Useless information thread

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by forzainter, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    That's rough Rock Strongo. Let's hope she gets better soon.

    Great discussion of astronomy/astrophysics, tomatoes, pepper, the great runner Bikila, and much more!

    The University of Texas at Austin is looking for a new Athletic Director.

    See: http://espn.go.com/college-football...arch-successor-deloss-dodds-athletic-director

     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2013
  2. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    Dope Cloud over Jamaica




    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/dope-cloud-hangs-over-jamaica/1182679/


    Somewhere I also read Bolt was tested ten times in 2012.
     
  3. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    I hope that she is doing okay now, Rock.
     
  4. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    ARTS & CULTURE

    A Brief History of Chocolate

    By Amanda Bensen
    Smithsonian.com, March 01, 2008

    When most of us hear the word chocolate, we picture a bar, a box of bonbons, or a bunny. The verb that comes to mind is probably "eat," not "drink," and the most apt adjective would seem to be "sweet." But for about 90 percent of chocolate's long history, it was strictly a beverage, and sugar didn't have anything to do with it.

    "I often call chocolate the best-known food that nobody knows anything about," said Alexandra Leaf, a self-described "chocolate educator" who runs a business called Chocolate Tours of New York City.

    The terminology can be a little confusing, but most experts these days use the term "cacao" to refer to the plant or its beans before processing, while the term "chocolate" refers to anything made from the beans, she explained. "Cocoa" generally refers to chocolate in a powdered form, although it can also be a British form of "cacao."

    Etymologists trace the origin of the word "chocolate" to the Aztec word "xocoatl," which referred to a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. The Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, means "food of the gods."

    Many modern historians have estimated that chocolate has been around for about 2000 years, but recent research suggests that it may be even older.

    In the book The True History of Chocolate, authors Sophie and Michael Coe make a case that the earliest linguistic evidence of chocolate consumption stretches back three or even four millennia, to pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica such as the Olmec.

    Last November, anthropologists from the University of Pennsylvania announced the discovery of cacao residue on pottery excavated in Honduras that could date back as far as 1400 B.C.E. It appears that the sweet pulp of the cacao fruit, which surrounds the beans, was fermented into an alcoholic beverage of the time.

    "Who would have thought, looking at this, that you can eat it?" said Richard Hetzler, executive chef of the café at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, as he displayed a fresh cacao pod during a recent chocolate-making demonstration. "You would have to be pretty hungry, and pretty creative!"

    It's hard to pin down exactly when chocolate was born, but it's clear that it was cherished from the start. For several centuries in pre-modern Latin America, cacao beans were considered valuable enough to use as currency. One bean could be traded for a tamale, while 100 beans could purchase a good turkey hen, according to a 16th-century Aztec document.

    Both the Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical, or even divine, properties, suitable for use in the most sacred rituals of birth, marriage and death. According to Chloe Doutre-Roussel's book The Chocolate Connoisseur, Aztec sacrifice victims who felt too melancholy to join in ritual dancing before their death were often given a gourd of chocolate (tinged with the blood of previous victims) to cheer them up.

    Sweetened chocolate didn't appear until Europeans discovered the Americas and sampled the native cuisine. Legend has it that the Aztec king Montezuma welcomed the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes with a banquet that included drinking chocolate, having tragically mistaken him for a reincarnated deity instead of a conquering invader. Chocolate didn't suit the foreigners' tastebuds at first –one described it in his writings as "a bitter drink for pigs" – but once mixed with honey or cane sugar, it quickly became popular throughout Spain.

    By the 17th century, chocolate was a fashionable drink throughout Europe, believed to have nutritious, medicinal and even aphrodisiac properties (it's rumored that Casanova was especially fond of the stuff). But it remained largely a privilege of the rich until the invention of the steam engine made mass production possible in the late 1700.

    In 1828, a Dutch chemist found a way to make powdered chocolate by removing about half the natural fat (cacao butter) from chocolate liquor, pulverizing what remained and treating the mixture with alkaline salts to cut the bitter taste. His product became known as "Dutch cocoa," and it soon led to the creation of solid chocolate.

    The creation of the first modern chocolate bar is credited to Joseph Fry, who in 1847 discovered that he could make a moldable chocolate paste by adding melted cacao butter back into Dutch cocoa.

    By 1868, a little company called Cadbury was marketing boxes of chocolate candies in England. Milk chocolate hit the market a few years later, pioneered by another name that may ring a bell – Nestle.

    In America, chocolate was so valued during the Revolutionary War that it was included in soldiers' rations and used in lieu of wages. While most of us probably wouldn't settle for a chocolate paycheck these days, statistics show that the humble cacao bean is still a powerful economic force. Chocolate manufacturing is a more than 4-billion-dollar industry in the United States, and the average American eats at least half a pound of the stuff per month.

    In the 20th century, the word "chocolate" expanded to include a range of affordable treats with more sugar and additives than actual cacao in them, often made from the hardiest but least flavorful of the bean varieties (forastero).

