How a girl gets into tennis

I’ve never been a fan of sports.  Never played them, never watched them.  I can’t say exactly never because there was the 1987 Chicago Bears Superbowl that I saw as part of a friend’s party.  And I used to watch baseball with my dad as a kid, but mostly that was just to spend time with him.  I didn’t understand the game, nor did I care too much, but I got to spend time with my Dad.

I always hated gym class.  I’m about as coordinated as a block of wood.  I couldn’t jump rope, use a hulu hoop, and couldn’t outrun a tortoise.  (Naps not included.)  I swim well enough to not drown, but I can’t swim in a straight line.  I’m definitely no Serena Williams.

As a result of my athletic inabilities, I was apathetic about sports – until a few years ago.  Nadal vs Federer. The Australian Open.  The game that seemed never ending.  My husband was watching the game.  I would stroll by every so often, look at the score (which made no sense to me at the time) and ask, “Are they still playing?”  My husband tried to explain the scoring system, but I just shook my head in dismay.  Tennis is so complicated.

What wasn’t so complicated is that one good look at Nadal and another at Federer, and I was in love with both of them.  Nadal is the bad boy that you run off with.  Federer is the guy you bring home to marry.  Well, I could watch cute guys and maybe I would learn something about the silly game while I was at it.  Today, I know the game fairly well.  I even watch the women’s and doubles matches.  But I still want to run off with Nadal. 😉

image from

Roger Federer

Tennis scoring is hard to understand.  Basically, you have points and once  you have won 4 of them, you win the game.  Win six games and you take the set.  Win three sets out of five (men’s) or two out of three (women’s) and you’ve won the match.  Sounds easy when you think about it, except for all the exceptions….

Starting with your four points.  They are numbered like this: no points (love), 1st pt (15), 2nd pt (30), 3rd pt (40), 4th pt (game).  Why are they named like this?  Blame the French.  They are based on the hands of the clock (every 15 minutes).  So what happened with 40?  It should be 45, right?  But 45 is Quarante-cinq in French.  And they wanted to shorten it to Quarante, because it’s easier to say.  So 45 became 40.

Wait, the fun doesn’t stop there!  You have to win things by two.  That’s right.  If the score is 40-40 (also known as deuce), then the next point with be the Advantage point.  Then the following point wins you the game.  OK, so what if the other person gets the next point?  Well, then the advantage is lost and you are back to 40-40.  This can go on for a long time.

In order to win a set, you must ‘break’ the other person’s serve.  What does that mean?  All it means is that you win the game while they are serving.  (Serving means they are the one who starts hitting the ball first.)  Easier said than done.  If no one ‘breaks’ then both players reach 6 games.  Now what?  Now we play a tie-breaker.  Straight up alternate bi-serving, first person to reach 7 points wins.  Unless they both reach 7, then it goes on until one person wins by two points, say 9-7.  This can go on for a long time too.

So, points are important, sets are important, matches are really important, and games are just middle of the road scoring.  If you aren’t confused by now, then I haven’t tried hard enough. 😉

OK, now, what was your point, Monday?  Well, tennis players are cute.  We established that in paragraph four.  But if you sit and watch the game, you see some really interesting points scored.  Rallies that seem to go on forever, just waiting someone to mis-hit slightly, or the perfect angle opens up and one person can’t get to the ball before it bounces twice.  You see crazy things, like slipping, sliding, falling, splits and these folks just get up and keep going, sometimes so quickly that they don’t even miss the next hit.  Really, you can get hooked on this stuff.  Did I mention the guys are cute?

Oh wait, I forgot one part… if the players reach the final set of the match (5 for men, 3 for women) and they are still all tied, then there is no tie-breaker.  The players just keep going until someone wins by two games.  That’s right, games, not points or sets.  So I lied.  Games are kind of important too, but only in this situation.  For really close matches, these final games can take forever.  The record for the longest match in tennis history was at the 2010 Wimbledon championships.  It took 3 days and 183 games to win.  The final score in the last set was 70 to 68.

As for where we are today… Serena Williams won her 5th Wimbledon championship in both singles and doubles and her 14th major tournament.  She is the oldest female singles champion since Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon in 1990 at the age of 33.

Serena Williams

In the men’s singles, we stand on the precipice of tennis history.  Andy Murray is about to battle Roger Federer for the Wimbledon championship.  Both men have a lot to gain from the match.  If Andy Murray wins, he will be the first British man to win Wimbledon since 1938. (He’s Scottish actually.) Rumor has it that the royal box will be rather full, but the Queen will not be in attendance.  If Roger Federer wins, he will be the #1 ranked player in the world again (a feat no one would expect due to his advanced age of 30) and he will tie for the record of number of Wimbledon championships won by an individual: 7!  Also, he would break his own record for most major tournaments won by an individual: 17!

