Bold Predictions for 2016

2016 will be more than 2015. In the sense that I will invent even bolder predictions and fail even bigger. That’s the theory.

I didn’t do well on the 2015 bold predictions front, but that can be forgiven because no one is holding me accountable! (Right?)

Yet, I still did a lot. I went to eight different countries, but only one new one. I waded along beaches, rafted along crocodile infested rapids, climbed the head of a lion, those types of things.

I didn’t run all that much, but I hiked a fair bit. I played a lot of sports, from volleyball to softball to soccer to flag football. I watched a lot of sports as well, mostly football (Seahawks and Huskies) and some baseball. I went to a ton of music concerts…and reviewed a few.

What does 2016 have in store?

The theme is ‘More than 2015 or bust‘.


In 2016, I predict I will…

…visit two new baseball stadiums. Only four left!

…read 33 books (one more than last year); watch 101 movies (one more than last year).

…visit two new countries (one more than last year).

…run in at least four races (one more than last year).

…find a reason to do something even crazier than the last time.

…hike over 250 total miles. (Last year I hiked 185)

…take no prisoners and give no shits.

…pick a few musicians and go deep into their music catalog.

…binge watch three new TV shows.

…play with two puppies.



Let’s look at how I fared from my 2015 list:

Success rate: 6/10

…visit three new baseball stadiums. Surprised? Result: Nope, I only went to one this year. St. Louis.

…do something crazy. Climb a mountain crazy. Run a half-marathon crazy. Crazy like that. Result: I went white water rafting down the Zambezi River and waved to the crocodiles! Cray cray.

…read at least 35 books. I haven’t read that much the past few years. Doubling down. Results: Nope. I only got to 32! So close!

…read seven books I own that I haven’t read. I estimate I have over 30 unread books lying around! Results: Well now…no, I only managed to read five.

…run 300 miles. That’s 25 miles per month. That sucks. Results: Hahahaha! Wow, I failed this one miserably! I ran 86 miles. I’ll blame the fact that I didn’t run much the first few months because I had thrown out my back. But to be fair, I knew that fact when I made the prediction.

…get myself to at least one new country. I haven’t been to a new country since 2012. Result: Boom! United Arab Emirates!

…write more. Result: Yes and no. I wrote more for the blog Parklife DC, but wrote somewhat less for this blog. But overall, it was more!

…volunteer to be a commissioner of a sports league. (Hint: I already did this for volleyball…victory! 1-0 already!) Result: Done.

…win a championship with one of the sports teams I play on. Let’s do this! Result: Our sand volleyball team won a championship via forfeit. Lame, but another team I was on should have won it all also, but the league scheduled the final match on a day no one was available to play. I call victory.

…play with a puppy. Result: Of course.

Cutthroat Lakes (Walt Bailey Trail)
Cutthroat Lakes (Walt Bailey Trail)

Five Random Photos Shared in September ’15

A dark beer for a wet day…
Snallygaster 2015


Ohhh, orangish!
Malaysian Candles


Let’s eat a Walking Taco (slop in a bag) and play with our bobbleheads.
Walking Taco and Bobblehead


Something is over there, hope it’s not a bear.


Nice tombstone.
Nice Tombstone



Busch Stadium (St. Louis)
2015-09-26 17.05.50


Eat it? I did.


So cute.
So Cute

MLB Stadium #27: Minute Maid Park

My seemingly never-ending quest to see a baseball game in every Major League Baseball stadium continues.

I’ve visited 28 different stadiums* so far, just having executed a whirlwind Texas Two Step to Houston and Arlington.

Only five more stadiums to go.**

Now, let’s look at the 27th one I’ve visited. We went to two games.

Minute Maid Park (Houston, Texas) – Home of the Houston Astros


  • The stadium is right downtown. We stayed at Embassy Suites, a mere 10 minute walk, through a nice little city park affectionately dubbed Discovery Green.
  • In Center Field, for some reason there is a large bump or hill, called Tal’s Hill with a flag pole in the middle. It pisses outfielders off. I like quirks that make no sense. Good job, Houston, for showing us your bump.
  • They closed the retractable roof for the second game. So refreshingly cool inside, so hot outside.
  • St. Arnold’s Brewery, local to Houston, had a big stand selling their beers. Their beers were found everywhere in the stadium. All of which were wet and good.
  • We had a friendly grasshopper hanging out until the kids in front of us abused it too much and it hightailed it out of there.
  • The outside facade probably had a nice color scheme. If I were into that sort of thing.


  • I’m a Seattle Mariners fan. The Mariners lost both games we attended. Badly. They only missed the playoffs by one game. Just saying.
  • It is always hot and sweaty during the game. When the roof is open…like the first day…yikes! And this was September, so it’s not really the bad part of the year.
  • Not a lot of bars and restaurants nearby. You have a walk a bit.
  • I don’t think too many people go to see the Astros…and the people who were there were discussing the Houston Texans game.

Verdict: A solid stadium and worth a visit. Doesn’t do enough to be in the top 10 that I’ve been to, but there is nothing wrong with it and Astros’ fans (such as they exist), should take pride in it and attend more games!

Next: Globe Life Park in Arlington

* Mathletes take note: There are 30 MLB teams. I’ve been to two DIFFERENT stadiums for three teams (Seattle, Texas and Washington).

** Remaining: Kansas City, St. Louis, Colorado, Arizona, San Diego

Nice colors!
Nice colors!
Here we are
Here we are
Put it here
Put it here
Play ball!
Play ball!
Chikin iz Fare (nice Chick-fil-A)
Chikin iz Fare (nice Chick-fil-A)
Burgerz R Foul (oh Chick-fil-A)
Burgerz R Foul (oh Chick-fil-A)
A little something, something
A little something, something
No roof
No roof
With roof
With roof
Hey friend
Hey friend
Pump it up
Pump it up
Saint Arnold Brewery
Saint Arnold Brewery
Tal's Hill in centerfield
Tal’s Hill in centerfield
Tal's Hill - why now?
Tal’s Hill – why now?


In a recent post, Choices, I hypothesized two potential road trips I could take in September.

It’s time to reveal The Decision!

Dun dun dun…

I’m going to Houston and Dallas to see Minute Maid Park and Globe Life Stadium in Arlington!

I’ll also stop in for a Sounders game in Dallas.

Round trip from D.C. is a mere 3516 miles!

Along the way, I’ll stop at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and a night in New Orleans. On the way back, I’ll probably stop off in Nashville.

Kuma is excited to ride shotgun. Somewhere in all this, we’ll eat good food, try new beers and listen to lots of music.

Map it!


On the road again. I just can’t wait to get on the road again.


My goal to see a game in every Major League Baseball stadium continues…

I have seven stadiums remaining.

I’m debating between two possible road trips this year in September.

What say you? Which should I pick?

Vote Now! Give ideas!

Option #1: Houston Astros/Texas Rangers

What I could do:

  1. See the Seattle Mariners play the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park a couple of times (Sept. 20-21)
  2. See the Texas Rangers play at Globe Life Park
  3. See the Seattle Sounders FC (soccer) play FC Dallas (Sept. 24)
  4. Eat Texas BBQ
  5. Check out some local breweries in Houston and Dallas (e.g. Saint Arnold Brewery)
  6. See the Johnson Space Center in Houston
  7. Spot a cowboy
  8. Stop in Nashville en route?
  9. Stop in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park en route?


Option #2: St. Louis Cardinals/Kansas City Royals

What I could do:

  1. See the St. Louis Cardinals play at Busch Stadium
  2. See the Kansas City Royals play at Kauffman Stadium
  3. See the St. Louis Rams (football) play on Sept. 21?
  4. Check out Schlafly Tap Room, Anheuser-Busch and other breweries in St. Louis
  5. Check out Boulevard Brewery and others in Kansas City
  6. Eat Kansas City BBQ
  7. Stop in Louisville en route?


Help me decide! Vote!



Five Random Photos Shared in April ’14

Images have never appeared it such random dispositions.

Opening Day! Bring on the baseball season!
Opening Day! Bring on the baseball season!


Strolling the C & O Canal Towpath
Strolling the C & O Canal Towpath


Such a sight in Kuala Lumpur
Such a sight in Kuala Lumpur


I suggest a new strategy, Artoo: let Awesome Con win.
I suggest a new strategy, Artoo: let Awesome Con win.


Finished my 3rd One Day Hike in record time!
Finished my 3rd One Day Hike in record time!


Bonus! Because you can never have enough cherry blossom photos!

I cannot tell a lie. It was George who killed the cherry tree.
I cannot tell a lie. It was George who killed the cherry tree.


Bold Predictions for 2014

In 2014, I predict I will…

…read four ‘classic’ science fiction novels. From this list.

…participate in three races. Maybe even a sprint triathlon?

…prance about in at least one new country. Maybe Croatia?

…visit 2-3 new baseball stadiums.

…attend another music festival. Maybe the Firefly Music Festival in Delaware?

…find a new job.

