Ordinary Life

Spring is here, a day at AT&T Park

Finally my first Ballgame of the season, it only took 10 home games. But hey I’ve been busy so what can I say. The best part about the day was that the weather was awesome, it had been raining all day and I was worried that the game might be called. If it was and they had to makeup the game that weekend I would not have been able to go. But by 4 pm when we headed out to the park, it was just perfect. Thank you baseball gods!!! 20140501-190643.jpg

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Categories: Americana, Baseball, Ordinary Life, Sports | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Photo of the Week: April 19

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Photo of the Week: Is courtesy of Yountville, California. Last weekend we had a lovely dinner at Bouchon. Across the street from the establishment, there’s a boutique shopping center and several restaurants, including Napa Style. On the outside of the center was this beautiful Wisteria plant, which makes me jealous since ours after eight years still has not bloomed once.

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The Fruits of my Labor

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We have a nice dwarf orange tree in the backyard, it’s about 15 years old and some years it’s more prolific then others in the orange production department. This year was no exception it provided us a really great harvest. I made sure it got regular watering and fertilizer and was rewarded with a bountiful harvest. Because of the great sun this year and ample water we had some huge results. The oranges are about the size of small softballs and easily weigh one to one and half pounds apiece. We’ve enjoyed eating them, but it was time to get some juice.

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How I ended up in Portland when all I wanted was to get to Indianapolis

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It all started with a rather standard trip to Indianapolis. The weather the weekend of January 4th was horrendous in the Midwest and east coast all totaled about 20,000 flights were cancelled this past week. I had a simple flight path starting in Oakland>Portland>Dallas>Indianapolis. Sure not the most direct but the cheapest option three weeks out by a long shot. Besides from Northern California to Indianapolis requires a stop someplace. Oh the irony though because on January 9th direct service started, btw my trip was January 6th.

So on Sunday I called American and begged they change my flight. They had a waiver in affect to most of the east coast, New England and mid-west airports. This meant I could change the date of travel or the routing as long as I ended up in Indy. Or at least that’s what I though; the exception was you must leave from the same airport. Since American doesn’t even fly out if Oakland I was hosed, as it was my first leg was on Alaska Airlines and American couldn’t do much, next time I will fight harder for a change, cause this nonsense could have been avoided. I was screwed and just had to fly my original trip. Ironically I was trying to help out the airline and make their issue of attempting to accommodate displaced passengers easier, by going direct from SFO or SJC to Dallas. Not only would I have freed up a seat, but I would be one less person they would have to talk to later when things went sideways.

As it is I think I’m a savvy traveler, but that doesn’t mean I know everything, and so even though I try to be proactive as much as possible I still get stuck sometimes.  Which always makes me wonder what happens to the people that wait till their flight get canceled, or don’t know their rights. Do they get stuck in Nebraska or some other place for a week till the airlines digs out of these types of messes and finally gets them home.

So what happened to me, I landed in Portland right on time, but between the time I left Oakland and arrived in PDX, I had received three separate messages about a rolling delay of my flight to Dallas. Of course this would happen, but I was ok I originally had a 2 1/2 hour layover in Dallas, and the delay was now making it an hour, although I was sweating it out.

The plane to DFW finally landed and deboarded. We finally got on, but then sat for another hour while they fixed the water system. Apparently it had been emptied the night before to prevent from freezing and now they needed to fix something. Tic tic tic tic tic. My window kept getting smaller.

We finally left 2 1/2 hours late, if I could have gotten off the flight I would have, but I couldn’t and I had somewhere to be, and even though I was running late, I could still luck out. There could be delays in Dallas or we could pick up time or they could hold my plane.

While on the plane I let my client know what was up because we would land after 9 pm in DFW and I didn’t want him waking up and getting to the office and going where is that guy. I also was able to get my amazing wife’s help in arranging alternate flight plans if needed and a place to stay. I don’t know how I’d make it sometimes without my amazing travel agent.

So I sat patiently on the plane and just waited out the flight, I had Wi-Fi, so was at least able to work most of it. This made for at least one silver lining, zero emails to worry about or deal with when I got on the ground. No I just had to wait out the 3 ½ hour flight and then get my track shoes on to make the trek to the connecting gate.