    But more recently, there's been a "chocolate revolution," Leaf said, marked by an increasing interest in high-quality, handmade chocolates and sustainable, effective cacao farming and harvesting methods. Major corporations like Hershey's have expanded their artisanal chocolate lines by purchasing smaller producers known for premium chocolates, such as Scharffen Berger and Dagoba, while independent chocolatiers continue to flourish as well.
    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/brief-history-of-chocolate.html
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    Nothing on earth like dark chocolate.

    ^ Thanks, Mike.
     
  6. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    I really like nori.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    I really like Nori, too.

    [​IMG]

    edit: oops, this was supposed to be some Nori West, but the page says Kim Kardhashian :(
     
  8. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    Roger Federer Can Still Get His Game Face On

    By MICHAEL STEINBERGER
    Published: August 23, 2013

    On the first Wednesday of Wimbledon this June, under a bright early-evening sky, Roger Federer trailed two sets to one in his second-round match against Sergiy Stakhovsky, a Ukrainian ranked 116th in the world and best known until that point for pulling out his cellphone during a match to take a photograph of a disputed ball mark. But Stakhovsky had played imposing serve-and-volley tennis, a style seldom seen nowadays, and as the fourth set unfolded on Center Court, it became clear that he was not going to succumb to nerves. Federer, 31 and seeking a record eighth Wimbledon title, would have to contrive an escape.

    The specter of defeat can bring out Federer’s ornery side. At this year’s Australian Open, he twice shouted obscenities at Andy Murray during their semifinal match. (Murray didn’t flinch and won in five sets.) Now, with Stakhovsky serving at 3-4 40-love in the fourth set, the Ukrainian once again followed his first serve to the net. Federer’s return landed at Stakhovsky’s feet, and he short-hopped the ball back to Federer, who took it in the air and rifled a swinging backhand volley at Stakhovsky’s head. It was a jarringly violent shot — one radar gun clocked it at 96 miles per hour — and Stakhovsky dove to the ground rather than try to play the ball, which sailed over the baseline and ended up somewhere near Calais. Federer would later deny that he had aimed at Stakhovsky (“this is not the juniors”), but it didn’t matter. A short while later, on the 12th point of the fourth-set tiebreaker, Federer pushed a backhand wide, and Stakhovsky sank to the grass to celebrate the biggest victory of his career and one of the greatest upsets in Wimbledon history. On the court where it had started, the Federer era had possibly just died.

    A half-hour after the match, Federer entered the interview room and immediately pre-empted any talk of retirement. “I still have plans to play for many more years to come,” he said. “You don’t panic at this point, that’s clear.” But his actions in the weeks that followed suggested, if not panic, at least deep anxiety about the state of his game. Federer, who normally takes a break from competition in July, swiftly announced plans to play two tournaments that month — the unfortunately named Bet-At-Home Open in Hamburg, Germany, and the Swiss Open in Gstaad. He caused still more surprise when he arrived in Hamburg and pulled a new racket out of his bag. After years of playing with a quaint 90-square-inch head, he was finally joining the rest of the world in using a larger racket — in this case a 98-square-inch one. (Most players on tour use 100- to 106-square-inch heads). The equipment change seemed to be an admission that he needed more power and a larger sweet spot, but the new racket didn’t do much good. Federer was defeated in the semifinals in Hamburg by an Argentine qualifier ranked 114th in the world. The following week, he lost his first match in Gstaad.

    There has been talk of Federer’s decline ever since he lost the 2008 Wimbledon final to his archrival Rafael Nadal in a five-hour, five-set epic that many consider the greatest match ever played. And it has grown louder in recent years as his results at Grand Slam events have tailed off. (Between 2005 and 2009, Federer reached the final of 17 majors; since 2010, he has made it to 3.) But three losses in rapid succession to players who would have once struggled to take a set against him was a new low. The sore back that troubled Federer in Hamburg and Gstaad was seen by some as an indication that his body, unfailingly resilient till now, was giving in. Then he withdrew earlier this month from the Rogers Cup in Montreal, the first of two tuneup events that he’d been scheduled to play ahead of the U.S. Open. His ranking fell from third to fifth, the lowest it has been since 2003, the year he won his first Wimbledon.

    In the last decade, Federer has become widely regarded as the finest player the sport has ever seen. He won 17 major titles, a record for men’s tennis. He has also held the No. 1 ranking for a record 237 consecutive weeks, claimed six year-end championships, won all four majors and reached the quarterfinals of 36 straight Grand Slam tournaments — a streak that lasted nine years and ended with the loss to Stakhovsky. Federer also won the U.S. Open five consecutive times, from 2004 to 2008, but as he enters this year’s tournament, he finds himself in the strange position of being an underdog who must prove whether he can still contend for a major.

    Since Wimbledon, Federer has also turned 32. Tennis careers usually begin to wind down by the time a player hits 30, but there have been some notable exceptions. Rod Laver stayed competitive into his mid-30s. Jimmy Connors reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open at 39. Pete Sampras won the U.S. Open at 31. Andre Agassi won the Australian at 32 and reached the U.S. Open final two years later. But more than ever, the men’s game revolves around extraordinary power and stamina. Whether the Federer era is truly over may depend less on whether an aging superstar can still win on exquisite shot making than on whether the game has left him behind.

