Vice President Biden stopped by the Embassy during his stay in Moscow to meet with the Embassy crowd. Both Biden and his wife gave gracious speeches. They mingled and stayed for pictures afterward. My son got a great picture with him.
U.S. Ambassador John Beyrle introducing the Vice President and his family. Those plants distracted me the whole time. Why so tall? What is the point? Could I use my badge as a sort of plant saw?
The Ambassador gave Biden a Russian nestling doll with each figure a current or former vice president. Those plants have grown a foot since we came into the gym. One appears to be caressing the Ambassador.
What does one do in Moscow during the long cold months? Why, beat each other up trying to whack a child's ball with a broomstick into a goal on a frozen-over tennis court for a rink. It's sort of a cross between rugby and hockey, and slightly more dangerous. It's called Moscow broomball.
The teams are made up of players from the diplomatic and ex-pat communities. Men and women have separate teams. We use real brooms, tortured into shape using curses and duct tape. We wear special shoes with spongy bottoms. And we take the sport very seriously here. The first punch only gets a warning.
We just finished the season. The US embassy women's team came in third. Quite an achievement for us. We usually come in last. You have to understand, every year we have more new people than veterans, and a veteran is anyone who has played even once. So, we have to devise ways to win other than through skill and experience. Let's just say ours isn't a nuanced game...
Some interesting highlights:
1) Our coldest day of play was 45 degrees colder than our warmest.
2) We look pretty silly when ice conditions are extra slippery. Imagine a play where no one can get to the ball for some time, but our arms and legs are moving around like in a cartoon.
3) It's no shame to drink heavily before, during, and/or after a game. Or on the next day. Or on the day after that. Or ever.
4) During the season, formal diplomatic events are a chance for broomball players from different countries to get together and discuss game play. Sometimes we have to be hosed down to get us to separate.
5) We have the best parties.
6) Whistles are a rare item in Moscow, despite the vast number of hockey and sport stores. I'm thinking of coming back here one day and opening a whistle kiosk.
Here are some pics.
Practice. You can tell because no one is writhing around on the ground clutching a pulled muscle. Pretty much obligatory during play.
Men's game on an incredibly cold day.
One of the delicate flowers from a rival team.
The annual co-ed memorial game to a fallen comrade -- Britain versus the World.
Looks innocent, but try deflecting a frozen one of these off your lightly padded frontal area without tearing up.