…hike more than last year. Benchmark: 17 hikes/177.5 miles.

…finish watching the American Film Institute’s (AFI) Top 100 movies and all the Oscar Best Picture winners. Don’t get too excited, I only have 18 movies remaining.

…cook more.



Let’s look at how I fared from my 2013 list:

Success rate: 8.5/10

…go river rafting. It’s been awhile. Nope. Fail. Boo.

…read four ‘classic novels’. You know War and Peace and the like. I did. ‘Read‘ about it.

…turn a certain age. Yes! It was so easy.

…play some tennis. Indeed. I managed to play 10 matches (4-6 record) in the Summer and Fall.

…run in two races. Like a 5K, 8K or other. I ran the Semper Fi 5K and the Prevent Cancer 5K. I also did the 50K One Day Hike (I ran and walked).

…go to three new major league baseball stadiums. Thinking of Boston and Pittsburgh to start. I went to Fenway Park (Boston) and PNC Park (Pittsburgh). It wasn’t three, but I’m calling it success. Sue me!

…visit a new state (not the state of denial, but one of those US States) and a new country. I went to Rhode Island for the first time. No new country for old men. .5 credit.

…explore Washington, D.C. more. Even though I’ve seen a lot, there is always something new to discover. Yes. In fact I spent a whole month on this.

…publish more blog posts than last year (45 is the number to reach). Boom! 51!

…do something crazy. I am crazy, so everything I do is crazy.


Fenway Park

As the Boston Red Sox are in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, let’s muse on my recent visit to Fenway Park in Boston.

My quest to see a game in all MLB stadiums continues. Only seven more to go (San Diego, Colorado, Arizona, St. Louis, Kansas City, Houston and Texas).

Fenway Park (Boston, Massachusetts) – Home of the Boston Red Sox


  • Right in the heart of the Fenway neighborhood and near the Back Bay neighborhood, it’s the perfect place to watch a game and find a drink after (say at….The Baseball Tavern or Yard House – with a mere 150 beers on tap).
  • Cozy is the word. Very quaint (capacity is 37,400) compared to most other parks.
  • Old school design with green everywhere. I like how the concession areas are loudly labeled with arrows so you don’t go astray. Clamoring ‘Beer and nuts’, ‘Cold Beer’, ‘Pizza’ and ‘Burgers and Fries’.
  • The Italian sausage was solid. The beer was wet and frothy.


  • Boston squeaked by the lowly Chicago White Sox, 4-3, after almost blowing a 4-0 lead.
  • The Green Monster (the name of the wall in left field) is iconic lexicon in baseball. But not that interesting…although it does date back to the original 1912 design. And it had a longer history as not green and known as ‘The Wall’.
  • Wally the Green Monster (official mascot) is unnecessary. Stop that.
  • The bleacher seats are like squeezing into a matchbox. The guy in front of me gesticulated his arm into my space to talk at someone nearby and knocked my beer, spilling 18.7% on my lap (I measured). Not complete disaster as I didn’t lose all my beer and I don’t care what I smell like.

Verdict: In the top 3 or 4 of all 26 stadiums I’ve visited. But not the best! I haven’t really tried to rank them all. Someday.

It’s a home run!

Welcome to Fenway!
Welcome to Fenway!


View from the bleachers
View from the bleachers
Play ball
Play ball
Just follow the sign
Just follow the sign
It's about that time
It’s about that time
Stop that, Wally
Stop that, Wally
Green Monster
Green Monster

Next up: PNC Park

The Best Non-Required Christmas Letter 2012 (Robust Edition)

Happy Holidays. I hope you had a (insert hyperbole here) year. Wait, you say, isn’t the time to give season greetings past?!?! It’s well into 2013 and we have better things to do.

To that I say, this letter has been strategically timed to arrive at the exact moment you least want it but most need it. This has nothing to do with procrastination nor laziness on my part. All part of the plan. Enough pleasantries.

Seven years ago (2006) the first Christmas letter snuck under your tree (mistletoe?) and regaled all that would listen with a smug, self-centered yet snarky update of my year. The holiday greeting card equivalent of fruitcake. No one wants it, but everyone keeps looking at it wondering who will be the first to take a bite. The subsequent four years didn’t get any better. If anything, I baked a fruitier cake with each passing year. Last year I took a sabbatical (approved word for lazy). This year will be different. It has to be. Fruitcake goes bad eventually.

Let’s journey together and reminisce about (a robust) 2012. I alphabetized this letter so it would be easier to skip ahead to letter Z and get back to your regularly scheduled program. I added some color to make the blurbs more festive. They need it.

Arch – As in the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. I attended an extravagant wedding in Biehle, Missouri (1-1/2 hours south of St. Louis). The wedding combined both Catholic and Hindu traditions into one unique (but long!) ceremony. Then a bottomless bar and food at the family ‘house’ (with two lakes, woods, a tree fort, a tractor museum, a train for kids and a ‘gazebo’ – read: small house overlooking a lake) made for a fine reception. Oh and I did go to the top of the Gateway Arch on the way to the airport.

Bangkok – I keep finding myself here. What to do? Ascend to the rooftop bars and restaurants (Sirocco, Above 11, Long Table and more) for breathtaking city views, food and drink? Okay. Cruise on the Chao Praya river, gliding past Wat Arun, the Grand Palace and more temples while feasting buffet-style, snapping blurry photos and dancing? Check. A foot massage? Why not. Eat the delicious and spicy food – whether on the street or in a restaurant? Yeah. Hit the Chatuchak Weekend Market and get lost among the 5,000 stalls and shops? Sure. Try a VIP movie experience of Argo? You’re welcome, Ben. Hoist pints of Singha and Chang beers? Done. And done.

Cabins – A cabin needs a name. I gravitated to an assortment of cabins this year. Whether it overlooked the Columbia River Gorge (The Cabin in Mosier), or nestled two miles into the woods of Northern Virginia (Myron Glaser Cabin), or was replete with Christmas tree and decorations only minutes drive from Washington’s White Pass Ski Resort (Mountain Mist Chalet), or kept the Northern California summer nights and frogs at bay (Manzanita Cabin), I was there.

DerechoLike a low blow to the groin, the storm known as a derecho hit Washington, D.C. in June with furious determination. Not even Hurricane Sandy matched its destructive force (I speak only of DC). Crazy winds. Downed trees. Crushed cars. Flying trash cans. That type of day.

Extra Innings – For those in the know (by now…maybe you?), I am questing to see a baseball game in every Major League ballpark. Marlins Park (Miami), Citi Field (New York), O.2 Coliseum (Oakland) and AT&T Park (San Francisco) all claimed my cash and attention this year. Only nine stadiums left.

FireflyDover, Delaware gave us the first annual Firefly Music Festival in July. With headliners like Jack White, The Killers and The Black Keys, this had a fierce cacophony of rock and roll that a seven nation army couldn’t hold back. Three days of bands, beer, food and camping. And after a short respite to the beach to re-charge, more bands and beer.

Goals (Random) – I was bored one day. Hard to imagine, but so. I concocted a plan to do a new ‘random goal’ each month. I went 5-2 (success/failure) in the seven months I did it. Then the ideas dried up and I woke as if from a dream…with a tattoo of a wiener dog on my ankle. Or was that just a real wiener dog nosing my ankle to go outside and stop messing around? See the Goals.

Halloumi – Enter any restaurant in Cyprus and chances are you will find fried cheese (halloumi) on the menu. Order it. That’s the best advice I can give you. Besides gorging on cheese, I explored the beaches of Larnaca and Limassol and wandered the city of Nicosia with the help of a local. I avoided crossing into the Turkish side of the country because I feared there would be no halloumi.

Infiltrator – Let’s call my sister an ‘infiltrator’ after visiting DC for the first time in May. I made her ride the Capital Bikeshare bikes all over the city and tag along to two softball games. We visited many places and other things happened. It ended well. She survived to tell the tale. I hope.

Jazz (All That)A weekend in New York should include a baseball game, a jazz concert, more live music, bar crawling, and a wander about to see such sights as the Empire State Building, the new 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, and Central Park. Also, don’t forget to meander the warrens and streets of Chelsea, Brooklyn, SoHo and Midtown. Eat as much as possible. Maybe some Italian? Or Korean? Or Thai? Doesn’t matter, just eat it and enjoy.

Kayaking – For one week I learned how to white water kayak (in the middle of nowhere Northern California). Our river time was on the Klamath River, but the Otter Bar Lodge Kayak School rested next to the Salmon River. After a long day on the river, there was time to snorkel with the grown and fingerling salmon, cliff jump from dizzying heights, eat amazing food, imbibe homemade margaritas and play Settlers of Catan. Then back on the water. No time to rest.

ListsEvery year I make a bunch of lists to commemorate my best in movies, books, sports and music. They are popular with the ‘me’ set. You can read them too, but it’s better if you just get this letter over and do something fun.

