Oh. Well well well. It has been awhile since I've routinely updated things on here - so many things to rant and cry about, but....just haven't. With winter blues comes cabin fever in the forests of the Great State of Vermont - and the rattled streets of NYC, of which I certainly have. My chum of the road, 8D69, is hibernating for the winter, but shall soon awake in another 8 weeks to feel the whip of the wind over her hood. So...what follows? Well - less rant, more...authentic and truth. But needs to be said nevertheless.
Life has a funny way. We are often too busy to really think about it, but everything we possess in life – both spiritually and materially – was spawned from each spark of our ancestry. One diversion in movement or thought, and POOF – we might not be here. So it goes – that in this game of life, we create and forge friendships – little sparks – that can ignite into things that it is hard to imagine, much less comprehend. Some philosophers have gone bat shit mad thinking too much about it. If just one of my Dutch German grandfolks (above pic is actually my great x9 Grandfather, funny it has the word taxi in it) kicked the bucket the day before *ahem* you know what happened with great x9 grandma, well…the chain that led to little old me would be broken. And along the road of life, new chains are welded. New links are added here and there and some are broken. But what follows, is a chain that extends from the USA – to Australia.
Everyone knows I like the Paralympics. I’ve blogged about my reasoning before – I doubt anyone cares to hear about it again. What is important though – is that I like them. I don’t care what country one hails from, or particularly what sport an athlete does; however, I admit I have my favorites.
During the 2012 Paralympic Games, I, like so many others, were pissed that the games were not getting the same coverage and attention that the attention whore Olympic Games were getting. I mean – these guys/gals get so much attention, I think they have personal trainers that actually massage their throats after they are done eating. Paralympians though? Yeah – not quite the same ‘attention to detail’ – often having to fend for themselves with training and, at least in one occurrence I am aware – PAY their own way to the most important games of their careers. That’s like telling someone they’ve won a vacation on a cruise ship, but…you just have to pay for the fuel on the ship. If you’ve ever watched the Paralympic Games – it is amazing to see not only an individual overcome a personal challenge, but that isn't nearly as cool as just watching the uniqueness of their athleticism that is really amazing. It is those challenges overcome, that do make the paralympics that much more satisfying/unique - at least as a spectator.
Now, during these games, I was suckered a bit, like most people, into reading articles and facebook posts from different teams – and led to believe that the same support system existed for their Paralympic athletes, as any other athlete may receive. I was wrong. Way wrong. Wrong like saying 2 plus 2 equals a pepperoni pizza. What does an athlete do when their own team does not provide the basic tools in order to perform their sport? Well – they rely on family and friends.
Brydee Moore, professional javelin and discus tosser, holder of 24 Australian records, 3 Oceanic records, ranked number 1 in the world in all of her disciplines, and 1 cm from a world record (the width of a clipped fingernail) was one of those athletes who was not provided with the basic tools, yet managed to still perform for her team and country – and did so with faith in her abilities and faith in herself. She unselfishly placed herself second, and placed her team first. Brydee Moore, through hard work and determination, earned her spot in the 2012 Paralympic Games, and while there – performed with maximum effort, under less than ideal conditions. Firstly, she was very ill prior to the games - and I don't mean she had the sniffles - I mean gravely ill, the kind of ill that necessitates the use of an IV and 4 hour interval Doctor visits. The kind of ill that sucks the will to live out of oneself. The kind of ill that doesn't scream "lets go on an intercontinental trip to London hurrah!" The kind of ill that if it was MIchael Phelps, a priest would have been giving him his last rites. And if that wasn't enough, once the worst was over, the mere task of just getting to London...?...well, lets just say she wasn’t clinging martini glasses with Sir Roger Moore in first class on British Airways. How do I know? Momma Moore.
A pic of Brydee and her first coach - the man who influenced her early on with athletics in her life - and remains a part of her world and training today. If it wasn't for all those Russian medals he earned as an Olympic athlete being in the pic, I would have probably photoshopped my face over his - but no one would believe I won even one of those, or that Brydee Moore would be caught dead riding around with Mike Ruse in a old NYC Taxi, even though Estonian pop star Getter Jaani loves it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcIsznnsRl8.
