Packing Ninja in me is ashamed! I guess I just got too many souvenirs for all of you.
I'll post again tomorrow from LAX, and probably a few wrap-up posts, but that's it. I hope you all enjoyed reading these entries. As I said all along, this was partly so I could look back on the posts and remember everything, and partly so I could share this experience with my friends, so I hope you feel a little like you've joined me along the way.
Back to the US!

Monday, February 8, 2016

I Saw King Herod's Palace

So guess what I did last night?

Yes, I watched the Superb Owl. Or some of it, anyway; I fell asleep sometime in the second quarter. The hotel did have a big watch party, which (as far as I can tell) was due to the demands of the big group from one of the Carolina's.

In other news, Happy Lunar New Year! One of the members of our group gave us red envelopes with a piece of chocolate in it, which makes it the most I've celebrated the event in at least six years. Maybe more.

In other news, today I went on a big walking tour of Jerusalem. We started off at what is now called the Lion's Gate, but is about where the Sheep's Gate was back during the Second Temple Period. Since Jerusalem has been destroyed about eighteen times since Jesus was around, most of these walls and buildings are just approximations or "traditional" sites that exist to satisfy pilgrims. Thus, the Sheep's Gate became the Lion's Gate. This gate is where Jesus would have entered on Palm Sunday.

From entering into the old city there, we went immediately to the Pools of Bethesda. Back then, this was where sheep were washed and purified ahead of being sacrificed in the temple, and it would have been a busy area. You can see the pools on the left of the big temple mound in the map.

The pools now are mostly piles of stones, but there was some water from the rain yesterday.

One area of the pools has now turned into a cavern, and there was quite a bit of water down there if you were willing to go spelunking.

I considered dipping my arthritic foot into the water, but then decided that it was too dirty. (It's reasons like that why I probably wasn't able to walk on the Sea of Galilee.)
As you may have been able to predict, there was a church right nearby to celebrate Jesus healing the lame man. This church was named after Mary's parents, who I guess are saints because they were Mary's parents? Nobody was able to give me a clear answer about that one.

The church had amazing acoustics, so we stopped to sing a little bit and listen to other tour groups. It was one of the nicer singing areas in my singing career.

The Priest and I
From here we went to Antonia Fortress, which is where the soldiers would have stayed back in Jesus' time. This is one of the possible starts to the Via Dolorosa (where Jesus would have dragged the cross along ahead of the crucifixion; it is debated where he would have actually started).

A game board, possibly like the one used to divide Jesus' clothing
 After looking around, we started walking along the Via Dolorosa. This goes through the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem, and is marked by Roman numerals as stops Jesus made during the day (see the engraving in the left corner).

Most of these stops are based in legend and not in anything in the New Testament, so I mostly ignored them. The streets were very narrow, as they probably would have been back then. I always had a vision (possibly supported by ideas such as The Passion of the Christ and not anything Biblical) that the roads were much wider to accompany a large crowd ridiculing Jesus, but in actuality the roads are quite small--a car can squeeze through, but that is about it. 

There's not much room for throngs of people to be watching, or at least a deep one. People were lined up along the road, but not huge crowds like the paparazzi.

Traditional site of where Caiaphas offered to release Jesus, but Barabbas was released instead
 The Via Dolorosa went through a bazaar, which was rather chaotic in the morning.

Stop number four is where Jesus allegedly had to pause, and he put his hand down on the rock to rest. Nowadays people are often praying at the rock, but there wasn't a huge crowd when we walked by, so I went ahead and touched it.

I was never good at not touching things in museums, either

After walking, we reached the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus was crucified and buried.

It's a pretty crowded church, and the remaining five stops of the Via Dolorosa are all inside.

There was a long queue inside
I went up some stairs once I got inside to the 11th Station, where Jesus was nailed to the cross. The room had a lovely ceiling.

The ceiling was being cleaned while I was there


Rocks where Jesus was nailed

Station 12 is where Jesus was actually crucified. Unfortunately, that area was roped off, but I got a shot of the chapel.

The stone was nearby, and people were crying over it and praying by it, so I think it is significant but I have no clue of it's significance
Station 13 is a giant rock in the ground, where Jesus was taken off of the cross.

Yup, touched it again.
The final station, station 14, is a tomb. Some sect's believe that this is the tomb where Jesus was buried, but that doesn't adhere to the custom of the day of being buried outside the city walls. So, it's just an empty tomb, and since it was a thirty minute wait to go inside I didn't bother. But it was pretty.

After completing the Via Dolorosa, we walked to Herod's Palace, which is an alternate path Jesus may have walked to the crucifixion. It is a teensy bit shorter than the other path.

I've seen a lot of castles in my time, and this is definitely one of the better ruins I've seen
For a final stop before lunch, we went to Christ Church, which is one of the original churches for Messianic Jews in Jerusalem.

The inside (unfortunately I didn't get any good photos) had both Christian and Jewish symbols.

Next stop: lunch! We had a lovely lunch overlooking the Mount of Olives--you can see the buildings from where we were yesterday.

Once satisfied, it was off to more exploring. We went to see the Jerusalem Wall from the First Temple Period.

See that pile of rubble? That's the wall they found. It's also proof that the city does lie higher than it did back in the day.

From here we went walking to the Wailing Wall. There was quite a bit of interesting art along the way.

Mural of what the city looked like back in the day

Painted lions

Golden menorah from the Temple Institute. The Temple Institute has already created pieces for when they can rebuild the temple, and have trained rabbis as well. As soon as they get the site, this menorah is moving to the new temple.
I was always told that the Wailing Wall was unimpressive, but I found it to be cool. This is the closes wall to where the Holy of Holies would have been, so it's the most important site in Judaism because it is the closest one can be to God. For Christians, it isn't quite so significant, but people still leave notes there--as our Guide said, it's making a local prayer call instead of long-distance.

My prayer all ready to go

The women's side. Yes, it was smaller than the men's side. Yes, it was quieter than the men's side.
I had folded my prayer wrong--everyone else had theirs coiled, so I quickly changed that.

My prayed is the v-shaped one at the bottom of the thick crack
On the way out, we passed the largest Mezuzah in the world. Mezuzah's are little (well, usually little) Deuteronomy scrolls that are posted outside the door to each living quarter--everyone house or hotel room has one. You're supposed to kiss it on the way in and out.

Our last stop for the day was the old Temple stairway, where people would have walked up to the Temple. This is the site for Mark 9. What's interesting is that the stairs aren't even--they are all different sizes on the way up. This is so a person has to walk up them slowly--they can't just rush and run up. You need to think about what you are doing, climbing the stairs to approach the Temple.

It was beginning to rain quite heavily at this point, so we turned back. The last thing we glimpsed of was a corner of the wall. This is where the shofar would have been blown on high holidays, or as a call to war, or for other important events.

Back to the hotel! Tonight was American-Style dinner night at the hotel, to which I say bleh. It was sort of disgusting.

Anyway. I leave tomorrow! I'm looking forward to going home, and I really do feel that I've seen almost everything that I wanted to on this trip. We're doing a few last minute things tomorrow morning before coming back in the afternoon, so I'll probably have an early post tomorrow.

Until then!