    Two days before the Stakhovsky match, on the first day of Wimbledon, Federer had a practice session on an outside court with Marin Cilic, a 6-foot-6 Croatian who was seeded 10th in the draw. Federer was only a few weeks removed from a disappointing quarterfinal loss at the French Open, but the memory seemed distant on this overcast morning. He was back on the All England Club’s grass courts, his most comfortable surface, and he looked relaxed and confident. While taking some practice serves, he mimicked the quirkily compact service motion of Cilic’s coach, the former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic, which elicited plenty of laughter from all over the court.

    A few moments later, Cilic was hitting second serves wide to Federer’s backhand side; Federer took the ball, traveling at probably 85 or 90 miles per hour with heavy spin on it, and delicately chipped it cross court. A tennis ball sits on the strings of a racket for approximately .005 seconds, but in that instant Federer not only took most of the pace off Cilic’s serve, he also redirected it at such an acute angle that it seemed to run almost parallel to the net, landing perhaps two feet beyond it, close to the singles’ line. On Cilic’s next serve, Federer placed the ball in the exact same spot. And then he did it again, and again, and another time after that.

    A visibly distraught Federer at the trophy ceremony after losing the 2009 Australian Open to Rafael Nadal in five sets.
    I was sitting on a bench a few feet from Federer, and as I watched him nonchalantly perform a shot that I was reasonably certain no other human being could pull off, I felt my mouth widen and my chin sag. I was experiencing, not for the first time, a Federer Moment. This was the term coined by the novelist David Foster Wallace to describe instances in which Federer hit shots so improbable and sublime that “the jaw drops and eyes protrude and sounds are made that bring spouses in from other rooms to see if you’re O.K.” Wallace wrote those words in 2006 for an article titled “Federer as Religious Experience,” which was published by Play, a former sibling publication of this magazine. His tribute suggested that Federer, with his telepathic anticipation and ability to create impossibly angled shots, was restoring beauty and elegance to men’s tennis. Ivan Lendl, who now coaches Andy Murray, had become the top-ranked player in the mid- to late 1980s by relying on the so-called power game. The dour Lendl didn’t have the innate talent of, say, a John McEnroe, but he was amazingly fit and had great strength that he used to generate concussive groundstrokes. Lendl planted himself at the baseline and wore down his opponents. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective — Lendl won eight Grand Slam titles — and it fundamentally changed men’s tennis from a sport that revolved around agility and finesse to one rooted in brute force. “In the same emphatic, empirical dominating way that Lendl drove home his own lesson, Roger Federer is showing that the speed and strength of today’s game are merely its skeleton, not its flesh,” Wallace wrote. “He has, figuratively and literally, re-embodied men’s tennis, and for the first time in years, the game’s future is unpredictable.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/m...get-his-game-face-on.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
     
  9. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    It was a nice thought, but it turns out that Wallace was wrong. What made the power game possible was a revolution in technology that no single player, not even Federer, could reverse. In the early 1980s, wooden rackets gave way to lighter composite graphite frames that enabled players to put more pace on the ball. Racket heads also increased in size, which added to the power while also allowing players to be a little less precise with the point of contact. In the last decade or so, natural gut strings have increasingly given way to polyester and other synthetic varieties that can put enormous topspin on the ball. All that spin allows players to take a more powerful swing and to routinely hit shots — like cross-court winners from extreme defensive positions — that were impossible a generation ago. “It is unrecognizable from the game I played,” Cliff Drysdale, a top player in the 1960s who is now a tennis announcer for ESPN, recently told me.

    The tournaments have made changes that limit technology’s effects, and these have led to other consequences. The All England Club has changed its grass from a blend of 70 percent ryegrass seed and 30 percent creeping red fescue to 100 percent ryegrass. This has made the soil drier and harder, which causes the ball to bounce higher; players have more time to get to the ball, and it is subsequently more difficult to hit outright winners. Five years ago, the Australian Open changed its surface from Rebound Ace to Plexicushion, which some players have said yields a marginally slower pace. The U.S. Open is said to have added sand to the acrylic-paint mixture on its hard courts in order to slow things down, too. The men still knock the felt off the ball — at this year’s Wimbledon, the Argentine Juan Martín del Potro hit a 113-mile-per-hour forehand — but the slower courts have changed the risk-reward calculus. Given the speed and spin that players can generate, and the fact that it is now tougher to hit winners, it has become perilous to rely on unrelentingly aggressive shot making. As a result, the game has become even more anchored to the baseline. During last year’s Australian Open final, Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the current No. 1, spent nearly six hours pummeling each other from the back of the court in possibly the most arresting display of strength and stamina that tennis has ever seen.

