12 for December 2018: To Do List

2018 went by in a blur. But let’s not sleep yet. There are still a few days left!

I’ve returned to Washington State for the holidays, so I’m puttering around looking for things to do.

So now in its sixth year, my annual December To Do List drops like a hammer on the big toe. Very painful and thoroughly unwelcome.

Watch your toes and proceed at your own risk.

Continue reading “12 for December 2018: To Do List”

The December List, and Other Stable Facts From 2017

I dominated my most recent December To Do List! Snooze.

Results, outcomes and the correlative aftermath of same are about to be apportioned, so cut out the tedious part (aka reading it) by aborting your web session now and hitting the sack. You’ll need the rest. We may soon have a Wall to tear down after all.

Also, it’s 2018. WTH is going on?!

Goal for December 2017: Do all 11 items on my tremendous, very stable To Do List.

Continue reading “The December List, and Other Stable Facts From 2017”

11 for December 2017: To Do List

Wow, another year in the books. 2017 is almost toast, but we still have a fair bit of work to do.

For the fifth year in a row, I present my December To Do List. And like all the many years before it, it’s an amazing, transcendent ride that will have you weeping for joy, and high-fiving people you don’t even know!

Okay, as Jedi Master Luke Skywalker likes to say, “None of those words are true.”

But that shouldn’t stop you from closing this post now and heading out to high-five someone! Or just give them a hug. They may need it.

These lists have a certain sameness to them, because December also represents the season I return to Washington State for the holidays. And there are certain things I like to do when I head back to my home state. I’ll spend about half of December in DC and the other half in WA. (Editor’s note: At press time, I’m already there!)

December 2017 To Do List

  1. Write a concert review – I’ve been doing it all year, might as well do one in December too.
  2. Attend two Seattle Seahawks games – The games are do or die, luckily for us fans, just the way Russel Wilson likes it.
  3. Sleep in a cabin – Have a few spirits, watch bad movies, tussle in the snow. Escape.
  4. Witness Star Wars: The Last Jedi – (Hint: I did this already! Making this list easier for myself!)
  5. Check out four new (to me) breweries – I did three last year so let’s make it harder this December! Sigh.
  6. Eat a Dick’s Drive-In Deluxe burger – I said I’m putting this on my list every year, did you not believe me?
  7. Do some outdoorsy things – Hike? Ski? Just get outside.
  8. Write – This blog has seen little activity in recent months, so I’ve hired a few gifted spam bots to craft incredible click bait content and relentlessly post until you cry mercy!
  9. See family – That’s why I come home for the holidays, so might as well do it!
  10. Go somewhere I haven’t been to in a while – Vague and unspecific. Just the way I like it, makes it easier to win this list.
  11. Wild Card – Something that might have made this list, if I was smart enough to think of it ahead of time.

High-fives

 

dec-to-do-list

13 for December 2015: To Do List

It is the holiday season once again. Ho ho hum.

And almost time for my annual sojourn to Washington state!

Let’s start a new tradition. Every December, a new To Do List. Okay, I say that now, but check back with me in 3 years.

 

Goal for December: Do all 13 items (for luck) on my specially curated To Do List.

 

December 2015 To Do List

  1. Go skiing – Last year I hurt my back, so did not get to ski. This year that situation is rectified.
  2. Attend three Seattle Seahawks games – Boom! One in Baltimore and two in Seattle.
  3. Visit Portland, OR – I hear they could really use a force like me.
  4. Experience Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Maybe even up to five times if it’s good…
  5. Visit two new breweries – There are so many new ones, so let’s get it on!
  6. Eat a Dick’s Drive-In (Seattle) Deluxe burger – This will go on every future To Do List forever and ever.
  7. Enter a cabin – Preferably one that we rent, but I’m not adverse to a little B&E if that’s what it takes.
  8. Try 12 new beers – Burp.
  9. Hike a hike – I need to get outside!
  10. Eat at one of Seattle’s best restaurants – According to this list here or even this one.
  11. See Book of Mormon – Want to. Will try.
  12. Attend and write-up two concerts – Minimum.
  13. Wild Card – Something fun or dumb, that I can’t think of right now.

Force-this

Food Stuffs from the Pacific Northwest to Immediately Cram into Your Piehole

There are certain things you know you should be eating if you grew up in Washington state.

As often as you can.

Non-negotiables.

Print this and carry it with you at all times.

Do not delay.

 

Fair Scone
Where: Washington State Fair (né Puyallup Fair)
Puyallup Fair Scone

Ivar’s Fish and Chips
Where: Ivar’s of course! Multiple locations, but we* like Ivar’s Salmon House on Lake Union.