We landed with maybe 10 minutes to spare but I had to go from the D terminal to the C terminal which meant a tram and four stops plus a run. I did everything I could to make it, but by the time I got there I had missed the flight by no more than 10 minutes. The gate was already stacked for the next flight, and the line was way long. Since my plane was long gone, I didn’t think I needed to sit in line to get a new flight. I went online and sure enough because of the legwork, my wife did, I was able to check in and get a mobile boarding pass for the next day w/out talking to a soul and was good to go for the first flight out to Indy the next morning. Now it was time to sleep.

Fast forward to Tuesday, my flight was set to land at 11:30 AM, which meant I would not see the client before 12:30 PM if I was lucky. With a tight travel week, two cities to visit, the other Portland, things were not good. I was not able to just extend my stay there because I needed to be in Portland and had to leave on Wednesday afternoon to be there Thursday first thing. So after talking to my client and realizing at best we’d get 1 ½ days when two were needed, it made sense to postpone my trip and not actually fly to Indianapolis. Thankfully I just didn’t show up in Indy, the weather still sucked and I had a really good shot it turned out of not making it out of there Wednesday afternoon.

Now I just had to route back to Portland, are you keeping score. Less than 24 hours earlier I was in Portland desperately trying to get to Indy and now I need to figure out how to get here. Again thankfully American came through and after about a 10 minute call the agent rerouted me back to Portland that morning and I’d be able to work there as I needed too. The double bonus was that I was supposed to be out of town Monday to Friday and now I was able to work in Portland Wednesday and Thursday and get home that night. Score.

Yes this is a very long story about my very basic trials of air travel, and in the end most everything worked out. I was able to travel safely, got one of two jobs completed and even got home early. I know I was lucky, others took days to get where they needed to go, and were not only at mercy of the weather but also an airline system trying to replace displaced passengers form 20,000 flights. Whew what a pain in the butt.

The only advice I can offer for everyone including myself, is to be patient, flexible and nice. Saying thank you to the airline agents can go a long way. They are not all nice, but many are and they get pooped on by everyone, so when you are kind it can really go a long way. Also be proactive, pay attention to the weather, get mobile alerts and be ON TIME. This is key, because it can be the difference between getting on the plane today or 2 days from now.

Categories: Airport, American Airlines, Ordinary Life, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The bucket list revisited

So after publishing my original bucket list about seven months ago I thought it would be a good time to add, subtract and modify the list. Why, because I want to, that’s why. Hey it’s my blog, I can do whatever I want to. Also with a new year comes new aspirations, new goals and maybe new ideas. So without further adieu here’s the “old” list with a few new modifications.

    • The Great Wall of China
    • See Terra Cotta warriors
    • Visit all 7 continents (Antarctica and Africa) are all that’s left
    • See the DMZ in Korea
    • Visit Vietnam
    • Visit Thailand
    • See the Oscars live
    • Hold an Oscar
    • Go to the Super Bowl
    • Go to a Rose Bowl game
    • Go on safari in Africa
    • Go whale watching in Alaska
    • Play an event at the World Series of Poker
    • Transit the Panama Canal
    • Fly around the world in one trip
    • Go to The Vatican
    • Visit St. Petersburg
    • Ride a gondola in Venice
    • Visit the Sistine Chapel
    • Go to the Sundance Film Festival
    • Go to the Cannes Film Festival
    • Drive a Ferrari
    • See the Amalfi coast
    • See the Pyramids and Giza
    • Visit the Forbidden City
    • Watch a taping of a TV show live
    • Go to the Opening or closing Olympics ceremony
    • Go to a World Series game
    • Go to the Baseball all-star game
    • Visit Fenway Park and Wrigley Field
    • Go to Cowboys stadium as a bonus see the Niners trounce them
    • Go to Mardi Gras
    • See a no hitter live  accomplished July 2, 2013 SF vs. Cincinnati
    • See Mount Rushmore
    • Meet a former or current President of the United States – any will do
    • Be at Times Square for New Year’s
    • Go to Patagonia
    • The Galapagos
    • Go to Oktoberfest in Munich– completed 2013
    • See Tibet
    • See the Berlin Wall
    • Visit Dubai this is happening in February, I’m very excited
    • Visit all 50 states (four to go)
    • Cruise around the world
    • Visit the Guggenheim Museum(s) in LA and Spain
    • Visit la Sagrada Familia, Spain
    • Eat at the French Laundry
    • Eat at La Bernadin
    • Eat a Philly Cheesesteak at Genos
    • Go to Unos in Chicago– still not accomplished but I think I did ok I had Lou Malnatis this week and it was outstanding
    • Take my family to India
    • Visit Quebec City
    • Visit Pisa
    • Go to Disney China (opens 2015), we’ve been lucky to have visited all five other parks
    •  Take the family to Yellowstone
    • Visit Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont
    • Visit every MLB ballpark at last count 15 but this includes three parks that are now closed
    • Cruise Alaska
    • Visit Ankor Wat
    • See wild penguins
    • Go to Alice Rock
    • See wild kangaroos
    • Go to a movie premiere in LA
Categories: Life, Ordinary Life, Random, Travel, Travel Blog | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Finally here Oktoberfest day 1

