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Sunday, April 30, 2017

PaGA 2017: Day 35a Two Champions

I once actually went to boxing matches.  But that was many decades ago.  I have this recurring nightmare, something that occurs every few years, of me sitting across a ferocious boxer in a ring awaiting my doom.  Thankfully, the fight never happens...but the fear is palpable.

This morning, I awoke flipping channels when I happened across Showtime's coverage of the heavyweight boxing fight of the past decade, and maybe quarter century:  Anthony Joshu versus Wladimir Klitschko from Wembley Stadium in London, with a crowd of 90,000.

The setting:

You probably never heard of Anthony Joshua.  He is 28, was born in England, with Nigerian roots.  He won the super-heavyweight boxing gold medal at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.  Since turning pro, he had 18 fights, knocking out every opponent by the seventh round.  

You've all heard of Wladimir Klischko.  At the age of 41, he is 14 years older than Joshua.  To quote The Guardian:

No heavyweight champion in history has achieved so much, yet been admired so little, as Wladimir Klitschko. During a career spanning two decades and 29 world title fights the man known as Dr Steelhammer has accumulated many victories and championship belts – and even more jibes about being merely an automaton with a pummelling left jab and a crushing right hand. Yet, as the 41-year-old addressed the 90,000 crowd at Wembley following his brave defeat to Anthony Joshua on Saturday, he was greeted with something both rare and welcome: a thunderous outpouring of affection and respect.

Klitschko earned the gold medal of the super-heavyweight division at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics.  Joe Louis won 25 heavyweight championship fightss, but Klitschko is second with 23, eleven contenders who were undefeated till that bout.  A year and a half ago Klitschko lost the heavyweight title to undefeated Tyson Fury, also from the UK.

His older brother is Vitali Klitschko, and the two of them dominated boxing from 2006 to 2015.  Their father was a Soviet Air Force major general, who was one of the commanders in charge of cleaning up the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.  He died of cancer.  Vitali is currently Mayor of Kiev.

Wladimir has acted (Ocean's Eleven), is a noted humanitarian, and is good at chess and golf.  Both brothers are heavily involved with the needs of children in Africa and South America.  He sold his Olympic gold medal for $1 million, which was used to help the dreams of Ukrainian children.  The philanthropist ended up returning the medal.

With that as a backdrop, Showtime put on a show.  The pre-fight ceremony exceeded that of any Superbowl or Clemson's football pre-game activities.  It took five minutes just for Klitschko to get introduced, and twice that time for Joshua.

Klitschko's wife Natalia sang the Ukrainian national anthem:

At ringside, Arnold and former heavyweight champs, Holyfield and Lewis:

The fight was a monumental battle.  In the fifth round Klitschko went down.  In the sixth, Joshua was dropped for the first time in his life.  In the eleventh, the referee stopped the match, for Klitschko was beaten:

The pre-fight was elaborate, but the after-fight session at ringside was special.  In his long speech Joshua thanked everyone, and ended with especially praising Klitschko, who, as indicated in The Guardian quote above, was, too, incredibly generous.  The first heart-warming finish to a boxing match I've ever experienced.

Maybe what surprised me most was that everyone had grown old.  Announcer Michael Buffer is now 71:

And Klitschko looks more like 61:

I'll probably have a Day 35b, my walk through Palo Alto.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

PaGA: Day 34 Stanford University

The day was spectacular.  See if in any of these photos you see a cloud.  The temperature was around 80 F.

Caught the hotel van to the SFO International terminal, then BART to Millbrae:

Caltrain is a real train:

The fare is complicated, and there is such a thing as a senior rate, but there is no one to assist you and I no doubt paid too much just to insure that I got some kind of ticket, for conductors come through the train to check if you did, and they use an electronic device to ascertain that you paid enough.  I was panicking because I saw the train coming and I was still a floor above the tracks.

A second problem is that there are steps to get on the train, and if you have a heavy suitcase, you're in trouble.  Mine was a simple roll-on, but that was a challenge.

The ride itself was great. Best of all, the Caltrain Palo Alto station is a one minute walk to the Sheraton Palo Alto.

