Make Athens the Permanent Summer Olympics Site, Please!

Amidst the euphoria surrounding Beijing’s Summer Olympics, and the lessons learned from previous Games, consider these reasons for making Athens, Greece the permanent summer Games site:

1. Reducing Costs and Spending Wisely.

The Beijing Olympics cost close to $43 Billion USD, the most expensive in history. The original budget estimates for the 2012 London Games were surpassed barely a year after its selection, and are projected to reach a “thrifty” $15-20 Billion USD.

Why the madness? Seems that regardless of financial risk, there is no shortage of cities vying to become Olympic host. Already, Chicago, Rio de Janiero, and Madrid have announced their candidacies for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Thus ensuring a free-for-all of high-stakes wining and dining until the official announcement in 2009.

Instead of committing tens of millions of dollars to competing bids on a quadrennial basis, keeping the Olympic Games in Athens would result in permanent savings, as well as a funds reallocation for local and national initiatives. In addition, member nations could contribute to an IOC infrastructure fund that ensures the viability of Athens’ sporting venues. A global allocation would pale in comparison to the mega-billions currently spent on replicating Olympic projects throughout the world.

2. Improving the Level of Transparency.

With all future Games in Athens, the extravagant and obscene bidding process that precedes the selection of each Olympic city would come to an end. Bribery scandals, kickbacks, and unaccountable public/private spending would be drastically reduced if not eliminated. Instead, the world’s sporting community should commit to keeping Athens’ Olympic infrastructure at the highest standards possible.

3. Promotion of Sustainable Development.

How about ending the scourge of infrequently or underused sports facilities around the world in Olympic cities? Nations of course have the right and duty to construct stadia and provide funding that helps athletes achieve peak performance. However, without the ‘Olympic’ hosting burden, both government and private companies would be more responsible with their policy decisions. Supporting Greece would be a wise investment – it would leave more money for promoting sport at the grassroots level and for traditionally disadvantaged groups. Amongst other societal priorities.

4. Respect for History and Civilization.

As the cradle of Western civilization and originator of the ancient Olympiad, Greece is well-positioned to treat the quadrennial event with the dignity, reverence, and respect it deserves. Athens hosted the first modern Olympics in 1896, as well as the 2004 version. Hence, it has proven itself capable of welcoming tens of thousands of athletes and providing facilities for the 300+ medal events currently on the books.

5. Hellenic Serenity – Truly a Friendly Games.

An open Games, a boycott-free Games, and a Games void of past athletic and bureaucratic excesses is in humanity’s best interest. Now is the time to revisit the roots of the Olympic movement, as articulated by modern Games founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin. The Olympic Charter is an idealist document, but what better way to conquer vices like overcommercialism and drug scandals than confirming Athens as the permanent host?

The Modern Olympics have been infested with regional and national rivalries for far too long. Politics may never be totally eliminated from the Games, but eliminating a major source of envy could be a major step forward. Dare we say that the Olympic Truce, the ceasing of all wars worldwide during the Games could become a reality?

The History of the Humphrey Metrodome

The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome has served as home to the Minnesota Twins for the last two decades. After opening it’s doors in April 1982, it became the third domed facility in the sport of baseball. Construction began in the winter of 1979 and was completed at $68 million, which was under budget, with approval from the state of Minnesota. The home turf for the Minnesota Twins is comprised of 20 acres and is located in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. In a matter of hours, the dome can be converted from a baseball to football facility and vice versa. The total field area measures 142,515 square feet, features a 10 acre Teflon-coated roof and rises 16 stories into the downtown skyline.

As it’s name implies, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome was named in honor of one of the most famous public figures in Minnesota. Humphrey, who died in 1978, once served as Mayor of Minneapolis, a U.S. Senator and Vice President of the United States. The metrodome was given the namesake of the man who contributed a great deal to both the state of Minnesota and the entire country in which it resides.

Featuring the capacity to accommodate more than 45,000 baseball fans, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome has welcomed a total of over 55 million spectators since it’s opening in 1982. Minnesota Twins fans typically gather at the Plaza, which can be found along Kirby Puckett Place inside the metrodome, prior to the opening pitch. Speaking of pitching, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome features an electric-powered pitcher’s mound, which has the ability to be raised or lowered via remote and weighs a hefty 23,000 pounds.

