Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup Round of 16 matches

The first round of the World Cup has finished. Some surprises have occurred (are you listening Les Bleus and Azurri?). Anyways, tomorrow the 2nd round starts. I thought I would give my predictions for each of the games:

Uruguay - South Korea: Uruguay showed class in their group. South Korea was tenacious. Outcome? Uruguay 3 - South Korea 1. Forlan too much for the Koreans

USA - Ghana: Americans with a dramatic victory to get in. Ghana held on to advance. A physical affair. Outcome? USA 2 - Ghana 1. Dempsey and Altidore score on balls played by Donovan.

Netherlands - Slovakia: Dutch haven't peaked yet. Slovakia kicked out the defending champs. Outcome? Big Orange Machine 3 - Slovakia 1. Robben the play maker and scorer of the first goal.

Brazil - Chile: Brazil is the class of the tournament. Chile are gritty. Finesse against physical. Outcome? Brazil 1 - Chile 1. Brazil advances on penalties. Kaka man of the match.

Argentina - Mexico: Argentina are the 2nd best team in the tourney. Mexico played it's group well and helped to send France out. A spirited affair. Outcome? Argentina 3 - Mexico 2. Messi gets the game winner.

Germany - England: Germany started well, but fizzled somewhat. England fizzled but brought it when they had to. Probably the most interesting (or 2nd most) match. Outcome? England 2 - Germany 0. Rooney finally shows up.

Paraguay - Japan: Paraguay helped to send Italy out. Japan figured out the Jabulani. A toss-up? Bet on the South Americans. Outcome? Paraguay 2 - Japan 1. Paraguay presses and it pays off.

Spain - Portugal: Spain won when they had to, but haven't looked sharp. Portugal had a seven goal outburst. Most entertaining (maybe most interesting) match in this round. Outcome? Portugal 3 - Spain 2. Portugal scores in extra time. Ronaldo kills the Spaniards.

As a result? Uruguay - USA, Netherlands - Brazil, Argentina - England, Paraguay - Portugal in the quarter finals. Tune in for predictions once the quarters are set. Until then I'll be blowing my Vuvuzela.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup First Games

The first set of games for World Cup 2010 have been played. I have a few observations to share.

The first is the overall play of the first round was cautious. It had to be, teams can't afford to go all out and then lose on one counter attack. Some call this boring. However, in every other sport the first game (in American football it's usually the first quarter) is usually a feel out game. It takes time for the teams to understand what the other team is trying to do before taking chances. This was the prevailing mood in the first games. Germany seemed to be the only team to get out of the feeling out phase quickly enough to win by 4.

The most boring game of the first round had to be Portugal vs the Ivory Coast. Neither team seemed inspired nor willing to do what was necessary to score. Those two teams had better pick it up in their next game or they will be the ones left out of the group of death given the way North Korea played Brazil.

Surprises? North Korea holds Brazil to a scoreless half and gets a goal late to make the game respectable at 2 – 1. Japan beating Cameroon. New Zealand grabbing a late equalizer against Slovakia. And of course the biggest upset so far, Switzerland taking down Spain 1 – 0 (BTW, Casillas should have been booked for his reckless challenge just before Switzerland's goal).

Howlers? At least three of them by the goalies of England, Paraguay, and Algeria. In the first two it lead to the tying goal. In the last case it was the game winner.

The ball? I don't think the ball is the issue. Players not being in technically good position to hit the strike is more at fault. Look at the replays to verify this. Also, the players have been playing with the ball for a long time now, excuses are just that.

Officiating? I can't remember a set of first games where there wasn't at least one controversy. None so far. Let's hope that remains. Even today's sending off of the South African goalie can't be construed as a controversy.

Boring? Yes a couple of matches have not been entertaining. However, there have been enough games where the entertainment value has been high. There has been excitement in several matches and some have come down to the final minutes.

As the second set of games begins teams will want to win. This will produce better football and should also provide more entertaining games. Hopefully the teams I like will continue to play well (are you listening US and Chile?). After this set of games the picture will become clearer. There may even be some teams that will have clinched a spot in the next round.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Camp Beat the Heat 2010

And we're off. Camp Beat the Heat 2010 has officially kicked off in the Blinston household. What's Camp Beat the Heat you say? It's the summer time program that my wife prepares and executes while the kids are out of school. Here's the basic format:

Every week has a theme. Week 1's theme is Spy Week. This means that activities are related to things a spy would do. There will be mysteries to solve, clues to be found, and covert activities (such as providing a service to someone anonymously). Every day there is a schedule. The mornings are usually the same and go like this:

1. Bugle Call - A CD with music for Camp Beat the Heat is played to get the kids up and going.
2. Get Dressed, Clean Room, Do Morning Chore and present for Cabin Inspection. If Cabin Inspection is passed there is a prize from the Treasure box
3. Breakfast and Zone cleaning
4. Let the activities begin

This is the fourth year that Camp Beat the Heat has happened. The kids get excited about all the activities that happen. It is a time to spend together (I participate when I can). The kids also get to work on their summer school activities to make sure they are ready for the next year. However this is done in the course of the camp and is made more fun as they do them as part of the activities of the week.

Frankly I think my wife is a genius for putting this together every year. And in case you were wondering here are the songs on the Camp Beat the Heat 2010 play list (yes Phineas and Ferb is a favorite show):

1. Today Is Going to Be a Great Day - Bowling For Soup (Theme to Phineas and Ferb)
2. Uprising - Muse
3. Summer Time - High School Musical II
4. Party in the U.S.A. - Miley Cyrus
5. Gitchee, Gitchee, Goo - Phineas and Ferb
6. Do the Moo Shoo - Veggie Tales
7. Disco Miniature Golfing Queen - Phineas and Ferb
8. Our Song - Taylor Swift
9. All I Want to Do - Sugarland
10. Ready for the Bettys - The Bettys
11. You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) - The Chipmunks
12. Truck Drivin' Girl - Danny Jacob
13. Peanut Butter and Jelly - InsideOut
14. It Happens - Sugarland
15. Fabulous - Phineas and Bobby Fabulous
16. Love Story - Taylor Swift
17. Phinedroids and Ferbots - Phinedroids and Ferbots
18. You Snuck Your Way Right Into My Heart - Love Handle
19. It's Not My Time - 3 Doors Down
20. Renegade - Styx
21. Wanted Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi
22. Pride (In the Name of Love) - U2