    Few players have profited more from these changes than Nadal. His forehand topspin averages 3,200 revolutions per minute and has been clocked as high as 4,900. (Federer’s forehand, by comparison, averages just 2,700.) With topspin, the ball travels deep into the court and then nose-dives — a phenomenon known in physics as the Magnus effect. What sets Nadal’s topspin apart is that the ball descends so fast that it then explodes off the ground, forcing opponents to play it at shoulder or ear level. Nadal’s cross-court forehand is difficult for anyone to handle, but it is practically Kryptonite for players who rely on a one-handed backhand. Nadal, who grew up playing on clay and is a relentless retriever, has benefited from the slower court surfaces too. All these factors might suggest why he has amassed a dominant 21-10 record against Federer, one of the few remaining players on the tour with a one-handed backhand. (Thirteen of those victories occurred on clay, Nadal’s best surface.)

    For Federer, the slower conditions were a challenge. When he came on the tour, he was an attacking player. As the game slowed, though, he had to harness his natural inclination to try to quickly put the ball away; that was all but impossible now. A comparison: During a 2001 fourth-round Wimbledon match against Sampras, Federer played 109 serve-and-volley points; when he beat Murray in last year’s Wimbledon final, he played 11. “I had to become a more passive player, to keep the ball in play,” he told me at Wimbledon. “I definitely had to adjust more to the 25-shot rallies than the guys who are five years younger than I am. Thankfully, I was good enough off the baseline, too.”

    That Federer was able to win 17 majors despite altering his game underscores his extraordinary talent. But it has also become clear that he has been an outlier in his own era, an artist among pugilists. Apart from Grigor Dimitrov, a promising Bulgarian who appears to have modeled his style after Federer’s (hence his nickname, Baby Fed), there is scant evidence on the men’s tour of his imprint. When I asked Federer if he saw his influence in younger players, he drew a blank. “I don’t know how much,” he said. In the end, Lendlism won.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/m...get-his-game-face-on.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
     
  10. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    The day after his first-round match at Wimbledon, I met Federer at the house that his agent, Tony Godsick, and Godsick’s wife, the former player and now tennis commentator Mary Joe Fernandez, rent each year just up the road from the All England Club. Godsick led me to a sunroom at the back, which looked out on a small garden where Federer, dressed in his tennis whites, was wrapping up a television interview. Up close, the thing you notice about Federer is how slight his 6-foot-1 frame is; he has stick-figure arms, and his legs are uncharacteristically thin for a professional tennis player. The contrast not only with the Popeye-like Nadal but also with Djokovic and Murray is striking. Yet you can also see that there is a natural elasticity about him — a looseness to his limbs and joints — that no doubt goes a long way to explaining his economy of movement and longevity.

    I interviewed Federer once before, on the eve of the 2003 U.S. Open, just after his first Wimbledon victory. At that time, his girlfriend, Mirka Vavrinec, who is now his wife, acted as his agent; she organized the interview, which took place at Federer’s hotel. Team Federer long ago ceased to be a mom-and-pop operation — according to Forbes, he made $71 million last year from winnings, appearance fees and endorsements — but Federer seemed unchanged; he was as gracious and engaging the second time as he’d been the first.

    We talked a bit about Nadal. The two had been expected to meet in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, but Nadal was upset in his first-round match the day before by a Belgian player ranked 135th in the world. Federer said he was disappointed — “I really wanted to play him” — but told me that his head-to-head record against Nadal was not something he dwelled on. “People are very much number-driven; it becomes much more of an obsession of the media now,” he said. When I pointed out that some observers thought Nadal, who has amassed 12 Grand Slams at the age of 27, now had a strong claim to being the best player of all time, Federer’s response was surprisingly equivocal. “It is such an open debate, and both of our careers aren’t over,” he said. “That’s why it is the wrong moment for me or him to talk about who is the greatest of all time. I believe we’ll never quite know.”

    Federer told me that being constantly asked about his retirement was annoying, but he masked any irritation when I brought it up. “I honestly don’t want to think about it,” he said politely, “because the more you think about it, the nearer the end is, and that’s why I avoid the thought of it.” But he went to say that he was not sticking around because he needed tennis. “I don’t need to come back to Wimbledon every year because I can’t live without it,” he said. “I’d be totally cool without tennis.” He had achieved far more than he had ever expected, he said, and this had given him an emotional detachment from the game — a “total distance.” He gave an example. He badly wanted to win the gold medal in men’s singles at last year’s Olympics and was “crushed,” he said, when he was beaten in the gold-medal match by Murray. After the match, Federer was taken to a holding room to await the medals presentations. An Olympic official came in to discuss the ceremony protocol, but Federer asked to be left alone. As he sat there, though, he turned the situation around in his mind: yes, he’d wanted the gold, but he had won silver, a rare medal for Switzerland (“we don’t make that many”) and instead of dwelling on the loss, he decided to be happy with what he had accomplished.

