Archive for August, 2008
My brief summer is now officially over as I start my second year of med school tomorrow. I never did get around to posting my Tokyo vacation photos, but honestly, after spending so much time looking at them to create my Blurb photobook, I’m not too eager to go back through those and pick out photos to upload. Maybe I’ll do it… someday, but for now, the pictures of my book will have to do. You’re not really missing much, I just did typical touristy things in Tokyo that you can find thousands of photos of on Google Images.
Since I volunteer at a free clinic every Monday and I was already dressed up, last week I did a little imitation of my personal hero, Dr. McNinja.
Summer’s over, it’s gametime. Time to show the world how it’s done — with ninja-like intensity.
The archery events have truly been the highlight of the Olympics for me so far. The excitement came to a boil today with the medal rounds for women’s individual archery. Zhang Juan Juan of China (seeded at #27) ran the dominating South Korean gauntlet and smacked down the #3, #2, and #1 ranked archers in the world (all South Korean) back-to-back-to-back. This is the first time a woman not from South Korea has worn gold in any Olympics archery event since 1984!
Quarterfinal: Zhang defeated Joo Hyun-jung (#3 seed) 106-101
Semifinal: Zhang defeated Yun Ok-hee (#2 seed) 115-109
Final: Zhang defeated Park Sung-hyun (#1 seed) 110-109 for the gold medal
The sequence of matches was like the conclusion of a Final Fantasy game with a multiple-form final boss fight. After Zhang defeated a couple tough forms, the South Korean final boss revealed the formidable final form: Park Sung-hyun, the imposing instrument of destruction with an aura of invincibility. Zhang looked a little shaky initially, but recovered to trade blows shot-for-shot with the defending Olympic gold medalist. Zhang triumphed with a strong finish to shock the world and take the gold! The text commentator was flipping out: UNBELIEVABLE!! ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLE!!
Just to make it even more epic, the rain was pouring during these matches while the archers did battle. I’m so impressed with the incredible atmosphere at the arena, with the best crowds at the Olympics. The South Korean fans and the Chinese fans showed up in droves, braving the rain in colorful raincoats and belting out very synchronized chants and making raucous noise. It’s unreal how everybody at the arena is yelling their lungs out, the South Koreans fans trying to one-up the Chinese fans, then literally a second later they become dead quiet as the archers get ready to shoot.
Too bad archery concludes tomorrow with the men’s individual finals. Archery looks so fun that I’ve been inspired to see if my university has an active archery club that is beginner-friendly.
While the rest of the U.S. has their eyes on Michael Phelps, I’ve been more interested in following a much less heralded star: Park Sung Hyun of South Korea. She is the silent assassin of the Olympics, coolly dispatching her opponents with a flurry of accurate arrows. Pressure doesn’t get to her either because she has ice in her veins. Just look at her, I wouldn’t be surprised if her nickname was the Ice Queen. She is all business.
I am surprised by how entertaining archery is. Matches move quickly and are almost always tense. I particularly like the duel nature of individual archery, where competitors take turns shooting arrows.
“Take that, a 10!”
“My turn: 10! Boom!”
The announcer on the PA is also awesomely entertaining. He roars out “10!” with such gusto that I leave the archery stream running in the background with the sound on even when I’m not directly watching it at the moment.
The online streaming of NBCOlympics.com has forever changed how I view sports coverage. It is so refreshing to be able to watch sports events without annoying commentary. I am not stupid, I don’t need you to tell me what I’m seeing. The occasional interesting piece of trivia is not worth all the rest of the inane banter. Without commentators, you can even hear what the basketball players are yelling to each other on the court (USA swears a lot!).
I’ve mentioned this before already, but man, having all these live streaming sports at my fingertips is amazing. I am currently watching fencing, archery, and table tennis simultaneously. Mmm, a sports buffet. Table tennis at this high level is intense.
The Olympics are totally awesome. While NBC’s TV coverage is annoying with needless commentary, lots of commercials and human interest pieces, I have been very impressed with the NBCOlympics.com coverage. I have been live streaming a bunch of less popular events like archery, fencing, and judo. Picture quality is decent/not bad, but the best part is there’s nobody talking over the action so you can watch the events like you’re actually there and get a better sense of the atmosphere. Also, live footage of these events in their entirety are archived online to play and rewind at my leisure.