Roger Federer and Andy Murray
image from ESPN

Tomorrow will prove to be an interesting day in tennis.  I’ll be sure to get up early to watch the match.  After two years, I finally understand the scoring system.  And of course, I’ve got to watch the cute guys!

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Venus Transit 2012


Today was a monumental day in astronomy history.  Venus crossed our Sun during the daylight hours and I was able to view it through telescopes, binoculars, and even my camera lens utilizing special filters.  The local astronomy club set up their telescopes in a bank parking lot, complete with filters so I went over there (camera in tow) and took pictures with both my iPhone and my SLR digital camera.  The image I have posted here was taken through a telescope with a filter.

Venus Transit 2012

Venus Transit 2012

Since not everyone had the chance to view this monumental event due either to timezone or weather, I thought I would post about my experience.

Nothing gets a bunch of science geeks together like an astronomical event.  The local astronomy club set up a half dozen telescopes with filters and invited the public to come and see the transit.  Either it wasn’t well advertised, or we don’t have as many science geeks in the area as I expected.  I thought there would be long lines, but there were only small crowds.  I had time to talk to the telescope owners, take pictures, and view the transit from different telescopes.  One of them had it set up so that the image was projected onto a piece of paper.  Another had it set up with a webcam, projecting it onto a computer screen in real time.  He also had a special telescope camera setup to take photographs every 30 seconds.  There was a young lady set up with her telescope and a hand-made filter using the appropriate filter material.  Another person had a pair of binoculars with the filter taped over the lenses. (Although this is not recommended by professionals.) There were even a few handheld viewfinders.  The last of which I used to take a shot through my own camera.  DH said he could see Venus through the handheld one, but I really had trouble.  Imagine looking at a tiny dot (circled above) on top of a small dot that is the sun.  Once you use the filter to block out the dangerous light, the Sun is only about the size of the moon, which is why we have solar eclipses.

The smaller smudges are not due to a dirty lens.  They are sunspots.  Sunspots occur in regions of high magnetic fields that creates a slighter cooler area (although still very hot!) so these areas appear dark.  I am fortunate to live in the central time zone where we had about 3-3.5hrs of sunlight.  Those who live west of me are even more fortunate, as they will see the beginning and middle of the transit.  Hawaii and Asia should have great views and early risers in Europe will get to see the end of it.  It’s a much slower transit than the 2006 Mercury transit.  The Mercury transit will be repeated in 2016.

As I mentioned, the original image I captured was through a telescope.  Specifically, a reflecting telescope, which means the image is upside down and backwards.  So when I edited this image, I flipped it both directions so you could see it as if you looked through the special filter with your eyes.

I hope some of you were able to see the Venus transit for yourself, or at least watch NASA’s video stream from Hawaii.  I’m sure there will be many images on the internet for you to enjoy.

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Call me a cynic, but I don’t know if 2012 will be much kinder to me than 2011 was. I hope so, but I’m starting off with depression.  Whether it’s just the post-holiday blues or something more sinister remains to be seen.  I picked up my last round of medications on the 31st and two of them were free.  Geodon is not free.  It’s a brand-name.  This means I met my maximum out of pocket for the year.  That’s $8,000 in medical expenses. It was nearly that in 2010.  If I lose my job, I lose health coverage – then where will I be?

I was thinking yesterday about my situation.  I have been out of work on disability for 6 months now.  What have I done with that time?  Did I find a new job? No. Did I read? No. Did I do any of my favorite hobbies? No. Did I study my field in order to keep my brain active? No. Did I even write? Not really. Only these sporadic posts. I sat on my ass and watched TV.  I did a lot of worrying. Fought depression and anxiety with mostly losing results. I got my brain (somewhat) in order, I had my gallbladder removed, my left wrist mostly healed, and I let them operate on my right elbow.  I went to a lot of doctor’s appointments and physical therapy.  I paid a lot of money in medical and I’ve got a lot more yet to pay.

Today I tried to take stock of our finances.  It’s depressing to see how much we spend on things.  Yes, I have disposable income.  The sad part is how much of it I dispose of.  I spend when I’m manic/hypomanic, I spend when I’m depressed, I spend when I’m bored or stressed, and then I have horrible buyers remorse afterwards. I try to rationalize: It was a good deal, it was only 5/10/20/50 dollars, etc. But those small numbers add up.  And someday that may mean the difference between paying the water bill or not.

By the way, did I mention my house needs repairs & updating?  I hate home ownership.

I hate harping on finances, but I am really scared.  I’m scared of losing my job, even if I don’t like it.  I’m afraid of what losing my job would do to me psychologically.  Last time, I almost committed suicide. If I lose this job, what will happen to me this time?

Ah well, time to take a Klonopin and toast the new year.  May 2012 be a kinder, gentler year for all of us.

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.