2016-06-27 (Mánudagur)

Today, I learned that:

According to hot news from Nice, the European Union has decided to accept Iceland as a new member state, replacing Great Britain, as a consequence of the result of today’s play-off game. Full coverage can be found in reference #1 below.

Stokkur

The geysir Stokkur, which erupts every 9 minutes, photographed on 2009-08-05.

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: England vs. Iceland 1-2

+: What did you learn in school today ?

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2016-03-25 (Friday)

Today, I learned that:

The world of football is in mourning, the carousel master Johann Cruyff died yesterday. I was fortunate to see him in action on top of his career. My colleague Christer and I decided to test the Interrail pass (see reference # 1 below) during the summer vacations of 1974. We set out from Malmö on June 15, via Copenhagen, Hamburg (where we got involved in a traffic accident) and Amsterdam, and on June 19, there we were in Dortmund in the Ruhr gebiet. It is definitely one of the best beer cities in the whole world, which we could confirm personally, and in the evening we headed for Westfalenstadion, to assist the second round of group 3 in the FIFA World Cup, Sweden vs. the Netherlands.

The Dutch team had defeated Uruguay by 2-0 in the first round, while Sweden and Bulgaria ended in a draw, 0-0. So the Dutch were of course big favorites to win the match, and the only thing they did not do in the game was to score, in spite of all good passes and tricks delivered by their captain Johann Cruyff and his mates. Luckily for Sweden, the Swedish goal keeper was Ronnie Hellström, who was a virtual wall between the goal posts, so the match ended with another 0-0 draw. The match report can be seen in reference # 2 below. Holland ended up as vice champions of the tournament, Sweden were number five and Ronnie Hellström was elected the best goal keeper of the World Cup, which led to that he was hired by the German Bundesliga team Kaiserslautern, which he defended for 10 consecutive years.

waffles

Swedish waffles with fresh raspberries and whipped cream. The recipe (in Swedish) can be found on http://www.arla.se/recept/vafflor/

If you live in Sweden, maybe you have had your share of waffles today, since March 25 is nick-named “waffle day”. So why is that? The reason is semantic and has its origin in the following legend: The Feast of the Annunciation, contemporarily the Solemnity of the Annunciation, commemorates the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, during which he informed her that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In Swedish, the official name of today is therefore “Jungfru Marie Bebådelsedag”, but since she is also named “Vår Fru” (literally Our Lady), the day is also named “Vårfrudagen”, which easily can be pronounced as “Våffeldagen” (i.e. Waffle Day). More information (in Swedish) can be found in reference # 3 below.

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Interrail

2: 1974 FIFA World Cup Germany™ – Netherlands-Sweden

3: Vårfrudagen (Våffeldagen) | Nordiska museet

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-02-11 (Thursday)

Today, I learned once more that:

LeBron James2

LeBron James and Miami Heat playing Phoenix Suns in Arizona on February 11, 2014. Photo by Lena Rapp

How wonderful it is to see an elite athlete in action. The photo above  is a very good example of that. It depicts one of the very best basketball players in the world, LeBron James. Though currently playing in Cleveland Cavaliers, this photo was taken exactly two years ago, 2014-02-11, when his Miami Heat played Phoenix Suns in Arizona. LeBron made 37 points, thus being once more the main reason why his team won the game, 103-97. Miami ended up second in the NBA championship that year. My sincere thanks to Lena who shared her eyewitness photo with us. In the following I am going to discuss another aspect of that photo.

Although I am not particularly fond of the American way of living, I must admit that when it comes to sports, there is hardly a place where sports are taken so seriously, probably due to the huge amounts of money involved. As an example, last Sunday, there was the Super Bowl final, where Denver Broncos, against all ods, once more could raise the trophy. And once more, the number of people who watched the game on TV was record high. In fact, the last three years of Super Bowl have all reached more than 110 million American viewers on TV. It is the moment when TV commercials cost more to show than during any other program during the year.

Now back to the basketball photo above. As you can see, Miami Heat is using a black uniform, since they are playing away from home. When they play at home in Miami, their uniform is totally white. And from what I can understand, it is the same thing for other NBA teams, one uniform when playing at home and another one when playing away. In fact, I believe that such a rule applies to most, if not all,  of the professional team sports in USA. In Europe, it is different, a team tries to use its main uniform as much as possible, be it at home or away, and normally only using an alternatively coloured uniform in order to avoid being confused with the opponents.

Yet another difference is that in USA, it is always the time left of the game (or half, period, etc.) that is mentioned, not how long time has gone since the start. Compare North American icehockey with European icehockey in that sense.

Another interesting point is how the Americans name the order of the two teams in a game, always starting with the visiting team, and finishing with the home team. So for instance the NBA game above, in USA it is written Miami Heat vs. Phoenix Suns. In Europe, it is always the home team that is mentioned first.

So which is the favourite sport of an American in general? Of course, it varies according to region, age, etc., but how anyone can be a fan of such a dull sport as baseball is difficult to understand. I asked that question to an American friend once, and his sincere answer was: Of course it is dull and slow and so on, but it is perfect for me and my friends to go watch a game, bring a six-pack of beers, chit-chat about the important things in life and still not miss anything that happens in a game!

I still remember the first time I went to USA, in 1977. My host family said that the most popular sports among college girls was football, not American “football”, but what Europeans call football. And we have seen the results, the US female national teams have won many World Championships and Olympic Games in football (or “soccer” as they call it). To that I would like to add one more opinion about football. In 1995, Dan McCarthy, President of the electronics company Conceptronic, said that he used to train junior football teams on his spare time, and according to him it was the best of all the five major sports (American football, baseball, basketball, icehockey and football), because it was the only one that really permitted that the players took their own initiative, not being so tied up by the coach’s tactics in the other sports.

… That’s what I learned in school!

Refs.:

1: Miami Heat at Phoenix Suns 02/14/2014

+: What did you learn in school today ?