But let me tell you a little something about Donna Moore, who is Brydee’s mom, or, according to Google’s American to Australian Translate feature, “mum”. At first glance, one might correctly determine that she is very proud of all three of her daughters, that she is a seamstress, likes to cook, often tags her daughters in things to their chagrin, is a hell of a party host/planner, and that her husband Jim and she are hardworking middle class parents and have spent their latter years as most average people do; working, paying bills, keeping their heads above water and rarely - if ever, putting themselves first. Really no different in Australia than it is any other place on earth, least of all the USA.
The Moore Clan celebrating a birthday in regulation approved Moore themed style. Brydee's father James, sister's Daragh and Shanlan, mum Donna, and Brydee.
So, imagine the quagmire, when faced with the pride of having a world class athlete, and also knowing there is some royal mistreatment being dealt by a few individuals who hold some proverbial cards in her career. I personally have been down this road before - I wrote a poem about it once http://www.travelsinacab.com/2/post/2012/11/blatta.html. Perhaps this is a small percentage of my devoted interest; I don't like to see good people messed with - much like Donna. You see, in the animal kingdom, when a cub is messed with, a momma bear reacts instinctively to destroy any threatening menace. But Donna realizes, much to her misfortune, that there does exist laws to protect the menacing evil in human society, so has rather met the threat head on without resorting to making headline news, by writing, calling, documenting, fighting. It’s hard to fight against power. Power in our human world does not always rely on strength, but rather strength in numbers and shielded by rules, red tape and government/corporate indifference. To large organizations that are fat with support – cubs are numbers. To them, cubs are nothing to flourish and grow - they are a food source - and like all cackling hyena's who circle prey, they can't do anything without numbers. To them, mother bears are a mere speed bump to the tidal wave making machine of red tape; easily broken. But Donna isn’t exactly the type to lay down as a speed bump – more of a “block the road with my car” type of speed bump. She doesn’t give up. Methodical and patient, Donna is the tiger crouched in the grass – waiting for the slow moving prey to get just close enough to rip her claws into, remove the fur and make a blanket out of it for her little nephew. And this doesn’t just extend to the trials and tribulations of the nitwits playing around with Brydee – it extends to EVERYTHING. Just the other day, some company was diddling around with a clothing order that she was dissatisfied with (they took money for an item not in stock) – and my newsfeed popped up where she wrote some rather choice words about her experience. No tags. No attention. Not a status update (that came later as a warning for others), just a big hearty 'in your arse' from her to the company.
What does Donna and her family *really* think of this seemingly weirdo American cop with a NYC Taxi, who is so adamant in joining the ranks of Brydee Moore support/fans? Well, while I am not privy to dinner table discussion, I can tell you this – my right ear hasn't rung too loud, and that I have been treated with a warm kindness, if not tolerance – especially since they've never actually met me. But since I am on the other side of the globe, I think it’s a fair assessment that no one is in danger of my stopping by and announcing ‘oh hi, I was just in the neighborhood’; therefore, my persistent fact checking in support of my fav Aussie athlete is indeed well intentioned, and I've assured everyone that they can throw out the restraining order paperwork. But seriously, on their own volition, they have sent me parcels containing a little taste of Australia – including commemorative Australian Paralympic items. Hey look, I know I’m a weird guy, a bit eclectic and affable by nature, but when I latch onto something I either like or support – I am true blue. And I am honest when I say that the Moore’s friendly nature in appeasing my sense of self is one of which I have the utmost gratitude.