 

Mocha (16 oz, hot or iced)
Where: Roadside coffee stands (Located everywhere, including the Bikini barista ones if that’s your thing…)

 

Dick’s Deluxe Burger
Where: Dick’s Drive-In (Five locations in Seattle and one in Edmonds)
Dick's Deluxe

Taco Time Soft Taco (Crisp burrito is also acceptable)
Where: Taco Time (Many PNW locations)

 

Salmon (Grilled on a cedar plank)
Where: Any restaurant that serves it or any backyard BBQ that grills it
Salmon BBQ

Jo-Jo’s (From the hot case)
Where: Any convenience store/gas station that has them

 

Cream Cheese Dog (aka a Hadley Dog before a game or at 2am)
Where: Any street hot dog stand that serves it in Seattle
Cream Cheese dog

Mac & Jack’s African Amber
Where: Mac & Jack’s Brewery in Redmond or any local bar or stadium that serves it
Mac & Jack's

Garlic French Fries
Where: Safeco Field or CenturyLink Field

 

Chicken Teriyaki
Where: Teriyaki restaurants (Located everywhere. Yelp lists 1,627 near Seattle and 893 near Tacoma alone…)
http://www.seattleweekly.com/2007-08-15/food/how-teriyaki-became-seattle-s-own-fast-food-phenomenon/
Teriyaki

Apples (Get Honeycrisp. Cramming your face in pie form is also acceptable)
Where: Everywhere, but we like Prey’s Fruit Barn near Leavenworth.

 

What would you add? Thai food? Geoducks? Ewww.

 

*We equals me.

Five Random (Sunset) Photos Shared in April ’15

More random photos! Less specific photos!

Okay, but let’s go with sunsets instead.

DC sunset
Sunset in DC

 

Seattle sunset
Sunset in Seattle

 

Puyallup Spring Fair
Sunset at the Puyallup Spring Fair

 

Volleyball sunset
Sunset playing volleyball

 

Washington Monument sunset
Washington Monument sunset

 

That’s done, let’s do some bonus random photos.

Safeco Field
Felix wins! But I didn’t get my Felix bobblehead.

 

Snoqualmie Falls
The Falls of Snoqualmie and the Salish Lodge

 

One Day Hike 2015
Only 1/3 of the way done with the One Day Hike. Only 20 miles to go!

 

550 for January-April: Miles

I’m a little slow in posting this goal.

I guess you can say I’ve been doing other things… And I have been working on this goal since January, but I can report I’m woefully behind. Woefully. A March Madness miracle is in order.

I do have the 50K One Day Hike in late April to look forward to, along with a few training hikes, so maybe that will be the difference!

 

Goal for January-April: Hike, run or bike 550 miles total. Just do it.

 

Just a hike in the land Down Under
Just a hike in the land Down Under

 

____________________________________________________

My last goal was in December. Let’s peek at how I fared.

Goal for December: Do all 11 items on my freshly minted To Do List.

Total: 9 (out of 11)

Result: Fail!

 

December To Do List

  1. Touch snow – I would say go skiing, but my back may not have recovered enough by then. Result: No. I could have driven an hour and stuffed frigid snow down someone’s back. But I didn’t. Instead, upon my return to DC, it snowed.
  2. Attend two Seattle Seahawks games – One in Philadelphia and one in Seattle. Result: Boom, son! Done!
  3. Grace Portland, OR or Vancouver, B.C. with my presence – They both need it! Result: Indeed. I hit up Portland for an evening of…stuff. I believe alcohol and karaoke reared their ugly heads. Don’t quote me.
  4. Watch two Oscar buzz movies in the theater – With extra butter. Result: Yep. Wild and Unbroken.
  5. Take a hike – I need to find out what bears do in the woods. Result: True. I did a quick 8-mile jaunt along the Foothills Trail in Orting.
  6. Eat a Dick’s Drive-In (Seattle) Deluxe burger – Eat it! Result: I ate it.
  7. Try 10 new beers – AKA beers I’ve not had the pleasure or displeasure of drinking before. Result: This I did in abundance. I should get extra credit, because I had about 25 new beers…but who can remember?
  8. Eat at Thai Tom (Seattle) – Or any Thai restaurant on this Seattle Times list. Result: No. I tried, but the line to get in was out the door. So I went to a different Thai restaurant a few blocks away.
  9. Visit Two Beers Brewing Co. (Seattle) – Or any brewery I haven’t yet visited in Seattle. Result: Burp.
  10. Visit one Espresso Vivace coffee shop (Seattle) – Or any coffee shop from this King 5 list around Washington state. Result: Sipped! 
  11. Wild Card – Add something awesome when I think of it. Result: I can add anything here, right? Well, I’ll put down the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room, because it is crazy excess for coffee lovers.

