Happy birthday, Norma Jean

Marilyn Monroe’s birthday is today. She would have been 88.

I just can’t imagine that. This is how she looks for eternity.

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The NRA and ALEC murdered Trayvon Martin

This video explains why George Zimmerman walked.

The phone call at the end with the Second Amendment nut in Texas is all you need to hear to know why more people are going to get killed. It happened in November 2007.

High school sports on a global scale

My son showed some school spirit and tweeted a link to this video on Vimeo:

We lived in Belgium for six years, and my son attended middle school and high school at the International School of Brussels. As a parent, I was impressed with its academic offerings. But as a sports fan, I spent a lot of time at high-school games.

Over the years,  the kid participated in volleyball, basketball, cross country, baseball and track, either with the school team (called the Raiders) or with a local Belgian league. We steered him away from American football (who needs the broken bones and concussions?). And though he didn’t compete in what the rest of the world calls football — which Americans call soccer — he had extensive knowledge of professional football and players in the various European leagues by the time he went back to the states for college.

The ISB athletics list was pretty comprehensive for boys and girls sports (check out the PDF here: ISB Sports Handbook 2012-2013). While we were there, the ISB basketball team won the European tournament in his senior year, and his volleyball teams placed third and second among international schools in his junior and senior years, respectively.

But here’s the thing about sports at international schools in Europe. In order to compete, the kids had to travel schools in other countries. So volleyball season could mean a weekend in the Netherlands or Austria. Basketball season led to numerous trips to Germany to play the kids at the American military bases, or flying over to Greece for a basketball tournament. A cross-country meet’s finish line ended up in France or England. It would have been nice if he played baseball with the school instead of the Brussels league, because those trips sometimes resulted in an extended stay in Cairo  (yes, as in Egypt).

The kid saw more of Europe than I did, but I have to admit, as a dedicated parent, my European tourism memories include some of the continent’s better high-school gyms.

And the girls teams took as many trips and saw as many countries.

The setup was two games in a weekend, one Friday and one Saturday. The kids were required to stay with host families, while trailing parents stayed at local hotels. The point was for the kids to be exposed to different cultures, since the makeup of an international school isn’t that much different than the constituencies of the United Nations.

We hosted a number of kids when opposing teams came to Brussels, each offering a gift representative of their countries. Since we represented a Belgian school, our kid usually offered boxes of Belgian chocolates to his host families.

If we had remained in New Jersey, my son would still have competed in sports. That team was also the Raiders. And we were fascinated that the team mascot in Brussels was the same as the mascot at Rutgers (a knight), a team we regularly followed for college sports in Jersey. I’m not saying it was destiny, but the coincidences helped make the transition to life abroad a little easier.