Miami – I hopped down to South Beach in Miami for a weekend. Mission: See a baseball game in the Marlins’ new stadium, eat lots of Cuban food and generally make a nuisance of myself. What happens in South Beach, stays in Vegas…oops, that’s not right…let’s just say, I succeeded.

No more! – Is this never-ending Christmas letter finished yet? Nope. Twelve letters in the alphabet to go…brace yourself.

One Day HikeA minor hike done in a single day. Okay, it’s actually 50 kilometers (or 31.1 miles), but who’s complaining? I finished this mostly flat trek in just over 9 hours. Intact. Yet not without pain.

Paris (Gay) – Cue traditional French music…opening scene: an American (me) climbing the Eiffel Tower. Wandering aimlessly in the maze that is the Louvre. Walking about the city, capturing photographic evidence of the Arc de Triomphe and other famous landmarks. Floating gracefully down the Seine river (boat included).  Nibbling $4 macaroons and chewing cheese and butter baguettes. Taking in the bustle and toy sailboats of the Jardin de Luxembourg. Closing scene: a bewildered American in a wine and cheese infused stupor, slumped at a sidewalk café, never to leave. Music fades…

Quad biking – My work has a hard time avoiding the Lukenya Getaway for meetings. It’s secluded, and far outside of the city limits of Nairobi, Kenya. There are actual wild animals roaming around – giraffes, wildebeests, zebras, gazelles and more – that you can see as you jog or walk down the dirt roads nearby. One day we took some quad bikes for a spin in the bush. At least one person (not me) crashed into a tree…

Running – My favorite use of running is to escape a mother bear protecting its cub. My second favorite use is to not run at all. Sadly, I didn’t get to use it for either purpose this year. I did run the Semper Fi 5K and a number of other 5Ks on my own. I also tried running more in general (to my chagrin), often running along the National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial. The beauty of the Mall at night makes it hard to complain. But I will.

Sommelier – I had quite a time gallivanting about for tastings and tours at wineries in California, Washington and Oregon. I toured Napa Valley for the first time, hitting such wineries as: Rutherford Ranch Winery, V. Sattui Winery, Franciscan Oakville Estates and Andretti Winery before hopping on the ferry back to San Francisco. I also hit a few wineries in Washington state near Leavenworth: Wedge Mountain Winery, Cascadia Winery and Icicle Ridge Winery.

Tea (Improper) – In England, I improperly raised my pinky finger while drinking a spot of tea. The Brits gave me a wide berth. Yet when I wasn’t drinking tea, I jaunted about London just before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (celebrating 60 years as the Queen!) started. I also spent some time in the (robust) towns of Northampton and Woking, enjoying such places as the Racecourse and the War of the Worlds statue.

UDub (Alumni) – I played three sports with our University of Washington Alumni – DC chapter in the Capital Alumni Network (CAN). Flag football, volleyball and softball. Our flag football team did well, advancing to the third round of the playoffs. Our volleyball team did okay but with our softball team – let’s just say, we had fun. I was also voted to be the ‘Sports Chair’ on our DC Alumni chapter board. We also played volleyball during spring, summer AND fall with the Metro Sports League. I did not receive any varsity letters…sniff.

Victory (Sweet) – The Seattle Seahawks had quite a year. For the first time since I moved to Washington, D.C., I was able to attend more than one game. I saw three games at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. They won all three, including a terrific beat down of the eventual Super Bowl losers, San Francisco 49ers (42-13). I left hoarse, while riding my high horse. 

Whirlyball – A weekend trip to Toronto to honor the dearly departed from bachelorhood (also known as a stag party in Canadian parlance) saw four rousing rounds of whirlyball (like lacrosse but on bumper cars – look it up), Japanese izakaya and a jovial amount of adult beverages. Back to whirlyball…my team won all four rounds!

XenophileI travel a fair bit (if you skipped to end of this letter, just take my word for it) and mostly I enjoy it. Here are some stats from 2012: Countries visited = 6. US states visited = 9. Flight segments =35. Airports =21. Time away from home – 2-1/2 months (roughly). Cavity searches = 0.

YosemiteCar camping is all the rage. Just don’t do it in Yosemite National Park. The Park Rangers will find you. And shine the bright light of reality in your face. And then boot you from the park. After spending a night in my car (outside the park), I persisted the next morning and hiked the High Sierra Loop Trail, where I took magical photos of Vernal and Nevada falls, as well as Half Dome, Liberty Cap and anything else that got in my way. Magical in the robustest sense of the word. 

ZymurgyI don’t always drink beer, but when I do I prefer…wait a second…I do always drink beer! Except when at a winery. Or in Paris. This year I enjoyed many types of beer at many places. For example, at the first Living Social Beer Fest in DC. All you can drink in three hours from twenty-five breweries (each offering 2-3 selections). I also visited the following breweries: Deschutes (OR), Lost Coast (CA), 21st Amendment (CA), Triple Rock (CA) and Magnolia (CA). Burp.

End transmission.

Bonus: My Favorite Blog Posts of the Year (so you can re-read them, of course)

  1. Paris in Photos and Other Moveable Feasts 
  2. Yosemite National Park Survival Tips
  3. Keep on Food Truckin’
  4. 25 for May: Firsts (In Hindsight)
  5. D.C., Which Photographs Well
  6. Reflections, and Other Reasons Mom Washed Out My Mouth With Soap


Five Random Quotes: There’s No Crying In Baseball

‘There are only two seasons – winter and Baseball.’ – Bill Veeck

The baseball/softball season is just around the corner! Let’s get off to a good start this year with some baseball themed quotes:

‘Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world.’ – Babe Ruth

‘Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.’ – Bob Feller

‘I’ve never questioned the integrity of an umpire. Their eyesight, yes.’ –  Leo Durocher

‘Hating the New York Yankees is as American as apple pie, unwed mothers and cheating on your income tax.’ – Mike Royko
‘A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings.’ – Earl Wilson
Bonus for Mariners fans!
‘Get out the rye bread and mustard grandma, cause it’s GRAND SALAMI TIME!’ – Dave Neihaus (RIP)



‘It ain’t over ’til it’s over.’ –  Yogi Berra
But this post is.

Marlins, A’s, Giants and Mets

In 2012, I visited four new Major League Baseball stadiums. My quest to see a game in all MLB stadiums is progressing nicely. Only nine more to go.

Here is the run-down.

Marlins Park (Miami, Florida) – Home of the Miami Marlins


  • The focus on local, Cuban food. Tasty.
  • The Bobblehead Museum was a different twist. Featuring many smiling, nodding players from each team.
  • We saw R.A. Dickey (Mets), the eventual NL Cy Young award winner, pitch and dominate the Marlins, 9-3.


  • Good grief, the Marlins’ new logo and art deco color scheme are the worst in sports (well, after the University of Oregon and some NBA teams).
  • As a stadium with a retractable roof (because it is so hot all the time), it is quite dark and the interior is not that interesting.
  • In the outfield is a mechanical jumping dolphin diorama that goes off when the Marlins hit a home run. They didn’t.

Verdict: As the newest MLB stadium, it is not very good. Coliseum (Oakland, California) – Home of the Oakland Athletics


  • I sat in a section with old-timer baseball fans reminiscing about this and that. Without sports commentators to listen to, this made for a good baseball history diversion.
  • The pulled pork nachos in a green helmet were solid.


  • This is in the middle of nowhere, south of Oakland. The only reason a visitor would go anywhere near is they are visiting every MLB ballpark.
  • The dreary, soul-less parking lots surrounding the stadium.
  • The old school stadium from the 1960’s.

Verdict: Somehow not as bad as I expected, but Oakland needs to raze this beast from the ’60’s and build a new stadium.

AT&T Park (San Francisco, California) – Home of the San Francisco Giants


  • The Giants were in the thick of the playoff race in late August, so the atmosphere was electric as they battled the Atlanta Braves for a 5-2 victory.
  • With the view of the surrounding San Francisco Bay and a crisp summer evening, it is not a bad way to spend the evening.
  • The stadium itself feels cozy and has a unique charm that other newer stadiums have tried to capture, but failed. I liked all the brick walls and the facade.
  • Getting to the stadium via street trolleys was interesting and you are literally downtown after the game with everywhere to go.


  • Not much really.

Verdict: Among the top 2-3 stadiums I’ve visited so far. Well worth the visit. Go.

Citi Field (New York, New Y0rk) – Home of the New York Mets


  • The inside has a bridge motif (after New York’s many bridges). There is one pedestrian bridge called Shea Bridge in the right outfield section that is meant to resemble Hell Gate Bridge and is a nice vantage point to catch some of the game. The inside also sort of reminded me of Safeco Field in Seattle (which is good).
  • They have a Shake Shack. The line was too long so I had Blue Smoke BBQ instead.
  • There is a Home Run Apple in centerfield. When the Mets hit a homerun it pops up in full red glory.
  • R.A. Dickey (him again?) pitched and won his 20th game which probably sealed his Cy Young victory.