But nothing, and I mean nothing – could top the package I received last week sent to me from the suburbs of Melbourne. I opened the box, and inside was one of the most treasured things a person like myself could ever receive; the actual jersey that Brydee wore during events at the 2012 Paralympic Games – and she signed it for me! To any person, achieving the honor and distinction of being a Paralympian or really anything that matters most to someone is one thing, but to have as a memory something tangible like a jersey and number plate – are usually things that are deeply personal – something one would definitely hang up for viewing pleasure. But here it was, in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Made in China, worn in London, sent to Australia and onto the USA, this jersey has more miles than a space shuttle mission. The generosity and selflessness to send me this, is immeasurable. This jersey is something that is very representative of a person’s real timeline, not a social media timeline that is easily erased. This is not something that gets thrown in a box and stored in an attic. This jersey represents a deeply personal time in Brydee Moore’s life – and she parted with it knowing it would be appreciated in the hands of someone else; that is character. This in and of itself shows a selflessness that is rare beyond imagination. The fact that she parted with this, shows she puts others first. This, is what Australian Athletics needs more of. I mean hell, that clown convention can’t even reply to email! This is the type of athlete they should be mowing deadwood over for. This, is the type of athlete all games need more of. This….is the type of person we ALL need more of. How many other admirable athletes exist out there that would do this.?. Not many. Do you think Lance Armstrong would part with one of his yellow jerseys (even though he didn’t earn them honestly)? Nope - he arrogantly snapped a pic of them framed in his living room two weeks ago. Do you think U.S. Ski Team’s resident drunken dipshit Bode Miller would part with any of his things? Do you think that if he did, it would be for a simple fan? HELL NO. You know how sometimes you want to be nice to someone, so you give them something very meaningful, and the person really doesn’t give a damn? Well, I’ve been duped before with this, but – as a receiver – this is one of the nicest things I have ever received, and it was sent with no expectations, no agenda; just a pure and kind gesture. This jersey was paid for with a lot of blood sweat and tears - and she didn't even get someone to carry her suitcase.
There is a a lot more I want to say; and I hope circumstances develop in a positive way for her so that I never actually have to say them. My hope - and part time mission - is that the route to future APC games and the Paralympics in 2016 for Brydee and fam has more coasting then pedaling. I'll be paying close attention to *that* development, and I remain hopeful those who in charge of decision making, take a more proactive and humanistic approach to one of their most valuable team members, because Brydee isn't a "cub" - she's a young woman who has given her all to Australian Paralympics - and represents her role in the most admirable of ways. It would be a disservice to not express their pride in her representations - both on and off the field.
It’s amazing these little nuances in life. These little sparks. This jersey would not be here if not for those sparks. One of those sparks, ironically, is this yellow submarine in my garage. That was the spark that led me on a more personal level to the Moore family (well – a few other reasons too of course). If it wasn’t for this taxi, this site would not exist, and the Moore family would never known me. Well, they definitely wouldn't have known what a Twinkie looked like (I sent them one of the last ones ever made). I would likely never know what street they live on. I would never know the sordid details of the behind the scenes nonsense that occurs in some Paralympic circles. I would have never known of the betrayal Brydee has suffered at the hands of a colleague she once respected. I would never know that Brydee prefers a Coke to water. I would not have downloaded Voxer and actually hear the cool twang of their Aussie accents, or be told that I have my own. I’ve been writing for years as a sideline. Of all the things I’ve written, Brydee Moore up until most recently, was the most read article/blog I’ve had in some time. On this website, it has by far been the most read. What I glean from all this, is one doesn’t need a jersey to be a champion. One doesn’t need a medal either. Sometimes, all they need to be, is present. Since I have the jersey, then I guess 2 out of 3 isn’t bad.
Welcome! This week's write up is a follow up on Australia's National Gold Medalist and Paralympic star, Brydee Moore, after competing in the 2012 London Paralympic Games.
Well, the 2012 Paralympic Games are done. Everyone has packed up and gone home to resume life as it was - to either work or play or to continue to train - but in all cases, bask in the glory of knowing oneself earned the honor of representing their country as the best of the best. So, as readers may recall, I wrote about two particular athletes for the paralympics that were 'ones to watch' - and my prediction did not disappoint. Naturally, in watching the games I also learned about a whole lot of others too that dropped my jaw, like USA's Matt Stutzman and his incredible talent with Archery; just unbelievable. However, regardless of it all, and to be perfectly honest, as much as I like athletics and sportsmanship and competition, in the end, I'm not one to get all hepped up on medals; but lets face it, what athlete DOESN'T strive to earn one/two. I think it's great when someone earns them of course, but - well, not everyone is ever going to get one - and to me, and I mean this with all my heart - just being ASKED to represent one's country in the olympics is worth GOLD. Whether your event ended falling flat on your face with a mouthful of track or caught the flu mid week of the games....you - are - an - olympian. That is gold - and I really mean that. There are approximately 4,200 athletes selected for the paralympic games. And since the Paralympics is naturally international in scope, that of the roughly 7 Billion people on earth, the chances of being selected for the Paralympic games are about equal of being able to walk on the moon or become President of your country - at 0.000059999999999999995 %.
