Monday, February 22, 2010

Olympic Spirit

We're halfway through the Vancouver Games, and this is certainly one Olympics that has met the hype.

There have been stellar performances by many American athletes, great competition in several of the skills events, particularly short track speed skating. As well as some fantastic visuals from the mountains of jumping and ski-cross and all the boarding competitions.

Frankly, I'm still trying to figure out how Shaun White reached the heights he did, literally, or how Lindsay Vonn powered down the mountain with her injury, or how Bode Miller suppressed his own demons to become a great winner at these Games.

Other than NBC's boneheaded decision to relegate the USA/Canada hockey game to an off-brand and non-HD on my system MSNBC, it's all been good. Costas keeps it going. Michaels is palatable. And Mary Carillo really has some chops.

Hoping this week's coverage continues to be engaging. I know I'll be watching, and scoring the athletes from home.

But don't expect ESPN to buy into any of this. Try and find the Olympics on the main page. I dare you. To them, it's an afterthought. Which tells you a lot about how the worldwide leader treats events to which they don't have the rights. Lovely. And all business. Keep that in mind next time someone tries to hype you on the X-Games, bro.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Winter Snow

It's winter time.

It's been snowing.

It continues to be a news story, here in DC, as well as nationally, and internationally.

But not necessarily for the right reasons.

We need to get over it, and back to whatever it was we were doing before the storm came and sucked the thoughts from our heads.

For now, I'll settle for some Olympic diversions.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sports, not the one you're thinking

Ovie and Crosby

We’ve heard a lot about this matchup, and we’ll continue to hear a lot about it in the years to come.

It’s like DiMaggio and Williams, Mantle and Mays, Montana and Marino, Wilt and Kareem.

Star players, opposing each other in their prime. Each the star of their team, if not their league. Alex Ovechkin, perhaps the most complete hockey player in generations. Sidney Crosby, a born star, with phenomenal reflexes, and a very high hockey IQ.

Ovechkin leads the MVP count, Crosby has his name on the Stanley Cup.

Ovie is the international, a physical player, not shy about playing two ways, mixing it up, and doing what is necessary to inspire and motivate a team.

Crosby is like glue around the puck, with an instinct for where he teammates are, where the opposition is, and where the goaltender will be when he shoots.

And did I mention they are each the captains of their teams, at 23 and 22, respectively.

Man, this is gonna continue to be good.

This afternoon Crosby got off to a great start in the Penguins matchup in Washington against the Capitals. Two strong goals in the first period, some solid playmaking, and all around outhustling of the Capitals made it seem like the Capitals 13 game winning streak was about to fall.

The second Crosby goal seemed to awaken the Capitals from their stupor, but it wasn’t until early in the second period when Ovechkin scored on a beautiful play, taking a head man pass and just steamrolling through a defensemen before blasting the puck through the goalie’s legs, and into the NBC netcam, for his league leading 40th goal of the season, that the Capitals really came alive.

Even though they ended up down 4-1 in the second period, the Capitals did not give up, and eventually Ovechkin channeled his anger and frustration, scoring twice more on goals that relied more on his strength than his formidable skills, and the game went into overtime.

This inspired the Capitals as a team, and with less than two minutes in OT, Ovie blased a snapshot toward the goal. It was stopped by the Pittsburgh netminder Fluery, but not cleared, and with some effort, Caps winger Mike Knuble stuffed it home to give the Caps their 14th consecutive victory, and a resounding victory on national television over their archrivals the Penguins.

Ovechkin was critical to the Capitals victory, as critical as he has been in any victory. Besides his hat trick, and his position at the point on power plays, and his solid checking and following through, he sat penalties for the team, inspired by his leadership, intimidated Penguin players all over the ice, keeping some away from the corners at times, and provided ample ammunition to the home town crowd to cheer lustfully for Ovie and boo mercilessly every time Crosby touched the puck.

But it’s not as though Crosby was outplayed or outclassed. He’s a force, and the Capitals recognized that. He manages to get open with a deceptive quickness, and threads cross ice passes as well as anyone in the league. His on ice vision approaches that of the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, yet his behavior over time, and unwillingness to be more physical, daunts his image, and comes back to taunt him through the chants of opposing fans, particularly in arenas like Washington’s Verizon Center.

As for the rivalry, let it go, keep it on, hype it all you want. This is one of those rare ones that matches up to the billing. Let’s hope we can get a January 1 game outside next year year in DC between these teams. Now that would help enhance the rivalry.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

for once, a real article......this one on the Finnish Embassy in Washington going really green

Since it opened in 1994, the Finnish Embassy in Washington has received accolades from architects and diplomats alike. The open, inviting, and welcoming building high atop Embassy Row has been admired by visitors and gawkers alike. The Embassy building delicately balances the important role that diplomacy plays in society while serving as a standard for design with its’ perch atop Embassy Row and historic Rock Creek Park.