    It was a notable difference from Federer’s reaction after losing the 2009 Australian Open final against Nadal. “God, it’s killing me,” he said, pulling back from the microphone, during the trophy ceremony, tears streaming down his face. Now, he explained, he had learned to put things in perspective. Tennis was a big part of his life but not its sum total; he didn’t need it for validation at this point, and even in moments of acute disappointment, he was able to remain clearheaded. But he went on to say that he wasn’t continuing his career just for the sake of hanging around. “As much as I am content and happy to be playing, you need the fire, you need to want to achieve things,” Federer said. “That’s why I am still doing this. That’s why I travel around the world with my family, with all these bags. As much as I love everything around it, at the end of the day I’m here to win.”

    That same afternoon, I talked with Paul Annacone, who coaches Federer along with Severin Luthi, the Swiss Davis Cup captain. We met in the competitors’ lounge, an outdoor pavilion that is typically filled with players, “wags” (British-tabloid shorthand for “wives and girlfriends”), agents and assorted hangers-on. Annacone, a Long Island native who played professionally in the 1980s and early ‘90s and was ranked as high as 12th in the world, also coached Sampras from 1995 to 2001 and again for a brief period during his final run, in 2002. First Sampras, now Federer — you might say Annacone is the Phil Jackson of tennis, and he has the same laid-back, thoughtful demeanor. Annacone wouldn’t say who he felt was the superior player, but he did allow that Federer at this age is far different than Sampras was. Sampras had grown tired of the travel (“Pete didn’t want to get on a plane anymore”) and the training, and he had always been ambivalent about the spotlight. Federer, by contrast, loves life on the tour and having his family on the road with him — Mirka and their twin 4-year-old daughters accompany him to almost all of his tournaments — and has lost none of his enthusiasm for the demands of the job, both on and off the court. Annacone saw no indication that Federer would be retiring anytime soon and suggested that people inclined to dismiss him as a has-been were making a mistake.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/m...get-his-game-face-on.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  11. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    Leaning back in his chair, Annacone recalled that there had been a similar deathwatch for Sampras, particularly after he was upset in the second round of Wimbledon in 2002 by a Swiss unknown named George Bastl. Following that loss, Sampras rehired Annacone as his coach. “I had a long talk with him,” Annacone said, “and he just kind of made up his mind: ‘I’m winning another Slam, and you are going to sit there and watch me do it.’ ” Two months after losing at Wimbledon, Sampras captured the U.S. Open for his 14th and final major. “Betting against aberrations like Sampras, Federer — why do that?” Annacone said. “You are just setting yourself up to have your own foot rammed in your mouth.” But he also said that there is such depth in the men’s game now that even the top players have to be at their best from the start of a tournament. Nadal’s loss the day before was a dramatic reminder. “Expect the unexpected,” Annacone said. “Things can happen, guys can be vulnerable.”

    Late that afternoon, I took a short walk with Godsick, a smart, affable guy who has none of the oiliness that you would expect from a sports agent. He and Federer have been together since 2005, and with Federer’s help, he’s setting up his own sports agency. Godsick told me that he was spending much of his time at Wimbledon being lobbied by tournament organizers eager to have Federer at their events. Federer typically plays around 18 tournaments a year, and Godsick told me that the pitches had become more desperate of late, as everyone knows the end is approaching.

    A short while later, I saw what he was talking about. I watched Federer out on the practice courts hitting with a 24-year-old British player named Andrew Fitzpatrick, who was ranked 570th in the world and had earned a total of $33,982 in his career, about $2,000 less than what first-round losers at Wimbledon received this year. (Fitzpatrick told me that he supplemented his income by doing some modeling; in a bid to attract a sponsor, he also put himself up for sale on ****.) While Federer was obviously the superior player, Fitzpatrick struck the ball beautifully and seemed to have no trouble giving Federer a workout. That a player as talented as Fitzpatrick wasn’t among the Top 500 underscored Annacone’s point about the depth of the men’s game. And yet, even with all this competition, four players — Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray — have combined to win 33 of the last 34 majors, which may be the most impressive and enduring milestone of this amazing era in the sport.

    The practice session lasted less than an hour, and then Fitzpatrick asked Annacone if he could have his picture taken with Federer. After Annacone took the photo, Federer began making his way back to the locker room, but he didn’t get very far. Dozens of fans had gathered around the entrance of the practice courts, and Federer dropped his equipment bags and began signing baseball caps, Wimbledon programs, fluorescent autograph balls and whatever else was thrust at him. They stuck their phones over the metal barriers, leaned their heads across and took pictures of themselves with him. It was after 6 p.m., Federer’s wife and daughters were waiting and Stakhovsky awaited the next day, but he seemed in no rush to go. I remembered something Annacone told me earlier that day. “Being a superstar looks great and glamorous, but it can be exhausting,” Annacone said. “But Roger really enjoys it.”

    Federer’s recent slide has been the toughest period he has experienced in a decade, but it’s not his first slump. In 2010, he was upset in the quarterfinals of the French Open by Robin Soderling, whom he had beaten in all 12 of their previous matches. At Wimbledon, one month later, Federer was beaten in the quarterfinals by Tomas Berdych, a player he had defeated in 8 of their previous 10 meetings. At the U.S. Open later that summer, Federer blew a pair of match points en route to losing a five-set semifinal to Djokovic. In 2011, Federer reached the final of only one major, losing at the French to Nadal, and in the fall of that year, his ranking dropped to No. 4. But at year’s end, he won three tournaments in a row. Then he won four more in the first half of 2012, and capped his renaissance with a four-set victory at Wimbledon over Andy Murray, which also gave him the No. 1 ranking again, at the age of 30.