 

Starbucks or something like it.
Starbucks or something like it.

peace!

11 for December 2014: To Do List

December is here.

My annual holiday migration to Washington state is coming soon. Yet, I’ll still be around DC for a couple of weeks.

There are certain things I need to do while in Washington state and before I leave. Let’s squeeze everything we can out of December.

Goal for December: Do all 11 items on my freshly minted To Do List.

December To Do List

  1. Touch snow – I would say go skiing, but my back may not have recovered enough by then.
  2. Attend two Seattle Seahawks games – One in Philadelphia and one in Seattle.
  3. Grace Portland, OR or Vancouver, B.C. with my presence – They both need it!
  4. Watch two Oscar buzz movies in the theater – With extra butter.
  5. Take a hike – I need to find out what bears do in the woods.
  6. Eat a Dick’s Drive-In (Seattle) Deluxe burger – Eat it!
  7. Try 10 new beers – AKA beers I’ve not had the pleasure or displeasure of drinking before.
  8. Eat at Thai Tom (Seattle) – Or any Thai restaurant on this Seattle Times list.
  9. Visit Two Beers Brewing Co. (Seattle) – Or any brewery I haven’t yet visited in Seattle.
  10. Visit one Espresso Vivace coffee shop (Seattle) – Or any coffee shop from this King 5 list around Washington state.
  11. Wild Card – Add something awesome when I think of it.

To Do

 

 

____________________________________________________

Let’s peek at how I fared for my October/November goal.

Goal for October/November: Knock enough things off my 2014 Bold Predictions list and do enough projects so they total 19

Total: 19

Result: Success!

I hurt my back in mid-October, totally messing up my plans for this goal. I wanted to hike and run more races. I couldn’t. Ouch.

So, instead, I did a few ‘projects’ and I watched a mess of movies.

Towards the end, I was able to do a couple short hikes.

Things completed

  1. Science fiction novels read = 1 (Children of Dune)
  2. AFI Top 100 Movies/Oscar Best Pictures9
  3. Projects/chores around the house = 5
  4. Hikes = 3 (12, 5 and 5.5 miles)
  5. Races = 1 (Army 10-miler)

 

peace!

Optimism

‘Optimism: Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.’ – Oxford Dictionary

Safeco Field
Safeco Field

As a long-suffering Seattle sports fan, it’s hard to be optimistic about our chances of winning. Anything. We’ve been burned too many times.

So, it is with only a mild case of trepidation that I say, there is reason for optimism this year.

After the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in February, suddenly my eyes are open. There is a bit of confidence. And lots of hope.

 

1) The Seattle Mariners are 7 games over .500 and the 5th best team in the American League. They beat the best team 2 out of 3 games going into the All-Star break. Say what? Optimism has set in.

2) The Seattle Sounders FC are far and away the best team in Major League Soccer (MLS) so far, at 10 points clear of the 2nd best team. They’ve outclassed everyone. They look unbeatable. Optimism.

3) The new women’s soccer team, Seattle Reign, is 13-1-3 (42 points) and 9 points clear of 2nd place. Although I’ve never watched a game, optimism.

4) The Washington Huskies football team has a new coach, a new stadium and a new attitude. Win. And for the first time in a long time, I believe it. Optimism.

5) And the Seattle Seahawks are again projected to be one of the best teams in the NFL. I say they win the Super Bowl again. Confidence.

 

P.S. If you don’t care about sports, I’m also optimistic for other reasons. You just wouldn’t know from this post!

 

Five Random Photos Shared in June ’14

There went June! Later!

Let’s take a moment of silence…

 

My first round of CSA veggies. Bok choy and some random stuff.
My first round of CSA veggies. Bok choy and some random stuff.

 

Having a beer before the Mariners game in Seattle.
Having a beer before the Mariners game in Seattle.

 

Having another beer in Seatle just before...nothing really.
Having another beer in Seattle just before…nothing really.

 

Random purple bike at Firefly Music Festival in Delaware.
Random purple bike at Firefly Music Festival in Delaware.

 

Tailgating before the Sounders game in DC.
Tailgating before the Sounders game in DC.

Speaking of soccer…USA will beat Belgium in the World Cup!

 

 

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

2013-03-05_1656

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.

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.

The Joy of Food Porn

Whenever I eat while traveling (a daily occurrence), I feel like I should take photos of the various foods I try.