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I finally made it to Mecca. Oktoberfest , Munich Germany. We arrived in Germany on the second weekend of this amazing festival of beer. I really really didn’t know what to expect except that I knew there would be a lot of people and a lot of beer. This was the 173 annual festival of Princess Therese’s marriage to King Ludwig.

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I was just amazed at the nationalism that the German locals showed. It seemed most were in lederhosen and dirndls. It was just really really cool to see the pride of a nation at a festival. I really just can’t think of anything here that comes even close. Sure there’s fourth of July and yes fireworks, but people don’t get dressed up in a national outfit let alone just a sense of pride. Even though is great emphasis to beer drinking here, there’s also a huge fair, festival and lots and lots of food too. Think of the state fair times 10.

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Inside the tents was still a pretty crazy site. Most tents hold over 4000 people, although I think there are a few that hold well over 10,000 and many tables are reserved one year in advance for a meal. So when we tried to rent a table for any time during the Wiessen, we were shut out. Which meant we had to find a table that was not reserved and either empty (never such luck), or ask people if we could sit with them. Thankfully we were always able to find someplace to sit, we may have had to ask 3-4 times at different places, but every time we went into a tent we were eventually successful.

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Every tent had an oompah band, and they play classic German songs and even in some cases 80’s one hit wonders too. It was funny though the band really set the mood for the tent. Of the 8-10 tents we checked out, there were 34, the more festive tents were the ones that played a great mix of oompah and songs from Neil Diamond, Gloria Gainer and Credence Clear Water. It was really funny to hear some of these songs in English and then sung in German, I don’t speak a lick of it, but could sing along in English it was just great.

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There was also the occasional person that would stand up and shotgun a Mas of beer (1 liter), in this case the crazy guy finished his first then put the Mas down and grabbed number two, and downed that one with authority. All I can say is wow.

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Paulaner seating chart

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Categories: Beer, Europe, Food, Life, Oktoberfest, Ordinary Life, Photography, Review, The wish list, Travel, Travel Blog, Trip Report, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nemo, Dory, Nemo, Dory, Nemo

My kid loves the aquarium, anytime we tell her we’re going it really makes her day and I just love that. “S” loves the ocean, loves looking at fish and just can’t get enough of it, just like I did when I was young. Last weekend we spend a very nice afternoon at the Academy of Sciences and the Steinhardt Aquarium in Golden Gate Park. We have an annual pass and do our best to get there as often as we can, that being said it’s probably been three months since I’ve been there. This place is just amazing, and every visit I marvel at how great a place it is, coupled with the fact that I get to see it with a new set of eyes, just make it that much cooler.

The funny part about coming here or going any place that has an aquarium, is that “S’s” first words are always where’s Nemo and Dory. It’s pretty amazing she’s only two years old and knows who they are and knows what they look like. I guess we’ve trained her well, ha ha. But seriously, that’s the only movie she’s ever seen, granted about five times maybe more, but she’s incredibly observant. Damn smart kids. The funny part is that she saw the movie on our trip to the Maldives last December on the inflight TV, and ever since when she sees a TV on a plane she expects they will play it. Oh how little she knows about air travel.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves about the Academy, but I will say that if you’re ever in the city this is definitely a place to check out for sure.
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Categories: Americana, Family, Ordinary Life, Photography, Random, Review, Travel Blog, Traveling with kids, Uncategorized, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feeling Like A Baller- Tropicana Hotel,Las Vegas