    Annacone was in Federer’s corner for most of that period — he was hired just before the 2010 U.S. Open — and when he and I spoke again a few weeks after Wimbledon, he cited the period as an example of Federer’s resiliency. Now he was being tested again. Annacone played down the significance of the Stakhovsky loss — “It’s Wimbledon, so it’s a big deal, but it’s not a big deal; it’s not the sinking of a battleship” — but said that he, Federer and the rest of the team had a conversation that night and continuing the next day in which they reviewed the match and talked about the plan going forward, including the racket change, which Annacone said was something that Federer had been contemplating for years. He stressed that it was a different kind of conversation from the one he had with Sampras after his loss at Wimbledon in 2002 — there was no soul baring, no discussion of how Federer might want his career to end because unlike Sampras, he wasn’t ready to end it.

    Still, there was no getting around the symmetry: Sampras, at a similar age, was beaten in the second round of Wimbledon by an unknown, and then came back to New York and won the Open. Could Federer do the same? And as the Open neared, Annacone repeated the point he made in London. “These guys have done things that no other person can do,” he insisted. “Just don’t bet against these guys.”

    During the power-game era, no player had more success in his 30s than Agassi, who won two majors and reached the finals of two others. But Agassi was uncommonly motivated for an older player; he had time away from the game when he was in his 20s, and some have speculated that he spent the latter part of his career atoning for his underachieving early years. By contrast, the one downside of Federer’s amazing success is that his body has endured a lot of tennis. Sampras played 984 matches over a 15-year career. Federer, now in his 15th year, has logged more than 1,100 matches. He has been remarkably durable, but the tennis commentator Mary Carillo noticed that back problems seemed to prevent him from getting down for the ball in Hamburg and Gstaad.

    Like Sampras, Federer is a player with an intuitive feel for grass-court tennis, and assuming he stays healthy, his best chance to win another major is probably at Wimbledon. But after his miserable summer, another Slam is beginning to seem unlikely. Age robs all athletes of their reflexes, but this is particularly crucial for Federer, whose game, more than that of most players, depends on exquisite timing. The competition he faces is also deeper now than it was when Sampras won his last Open. Not only is Nadal considered among the best players of all time, but Djokovic has won six Grand Slam titles and could also soon be entering that category, as could Murray eventually — and all three are still in their primes. Juan Martín del Potro is playing outstanding tennis again after a serious wrist injury; players like Tomas Berdych are also capable of beating anyone. And while the depth of the men’s tour could inadvertently benefit Federer — after all, Nadal and Djokovic and Murray are vulnerable against the same field — if Federer’s results continue to slide, his ranking will fall, and it will make it harder for him to profit from big upsets early in a tournament. (A player seeded 15th, for instance, will face much tougher competition from the start than a 5 seed will.) And at this point in his career, is Federer really going to want to spend his time chasing points at second-tier tournaments to boost his ranking?

    There is an expectation that athletes should end their careers with a crowning achievement. After Sampras beat Agassi in the final of the 2002 U.S. Open, he climbed into the stands to kiss his pregnant wife in front of more than 20,000 delirious spectators and never played again. When I talked with Federer at Wimbledon, he said he understood the desire among fans to see him go out on top, but he seemed genuinely perplexed that people expected him to retire simply because he was no longer dominating the men’s game. “When we met,” he told me, referring to our first meeting after he won Wimbledon in 2003, “I was hoping to maybe just win a couple more.” But winning 17 has had a liberating effect. “Before, I used to be on edge about what people might say or think,” he said. “But now, I’m at such peace, such a place where I’m enjoying myself. I’m happy.” Winning was still the objective, but as we spoke it became clear that tennis had become a lifestyle choice, and it was a life he still adored. “I enjoy training hard, the travel, I like playing for the history books, and I just like playing on a full center court in front of the people,” he said. “I like it all, and I don’t just want to leave.” So he remains focused on finding a way back to the top. At a U.S. Open tuneup in Cincinnati, Federer returned to his 90-square-inch head. (Federer is now ranked No. 7 after having been beaten by Nadal in the quarterfinals on Aug. 16.)
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/m...get-his-game-face-on.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
     
  12. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    CONTINUED:

    Whether the Federer era ended on Center Court this summer, or whether he can extend it just a bit longer, it will require a worthy epitaph. At Wimbledon, I heard one from an unexpected source: the former No. 1 Mats Wilander. In May 2006, a few months before the David Foster Wallace article was published, Wilander questioned Federer’s mental toughness after he lost to Nadal in the French Open finals. “Sports is all about balls and about heart, and you don’t find too many champions in any sport in the world without heart or balls,” Wilander said. He went on to say that any heart Federer had was abandoned whenever he faced Nadal. “It’s not once,” Wilander said. “It’s every time.”