Australia's Brydee Moore
So - since I've become rather vocal about the Paralympics, I'm not one to give lip service - dropping a name here for posterity - when I say something, I mean it. So having said that, one of the athletes I wrote about prior to the games was Ms. Brydee Moore of Australia, who competed as a F33 Classification in Athletics, performing her sport with the Javelin (F33/34/52/53) and the Shot Put (F32/33/34). By all accounts, it's nearly a miracle she was able to attend, having suffered a serious leg infection earlier in the year that required both hospitalization and lots of bed rest at home. Given her prognosis and Doctors orders, this made training difficult - having to rely on her own set of values/determination - and a system of family support and training from home. However, as the old saying goes - there is no rest for the weary, and for Brydee, she continued her training no worse for wear and in spite of the challenges she was forced to overcome; an apparent character attribute that serves her well. Here in the U.S., Paralympic coverage was an embarrassment, but my son and I were able to livestream Brydee's javelin competition on September 3, 2012, from one of the few websites that offered it. For those who do not know, Paralympians are categorized within a classification, much of it based on a particular disability and the degree to which such disability effects their range of motion. Brydee is a F33, which means that as a person with Cerebral Palsy, she generally performs her athletics starting from a seated position. So, for Brydee, Bib # 1029, to perform her javelin throw, she is seated in a device she (as I have learned) calls a basket, which is a seat securely quadpodded to the ground. In the middle of this device, is a gripped pole for her left hand to hold onto for counter torque of her body when it comes time to whip that javelin like a tennis ball wails when it hits the blades of a lawnmower. My son and I watched Brydee take the seat and grasp the javelin - concentrating her energy on where she wanted the javelin to land. And like any great athlete with honed muscle memory, she whipped that javelin into the air slicing it - making it part ways like an airfoil over a jet's wing. The camera followed it's trajectory until it pierced the stadium's grass. A couple of throws were jetted about - her final mark landing 10.55 metres away! If you're an uncivilized metrically illiterate American like me - I'll give the answer to what you're wondering: that is nearly 35 feet! Remember, this is starting from the seated position. Sit down in a chair and grab ANYTHING. Now spring yourself out of that chair and try to whiz your projectile of choice 35 feet. You probably won't be able to do it - trust me. And while a Javelin is aerodynamically efficent, it is also long, clumsy - and, if released at just the wrong time, won't go very far. It takes lots of practice, muscle memory and skill to develop any sort of prowess at throwing Javelin - at least to the extent of having any hope of success.
Above Photo: It takes courage to stand before a crowd of 80,000 people - let alone PERFORM before a crowd of 80,000 people.
Okay - On to the women's Shot Put in her class, which was held on September 6, 2012. The sport of Shot Put has been around for thousands of years, believed to have hailed from an old Celtic tradition. The original tradition of throwing a stone evolved into throwing a cannon ball from the 1700's and from which the term 'shot' derives from. The shot used in the first modern Olympics was apparently made of lead, while the modern day shot is made of smooth iron or brass. Shot Put has been an Olympic event since 1896 and a women's Olympic event since 1948. A shot put ball can weigh anywhere between 8.8 to 16 pounds. I don't care what any armchair athlete says, either of the two is heavy, cramped in your neck and then forced to throw, which is exactly why it is a sport. After a number of attempts, Brydee zung that shot put like a grenade out the window of a preschool with it's pin pulled - with a best mark of 6.05 meters; nearly 20 feet, slightly farther than she threw at the 2010 Commonwealth Games of 5.85 meters. Now.....20 feet. Think about that. Pick up a 10 pound dumbbell in your house. Crank it into your neck. Then, without the benefit of an overthrow, toss that dumbell the distance of my taxi. You likely won't do it. You won't even do it standing up and spinning. But also, try doing it in the middle of an olympic stadium with thousands of people staring at you, with judges close by, in addition to snapping/whirling camera's and enormous pressure. In any event, Brydee did as she does in most anything she sets her mind to - and killed the Shot Put.