  • The 7 train takes almost an hour to get there from Manhattan.
  • There is no bars or restaurants nearby to go to after the game (that I could see).
  • This was the last Mets game of the season. Since they were not good, there wasn’t much fan energy and many empty seats.

Verdict: I liked this stadium much better than Yankee Stadium. A good stadium but it takes a long time to get to.

Photo gallery

Bobblehead Museum at Marlins Park
Bobblehead Museum at Marlins Park
Seattle bobbleheads
Seattle bobbleheads
Homerun Dolphin
Homerun Dolphin Coliseum Coliseum
This little piggy
This little piggy
Nachos in a helment
Nachos in a helment

AT&T Park

AT&T Park
AT&T Park
View of the Bay
View of the Bay
AT&T Park 3
Willie Mays Gate
Citi Field - New York Mets
Citi Field – New York Mets
Citi Field
Citi Field
Home Run Apple
Home Run Apple

One for August: Vacation

My random goal for August is very simple. To go on vacation.

Two weeks worth. That seems like enough of a goal for this month.

What will I do?

Take a week-long white water river kayaking course in the middle of nowhere northern California.

Explore and eat my way through San Francisco.

Sip my way through Napa Valley.

Trek about Yosemite National Park.

Catch baseball games at AT&T Park (SF) and the O.o Coliseum (Oakland).


25 For May: Firsts (In Hindsight)

Since I had a bit of travel in May, I thought that the best ‘random goal’ would be to do a bunch of ‘first’ time activities. New things, if you will. Plus I was already doing them anyway…

My random goal in May was to do 25 firsts. I did that and more. Let’s use some hindsight to reflect. Then, let’s poke a stick at some photos.


First layover in three new airports: Zürich, Brussels and Bujumbra (Burundi).

First two on two basketball game in over 20 years. We lost…

First 4×4 (quad bike) excursion in Kenya.

First glass of Cognac (on the rocks) and cigar, together.

First up close and personal time with a praying mantis.

First meander through Espanola Way in South Beach, Miami.

First baseball game in Marlins Park in Miami.

First nosh at five untried food trucks.

First time my sister visited Washington, D.C.

First time attending the Trucko de Mayo at RFK Stadium (a 30+ food truck extravaganza!).

First detour through the George Mason Memorial.

First stagger through the Half Street Fairgrounds (outside Nationals Park).

First hit, first RBI and first run scored for my UW Alumni softball team.

First drive of a Car2go Smart car through D.C.

First undefeated season playing outdoor recreational volleyball. 7-0 in regular season matches (17-4 in games). Sadly we lost in the finals.

First unlocking of a city badge on Foursquare. The ‘La Ville-Lumiere (Paris)’ badge.

First ascent to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower via stairs. That’s only about 380 feet or 600 + stairs. And first time to the top.

First wander through the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

First boat cruise on the Seine River, Paris.

First Eurostar train trip from Paris to London. Hello Chunnel!

Marlins Park
Marlins Park
Praying Mantis
Praying Mantis
2nd Floor of the Eiffel Tower
2nd Floor of the Eiffel Tower
The Louvre
The Louvre
Paris Badge
Paris Badge
Car2go Smart Car
Car2go Smart Car
4x4 Quad Biking
4×4 Quad Biking

2011: Can’t Get Anymore Blue

Welcome. Here, lovingly crafted for your enjoyment (or dismissal), I present my blue mood towards my favorite sports teams.

This also is a tell-tale sign that the end of 2011 is nigh, and I could be writing a bunch of end-of-year reviews. Or something. May be time for you to go on vacation. I am.

2011 was a blue year. Very blue indeed for Seattle sports. Blue is the prominent color of many Seattle sports teams, but that is not the blue I refer to. I mean blue as is melancholy. Blue as in sing the blues. Blue as in break out a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and curl up in front of reruns of Hill Street Blues. Get your shot glasses ready.

Seattle Mariners (ML B – baseball)

The Mariners are hard to root for. They can’t score runs. They trade all their good pitchers for hitters that never produce. They do nothing. It’s depressing. Ichiro’s numbers declined. King Felix didn’t match his Cy Young season of 2010. We traded away Doug Fister right when he was pitching well. You can’t finish much worse than 67-95. And no good prospects for next year.

Success Indicator: 2/10. Whiskey shots: 4

Seattle Seahawks (NFL – football)

After improbably winning their division last season (with a NFL history worst 7-9 record), and then miraculously beating the Saints in the playoffs (only to lose to the Bears), the Seahawks looked like they were back in the business of sucking for 2011. They started 2-6. They lost to Cleveland 6-3. Enough said. Yet, somehow they seem to have poured spinach on their Wheaties, because they are kicking butt, winning five of their last six games. At 7-7, they have a very small chance at the playoffs. But small is better than zero, so let’s see if they can pull off another miracle in their final two games.

Success Indicator: 6/10. Whiskey shots: 3 (5 if they don’t make they playoffs)

University of Washington Huskies (College football)

The Dawgs started strong at 5-1. Then they started playing good teams. And they got crushed three out of four games. Then they lost to Oregon St. (WTF?) and it looked like the wheels had fallen off. To just salvage the season, they had to whip the Cougars in the Apple Cup. They finished with a 7-5 record, good enough to get a bid to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas against #15 ranked Baylor. Robert Griffin III, Baylor’s QB, won the Heisman Trophy, so it should add a bit of heightened excitement to the game on December 29. But they should have been better.

Success Indicator: 6/10. Whiskey shots: 6 (One for every loss, and two for losing to OSU)

Seattle Sounders FC (MLS – soccer)

The Sounders had their best season ever. That’s why it’s also the worst. Expectations were high. But not fulfilled. They finished 18-7-9 (63 points), 2nd best in the league. Yet they lost again in the first round of the playoffs. Three years in a row. Erg! There was a silver lining. They won the US Open Cup tournament for a 3rd straight time, tying a record for most consecutive times a team has done this and the first MLS team to do it. They also played extremely well in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions league tournament (24 of the top club teams in North America, Central America and Caribbean) and have a spot in the knock-out stage that starts next April.

Success Indicator: 7/10. Whiskey shots: 5 (would have been 6, but for the secondary tourneys)


Other teams I follow:

Washington Nationals (MLB – baseball)

The Nationals had the 2nd best season since they’ve moved to Washington, D.C. (80-81). I managed to attend 10 games (two doubleheaders) while eating lots of nachos and Shake Shack burgers. Teddy Roosevelt continued to lose in epic ways in the 4th inning President’s race.

Success Indicator: 7/10. Whiskey shots: 1 (for Teddy)

University of Washington Huskies (College basketball – men’s and women’s)

The men’s team was solid (24-11) and won the Pac-10 Tournament Championship for the 2nd straight year. They beat Georgia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament but then lost a close one to North Carolina.

The women’s team (11-17) continued to suck.

Success Indicator: 7/10

Chelsea Blues (English Premier League – soccer)

The 2010-2011 Chelsea team (71 points) was up and down all year. And finally they were too far behind Manchester United and finished in 2nd place 9 points clear of 1st.

Success Indicator: 7/10. Whiskey shots: 2 (for letting Man U win)

Seattle Storm (WNBA – women’s basketball)

Yep, they still play professional women’s basketball. Seattle finished 21-13 and got bounced from the playoffs in the first round. Blah.

Success Indicator: 6/10. Whiskey shots: 0 (no reason to waste any here)

Washington Capitals (NHL – hockey)

The Capitals continue to be an enigma. In 2010-2011 they were again the best team in the Eastern Conference (107 points). They beat the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs, but lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning four games to zero. Another season wasted.

Success Indicator: 6/10. Whiskey shots: 4 (one for every loss to Tampa Bay)

DC United (MLS – soccer)

DC United played better this year, finishing 9-13-12 (39 points). But they failed to make the playoffs despite a weak Eastern Conference.

Success Indicator: 4/10. Whiskey shots: 0 (Can’t. Drink. Any. More.)

University of Washington Huskies (Capital Alumni Network – co-ed flag football)

Year two of DC Dawgs’ (UW Alumni) participation in flag football went better. We finished 4-6 (playoff seed #34 out of 58 total schools). Our division was stacked with a few of the best schools in the league so in a different division, we would have done even better. We played #31 Cornell in the playoffs, but lost a close game 20-12. They stopped us on the goal line at the end of the game. Also, we were shorthanded as many of our players were in NYC for a UW vs. Duke basketball game. There’s always next year…

Peace and may the sports be with you.

Food Porn Tackles Thailand

Last year, I shared my poor attempt at food photography (in The Joy of Food Porn). Well, having no desire to quit while I was ahead (and frankly having no filters at all), I’ve congregated another crude and carelessly constructed collection of food porn. I use the term ‘food porn’ because I have a sneaking suspicion more people will ‘find a reason’ to read this post. It’s only a theory. I did it all for the cookie (sadly, no cookies…next time) and the readership bump.