Designed by Finnish architects Mikko Heikkinen and Markku Komonen, the building goes beyond the modern glass box, creating an exterior lattice along the building’s Massachusetts Avenue face, and featuring a series of walkways both behind and below the building. There is a grand open space, the Finlandia Room, just beneath the main entryway, offering space for lavish receptions, and grand views of the edge of the Park. Surprisingly large, and roomy, the building is home by day to 40 Finnish diplomats, ranging from Ambassador Pekka Lintu, on through the military attaché, the press and communications team, and the policy analysts.

Invitation to the building is a welcome ticket in Washington. Some enjoy the frequent festivities and events which celebrate Finland and Finnish-U.S. relations. Others come to stake their membership in the super-secret Diplomatic Sauna Society of D.C. But now, those who visit the Embassy might not even recognize the changes that have been made over the past year, changes that have further distinguished the building from the dozens of other embassies and missions that dot the landscape of Washington’s ‘diplomatic row.’

In January, the United States Green Building Council conveyed LEED Gold certification upon the Finnish Embassy. This is the first embassy building in Washington to receive LEED certification, a particular point of pride for Ambassador Lintu, who sees this as just a first step. “We hope that our adaptation of green principles and our commitment to the well-being of people and the environment will inspire other foreign missions to view their opportunities in this field.”

Ambassador Lintu has made green living one of the central elements of his tenure in Washington, and felt a lasting impression could be made by having his office work towards and then seek LEED standing. Undoubtedly, he is also pleased that the Embassy is expected to completely recoup the costs for the retrofit in two years.

Kari Mokko, the spokesman for the Embassy, sums up the project as ‘pure Finland.’ He says that Finns take to what he describes as cool architecture, and a clean environment. “As your guests here, (there is) no reason to burden your environment more than absolutely needed.”

The process of working toward LEED certification began back in 2007, when the embassy first applied for EPA Energy Star standing. Among the first steps was an energy consumption assessment in order to obtain a better sense of when the building was utilized and occupied, and to more efficiently expend energy over the course of each day. At the time, energy efficient lighting was installed, and natural light was further encouraged throughout the building. Over time, the Embassy has cut electric consumption by 50%, gas consumption by 65%, and compared to early last decade, decreased annual energy bills by almost $150,000.

Last year, the consulting firm CQI Associates was hired to help shepard the Embassy through the LEED process. As LEED rates buildings for energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and the way a tenant stewards resources and is sensitive to the environment, there was much to do. But at the same time, according to Dick Anderson with CQI, Embassy staff were directly engaged in the project. “They had an extremely committed team. The Ambassador was motivated, and the staff was involved. It’s also how they lived and they carried it over with this project. If they saw an article on wind power, they would show it to us and ask what could be done.”

Toward the LEED goal, the Embassy went further than initially planned. Light switches and lighting were replaced with occupancy sensors, lower flush plumbing was installed, recycling programs were more faithfully followed, and environmental factors became central considerations in each materials purchase. Even cleaning supplies were replaced with environmentally sound products, and low-impact chemicals were used for landscaping and gardening. Embassy spokesman Mokko even notes that the building’s garage space was assessed, and the use of hybrid vehicles or zero carbon transportation devices, like bicycles, was significantly encouraged.

Anderson was impressed that over half of the staff either walk or bike to the Embassy, and there is a bike repair space set up in the parking garage, as well as extra bikes should a staff person want to head out for a lunch time ride.

While the Finns working at the Embassy do not intend to draw attention to themselves and their green office, there is little doubt that the combination of progressive architecture, an attractive location, and now first of its kind LEED certification, will challenge the longstanding quiet and reserve that helps define the Finnish character.

Monday, February 1, 2010

could this be true?

I have received several messages from this person, so it must be true, right? Senator Momoh. Hmmm...I wonder if he is from the Galactic Senate, or just another planetary system?


We have reasons to believe that someone is trying to impersonate you claiming your 10.5m contract payment. Respond to this email to confirm that you did not authorize Caroline Mann of Sarasota FL to claim your money, after your response, your funds will be delivered to you in an ATM card.

Contact us through this email: or call me on my direct line on: +234-70-40993160

Nb: that the displayed email addresses are the people this said has scammed already, so you have to act fast.

Thank you

Senator John Momoh