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I had a pretty impressive stay at Tropicana Hotel A Doubletree Resort. Earlier this week I had to work in Las Vegas and for the second time thought I’d give my body a rest at the Trop. This hotel has been around for a long long time, and in all my years of visiting Sin City I’ve only been there once prior to this year and never stayed. But once Hilton took it over I thought I’d give it a try. And with one stay under my belt back in April I thought I’d try it again because I had such a positive experience. We’ll let me just say that again I was impressed. It’s had a really fresh remodel something to the tune of 55 million dollars and in October of 2012 it was rebranded as a Doubletree. What was once a hotel I would not have any reason to visit, is now a hotel I would stay at when I need to be in Vegas. Ok so there are many luxurious hotels here but on a busy weekend and on a work budget this place is well priced, earns points and can help me qualify for Diamond Status with Hilton.

The hotel has a white washed old school beach theme. It seems open and comfortable and not smoky like many of the older hotels. The casino is fin not too big, but enough games to enjoy. There are several restaurants as well, and it just has a nice welcome feeling. Again not over the top like the newer hotels, but just right I guess.

As a Hilton Honors member they have a dedicated check in line, but for Diamonds they have a separate lounge for check in. On a busy day that can save tens of minutes waiting. In my case the lounge was perfect, the gentlemen working check in was free, and when I asked for an upgrade I was kindly obliged with a 1 bedroom suite on the 17th floor. Giddy Yup. Little did I know that I was on the corner facing the strip and had spectacular views of New York New York, MGM Grand and The Excalibur. It was just a really nice room, plus it was HUGE. Also being a Doubletree I got coupons for 2 free chocolate chip cookies, that were served in the main floor food court, and yes they tasted just like they always do. Also as Gold or Diamond you get the usual free breakfast, which I didn’t check out, so I have no idea how good it is. Anyhow here’s a few of the pictures from the room and hotel.

The Hotel Exterior
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Entrance to Diamond Lounge
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Hallway to my room
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The Family Room, Desk Area, Coffee Bar and Lounge Area
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The Bedroom
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Bathroom
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The Amazing view from the family Room- A View of The Excalibur, New York New York and MGM Grand
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Categories: Americana, Hilton Hotels, Hotels, Ordinary Life, Photography, Review, Travel, Trip Report, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bucket, Bucket Bucket

So the Year of Rahul has got me thinking I should finally put my bucket list down on paper. I’ve been very very lucky to have had the opportunity to do so many things during my almost 40 years on this rock, and with hopefully at least another 40 more to go I look forward to the challenge of crossing some of these off the list. By no means is this list complete, but it’s a good start in the process.

• The Great Wall of China
• See Terra cotta warriors
• Visit all 7 continents (Antarctica and Africa) are all that’s left
• See the DMZ in Korea
• Visit Vietnam
• Visit Thailand
• See the Oscars live
• Hold an Oscar
• Go to the Super Bowl
• Go to a Rose Bowl game
• Go on safari in Africa
• Go whale watching in Alaska
• Play an event at the World Series of Poker
• Transit the Panama Canal
• Fly around the world in one trip
• Go to The Vatican
• Visit St. Petersburg
• Ride a gondola in Venice
• Visit the Sistine Chapel
• Go to the Sundance Film Festival
• Go to the Cannes Film Festival
• Drive a Ferrari
• See the Amalfi coast
• See the Pyramids
• Visit the Forbidden City
• Watch a taping of a TV show live
• Go to the Opening or closing Olympics ceremony
• Go to a World Series game
• Go to the Baseball all-star game
• Visit Fenway Park and Wrigley Field
• Go to Cowboys stadium
• Go to Mardi Gras
• See a no hitter live item accomplished July 2, 2013 SF vs. Cincinnati
• See Mount Rushmore
• Meet a former or current President of the United States – any will do
• Be at Times Square for New Year’s
• Go to Patagonia
• The Galapagos
• Go to Oktoberfest in Munich
• See Tibet
• See the Berlin Wall
• Visit Dubai
• Visit all 50 states (four to go)
• Cruise around the world
• Visit the Guggenheim Museum(s) in LA and Spain
• Visit la Sagrada Familia, Spain
• Eat at the French Laundry
• Eat at La Bernadin
• Eat a Philly Cheesesteak at Genos
• Go to Unos in Chicago
• Take my family to India
• Visit Quebec City
• Visit Pisa
• Visit Giza

Categories: Airlines, Art, movie, Ordinary Life, Random, Review, The wish list, Travel, Trip Report, Uncategorized, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When NO NO is a good thing

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Ok first off let me say that if I could pick I would rather see a No Hitter for my team and not against. But since you can’t pick if you’ll ever get to see a No Hitter or a Perfect Game live I’ll take what I can get. “T” and I were in Cincinnati for the second part of our baseball road trip. The Giants lost two of three in Colorado (they won the game we didn’t go to). They had four games in Cincy and we were seeing the first two there. We still had high hopes for a few wins, but with the way the team was playing my hopes were not high.