This collection comes from Thailand, home of one of my favorite cuisines. I recently spent a couple weeks there and happened to find my camera in my pocket a few times. Imagine that. Let’s start off with a cascade of chocolate.

Flowing chocolate in the hotel lobby
Good old Pad Sa Ew
Something to combat the heat
A boat full of bananas
Fish balls on a stick
Duck curry

One evening I followed some ‘foodies’ to Sirocco to attempt their ridiculously priced Chef’s Tasting Menu. Sirocco perches high over Bangkok, with a mighty view from the 64th floor of the State Tower. Featured in the movie, The Hangover Part II, it has a stunning panorama of every inch of the city. For some perspective, a normal beer costs $10 and a typical glass of wine costs $15. If you are curious to read the full descriptions of the tasting menu, go here. Otherwise, have a gander at what silly money gets you.

Green and White Asparagus Velouté
Scottish Salmon Crudo and Tartare
Let's close in on the crudo
Pan Seared Soulard Foie Gras
Cleanse your pallette
Roasted USDA Prime Beef Tenderloin
Yogurt Mousse Cake

Now that you’re warmed up, here’s a random assortment of other foods I’ve consumed recently.

Oh my, a churro with melted chocolate in Costa Rica
Feast of crabs in Delaware
What's a Taco Toss?
Tossed tacos in Delaware
Big ol' mess of nachos at Nationals Park
Blue Smoke BBQ at Nationals Park


The Best Non-Required Christmas Letter 2010 (Boring Edition)

Welcome to the beginning of another annual Christmas letter. This is like the fifth in a row. Sorry about that. There is still time to avoid any unnecessary reading of said letter. Point your curser to the ‘X’ button above, click it firmly and then go do something productive.

Still here? Hmmm, your choice…so take a load off, get comfortable (although I encourage you to leave your clothes on unless you have a webcam), grab some coffee (or tea if you’re British or confused), put on your reading glasses, and let the year 2010 flash briefly before your eyes.

I’ve decided this time you need to feel real emotion while reading this letter. I’ve set my sights as high as possible, so I’ve picked boredom. It’s the best chance you have at any intense and meaningful emotion. This letter has been treated accordingly. Wit? Excised. Rollercoasters of adventure? Simplified. Flourishes of indelible insight? Clarified. Word choice? Focused. Overall length? Increased. If you do not feel real, abject and soul-crushing boredom, then I have failed you. I apologize in advance.

Boring or more boring, let’s crack open this nut of a year and pick at the contents until we find something worth chewing on. Spit out the shell, we don’t need you choking while you wallow in boredom.

Cities – I found myself, as Alice in Wonderland might have, in many strange and mysterious rabbit holes throughout 2010. A cornucopia of cities had the pleasure of my presence. Such metropolitans as: Amsterdam, Nairobi, New York, Johannesburg, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Cape Town, Medellin, Taganga, Las Vegas, Tijuana, Tacoma and Portland. What went down in all these cities? Remember, this is the boring letter, so you may never know.

Snow – 2010 saw record snowfall in the D.C. area. As the locals affectionately dubbed it, Snowmageddon came in February and snowed the city under 20 inches (amounts may vary) of pristine, white snow (colors may vary). It was good enough for snowball fights, snowmen, tackle football in the snow, shutting down the city for days, overdressing for trips to the local pub, and the trapped, frustrated feeling one gets when your car completely disappears. Luckily I don’t own a car. Hahahahaha. I also went skiing in the powdery snow of Pacific Northwest.

Water – I spent an unhealthy amount of time in water in 2010. Whether it was taking hot showers after playing in the snow, spelunking through a maze of caves carved by a tributary of the Rio Claro, scuba diving with sting rays along the reefs of northern Colombia, river rafting down the Rio Claro, sailing the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, boating through Milwaukee via the canals and river, taking the river taxi down the Chicago river, wading in cool streams while hiking, taking cold showers, riding swiftly through the vast Amsterdam canal system, watching the Christmas light/water fountain/musical spectacle (Los Alumbrados) in Medellin, or singing in the Pacific Northwest rain (off-key), I was moist about 22.44%* of the year.

Air – I also spent my fair share of time in the air. Whether it was paragliding (parapente) over Medellin, flying all over the world in 34 flight segments (e.g. 34 take offs and 34 landings), extracting my head from the clouds on numerous occasions, or simply gulping down my share of the atmosphere, I was high about 30.76%* of the year.

Giraffes – Minding my own business, while jogging near the retreat center we were staying at in Kenya, I found myself surrounded by 14 wild giraffes. They were all looking at me expectantly. What was my next move? Run? Hide? So I simply sat down and watched them cross the road. Boring. I was not kicked in the head (by them at least) nor battered by a swinging neck (witty comment excised). The next day we went on a safari to Nairobi National Park and saw many more giraffes, including two practically on top of our van. Eventually they bolted when our allotment of photo ops was exhausted.

Meat – I am not a vegetarian, but I can appreciate eating less meat overall should you so desire. However, if you do have the opportunity to travel to exotic places, you should by no means limit what you are willing to try. Many cultures are meat obsessed and I found myself in the thick of such obsession. Whether it’s the epic bandeja paisa dish in Colombia (including sausages, ground beef, and the not-to-be-missed chicharrón), an all-you-can-eat bonanza at the Nairobi restaurant Carnivore (including ostrich and alligator), sancocho (a soup with vast chunks of meat displacing all else), chicken mole in Mexico, burgers of all shapes and sizes (including the In N Out burger animal-style), fish soup on the beaches of Taganga, foot-long hot dogs during a baseball game, a blue crab feast on the Eastern Shore (Chesapeake Bay), bratwurst in Milwaukee, Italian beef sandwiches in Chicago (fully dunked in beef gravy), street tacos, and much else, I failed to convert to a vegetarian.

Wineries – Whether it was a day trip to four wineries in Northern Virginia, or a day trip to three wineries in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa (near Cape Town), I kept my sipping muscles busy with a (word deleted) of epic wine tastings and cheese offerings. I cannot express how beautiful and relaxing it is to explore the countryside and wineries. So I won’t.

Breweries – In my lifelong quest to consume the adult-friendly liquid of hops, barley, water and yeast, I toured and loitered in many breweries in 2010. Whether it was the Heineken Brouwery Experience (Amsterdam), Miller Brewing Company (Milwaukee), Brooklyn Brewery (New York), Goose Island Brewing Company (Chicago), Sprecher Brewery (Milwaukee) for a beer/cheese pairing, or any of the other half dozen or so brewpubs I acquainted myself with, 2010 was a banner year for beer. Much like all previous years ever, dating back to 1994.

Flag Football – I started playing flag football in Washington, D.C. as part of a University of Washington Alumni team, along with alumni from 51 other universities. Our coach quit three days before our first weekend of play, so I opened my mouth to ask ‘now what?’ and became the ‘point of contact’ for our games. This of course morphed into me as the new ‘coach’ for the whole season. Word of advice: Don’t ask questions. Luckily this was the UW’s expansion season, so hopefully I can be acquitted of our less than stellar season.

Road trips – Whether it was driving down to Tijuana, Mexico from LA; or driving around Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota; or taking a detour down to Portland, Oregon while in Washington state; or taking the bus from D.C. to New York a couple times; or being a back-seat driver along the coast of South Africa, I spent loads of time in vehicles listening to music, taking in the sights, or getting tickets for not seeing that stupid toll booth.

Bicycles – I haven’t been on a bike in awhile, but in 2010 Washington, D.C. started a Capital Ride Share program that lets you use bikes from dozens of stations around the city. I have taken full advantage of these Radio Flyer Wagon Red, 3-speed, adjustable seat bikes. If you almost get run-over by a red blur while crossing the street, it wasn’t me. I would have definitely (word deleted) you. I also rented a bicycle for a day in Amsterdam. I zipped along the bike lanes and cobble streets, past the medieval style buildings and canals, until my (word clarified to ‘seat’) asked for a break. Then I rode some more.

Hammocks – After liberally slipping uninvited into multiple hammocks in 2010, I finally bought my very own. (You can too: If you say ‘Jeremy sent you’ nothing will happen.) I spent at least 5.14%* of my time being lazy in one.

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa – If you’re interested in the wildlife or the scenery, a road trip down the coast of South Africa is not to be missed. If you want nature, you can visit the beach filled with jackass penguins braying like donkeys and mating, you can narrowly avoid running over the ballistic baboons, or you can scamper up the cliffs of the Cape while avoiding stepping on the fuzzy rock hyraxes. You can also expect stunning vistas, (phrase deleted), lighthouses at the end of the world, and sand between your toes.

Lollapalooza (Chicago) – Surprisingly, this is the first time I made to it this annual music festival. I should have gone to one way back in the 1990’s when it first started. Oh well. This new incarnation restarted about 6 years ago and the 2010 version saw over 150 bands playing over three days. I went to two of the days. My main goal was to see Soundgarden – and they rocked! I also saw such bands as Green Day, Phoenix, The National, Mumford & Sons, and many more.