I entered Stanford University 59 years ago.  There are a lot of new buildings with considerable construction in progress, but in many ways, the campus looks the same.

In my four years here, and the subsequent 55 years, while I must have visited here more than a dozen times, until today, I never once walked up or down Palm Drive connecting the campus with Palo Alto.

At the extreme end is Memorial Church, know here as MemChu.  You get the general idea when Hoover Tower is HooTow.

And a few more photos in-between.  Here looking back up Palm Drive:

Stanford was founded in 1885, and the official name is Leland Stanford Junior University, which worried me the first time I came on campus.  I wondered if I had somehow selected a junior college.  Honest!  

Earlier this week I mentioned that the University of Hawaii Manoa Campus occupies 320 acres.  Stanford has 8,180 acres.  There are 7,032 undergraduate and 9,3014 graduate students.  The university does not recognize the tree as its mascot, saying this is the Band's doing.

I walked by the Old Chemistry Building, which is now the Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning:

It just re-opened last year after being idle since 1986.  When I was here the Chemical Engineering Department was part of the Chemistry Department, and I took most of my courses in this building.  I recall in my junior year, the chairman, David Mason, rushed into one of our classes to proudly inform us that our department just got accredited.  We looked at each other and were shocked to learn that we were not accredited...until then.  Turns out that just a decade later it became the #1 ChE department in the nation.  Today, "only" #4.

Pardon me, but this is all so nostalgic. I'll be showing a whole bunch of Hoover Tower photos for my personal pleasure:

Freshmen all were required to reside and dine at Wilbur Hall, and today, this practice remains.  Wilbur had recently opened and my wing was Arroyo:

Some of us on the third floor--Jim Seger, Bill Rayner and John Laing--still hold regular reunions.  In fact, we still might before the week is over.

I then walked over to Toyon Hall, where I resided for my final three years.  At the end of our freshman year, some of us were selected to join eating clubs or fraternities in our sophomore year.  Eating clubs were founded in 1892, and went co-educational in 1966.  However, in 2010, they were all abolished.   Why?  Something to do with Stanford sanitizing everything.  The eating clubs became too independent!  My El Capitan colleagues still get together for dinner during the October homecoming week.

Next, Tressider Memorial Union to get a haircut ($27) and consider lunch, which turned out to be pasta, penne and meatballs with a cup of beer.  My eating spot was just where people came in to order.  When I was at Stanford, I never really met a Black or Hispanic classmate.  Surprisingly, of the hundred or so who ordered, most were white, with a high sprinkling of Asians.  Not one Black or Hispanic.  On the other hand, every worker in the restaurant was either black or Hispanic.  And my barber was black.  This is all so surprising because, supposedly  6% of Stanford students today are African American and 16% Hispanic, with Asians at 21%.

The building I always enter is the Book Store:

A bought a few more shirts and decided to watch Stanford play Arizona in the Sunken Diamond.  On the way there what struck me as particularly memorable was the aromatic air.  I even saw something I never did before.  This eucalyptus tree had red flowers:

At one time there were 134 species.  Today 50 different ones are thriving, but there is a sense that these trees are not endemic and could be a fire hazard.  But they smell good.

I also walked through the Rodin Sculpture Garden:

There are twenty statues.

I noticed a line where they were checking bags before entering the baseball game, so I went there, and got ushered in.  Gee, just like Rainbow Wahine Softball.  Free.  Stanford is a terrible for day games as there are no seats protected from the sun.  After an inning, I gave up and on the way out noticed there was a crowd in line to buy tickets.  I never did find out how much it cost to enter.

A few minutes walk brought me back to the Town and Country shopping center, where I bought a few things for dinner in my room tonight.

I walked into another Trader Joe's.  Took a photo of fennel:

I remembered as a student having great hamburgers from Kirk's.  Will need to return here tomorrow.  Also noticed pokeLove, which is a poke take out.

Finally, a three minute walk got me to the Westin Hotel, which is adjacent to the Sheraton.  You only see this on Waikiki Beach, where there are several Starwoods.

What a great day.  Oh, my in-room dinner:

Caesar Salad, Castello Blue Cheese, French baguette, potato chips, beer and red wine.