Now, its worth mentioning here that scoring the 2012 Paralympics is a bit complicated. I watched and looked at resulting ranks for a lot of different events with absolute confusion. I also watched competitions that were completely full of wonderment, like swimmers with the use of only one arm competing against others with the use of both arms - etc. etc.. Final scoring results of competitions were really perplexing. Brydee is ranked Number 1 in the world for her classification. Since the games have ended, I have learned a few things. For instance, when you compare Brydee's 2012 results with some others, you will see that she has less points than those who threw at a lesser distance. Are you confused? Well, let me explain why this is the case in MUCH easier detail in how scores are figured and finalized:
Got it? Yeah I didn't think so...just what *IS* this? Well, this is the RAZA system, so named in recognition by some pot bellied math whiz named Maz Raza. Since 2010, athletes in the Paralympics compete in a limited number of events by combining classes, and adjust their scores based on the extent of their disability. In short, what this means is the competitor who throws a shot put or what not the farthest may not win a medal, if another thrower with a more severe disability exceeds expectations for their class, which results in skewed results. In fact, the maker of James Bond's watch, Omega, erred in tallying the scores for the F35/36 women's discus by using an outdated formula, which meant the gold medal was awarded to the wrong athlete.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) abandoned it's traditional form of scoring in 2010 in favor of the RAZA System. The Raza System uses a Gompertz curve, or Gompertz function, named after Benjamin Gompertz. It is a sigmoid function; a type of mathematical model for a time series, where growth is slowest at the start and end of a time period blabbity blah blah blah blah. Bueller? Bueller? *Raises Hand* "MAY I GO TO THE BATHROOM?"
In any event, this is a topic for a whole other write up. All I will say right now, is that at the heart of any large machine, always lies an unattended and forgotten about monkey wrench. In the case of the Paralympic Scoring System, it is a distinct possibility that the monkey wrench are good intentioned people reaching out to and relying on others who over complicate things. RAZA is easy, simple, and fair! Said no one ever. (Except Mr. Raza, $$$$$$$$), Perhaps there are many variables I have not examined; however, I think it's likely a fair and normal criticism. It's easy for guys like Raza, sitting with his graphs eating potato chips trying to figure out new and inventive ways to keep his formula useful and relevant with the IPC - he already won his POT OF GOLD.
In closing, I certainly had fun watching this year's Paralympic Games. These athletes work harder than anyone - without the benefit of salary, a gaggle of resources, and in many cases - sponsors. Paralympians rely on what Olympians had to rely on since 1896 in Rome, which is sheer determination, desire, personal achievements and hard work - and for that, they have my deepest admiration. There were a lot of advertisements in the U.S. during the Olympics in how they inspire people. Well, for me - I am more inclined to be inspired to do better athletically when I watch guys like Matt Stutzman shoot a bow and arrow with his feet, or Brydee Moore whiz a javelin 35 feet starting from a seated position. I bust on Michael Phelps a lot, but do you *really* think he practiced his laps at the town pool? Or had his dad massage his shoulders at the end of an afternoon training session? Or actually PAY for those goofy earphones he wore before every event? No to all of the above. To me and so many others, a Paralympic athlete is to be revered - to be admired, for all their lives even when no longer competing. Look at my long dead relative Albert Gutterson - it's been 100 years and the University of Vermont's gymnasium still bears his name. For a Paralympian like Brydee Moore, not only is she first in her class, she IS first class. She is mindful of the responsibility that comes with Olympic stardom - and continues to give much of her time to assisting, training and motivating others in becoming the best they can be, whether it be for personal goals or to be one of the .0.000059999999999999995 % to represent their country as a Paralympian - and I just love her for that - there is nothing more noble on this earth then to give of oneself in so many thoughtful and selfless ways. For all the struggles she has overcome and for all her hard earned accomplishments - either in the past, present or future - I say, WELL DONE MATE. Admiration Earned.
Next week: A follow up on my next over town hero, Alicia Brelsford Dana of the U.S. Paralympic Cycling Team. Until then, here are some photos of Paralympian Brydee Moore taken while at the London games:
This section of the site is not specific to my taxi travels. They are not really rants either. It is more of a space for me to simply raise awareness to topics that either inspire or frustrate me as an individual.