Music – Not usually one to intentionally send you away, but I put together some boring music lists on my blog:  A 2010 Music Retrospective

Movies – Might as well stay away to look at the list of best movies too: 11 Best Movies of 2010 (and 5 worst)

Baseball – My quest to see a game in all Major League baseball stadiums continued in earnest. I visited five new stadiums with no fanfare. Chicago (Cubs and White Sox), Milwaukee, Minneapolis and New York (Yankees) all failed to roll-out the red carpet for me. I also got no love as I watched the Washington Nationals play a bunch of times, including the Major League debut of rookie pitching sensation, Stephen Strasburg. He destroyed the competition with a record 14 strikeouts. Then he got injured later in the season, had surgery, and is out for all of 2011. Sad. The nachos at Nationals stadium, however, were not sad.

Television – Plenty of good TV shows in 2010. Fringe had a great year. Dexter ruled. Community got funnier then anything else. And The Daily Show and The Colbert Report brought us wit and an insane Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in D.C. attended by 249,999 people + me. 

Books – The best books I read were: The Lost City of Z by David Grann and The Passage by Justin Cronin.

Medellin, Colombia – I managed to storm Colombia twice in 2010. Once for a wedding where I acted surprised as the best man and once for the (phrase deleted). I spent most of my time in Medellin, avoiding drug cartels and the FARC. Aside from visiting Pablo Escobar’s hacienda (three hours away), sauntering around the city and shopping malls, climbing El Peñol, giving wedding speeches, being lazy in hammocks, eating all the food feverishly, playing as part of an impromptu band, and other things you might have read about above, I dare say I should really go back soon.

This is the end of the Christmas letter. Did it make you long to watch paint dry? Did it drop you into a deep pit of boredom? You’re welcome.

* Figure painstakingly calculated by picking a random number and typing it.

2010: Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

Welcome to, what has apparently become, my annual wrap-up on my favorite sports teams. I am a victim of routine, so expect to be liberally doused with many end of year lists over the next few weeks.

2010 can be categorized as ‘another’ year for Seattle sports. No riot-in-the-streets championships (although one oh-ok-here’s-a-high-five championship). No plane crashes in the Cascades where the survivors subsisted on the ‘hide of the game ball’. No Lebron James style shenanigans (although one team in particular had its share of drama). There were a few heart-stopping and heart-breaking moments, but nothing that Seattle hasn’t become quite used to by now. 

In other words, just another year.

Seattle Mariners (ML B – baseball)

To say that the M’s were terrible this year (with a woeful 61-101 record), would do the word ‘terrible’ a disservice. The M’s had lofty and immediate expectations for success in 2010. They were coming off of an 85 win campaign in 2009, and acquired the brilliant Cliff Lee in the offseason (who ended up pitching for the World Series losers, Texas) and added a couple of solid hitters. Then the wheels fell off. And they sunk into a sinkhole so deep, I still don’t think they can see the way out. Brutal. Drama. I don’t even want to talk about it. Only two highlights to mention, and they were both brilliant. First, Ichiro hit 200+ hits in his 10th consecutive season, breaking the Major League record. Dude is going to the Hall of Fame. Second, Felix Hernandez won the American League Cy Young Award despite only winning 13 games. He was the best pitcher in baseball this year and won the award despite everything his team did to prevent it, like not scoring any runs during his starts. Take that New York.

Success Indicator: 0/10 for the M’s as a team. 10/10 for Ichiro and Felix Hernandez

Seattle Seahawks (NFL – football)

After two dismal seasons, the Seahawks are again in contention to win the NFC West division and a ticket to the playoffs. Under their new coach, Pete Carroll (from USC), they have become more competitive overall, but still have played some head-scratching games (explain losing two consecutive games by a combined 10-74 score?!?). At 6-6 (with four games to play), they are not a good team, but they just might be good enough for the bad NFC West. They play their bitter rivals, the St. Louis Rams (6-6), the last game of the season on January 2. Expect that game to decide the division champion. Expect elation or heart-break. I choose elation!

Success Indicator: 6/10 (I’d up it to 7 if they make the playoffs)

University of Washington Huskies (College football)

The Dawgs are going bowling!! After 8 seasons without a bowl game, the Huskies finished with a 6-6 record, winning their last three in convincing fashion, to qualify for a bowl game. They will play Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. This is an unfortunate re-match since Nebraska crushed the Huskies early in the season. There were multiple heart-stopping, last second victories for the Huskies and after all the stress they put us through, we are finally vindicated with a bowl appearance. Jake Locker, the QB, passed up an opportunity to play in the NFL last year to give the Huskies one final chance to do something good. And it paid off.

Success Indicator: 8/10

Seattle Sounders FC (MLS – soccer)

The Sounders started the year with high hopes, but didn’t perform well out of the gates. They pulled themselves together and finished strong with a 14-10-6 record (48 points), good enough for a 6th seed in the playoffs. Sadly, they lost in the first round. They also participated in the CONCACAF Champions League tournament (this hemisphere’s equivalent to the European Champions League) with other North and Central American and Caribbean countries, but fared poorly in the group stage, only winning one game (1-5, 3 points). The bright spot for the Sounders was winning their second consecutive US Open Cup championship (a domestic tournament for all levels of professional soccer). Go Sounders!

Success Indicator: 8/10


Other teams I follow:

University of Washington Huskies (College basketball – men’s and women’s)

The men’s team (26-10) was the best of the Pac-10. They won the conference championship and went into the NCAA Tournament with high expectations. Two victories later, they were in the Sweet Sixteen. But alas, they lost to West Virginia, 69-56.

The women’s team (13-18) was not good.

Success Indicator: 8/10

Chelsea Blues (English Premier League – soccer).

Chelsea (86 points) managed to break Manchester United’s three-year strangle-hold on the EPL championship in the 2009-2010 season. Finishing just a mere 1 point clear of the damn United, they are rightfully the new champions! They have started strong again for 2010-2011.

Success Indicator: 10/10

Seattle Storm (WNBA – women’s basketball)

The WNBA is a league few people care about. It struggles with attendance and it seems like one team folds every other year. Despite that, the Storm were by far and away the best team this year. They finished with a 28-6 record and basically could not be stopped and easily won their 2nd championship (the 1st was in 2004). High five!

Success Indicator: 10/10

Washington Capitals (NHL – hockey)

I’ve never been a huge NHL fan since Seattle didn’t have a team, but I can adopt the Capitals. The Caps were the best team in the 2009-2010 regular season (121 points) but inexplicably lost in the first round of the playoffs to Montreal. WTF? Another huge build-up of high expectations, only to be dashed in traumatic fashion.

Success Indicator: 7/10

DC United (MLS – soccer)

They sucked. The worst season in franchise history at 6-20-4 (21 points).

Success Indicator: 2/10

University of Washington Huskies (Capital Alumni Network – co-ed flag football)

I have started playing flag football this year with the UW Alumni in DC. (And as fate would have it, I ended up being the ‘coach’…hmmm). This was the Huskies expansion season (1-9)  into the Capital Alumni Network (CAN) league. With 51 other schools playing flag football, we didn’t expect to win right away. And we didn’t. All teams qualify for the playoffs – we put up a strong effort against Delaware but fell in the end. It’s on for next year!

Peace and may the sports be with you.

Foremost Things That Are So Necessary

I’ve written about a few bad things lately (Foremost Things That Are So Unnecessary and Things That Rub Me Wrong), so now a little love for the good things.

(American) Football season – regardless of what you call it (gridiron does have a nice ring), there are few things that have a more a passionate following than college and professional football. Go Huskies! Go Seahawks!

Coffee shops – read a book, sip a coffee, breathe in the atmosphere, relax.

Beer on tap – no matter where you drink your beer, whether it’s German pints at Biergarten Haus or cask ales at Churchkey or just a frothy pint at the local dive bar, everyone needs a cold one. Probably now.

Wine tastings – raise pinky finger, swirl the contents of your glass, sniff, sip, swish around in your mouth, swallow, gulp the rest, fill glass, repeat.

New things – new restaurants popping up on H street NE or new CDs and books or new places to visit or new episodes of your favorite TV show or new types of food to try or a new season of your favorite sport or new friends or anything new!

Hiking/Nature – get outside, tie your boot laces, shoulder your backpack, listen to the creek babble and the trees rustle, sniff the flowers, take a photo of the disinterested bear, wait patiently for the rattlesnake to leave the trail, take a ‘break’ far away from the poison oak, smile.

Wiener dogs – the only question is whether one is enough!

Hammocks – to nap in the shade is a must on a hot summer day. Ice cold beer within reach.

Baseball – try to visit all Major League stadiums or crave a foot long hot dog or feel the crisp evening air on your face or root for your favorite players, just enjoy yourself already.

Music – go to a concert, hear new music, listen to old favorites, take the iPod Touch everywhere, get stoked by band reunions, dance (preferably not you) in the streets.

Good books – read the Millenium trilogy or tales of trekking through the Brazilian Amazon or anything by Bill Bryson or whatever books you can’t do without.