    At that moment, Wilander couldn’t have known that Nadal was en route to becoming the greatest clay-court player of all time. Or that Federer would be able to remain at the top of the rankings for almost another decade, winning majors from players both stronger and younger. So I was curious to hear what Wilander had to say about Federer now. Bear in mind, as you read the following words, that they were spoken by a player who won seven majors during his career and nearly joined Don Budge and Laver as the only men ever to win all four Grand Slam events in a single year. “When Federer plays,” Wilander told me, “it’s magical. He plays the way we would all love to play. I would love to be in his shoes, and to be able to hit those shots, and to see the ball the way he sees it, and to move the way he moves.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/m...get-his-game-face-on.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
     
  13. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Thank you Mike Bulgakov. That is a terrific article with great insights. I like this passage. It's something for all of us to keep in mind while Federer keeps playing.

     
  14. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    Journey of tennis balls used at Wimbledon
    PTI Jul 9, 2013, 03.26PM IST

    LONDON: The tennis balls used at Wimbledon travelled 50,570 miles around the world before they landed on Andy Murray's racket on Centre Court.

    Slazenger is a quintessentially British sports equipment manufacturer and has been the official ball supplier for Wimbledon since 1902, with its headquarters based at Shirebrook in Derbyshire.

    But their official Wimbledon ball flies between 11 countries and across four continents before being manufactured in Bataan in the Philippines and then travelling the final 6,660 miles to London.

    The tennis ball uses materials from the USA, New Zealand, China, Greece, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Phillippines, and Indonesia.

    Dr Mark Johnson, Associate Professor of Operations Management at Warwick Business School, has looked into the supply chain of the Wimbledon tennis ball and unearthed the surprisingly long and complex journey to one of the world's biggest sporting events.

    "It is one of the longest journeys I have seen for a product. On the face of it, travelling more than 50,000 miles to make a tennis ball does seem fairly ludicrous, but it just shows the global nature of production these days and how complex it is, even with a seemingly fairly simple product. In the end, this will be the most cost-effective way of making tennis balls," said Dr Johnson.

    "Slazenger are locating production near the primary source of their materials, which if you look at most current supply chains today, is not the case. Before the financial crash when logistics costs were really high a lot of firms did this, but now it is not so common. But the tennis ball provides Slazenger with the perfect synchronisation of materials produced at a very low cost near to the manufacturing labour in the Philippines," he added.

    A complex supply chain sees clay shipped from South Carolina in the USA, silica from Greece, magnesium carbonate from Japan, zinc oxide from Thailand, sulphur from South Korea and rubber from Malaysia to Bataan where the rubber is vulcanised - a chemical process for making the rubber more durable.

    Wool is then shipped from New Zealand to Stroud in Gloucestershire, where it is turned into felt and then sent back to Bataan in the Philippines.

    Meanwhile, petroleum naphthalene from Zibo in China and glue from Basilan in the Philippines are brought to Bataan where Slazenger, which was bought by Sports Direct in 2004, manufacture the ball. Finally tins are shipped in from Indonesia and once the balls have been packaged they are sent to Wimbledon.

    "Slazenger shut down the factory in Barnsley in the early 2000s and moved the equipment to Bataan in the Philippines. They still get the felt from Stroud, as it requires a bit more technical expertise. Shipping wool from New Zealand to Stroud and then sending the felt back to the Philippines adds a lot of miles, but they obviously want to use the best wool for the Wimbledon balls.

    "Apart from that part, they have managed to keep the supply chain relatively short, and centred round the Philippines," said Dr Johnson.
    http://articles.timesofindia.indiat...40469901_1_tennis-ball-wimbledon-supply-chain
     
  15. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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  16. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    Some have said that Maria Kirilenko often looks pretty good.
    [​IMG]
     
  17. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    ^ I don't think she has ever looked better, but then... go ahead, surprise me :)
     
  18. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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  19. Rock Strongo

    Rock Strongo Legend

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    There is a little feeling of happiness when you overhear a little kid say "this is the best restaurant in the world" as they walk out of the door.
     
  20. vive le beau jeu !

    vive le beau jeu ! G.O.A.T.

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  21. Rock Strongo

    Rock Strongo Legend

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    Viskestykke.
     
  22. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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  23. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    Beach towels are usually more fun than dish towels.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  24. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    Of course, sometimes a dish towel would be better than a beach towel.
    [​IMG]
     
  25. vive le beau jeu !

    vive le beau jeu ! G.O.A.T.

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    no but if i come back to SF, i'll be happy to try it !

    (what about enchilashimi ?) ;)
     
  26. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    Talking about fusion concepts/foods I've recently tried a cross between an Idli and a Dhokla. If you like both, you'll love it. There's no catchy name to it, it's just called an Idli Dhokla.

    http://niyasworld.blogspot.in/2009/08/dhokla-idli.html

    Someone got it for me from Evergreen (delhi).

