Unlike American football, baseball, basketball and hockey, soccer isn’t a sport that exactly qualifies as a defining feature of American culture, at least at the professional level. It just isn’t to the States what it is to other countries… but that doesn’t mean we’re immune to World Cup mania. The occasion of the FIFA World Cup is pretty much the only time Americans get together to get hyped up about soccer on a large scale.
My first memorable experience with the World Cup was indirect, yet eye-opening: I was living in West Germany when the Berlin wall came down and when West Germany won the World Cup (I was stationed there from 1987-1991). On both occasions, the streets outside my little Ludwigsburg apartment filled with chaos and screaming crowds. One event inspired more hysteria than the other, though. Guess which one? That’s right… the World Cup. It was complete madness. West Germany winning the World Cup in 1990 caused more of a ruckus in the masses than the destruction of the Iron Curtain.
Truthfully, these last few weeks have been so busy that I’ve only been distractedly aware of the World Cup. It was like background noise until earlier this week when an octopus appeared as a Google doodle, and a co-worker mentioned Paul the winner-predicting octopus of yore.
This was an animated doodle, might I add! Like his inspiration, the octopus went back and forth before choosing the winning team of the upcoming match. Paul the predicting octopus, complete with a halo to show that he’d died and gone to octopus heaven.
Since the real-life Paul departed and no other octopus has stepped up to replace him, a slew of alternate psychic animals are being used as oracles to predict 2014 World Cup match winners. I’ve seen mention of elephants, turtles, pigs, pandas and dogs, and there are probably others. To which I say, good luck to them! The octopus has intelligence in his arms, which gives him a clear advantage over animals with dumb arms. I might be wrong, but it doesn’t seem to me that one can successfully replace a smart-armed animal with a dumb-armed one if your goal (haha) is to have him predict soccer match winners.
How do I know about the intelligence of an octopus’ arms? From watching this educational video:
zefrank1’s commentary dissolves into a winding tangent about Charlotte’s Web at the end (which I find to be hilarious), bringing to mind an obvious replacement critter for predicting World Cup match winners… the spider, another eight-legged marvel of nature!
Anyway, I thought Google’s octopus doodle was a sweet tribute to Paul, and creative little gestures like this keep me from loathing Google outright.
My relationship with Google is complicated. I have trust issues… perhaps Google and I knew each other in a past life and we had a terrible falling-out, with Google betraying me or killing me. Or maybe I don’t trust Google because when I use it, I feel like I’m being subjected to non-consensual surveillance. Whatever the reason, I’ve managed to turn habitual Google avoidance into a sport of its own, actually avoiding it like the plague. (Sorry I’m not sorry for the clichés. I think Google can handle the cliché treatment, and maybe even deserves it.) Many of Google’s interfaces and idiosyncrasies perplex me. I don’t know, I just find a lot of it to be awkward and unintuitive where many Google fans apparently don’t. Big Google-Fu fail on my part? Eh.
I have to say, though, that 2014 has done a great job thus far of taking me out of some of my comfort zones. I had to really start using Google at the beginning of the year (though I resisted as much as I could until resistance became impossible). At this point, I’m fairly immersed in the Google environment: Gmail – two accounts, if we’re including my personal one – Google Hang-outs, Google Docs, Google Calendars, the Google search engine (which I never use on my personal computer, for personal searches) and Google Groups.
Kicking and screaming, but using Google all the same. Go me! Cue the vuvuzelas. I mean, the caxirolas. (Which look to me like hand grenades, but whatever.)
Happy Friday, All!