The Best Non-Required Christmas Letter 2009 (Narcissistic Edition)

Let’s be clear, this letter is all about me, me, me. There’s no need to deny it or pretend otherwise. This is my chance to brag about what I’ve done, what I know, and how awesome I truly am. It’s where I yell “LOOK MA!” as I hit that bulging hornet’s nest with a big stick. In other words, I speak before I think. And I never expect to get stung.

But since this is after all, the season of giving, I’m willing to cut you in on my conceit. At least once a year, I’m willing to take the focus slightly off me, and give you some attention as well. I’m sure you deserve it. So if you send me your ‘me, me, me’ letters, I will read them (as far as you know). I’m also willing to go a step further and thank you for your attention now, even if, deservedly, it lasts but briefly. So, I am humbled by those that read every word of this letter, grateful to those that skim through it (looking for juicy parts), and wholly forgiving of those that press delete before opening it (even though they won’t know it). Let’s get started.

2009 was a year. Profound. But what type of year was it?

Was it an up year? Or a down year?

Was it a smack you in the face year? Was it a lay quietly in your snuggie in front of the TV year? Was it a throw down your top and drive off into the sunset year?

Did it make you laugh? Did you make you cry? Did it make you sing karaoke against your will? Did it throw caution to the wind? Did it excel in every way?

Who cares. 2009 was what it was. Don’t over think it. Let’s pause here to look at a few of the non-required highlights.

Breweries – Let’s all shout an ode to beer, the joyous liquid. In my questionable wisdom, I made a point to check out a barrel-full of beer making places. In Maryland, the District of Columbia, Ohio, Michigan and Washington. The real question is, why am I writing this drivel instead of sitting at the local brewpub? Hmmm, this letter may end up shorter than usual…see ya!

London, England – Okay, I’m still here. You lucked out. I’ve been to London a number of times over the past few years, but this was the first time I’ve stayed on the East side, in the Shoreditch district. Nearby is Brick Lane, with its overabundance of tasty Bengali Indian cuisine and curry restaurants. Conveniently, the 2nd Annual Stag & Dagger music festival thumped on the first night we arrived. 100 bands in 20 venues, all within spitting distance of the hotel. Of course, we also had to lay waste to messy shwarmas and salt beef bagels (liberally slathered in sinus clearing mustard) sold in the late night walk-up stands. And we drank caipirinha from fishbowls for good measure. Somehow we also managed to visit the Westminster Abbey and Winston Churchill’s Cabinet War Room (the underground command bunkers during World War II).

Baseball – In my quest to see a baseball game in every Major League stadium, I added three new stadiums in 2009, in Cincinnati, Detroit and Cleveland. Each stadium had its own charm (like gigantic tiger statues in Comerica Park). In two of the games my team, the Seattle Mariners, lost badly. Crap. The M’s lone highlight was Ken Griffey, Jr jacking a solo homerun. Also on the agenda was watching the ground crew making the field playable after a rain delay, feasting on hot dogs, and other impressive things. Next year…maybe a visit to Chicago?

Leavenworth (Washington state, USA) – It’s a small Bavarian village on the other side of the Cascades. A good place to enjoy Oktoberfest, a bit of bratwurst, the fall foliage, and visit a few vineyards and wine tasting rooms.

Books – Instead of this letter, please read “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson and “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell.

Paphos, Cyprus – First, rent a car in Larnaca. Second, learn to drive on the wrong (left) side of the road. Third, enjoy. We took a leisurely drive from Larnaca to Paphos, through a few quaint villages along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. We sat on the waterfront and enjoyed a lunch infused with seafood and beer. Then we drove around with no particular destination and no goal. Scenic and refreshing.

Icicle Ridge Winery – Not to be outdone by its sudsier cousin (our good friend beer), I also managed to raise my pinky finger during tastings at 13 different wineries in Northern Virginia and Washington state. Yes, that’s right. I may now qualify as something of an expert wino, even though I retained none of the possible knowledge that I could have attained. Icicle Ridge Winery (WA) was the best of the lot, with a free tasting (11 wines!) and a great setting. Also good were Village Winery and Vineyards (VA) and Chrysalis Vineyards (VA).

Music – I rocked out to a load of concerts (18), listened to a few dozen new albums and used my airline miles to buy a new iPod Touch to keep them all at my fingertips. Of the concerts, I enjoyed Green Day and Chris Cornell. The Barack Obama inauguration concert with a ‘yes we can’ variety of artists on the National Mall was also worth noting. Garth Brooks played three songs and proved why he is still a great entertainer. Of the albums, I enjoyed the Yeah Yeah Yeahs ‘It’s Blitz! and Pearl Jam ‘Backspacer’.

Road Trip (Ohio and Michigan, USA) – Traveling a hefty 2,197 miles through the states of Ohio and Michigan, with your wiener dog as a co-pilot, while blaring CDs over and over, is a fine way to spend a week or so. I managed to attend some ball games, nosh good food, sip some beer, take in a few sights and generally make a nuisance of myself. Especially interesting were slipping about the University of Michigan campus, gaining potential music knowledge at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (none retained), and sifting sand between my toes along the shore of Lake Michigan.

Hiking – I’ve been missing out on hiking over the past few years, mostly because I’d be off traveling or because I’m just flat lazy. So one of my 2009 New Year’s resolutions was to do more day hikes. And lo! I succeeded! I joined the local Capital Hiking Club and managed to trek about Virginia and Pennsylvania. I also did a hike in Washington making about 12 day hikes in all. A majority of the hikes were along portions of the Appalachian Trail that runs from Maine to Georgia. One day I might have to tackle that whole beast.

US Open Cup Championship (soccer) game (Washington, D.C., USA) – The expansion Major League Soccer team, Seattle Sounders FC, enjoyed a fine first year of existence. They played well, made the playoffs, and broke multiple attendance records. Additionally, all US soccer teams at all levels of play participate in an annual domestic tournament called the US Open Cup. The Sounders advanced to the championship game against DC United and pulled out an incredible victory on DC’s home pitch. We came adorned in blue and green to witness an energetic game and proved that US soccer fans can have a bit of passion for the game. Case in point, over 100 Sounders fans traveled all the way from Seattle to attend the game, while singing songs and shouting like only hooligans can. Oy! Now bring on the World Cup!

Shenandoah National Park (Virginia, USA) – Whether is was camping in the rain or hiking among trillium flowers or standing still to escape notice of that bear or swimming underneath freezing waterfalls or pausing dramatically to allow that rattlesnake to get the heck out of my way or scrambling over rock formations to see the incredible view, I spent a good amount of time in Shenandoah National Park. Thought you should know.

Television – Surprisingly there are quite a number of decent new shows to look out for, including Community and FlashForward. Others to either keep watching or start watching at all cost are:  Fringe, Dexter and Lost.

Truck Bed Sledding – If you think that using a black inner tube or a regular sled are the correct ways to careen crazily downhill, then you are wrong. The actual correct way is to find a cast-off truck bed liner in the woods, pull it to the top of a precipitous drop and then on the count of three, have six or so screaming diehards jump in and hold on for dear life. Sanity and medical insurance not included.

Tower of London (London, England) – The Tower is a sprawling fortress bursting with historical intrigue, death and Beefeaters. It consists of 20 total towers, with the largest, the White Tower as the most famous. Our Beefeater gave us a rousing tour of the grounds and told of horrific beheadings, disappearing young princes whose bodies turned up hundreds of years later in the tower wall, wars, and crazy kings. Basically the history of England could almost be summed up within these walls.

Kruger Park (South Africa) – If you like near death lions, lithely trotting leopards, angrily charging elephants, curious rhinos, trapped in your room bats, baby giraffes extending their necks for food, muddy snorting hippopotamus’, racing zebras, suspicious buffaloes, bashful bushbucks and more impalas then you can shake a stick at, then you’d do well to book a three-day safari through Kruger Park. If you like breathtaking sunrises, curious rock formations, sparse forests, post-wildfire plains, high bluffs with views forever, gigantic baobab trees, dusty scrub brush, flowing rivers, darkness illuminated with spotlights, and an occasional camp or lodge in the distance, then drive around in your white 4-wheel drive for hours on end. If none of this appeals you? All the more for me.

peace and merriment to you and yours

View the Wordle version:

2009: A Better Year

Last year I shat out a blog about the complete ineptitude of Seattle sports teams (see 2008: The Worst Year Ever). It came out sideways and it hurt.

This year, I’m happy to report, has been a bit rosier. Not brilliant, mind you, but definitely encouraging going into 2010.

Let’s see what happened:

Seattle SuperSonics (NBA – basketball)

errrgg…they are gone to the sorry, pointless city of Oklahoma City. Yes, you heard me. Sorry and pointless. I predict public interest in the team will precipitously drop after about 3-4 years and the NBA will look to move the team somewhere else, with egg all over their face. Bastards.

