Water Draws A Crowd

Some people know how tho throw an event and draw a crowd. The Potomac Yards folks did that yesterday. Splash Yards, with a water slide, inflatable balls to roll inside and a surf board to ride the wave, drew hundreds into a parking lot. With drinks and tubs for soaking or getting water to toss on people, the event was a great success.

This was a great way to bring men and women in their 20s and 3os into the neighborhood to see the environment and maybe become interested in renting or buying a condo or apartment.

The event started at 2 and the line was around the block. Fortunately, if you didn’t want to drink, you could walk right in and not wait long in the line. Like an amusement park, there were lines to get on any of the rides. Still, we rode the plastic slide several times and the quick steep drop made it a blast.

big_double_water_slide

 

The surf board proved a bit of a challenge but was good fun.

surf

The organizers were less successful with the inflatable balls; or what someone on line called, hamster balls. The line hardly moved and after 45 minutes of waiting we gave up on it. This was a big disappointment!

hamster_balls

 

Cats and Dogs: What States Prefer

A really fun blog that appeared in the Washington Post about ownership of cats and dogs in the United States and in the World. Take a good look at the US map: the divide is almost neatly north and south (cat versus dog). What’s more the Union States from the Civil War appear to be the cat lovers, while the old Confederacy prefers dogs.

What of those of us who like both?

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/07/28/where-cats-are-more-popular-than-dogs-in-the-u-s-and-all-over-the-world/

Dog states, cat states

SOURCE: American Veterinary Medical Association

 

Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.—and all over the world

 

We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

Here in the U.S., slightly more households own dogs than own cats. But Euromonitor’s numbers show that in terms of raw population, cats outnumber dogs to the tune of 2 million (the number is closer to 4 million, by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s estimate). Why? One simple explanation is that cats are more compact. You can fit more cats in a house than you can, say, golden retrievers. (You can also geolocate a lot of them, which is fun, but entirely besides the point.)

At the state level in the U.S., cats outnumber dogs in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Dogs are the favorite in the South and Southwest. The most dog-friendly state is Arkansas, where dogs outnumber cats 1.35-to-1. At the other end of the spectrum stands Massachusetts with 1.87 cats for every dog.

“A lot of that simply has to do with population density,” Jared Koerten, a pet industry analyst at Euromonitor, said in an interview. “Many cities just aren’t that dog-friendly.”

Still, overall, most states have a pretty balanced cat-dog ratio.

Around the world the story is quite different. Euromonitor gave us estimates of the pet dog and cat populations in 54 countries, and some show a stark dog/cat divide. In India, for instance, pet dogs outnumber cats 10-to-1. Dogs enjoy a 2.5-to-1 advantage in China. On the other hand, cats outnumber dogs 3-to-1 in Switzerland, Austria and Turkey.

 

Overall, cats are the favored pet in most of Western Europe, with the exception of Spain, Portugal and Ireland. South America is strictly dog country, as is much of Asia.

“Some regions, like the Middle East and part of Africa, have an especially long-standing appreciation of cats,” Koerten said. “In Latin America it’s the complete opposite. Dogs are part of family life there.”

World pet populations also appear to follow a few interesting—if inexplicable—trends. For one, highly developed countries, for reasons yet unclear, tend to have more balanced cat and dog populations. “Looking across all countries, there’s a correlation between developed economies and balanced pet preferences,” Koerten said. Brazil, as is turns out, has a strange affinity for small dogs—it has more small dogs per capita than any other country. And there’s legitimate reason to believe young Americans might be having dogs instead of babies.

Top 10 dog-loving states

Rank State Cats Dogs Ratio, dogs to cats
1 Arkansas 810,000 1,097,000 1.35
2 New Mexico 533,000 703,000 1.32
3 Texas 5,565,000 7,163,000 1.29
4 Oklahoma 1,041,000 1,327,000 1.27
5 Louisiana 877,000 1,115,000 1.27
6 Mississippi 668,000 846,000 1.27
7 Arizona 1,438,000 1,798,000 1.25
8 Tennessee 1,749,000 2,157,000 1.23
9 Missouri 1,653,000 1,978,000 1.20
10 Georgia 2,162,000 2,479,000 1.15