Like other sports facilities, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome has witnessed it’s share of memorable moments. Among one of the greatest is the fact that this facility is the only stadium to ever host two World Series, Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, the NFL Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. As one would expect, there is a great deal of history encased within the walls of this facility. From the Minnesota Twins to the NFL’s Vikings, rodeo, motorsports and figure skating, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome has hosted it all. For those who have the chance to see it, a distant image of the metrodome at night will reveal a sea of city lights with a large dome glistening in the heart of the city. A rich historical site filled with charm, modern amenities and seats filled with Minnesota Twins fans are just a few of the attractions found here.

Collectors who wish to request an autograph from any one of the players on the Minnesota Twins roster should send their letter and a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) to:

Player’s Name

c/o Minnesota Twins

Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome

34 Kirby Puckett Place

Minneapolis, MN 55415

Fans requesting an autograph should limit their request to two items per letter. Popular items to have signed include photos, index or trading cards, baseballs, etc. Patience is key when requesting autographs through the mail, but the best time to reach an athlete is often during the off-season.

Using a Nitrogen Purge in the Food and Beverage Industry

A simple nitrogen purge system can greatly benefit packagers in the Food and Beverage Industry by removing oxygen from a container. Replacing oxygen with nitrogen – either just before performing the fill, just after the fill or right before capping a container – can prolong the product’s shelf life while preserving the taste, color and texture of the food or beverage.

To understand how the nitrogen purge system works, consider the packaging process and the effects of oxygen on foods and beverages. On automatic packaging lines, bottles and/or other containers will be loaded on to a power conveyor system using a laning conveyor, a loading turntable, using manual labor or in some other manner. Of course, the bottles that are loaded on to the conveyor are empty, and in the Food and Beverage Industry will likely travel through a rinsing machine or other container cleaning machinery to remove dust and debris prior to continuing down the packaging line.

While the container cleaning equipment helps keep the packaging process sanitary and removes dust and debris build up, it does not have the same benefits as using a nitrogen purge system. While container cleaning equipment helps keep the product free from outside contaminants, nitrogen purge creates an atmosphere that assists in prolonging the useful life of a product.

Once rinsed or otherwise cleaned, containers will normally move to the filling machine. At this point, a nitrogen purge can be set up to inject nitrogen into a container before the container is filled with product. The main reason for using a nitrogen purge before a fill, however, is usually not the preservation referred to above. Instead, adding nitrogen to an empty container can strengthen the container, making it more rigid. This is especially useful for certain plastic bottles (like certain water bottles, for example) that are truly manufactured to be a rather flimsy bottle, sometimes to simply save on cost.

More often than not, a nitrogen purge system will be found between the filling machine and capping equipment on a packaging line. Once the container has been filled with a food or beverage product, some headspace will remain – the empty space between the product and the top of the bottle. This headspace, when not run through a nitrogen purge system, can have a detrimental effect on food and beverage products.

In a normal environment, the headspace will be filled with some oxygen. Long term contact with oxygen can lead to the deterioration of food products. When in a closed container, oxidation can destroy vitamins and nutrients as well as help to create an atmosphere for the breeding of certain bacteria and other contaminants that lead to spoiling. Using the nitrogen purge system removes the oxygen from the headspace, replacing it with nitrogen gas to counteract the negative aspects noted above. As bottles or containers leave the filling machine, or as they enter the capping machine, a purging head will blast the headspace with nitrogen gas. Immediately capping or otherwise sealing the containers minimizes the oxygen captured in the headspace. The result, less oxidation and an environment less likely to foster bacteria and other contaminants, which in turn leads to a longer shelf life and the retention of the normal taste, color and texture of the food or beverage product.

Nitrogen purge systems can be manufactured in many different shapes, sizes and forms. Single head machines can attach directly to a conveyor system to purge each bottle as it passes under the purge machine. Other nitrogen purge machines may be manufactured with multiple heads on a single frame, allowing the machine to roll up to an existing packaging line. In general, each nitrogen purge system will be manufactured based on the project for which it is built, with production demands and the existing equipment greatly influencing the design.