Do I Care Indicator: 0 out of 10

Seattle Mariners (MLB – baseball)

Finishing with a respectable 85-77 record, the Mariners improved on last year’s dismal season by 24 wins. It wasn’t quite enough to make the playoffs, but it bodes well for next year. 2009 also saw the return of Ken Griffey, Jr., and the Kid brought some serious energy to the clubhouse. And he got into tickle fights with Ichiro. Don’t try that at home, kids. Also, King Felix Hernández had a Cy Young worthy season (19-5, 2.49 ERA), but lost to Zack Greinke (16-8, 2.16 ERA) in the voting. The Mariners do need some more hitting to compliment Ichiro’s standard brilliance, so we shall see how that goes in the off-season.

Success Indicator: 7/10

Seattle Seahawks (NFL – football)

The Seahawks are strange this year. Sometimes they are listless, sometimes they are world beaters. But mostly they are underachievers. So far they’ve only managed a 5-7 record. It’s almost assured a playoff berth is out of the question this year, but they are doing better than the apathetic 4-12 team that didn’t bother to suit up last year. Now if they can only find a good running back and keep Matt Hasselbeck healthy, they might stand a chance.

Success Indicator: 5/10

Seattle Sounders FC (MLS – soccer)

The expansion Sounders FC* made their debut in 2009 and took Major League Soccer and the USA by storm! They did indeed do quite well, finishing with a 12-7-11 record (47 pts). That was good enough for 4th best in the league and a spot in the playoffs. They lost in the first round, but we can forgive them that because during the season they won the US Open Cup championship against DC United. I was there! Winning this domestic tournament also qualifies the Sounders to play in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League tournament with 24 other clubs in North and Central America. Very nice. Finally, the Sounders set MLS attendance records by averaging a stellar 30,897 fans per match in Qwest Field.

Success Indicator: 9/10

University of Washington Huskies (College Football)

Let the Steve Sarkisian years begin! With exciting wins over #3 USC, #19 California and an Arizona team that finished ranked #20, the Huskies played well at times and pulled off a 5-7 record (4-5 Pac-10), a vast improvement over 0-12. They lost a couple heartbreakers (I hate Notre Dame), but they also crushed the hapless Washington State Cougars 30-0 in the Apple Cup. Oh yeah, watch out for next year!

Success Indicator: 7/10

University of Washington Huskies (College Basketball – Men’s and Women’s)

The men’s team went 24-7 (14-4 Pac-10) and won the Pac-10 Conference regular season crown for the first time. They lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament and finished with a #16 ranking in the nation.

The women’s team went 8-22 (3-15 Pac-10) and pretty much sucked.

Success Indicator: 8/10

University of Washington Huskies (College Softball – Women’s)

They won the National Championship, baby! Woo hoo!

Success Indicator: 10/10

A. Better. Year.

*FC refers to Fully Cocked. Or Fans Crying. Or Football Club. I can never remember.

Ten Things I Hate More Than You

Yes, I do mean you! Today we focus on the negative and how I hate these things more than you do. If that claim angers you in any way, don’t keep it bottled up. Blog it out!

I hate…

The New York Yankees in the playoffs – somebody please beat them like a red-headed step-child already.

Sean Kingston – horrible. Stop singing. Please. ‘Dial 9-1-1, shorty’s fire’s burning on the dance floor.’ Enough.

Kanye West backlash ad nauseam – it’s over. Go buy a Taylor Swift album if you need to assuage your guilt.

Ten Oscar Best Picture Nominees instead of five– so the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decides to wrest more dollars from your dirty, scrooge-like fists by adding five more nominees to the Best Picture race? Sham! Outrage! I predict Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen as Best Picture. Word.

Sixburgh Nation – shut up, Pittsburgh Steelers fans. No one likes insufferable blowhards. Unless we happen to be that insufferable blowhard. But today we’re not, so stop talking about winning six Super Bowls already. We heard you the first two thousand times you yelled in our ears.

Celebutards– Paris Hilton, that means you. You have no business on our TVs. Or in our pure and un-sullied tabloids. You have done nothing worthwhile, so stop wasting our time so we can focus on how much our favorite TV stars weigh…

Greed – if you have too much money, then give some to me. Stimulate me and our economy in one fell swoop!

The New York Yankees – again. You can never have enough hate for these guys. Especially when they build a stadium for $1.2 billion and then go and charge $2,600 for a single ticket behind home plate. For a baseball game. Against the Royals.

Washington Redskin’s lawyers – if you are a loyal Redskins fan and enter into a season ticket contract with a soulless, corporate greed factory, you better believe they will take advantage of you and have horn-headed lawyers slap you with a lawsuit and take your sorry ass to court if you even hint at de-faulting. Then you better believe they’ll re-sell your tickets and get twice the profit. Fight oppression!

Making lists like this one – don’t make me do it again. Although, it does feel good to rage against the machine from time to time.

Reds, Tigers and Indians

Part 3 of 3

This, luckily for you, is the final entry in my road trip trilogy of terror. Finally, we get to the root cause of why I roadtripped to begin with…baseball! Hold on for a short treatise on the highs and lows of each Major League stadium I sauntered through like a deluded dignitary. I suggest you pause now to get a hotdog and a beer. If you pause long enough, you may even escape reading this.

Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati, Ohio) – Home of the Reds


  • A great view of the bridges spanning the Ohio River that link Cincy to Kentucky and the quaint town of Newport.
  • The Washington Nationals were in town and they won 5-4. Which doesn’t happen very often…
  • I inhaled a tiny Coney hotdog. It was satisfying for 4.5 seconds.


  • At the 4.6 second mark, I was still hungry.
  • The confusing number of mascots. One is almost too many, but four? Gapper (looks like a retarded, red Phillies Phanatic), Mr. Red (looks like a spastic baseball headed Mr. Met), Mr. Redlegs (a mustached baseball head, which tells you all you need to know) and Rosie Red (because otherwise there’d be too many dudes).


Comerica Park (Detroit, Michigan) – Home of the Tigers


  • Tigers! Everywhere there are tigers! To say that Detroit doesn’t like its team name is to fly in the face of numerous tiger statues and leering tiger heads looking down from every direction. Very impressive.
  • A ferris wheel and other rides for the kiddies.
  • The home team scored two runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to win in dramatic fashion.
  • First a torrential downpour, then a rain delay, and then the clearing of the infield tarp and then the crew drying and making the infield playable again. How often do you get to see that? Kinda cool.


  • A 45 minute rain delay, there is such a thing as waiting too long.
  • David Aardsma gave up two runs in the bottom of the 9th inning and the Seattle Mariners lost in traumatic fashion. (errrgg!!!!!!)
  • The Detroit skyline had the least interesting view of all the stadiums but it was smack dab in the middle of the city, in a relatively nice area.


Progressive Field (Cleveland, Ohio) – Home of the Indians


  • Ken Griffey Jr. (Seattle Mariners) hits a homerun!
  • The view of the city skyline is picturesque.
  • Heritage Park is the home of the Indian’s Hall of Fame, split into two sections; those players that are actually in the official Major League Baseball Hall of Fame (in Cooperstown, NY),and those that are only good enough to make the team’s Hall of Fame. It was historical.
  • A perfectly positioned food court and bar, behind center field, that allows one to enjoy the game, a brew and an italian sausage all at once. Brilliant.


  • Felix Hernandez pitches terribly and the Mariners lose again, 6-1.
  • There is a race during the game with the mascots Ketchup, Mustard and Onion. Original. Their kid-friendly mascot is Slider (which looks like Barney the Dinosaur on crack).
  • There was a cool looking cemetary across the street, so after the game I went out and strolled through like the locals. Then I became terribly lost, and could not remember the street I was parked on, nor the name of the parking garage. 30 minutes of random city exploring later, I roared out of the parking garage just as it started to rain. Booyah!


Verdict: Originally, I was going to give Comerica Park the edge as the best of the three (those tiger statues!), but Progressive Field (originally called Jacob’s Field until 2008) was among the first of the new wave of retro stadiums built, and it just grows on you the more you think about it.

Also see:

The Baseball Project

As I’ve told anyone that will listen (and even those that won’t), I have goal to see a baseball game in every Major League Ballpark in North America. Why? Because I can.

It’s not a goal I can do in a year or even two, but it will build over time. As long as I go to 3-4 new stadiums a year, I’ll be happy with the progress. And with 30 Major League Baseball teams out there waiting for my dollars to line their coffers, let’s call the task epic. Or crazy. Or random. But never impossible.

I’m still a bit away from accomplishing my goal. This year I’ll do a mini-road trip to three Mid-West cities (Cincinnati, Detroit and Cleveland) to add a few more to the list.

As this is a long-term goal, I’m going to create a new page on this blog called “The Baseball Project” (see along the top) to track progress. Mostly for my own amusement. Feel free to also be amused. Or bemused. Or confused.

So if anyone wants to organise a trip to one of the remaining cities for a game, or join me on one of my trips, I’m listening…

Play Ball!