Top 10 cat-loving states

Rank State Cats Dogs Ratio, cats to dogs
1 Massachusetts 1,593,000 850,000 1.87
2 Maryland 1,677,000 915,000 1.83
3 Maine 498,000 300,000 1.66
4 Vermont 234,000 142,000 1.65
5 Connecticut 796,000 507,000 1.57
6 District of Columbia 63,000 42,000 1.50
7 New Hampshire 309,000 212,000 1.46
8 Pennsylvania 3,544,000 2,485,000 1.43
9 New York 4,261,000 3,054,000 1.40
10 Ohio 3,786,000 2,730,000 1.39

Thorpe Comes Out

Good for Ian Thorpe. Strange that so many people like myself always believed that he was gay despite his recent (2012) autobiography in which he categorically denied ever having anything other than heterosexual experiences. Sometimes, the most interesting thing is to read the comments afterwards. So many people write that they are sick of articles like this and don’t care to hear about the athlete’s sexuality. However, the miss the point about how the lies and secrets effect the person/ the athlete.

Ian Thorpe reveals he is gay

Updated: July 13, 2014, 9:12 AM ET

Associated Press

SYDNEY — Five-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Ian Thorpe for the first time publicly confirmed that he is gay during a television interview on Sunday, ending years of speculation about his sexuality.

Thorpe, who had long denied that he was gay, told British talk show host Michael Parkinson in an interview broadcast on Australia’s Channel 10 that he just recently realized the truth about himself.

“I’m not straight,” Thorpe said. “And this is only something that very recently — we’re talking in the past two weeks — I’ve been comfortable telling the closest people around me exactly that.”

For years, Thorpe took great pains to hide his sexuality. In his 2012 autobiography, “This Is Me,” Thorpe wrote, “For the record, I am not gay and all of my sexual experiences have been straight. I’m attracted to women, I love children, and aspire to have a family one day.”

Thorpe, 31, said being asked about his sexuality by journalists when he was just a teenager forced him to adopt a defensive attitude toward the issue. He was too young to know whether he was gay or straight, and said he responded that he was straight to avoid teasing from classmates. Things spiraled from there.

“I felt the lie had become so big that I didn’t want people to question my integrity,” he said. “And a little bit of ego comes into this; I didn’t want people to question … have I lied about everything?”

Now, he says, he wishes he had come out sooner.

“I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man,” he said. “And I don’t want young people to feel the same way that I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay.”

Part of his reluctance to come out, he said, was fear of letting his family and his fans down.

“I wanted to make my family proud. I wanted to make my nation proud of me. And part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay,” he said. “But I’m telling not only Australia, but I’m telling the world, that I am.”

Ian Thorpe, a five-time Olympic gold medalist, ended years of speculation about his sexuality, saying “I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man.”

Thorpe added that he is looking forward to living his life openly, without the burden of carrying a secret. He wants to find a partner, he said, and start a family.

Thorpe retired from swimming in 2012 after winning five Olympic gold medals, three silvers, and one bronze, and setting 22 world records.

Known to fans as “the Thorpedo,” he was just 14 when he was first chosen to represent Australia, and became swimming’s youngest world champion at that age when he won the 400-meter freestyle at the 1998 worlds in Perth.

His career peaked at the 2000 Sydney Olympics where he won three gold and two silver medals. He retired after the 2004 Athens Olympics, citing a lack of motivation, but made an unsuccessful comeback when he tried to qualify for the 2012 London Games.

In the interview, Thorpe also spoke at length about the often crippling depression he has struggled with since he was a teenager, which led him at one point to contemplate suicide. When antidepressants failed to help, he said, he turned to alcohol to ease his pain.

“I kind of felt that it was unfair, that I was doing the right thing, taking the antidepressant, and I’m still miserable,” he said. “So I tried drinking.”

“How hard?” Parkinson asked.

“Well, I didn’t have to try that hard,” Thorpe responded with a laugh.

Meanwhile, Thorpe said he is still struggling with a broken shoulder. He contracted a serious infection when he underwent surgery earlier this year and said he still faces the prospect of more operations.

“I have to be realistic with my expectations, that I may not be able to lift my arm above my head, which would mean that I may never swim again,” he said. “It’s tough. Because I want to be able to swim.”

 

Buyer and Cellar

Great production at the Shakespeare Harman Theater in Washington, DC with Michael Urie reprising his off-Broadway role of an unemployed actor who takes a job as the guard/salesperson in the mall at Barbra Streisand’s house. A wonderful 90-minute one person stage comedy, the piece hit the right note of celebrity insight and pathos throughout the evening.