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After a miserable loss in game one where the Reds scored 8 runs in the first two innings and the Giants starter was pulled after two innings with almost a 14 ERA, there was really no shot for a win that day. So after three games in four days we’d seen three losing affairs. In fact the Giants were riding six losses out of seven games. Ouch. So June 2nd rolls around, Tim Lincecum was pitching against Homer Baily neither of which were having good seasons, both had losing records Timmy was 4-8 and Homer was like 5-7. After a few lackluster seasons I didn’t expect much from Timmy, I think I have not seen him win a game since 2009, and I’ve been lucky to see him play many times over the past five or six years, and have even seen him pitch in the 2010 playoffs. For a guy to have two Cy Young awards in back to back seasons just a few years ago, and fall as far as he has minus an amazing 2012 playoff stint from the bullpen. Oh well, but the Giants had history against Baily he was throwing a one hitter last year in the playoffs, and Dusty Baker, the Reds coach, pulled him in the first round series and the rest is history. Oh and by the way Baily threw a No No last year only 19 starts ago.
Anyhow, by the fifth inning I was thinking we were looking at something special. Baily was efficient on the field he had a few strike outs and was managing to keep a sad line up from making any contact with the ball. By the sixth, the Reds fans around us, “T” and I thought of the almost impossible A Perfect Game. By the seventh the stadium was electric; with every out the fans were going crazy. I was saying everything you would normally not talk about during A Perfect Game. If you’re a baseball fan you know what I mean. This was the Reds for crying out loud, if it was the Giants throwing this amazing game, I would never ever ever say Perfect Game or No Hitter. Alas in the seventh Bailey gave up a walk, the fans were still cheering but we were all a bit sad that the Perfect Game was not intact. Just in case I have a few readers that don’t know the difference between a Perfect Game and No Hitter.Alas in the seventh Bailey gave up a walk, the fans were still cheering but we were all a bit sad that the Perfect Game was not intact. Just in case I have a few readers that don’t know the difference between a Perfect Game and No Hitter. A PG is not allowing any batter to reach base in any fashion. There are 27 outs, so that means recording all 27 out’s by strike out, fly out or ground ball. In the history of Baseball there have only been 27 PG’s. A NH is when a batter reached based either by walking, error or hit by pitch. In other words, not getting a hit, but still allowing a runner to reach base. In the 100 plus years of baseball there have been 327 No Hitters. In that span there have been roughly 200,000 regular season games. So seeing a No No is incredibly special. I personally only know four people besides myself that have seen one in person. I know I’m geeking out here, but what can I say. I never thought I’d get to see one and I’m just tickled pink that I got to check off another bucket list item.
So fast forward to the ninth inning and the Gants have still only had one base runner on that walk in the seventh, no one else has even gotten close to getting a hit, so the No No was still intact. By this time, there was no choice but to root for the No No, we were standing and cheering along with the other 27,000, hoping to see history in the making. I was cheering and getting horse like everyone else. With two out and Gregor Blanco at bat, all it took was a soft liner and the ballpark exploded when history was made. What a damn cool experience to be a part of. To think “T” and I planned this trip in February with no other criteria that this series was after Colorado, and I could get the time off from work. Plus it let us see four games on the road and knock off another ballpark, neither of us had seen.
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Some funny stats form the game and more recently. The No Hitter was on July 2, 2013 the losing pitcher was Tim Lincecum. 11 days later Tim Lincecum on July 13 threw his own no hitter in San Diego against the Padres. It was the first time since 1906 that a pitcher was involved in two No No’s in the same year. Crazy, let’s hope that they can keep this crazy stuff up. The Reds are in San Francisco this week to play four games against the Giants, and Timmy is pitching but not against Baily. Stay tuned.

Categories: Americana, Baseball, Ordinary Life, Photography, Review, Travel, Trip Report | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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