Thursday, August 28, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
The Temple of the Olympian Zeus:
The Olympic stadium: The big daddy of them all is the Acropolis, which features massive remains of impressive stone/marble structures built more than 2000 years ago. In these pictures, you can see lots of scaffolding and construction equipment – the restoration and renovation of this site is a never-ending process. As a structural engineer, it was interesting to read how knowledge of building materials and processes gained during the course of the 20th century shifted the means and methods of restoring these sites – approaches once thought to be the best the middle of the century turned out to corrode more quickly, requiring much of the work to be done over yet again in recent years. With this in mind, I’m amazed how well they were preserved over the previous 19+ centuries, and how they were even built in the first place. I’ll now interrupt my rambling to let the pictures do their thing:
In front of the Acropolis was a small hill of slippery marble rock. Atop this hill, contemporarily known as Mars Hill, was a flat area known as the Areopagus where the city’s philosophers used to gather for deep discussions and the exchange of ideas. In the first century, Athens’ philosophers invited Paul, the 1st century’s greatest missionary, to come share his “new teaching” with them. We could easily imagine him speaking.
Here is his recorded speech from Acts 17:
“Men of Athens, I perceive than in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Above is a photo of the Olympic Stadium built in 1896 and revamped for the 2004 games. This brings us back to our first Athens post, when I mentioned Brett’s and my personal mano-a-mano mini-Olympics. I am sure at least 3 or 4 of you are anxious to know the results. So, rather than post anything meaningful, I'll commit this post entirely to our attemps to boost egos through athletic competition. We had time to do four events, and I took gold in the swimming, reported previously. Here are the results from the other three events:
60-Second Push-up Limit
This was the strength portion of the quadrathlon. We flipped to see who went first. Brett had a piece of paper, and said, "This side's me; this side's you." Brett's side landed face up. However he thought that meant he got to choose who goes first. I thought it meant he goes first. Perhaps overly confident, I conceded. As you can see, it may have made all the difference:
Gold: Brett (42 push-ups)
Silver: Alex (41 push-ups)
Playground Obstacle Course
This event was contrived to be a test of all-around ability, requiring agility, speed, strength, athleticism, and wits. We each had two attemps at the course, with our individual best times determining the winner. Jump out of the thingy, over the other thingy, weave the swings, tightrope the seesaw, up the rope, down the slide, up the ladder, through the thingy, down the steps, off the black mat. Brett took it - and currently holds both the OR and WR for this event.
Gold – Brett (35 sec)
Silver – Alex (38 sec)
This was actually our second event, but perhaps the most anticipated. Brett was talking all kinds of smack after I defeated him in swimming, and feeling quite confident of his ability to win the 100m Dash. We also invited an additional participant, Peshrau, to take us on. Take a look:
Gold – Alex (13.7 sec)
Silver – Peshrau (13.8 sec)
Bronze – Brett (19.5 sec)
Final Medal Count
Alex – 2 golds, 2 silvers
Brett – 2 golds, 1 silver, 1 bronze
Peshrau – 1 silver
I think that officially makes me the winner overall, though Brett may argue that since Brett’s friend Peshrau wasn’t an official member of this competition, so that would give Brett a silver in the 100m dash. In 2012 we will have a rematch and in the meantime, I’ll be training for the gold medal sweep.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
swim in the ocean,
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Wednesday we spent the afternoon at the beach. Apparently, every day in Athens is beautiful with sunny, clear skies. Exhibit A is below. We swam in the Meditteranean Sea and relaxed on the beach.
This was also the site of the first event in Brett's and my mano-a-mano heptathlon. Or pentathlon, perhaps... TBD. Anyway, in the spirit of this week's Olympics and being in the home of them, we decided we will take each other on in a few events. The first event was a 30-meter freestyle swim. A sprint for most; a marathon for us. I went all Lizak on Brett and rode his wave on the way down, saving my energy. He came hard out of the turn, but at about 20 meters, Brett was dog paddling and I had plenty left in the tank. As I glided past him, he tried to jump on my back and drag me down, but I don't know if he did this to cheat and try to win, or because he was almost drowning and hoping I would rescue him. Anyway, with about 5 meters to go I shed him off and slapped the hand at the finish line for the gold. Stay tuned for future events... we think they may be a 100-meter dash, some sort of middle-distance (400m or 800m) jog or speed-walk, a long jump, some sort of strength or throwing competition, and perhaps a couple more as we are inspired. To make excuses ahead of time, however, I injured my toe on a giant rock in the ocean during an exhibition race with one of Brett and Kristin's co-workers Carolyn.
Wednesday we also had some fun walking through Athens streets, riding the train/subway, and eating another gyro (delicious). This week, most people in Athens take vacations, so the Sanners tell us the city is relatively calm compared to its typical atmosphere. There are still a great number of tourists and we have crossed paths with a wide mix of people from countries around the world. In part, this is due to the high number of immigrants into Athens, but also just that it's a pretty sweet place to visit. Anyway, it's a good place for people-watching.
Here are a few pictures from today's tourist stops (most notably the Acropolis), with more pictures later accompanied with commentary on ancient and modern Greek culture and our personal reactions to these.
Sorry for the mid-riff exposure on this last one... we'll try to keep this blog a little more family-friendly in future posts.