Buyer and Cellar’s script was excellent. Most refreshing and unusual was the upbeat feeling the play generated and the even-handed tone with which it treated its characters. The play gives equal voice to the main character, to Streisand and to the boy friend of the actor. This boyfriend earns many of the laughs as a surrogate for many of the gay men in the audience who are Streisand aficionados, Barbra queens, or divas in their own minds.

Urie made the play work. His energy seemed unflagging and he played each character with a sensitivity that made them feel unique. Testament to his performance is the play is closing in New York at the end of July.

Sam I Am a Ram

My favorite pro football team drafted the first openly gay player in yesterday’s NFL draft. Yes, Michael Sam went in the 7th and final round of that draft to the st. Louis Rams. His landing as the 34th pick in that round, meant that only seven other men were drafted after him. Two teams, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Oakland Raiders, chose not to select anyone in that round before the Rams selected Sam.

One commentator noted that the SEC Defensive players of the year for the last decade, all were drafted in the first or second rounds. Still, a quick review notes that not all warranted such a top selection.

Sam ranked number 19 among the draft’s defensive lineman. This rating by NFL experts, indicated that it was possible he night not have gotten drafted at all. That would have provided the NFL with a public relations challenge. There are a total of 256 slots to pick players in the draft and defensive line is but one of ten groups of positions on a football team. Simply put, there were 18 players ahead of Sam in the ranking of defensive line and another 18 that might be considered “better” athletes in each of the nine other positions as well.

This is so powerful and worth seeing:

 

http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/12/us/michael-sam-nfl-kiss-reaction/

Each team weighed its needs at each of the ten groupings of positions and who among the athletes left to be drafted had the most athleticism and the character best suited to their team, during each round. The Rams selected an outstanding defensive lineman in the first round, and already have several outstanding lineman on their team. However, the NFL has changed many rules of recent years to open up the passing game. The idea is that fans like offense and the game is more entertaining this way. So many teams are acquiring top defensive lineman to put more pressure on the quarterback to reduce the time that they have to throw the ball and find open receivers. Sam can be a reserve lineman, coming in on certain downs to spell other players and add his particular dimension to the pass rush. Hopefully he can succeed. Below is an article about the fit between Sam and the Rams!

http://espn.go.com/nfl/draft2014/story/_/id/10915199/michael-sam-great-opportunity-succeed-st-louis-rams

Idaho and Nature

American History Museum held a screening for the DC Environmental Film Festival which is always a good place to see the latest in documentaries. I really enjoyed Phantom Wolves of Sun Valley because it gave equal attention to the complex beliefs and attitudes of all sides on the question of having wolves in the state of Idaho. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCSFwE2dkdk You watch and wish all the people could put aside their attitudes and reach a consensus. The claim of the movie is that the wolf debate is really a debate about different approaches to life by two or three different groups of people and they don’t really like or respect one another.

Death of an Owner

When I wrote my latest book, The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball,  I was able to speak to one of the owners of the Baltimore Bullets. Unfortunately, another had died and I was unable to reach the third, Arnold Heft. Two days ago I read that he died.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/arnold-a-heft-owner-of-horses-nba-team-dies-at-94/2014/03/26/fc810a4a-b501-11e3-8020-b2d790b3c9e1_story.html

Wish I had spoken to him about the Washington Bullets and owning the Capital Centre.

First Openly Gay Athlete to Play Coming Soon??

The Brooklyn Nets might make history this season. They are looking for a big center for their roster and have two choices in mind.

The ESPN article below makes mention of gay history five paragraphs into the piece:

http://espn.go.com/newyork/nba/story/_/id/10505461/brooklyn-nets-await-glen-davis-decision-trying-add-jason-collins

Historic Arena Saved

The DC Preservation League celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first US concert while enjoying the years of hard work they put in to save Uline Arena and the Washington Coliseum from being torn down.

Here’s the video telling the story:

Beatles First US Concert

The DC Preservation League sponsored a celebration of the Beatles First US Concert. It happened 50 years ago at the Washington Coliseum. I have a few photos from the event.

partying in the old ticket booth at Washington Coliseum

My book, the Bullets, the Wizards and Washington, DC Basketbalfeatures all the basketball teams that played at Uline Area/Washington Coliseum. I spoke in the documentary the DCPL created to celebrate this building’s history. The model for the renovation of the building appears below.

model for new building

One last look at the old arena’s floor.

2014-02-11 19.36.07

 

What it looked like nearly 70 years ago:

Uline Arena-1941

 

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