Why? Well, when I see travel and foodie shows that flaunt their delicious and mouth-watering images like its some kind of food porn, I want to join them.

Yet, despite this, I am always somewhat embarrassed to take the actual photos. I look around to make sure no one is watching (and judging me). Some people are shameless and snap those tasty shots without thought. But not me, I always try for sly and avoid eye contact with anyone in my vicinity at all cost. The flash always gives me away.

Here is a sampling of some of my poor quality, badly lit, guiltily taken food photos over the years that represent categories of sustenance that will surely cause a heart attack. I also threw in some beer and wine shots. Because I can.

I am not responsible for any salivating or queasiness that may result.

Squid ink pasta in Venice
A lunch repast in rural Mali
Mofongo in the Dominican Republic
Okonomiyaki in Japan
Sliders in Washington, D.C.
Cocoa beans in Zanzibar
El Presidente in Dominican Republic
Fish amok in Cambodia
Enjoying a ballgame
Camping with a freeze dried ice cream sandwich
In N Out burger and fries in LA - animal style!
Lots of wine in South Africa
Chicken mole in Mexico
A Jucy Lucy in Minneapolis
Red wine in Northern Virginia
Fuju in Tokyo
Frites drowning in mayonnaise in Amsterdam
Zingerman sandwich in Ann Arbor
Kobe beef in Kobe
Cheese and beer in Seattle
Nasty fruit in Cyprus
Wedding cake in Washington, D.C. (yes, it is)
Ostrich meat balls in Kenya
Bandeja paisa in Colombia
Goose Island beer in Chicago

Burp.

Tourist: Seattle

You are in Seattle. You have a car and one day to explore. Your goal is to show someone who’s never been around the city. What to do? Let’s start with…

Hello Seattle
Hello Seattle

 

Kelly Park – up on Queen Anne hill, which is a much photographed, scenic view of the city skyline. You forget the exact street, so you’ll have to drive around, up and down a few blocks before you finally find the park and get your glorious snapshots. Next let’s see the infamous…

 

 

Fremont troll
Fremont troll

 

Fremont troll – just across the Fremont bridge. You just need to take a quick detour under the bridge to see this crazy, giant troll holding his VW Beetle tightly. Now that you’ve seen it, let’s go to the…

 

 

UW Drumheller fountain
UW Drumheller fountain

 

University of Washington campus – where there can be little doubt that you’ve arrived at the exact right place on the exact right day. I practically dare you to find somewhere that can even compare. You have complete reign to pick anywhere! Got nothing? Well, how about the…

 

 

Washington Arboretum – since you have decided that driving around and looking at even more beautiful scenery would be a fairly good idea. You regret not stopping at the Japanese Garden to admire the koi ponds, but feeling a bit nostalgic, you start driving around the local neighborhoods next to…

Lake Washington – and determine you’ve found the ideal distraction. But since you’re getting hungry, it’s time to head back towards downtown, with a pass by Lake Union and…

Ivar’s – for a nosh of fried salmon, crisp french fries and steamy clam chowder, while sitting right on the lake. With a complete view of the city and the landing seaplanes, you start to wonder why you don’t come here more often. Since logic is not part of this journey, you decide that after your lunch…

View from Alki
View from Alki

 

Alki Beach – is your next destination. You want a beach with a good view, even if it’s too fricking cold to enjoy it properly. Well, you soon discover that the weather is not a factor in your enjoyment, and frankly never has been. You’re from Washington after all. Next you decide the next random place you should go to is Ballard and the…

 

 

Ballard Locks
Ballard Locks

 

Ballard (Chittenden) locks – because that’s where you can see the mashup of the fresh waters of Lake Union and Lake Washington with the salt waters of the Puget Sound. Also, you can admire the many yachts and boats poised to pass between the two. With the day slipping by in a rush of fall colors, you believe that a quick jaunt downtown and entry into…

 

Elliot Bay Book Store – will inspire your creative juices. Exploring the nooks and crannies and random isles of books, with no goal in mind, you read a few book covers and then walk out for a look around…

Pioneer Square – to see the architecture and landscapes. Finally, finish the day at…

Beer and cheese
Beer and cheese

 

Pike Street Brewery – with a beer sampler, cheese plate, and a yummy pizza.

 

 

 

Okay, so that’s one hell of a random journey. If you’re a tourist with only one day or just a bored Washingtonian, throw out a couple of the above and make sure you add the Pike Place Market to your itinerary as well.

 

University of Washington
University of Washington
Small Ballard lock
Ballard locks