None of the mainstream events (swimming and gymnastics, track and field to come) can be streamed online. That’s no big deal for me, I can catch those live when NBC airs them primetime. People on the West Coast, however, can’t watch live, despite the controversy of NBC forcing these events to be held in the Beijing morning so that they could show them live primetime in this country. West Coasters are appropriately outraged, as evidenced by the 3000+ angry comments on the linked Yahoo article.
Here’s my setup to watch the Olympics. I don’t even want to go to sleep at night since I have a lot of cool events at my fingertips. It’s like a non-stop sports buffet. Archery last night was awesome. The South Korean women are arrow-shooting robots; in the semifinals, they were shooting 10s literally in the midst of a thunderstorm. You can watch that on the NBC archery page.
The real highlight for me will be taekwondo, which won’t be competed until the last week of the Olympics. My taekwondo coach in college was internationally ranked and an Olympics hopeful, but he got injured and as far as I know, isn’t in the 2008 Olympics. Still, taekwondo is flashy and a crowd favorite, should be a lot of fun.
UPDATE: I was wrong, the big events like swimming and gymnastics can be streamed on demand after they air on TV.
My brother got his copy in the mail today so I can do the big reveal: I printed my first photobook! It depicts my recent vacation to Taiwan and Tokyo. I used the services of Blurb, which provides the software to design books of all types and also has great printers.
The book cost me about $60 including shipping for a 170 page 10″ X 8″ hardcover with dust jacket. Prices will vary depending on the number of pages and the dimensions of the book.
Happy 8/8/08! If you aren’t familiar with Chinese culture, 8 is a very lucky number since it sounds a lot like the Chinese word for prosperity. Check out vanity license plates belonging to Chinese drivers and they’re very likely to have a few 8’s in there. My parents and I have multiple 8’s in our cell phone numbers by design.
Unsurprisingly, the 2008 Olympics in Beijing are starting 8/8/08 at 8:08:08 PM Beijing time (8 AM Eastern time in the U.S.). Of course, NBC won’t allow live coverage of it and they’ll be airing a recording tonight. I’m very excited about the opening ceremonies, particularly the fireworks display, which I have high expectations for considering that China invented fireworks and will want to put on a good show. Actually, I’m watching a live online stream of the opening ceremony right now provided by some South American website. Isn’t the Internet amazing? The show is spectacular so far, definitely try to catch it tonight if you can.
Most of the events seem interesting to me and I’ll try to watch as many finals as I can. I particularly like the events that nobody cares about except at the Olympics, like archery and table tennis. The track & field events aren’t as appealing though; with all the doping scandals surrounding them, it’s hard to trust whether the athletes are clean. Yeah, it’s cool to see records broken, but I think everybody is suspicious now and wondering whether that gold medal’s going to be revoked in a few years.
Here’s to a couple weeks of good sport!
UPDATE: I’m at the research lab waiting for my partner to show up so I ended up watching most of the show. Wow, what a spectacular display. There’s no way London’s topping this for the 2012 Olympics.
Right now it’s the Parade of Nations. They have a giant ring of cheerleaders waving and dancing in place while all the countries enter the stadium. Those poor girls, they’ll have to dance for two hours!!
UPDATE 2: Wow at the fireworks, particularly the one in the shape of dove wings. Incredible imagery. And what a staggering lighting of the torch. China has delivered. I can’t wait to watch this again tonight with better quality and American commentary.
UPDATE 3: I’ve been reading online comments about the ceremony and people outside the U.S. are astonished that we have to wait until tonight to watch it. Meanwhile, an estimated 2 billion people around the world watched it live. Thank you NBC!!
The long-awaited Google Street View has finally come to Japan! I could have used this a couple months ago when I was planning my trip to Tokyo. I always do a ton of research to prepare for my trips abroad, but being able to virtually travel along my routes and find all the stores and landmarks in advance is so helpful.
It’s fun to check out familiar places.
Being a Bathing Ape aficionado, I thought it was hilarious that the Bape store in Aoyama had a crowd lining up waiting for the store to open. Something must have dropped that day.
The service is available in Tokyo/Yokohama, Osaka/Kobe/Kyoto, Sendai, Hakodate, Otaru, and Sapporo. Now I’m waiting for Street View in Taiwan!