    [​IMG]
     
  27. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Absolutely sublime Sentinel! Those are two of my favorite foods in the world. I'll HAVE to try that sometime if I can find it. Tell me, is that healthy and tasty food or what? Just look at the ingredients! Amazing food. Thanks.
     
  28. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    Yes, this looks really good. Coincidentally, I have just got back from traveling, and had a samosa and beetroot salad for breakfast. This sounds like a strange breakfast, but it was fast, very good, and pretty healthy. The San Francisco Bay Area has many good shops and restaurants for Indian food.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013
  29. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    I think it will soon grow in popularity so you should find it. The link says the lady found it in Chennai, and i found it in Delhi. Yes, it was very tasty. Dhokla is sour and made of besan whereas Idlis are made of rice. I think it is steamed so its not high fat. The taste of course is sour.
     
  30. Rock Strongo

    Rock Strongo Legend

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    I just find it a funny word.

    They seem like fun too.
     
  31. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    What an electrifying finish to the 10000m at Sydney 2000 !!! Hairs standing on end.

    Fight between Haile Gebrsellasie and Paul Tergat of Kenya. It's a repeat of their clash in the 1996 Olympics in which Paul tried to burn Haile off [1].

    Sadly, I can only find the last eight minutes of the Y2000 race on youtube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eZ-x4IEoXM

    If you really have some time, see the 1996 race first, the complete race is there in 2 parts. At least see the second part of 1996 before seeing the Y2000 race to get some background into their rivalry.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FToLNEr9YY

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpMlAe7X8Uo

    Strangely, Haile never won an O medal in the 5000m, in fact he never competed in the Olympics in this event, even though he held the WR at the time of both the 1996 and 2000 OG.

    Haile did not run the Olympic Marathon at Beijing 2008 due to the smog/pollution, but broke the WR a month later at Berlin running 2:03:59 at the age of 35. That record has been broken but still stands as the over-35 record.

    [1] - in the 1996 race after a slow first half, Paul and Haile ran the second 5k in 13:12, the last mile in 4:05 and the entire race in 27:07 which was an Olympic record.
     
  32. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    [​IMG]

     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013
  33. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    ^ Wow, that's interesting. Must be a cold life for the inhabitants of those exoplanets.
     
  34. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    How did you get a photo of my dacha?
     
  35. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    Abramovich is often seen with his Dasha.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  36. Roger Wawrinka

    Roger Wawrinka Professional

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    Bill O'reilly is 6'4 in height.
     
  37. stringertom

    stringertom G.O.A.T.

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    Keith Olbermann is 6'3.5", wears 13.5 shoes and must wear an extremely large hat size...his head is humongous!
     
  38. stringertom

    stringertom G.O.A.T.

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    Panic attack sufferer here...the Yuengling brewery in nearby Tampa suffered enough fire damage early Sunday AM to shut down operations. Hope it isn't long or they can rush ample shipments from the beer Mecca of Pottsville, PA. Might have to consider upping the ante for consumption of some Green Meanies (on sale this week @$1/bottle in 18-packs...not bad for the Dutch Master).
     
  39. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Mike B., I had to use a really good lens on that one. Ha Ha!

    Stringertom, that sounds like a great deal.

    Sentinel, great video on Haile Gebrselassie! I watched the '96 clip just now and will check out the Sydney race as well. He was an incredible runner, as were a lot of those rivals as well.
     
  40. RF20Lennon

    RF20Lennon Legend

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    I love Dhokla...not a big fan of Idli though but that look pretty good! I must say! :)
     
  41. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/29/sports/baseball/lester-and-ortiz-lead-red-sox-to-world-series-game-5-win.html?_r=0

    [​IMG]
    Red Sox starter Jon Lester tossing the ball to first to record an out. He allowed one run and four hits in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out seven.


     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
  42. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    The first Tour de France was held in 1903.
     
  43. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    The first Boston Marathon was held in 1897 inspired by the success of the marathon held in the 1896 Olympics.
     
  44. stringertom

    stringertom G.O.A.T.

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    McDonald's has dumped Heinz, makers of the best ketchup in the world to go on their awesome French fries. The reason...the new CEO of Heinz used to run Burger King???:twisted:
     
  45. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    I like thick-cut french fries with mustard, mayonnaise, or remoulade.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  46. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    I never much cared for ketchup with fries. I love a sharp mustard with just about anything.

    It must be five or six years since i had fries last.
     
  47. Dedans Penthouse

    Dedans Penthouse Hall of Fame

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    Spot on! : )




    Last evening I was a p-i-g, pig....had some beau soleil and blue points (washed down with a Stoli martini straight up) followed by the most delectible fish & chips with Sarson's malt vinegar. "oink!"

    Am having vegan Indian for lunch - yum.
     
  48. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    ^ Lol, then Mike will like Marion who had quite an insolent hot streak at Wimbledon, but maybe with some strawberries and cream poured over.
     
  49. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    When it comes to thick-cut French women with an insolent 'hot streak' and mayonnaise, or some strawberries and cream poured over, I prefer Laetitia to Marion.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  50. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Holy Kamaole! Mike B. you are distracting me with your posts.
     

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