Saturday, May 28, 2011

Special Olympics

Special Olympics Mission Statement:
The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Zac and I spent part of our long holiday weekend on Friday at Central Oahu Regional Park volunteering with Special Olympics of Hawaii (SOHI). We spent Friday helping out with the softball tournament with a group of people from Zac's office. This is the second time Zac and I have helped out with SOHI softball, but this was our first time helping with the tee-ball tournament. I was put in charge of keeping the official score book, as I was the only one who knew how. (I'd like to point out that I was the only female in our group. Moral of the story: Dads who teach their daughters to keep book rule.) We also had a PA system set up so we could announce the players as they came up to bat. It was quite the production, and you could tell that the Olympians loved the big stage.

The weather was just perfect to spend a whole day outside. Fortunately SOHI had tents set up at each field so I didn't get fried by the sun. It was Lahaina Noon on Friday too, so the sun was pretty intense at mid-day. I have to say that all of the coaches were really well behaved. Last time we volunteered we had a couple of coaches that were much too competitive and belligerent. This year's teams and coaches were much more fun to work with. You could tell that while they all wanted to win, sportsmanship and trying their best was much more important to everyone. That, in and of itself, made it a great way to spend a day.

There were four teams in the tee-ball tournament, one from Oahu, one from Maui and two from the Big Island, so we had four games. All of the Olympians received medals for their participation. The medal ceremony is always a pretty big deal for the everyone involved. There is a CD of the Olympic Fanfare on a loop that we play while we call out each athlete and present them with their medals. As another long-time SOHI volunteer and I waited to present medals to the champions, she smiled at me and said, "Isn't this just great? Isn't this the best?" I looked out at the smiling and laughing Olympians, lined up on the field, waiting to hear their names called over the PA system. I couldn't help but get a lump in my throat. It was great. Mission (Statement) accomplished.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

One of the reasons I don't like basketball . . .

. . . is the constant noise from the PA system. One of the things I enjoy about baseball, hockey and football is that once the play starts, the PA system is silenced. Yes, they play the same crud in between plays for those sports but I don't need a blend of techno/70s/hip-hop hits pumped through speakers to let me know that I should be excited or interested during the actual game. I'm pretty sure basketball fans can come up with a "De-fense" chant or cheer at appropriate times when left to their own devices. And heaven knows there are plenty of game stoppages during a basketball game to let the PA gods squeeze in their Harry Belafonte and Black Eyed Peas. During the last two minutes alone you average about 47 stoppages.

If the game is interesting enough, there shouldn't have to be a continuous soundtrack to it. Basketball is painful enough to watch - the music makes it that much more grating.

Friday, May 6, 2011

San Diego preview

We recently spent about a week in San Diego, getting a head-start on our (hopeful? probable?) PCS in October. We stayed with one set of friends the first two nights in the Pacific Beach neighborhood of San Diego. The last three nights we spent out in Santee, CA, with a different friend. I'm glad we got to see two very different places to live.

It was a pretty valuable trip. We were able to go over to Zac's new command, get a short tour of the place and meet some of his new co-workers. It sure is a different atmosphere than his current command. I may go into more details about what the new job will entail as we go along, but I'm debating about how much I want to go into what Zac does. I went to a briefing the other day about safety related to social media and it reminded me that I am posting all this stuff publicly and anyone can read it. I'm not looking to compromise Zac's, or my, security by talking too much about his job. Not that he's got some sort of super-secret job coming up - he's not Captain America or something. It's just a normal Navy job. Maybe I'll talk about that issue later on - military life and social media - but for now I'll stick to our SD trip.

We spent a good chunk of time driving around neighborhoods in the San Diego area, trying to get a feel of where we may want to live. Many of our Navy friends have lived in San Diego before so everyone had an opinion of where we should live. Of course it seemed like if we asked nine people we got nine different answers. As we drove around I noticed that SD is a lot like most metropolitan areas - it has lots of fun, distinct neighbor hoods and in some places it only takes a matter of a few blocks to go from a nice neighborhood to a not-so-nice neighborhood.

We were pleasantly surprised at the traffic situation, or lack thereof. I know Zac was dreading the idea of having to drive in rush hour traffic every day to get to work, but we spent a couple of days driving in "traffic" during rush hour to see how bad it really was. And really, it wasn't bad at all. Lots of cars on the road, yes, but everything kept moving. And since traffic doesn't seem to be the nightmare we had anticipated we may end up living out a little further from the Naval Base than we had originally planned.

We did some preliminary house shopping, but couldn't put too much of our hearts into it since we can't be sure that we're actually going there yet. We're happy to see that we can probably get a house for a reasonable dollar amount in a neighborhood that we'll both like. (Of course Zac and I are the quintessential Country Mouse and City Mouse.) The San Diego area is certainly different than Hawaii in terms of climate. Here in Hawaii I'm used to it being warm down by the ocean and cooler up in the mountains. And it's pretty tropical. In San Diego it is colder by the ocean and warmer inland, where it is desert-like.

One thing I noticed as we drove around Pacific Beach and Mission Beach is that it gives off the vibe of a surfing community, kind of like Oahu's North Shore, but it was FREEZING outside. I saw people in their board shorts, no shirt, standing out by the grill and it was something like 68 degrees! Brah, this isn't surfing weather! I have no inclination to go anywhere near the beach or the water when it's this cold! Put on a sweater! Hawaii has officially wrecked me for all future ocean-side living. What is the point of living by the ocean when the water temps are frigid and the most useful aspect of the grill on your patio is warming your hands? I just cannot think of San Diego as a surfing community. Sorry SD surfer dudes.

I am sad that we won't be in San Diego in time to watch the Vikings kick off the season against the Chargers (assuming there's an NFL season) or see the Twins play the Padres in mid-June. The planets align for some MN/SD professional sports match ups and I'm going to be a couple of months too late. Oh well. Instead I'll focus my attention on trying to be settled somewhere for the first annual Big Ten Minnesota/Nebraska football game. Zac and I have already decided that we'll have to have a standing bet where the losing team's supporter has to wear the opponent's colors during the head-to-head game the following year. I guess this means I'll be wearing a lot of Husker red for our football games going forward. At least this first year I can sport my maroon and gold.

In the end, as much as I'm going to miss Hawaii I am glad to be moving back to the mainland and moving five hour closer to our "homes". I'm also happy to note that Southwest Airlines flies to Minneapolis, Denver and Omaha, meaning that we may even be able to afford a few more trips home here and there.