Friday, November 20, 2009

What I'm Thankful For - 2009

Well, Thanksgiving is nearly upon us once again. Can you believe it?

In a moment of reflection, I wanted to share the things I'm most thankful for this year. Below is my list. Some of these items may ring a little familiar and certainly my "Top 5" are the viturally the same as last year - click here to see my list from 2008 - but I'm sticking to them.

So, with no further adeu, here are the things I am most thankful for in this, the 2009 Thanksgiving season...

My Wife - simply put, my everything. I always joke that I don't push my luck on everyday matters because I spent all my luck in meeting and marrying Diane. I love you Diane.

Our Health - we both made it through the year healthy and in good shape. The cliche is, "without your health you have nothing." Well, mabye not nothing, but for sure we're both thankful to have our health. Here's to another year of that!

Our Families - on both sides. Our familieis are wonderful and we share good times with them. Mothers, fathers, siblings, nieces, nefews, cousins and in-laws...we love 'em all and are thankful they are in our lives.

Having a Job - all jobs have their stresses and 2009 certainly was a challenging year in many ways at work. But, in this economy I am thankful for the job and pleased to work with good people. Going on 3.5 years now at my current gig.

Our Friends - Diane and I have a great group of friends that we've met in so many different ways - from childhood, from school, from work, from travel, from mutual interests and from other places. In their great diversity, this group of friends adds so much to our lives and our perspective on the world. Thanks everybody!

Our Cat Josie - even cat lovers will admit that cats can be impersonal at times and some even avoid people or are perpetually "scaredy cats." Well, not our cat. Nope, Josie is a sweet natured and great "friend" for Diane and me. Mark me down as thankful.

Where We Live - I've said it before and I'll say it again...I don't think you can beat Seattle as a place to live. Sure, Portland and maybe even San Francisco would be right up their, but for the combination of mountains, sea, lakes, desert, mild weather (compared to most places in the U.S.), skiing, biking, hiking, proximity to Canada, a great wine region, sports teams (admittedly most not doing too good right now) and much can't really beat Seattle in my book. And then, I am thankful for living in the Ballard neighborhood. We're close to all the good stuff Ballard has, and just a few minutes to downtown Seattle.

Live Music - there's nothing like seeing a band live. If it can be done in a small club right up close, that's even better. The vibe, energy and thrill of rock and roll delivers every time. Here in Seattle we're blessed with a number of great clubs that attract top notch rock bands. In 2009 I was able to catch a number of shows in places like this. Bands seen include Glasvegas, Manic Street Preachers and The English Beat. Of course, the big spectacle type of shows are fun too for different reasons. In this vein, Diane and I saw U2 and Pet Shop Boys in 2009.

Completing the Seattle Rock n' Roll Half Marathon - we did it! 13.1 miles is a long way to run and I'm pround of both Diane and myself for getting it done. I did it in my personal best time of 1 hr. 43 min.

New Restaurant Discoveries - every year we find new places that we like to eat. Sometimes they're only new to us. Here are some highlights of places we at for the first time and will go back to: Chez Shea, Medina Cafe (Vancouver, BC), Moshi Moshi Sushi, Delancey's Pizza, a whole host of restaurants in Charleston, SC (click here), John's Pizza of Bleeker Street (NYC), Plaka and Frank's Oyster House.

The Hot Summer We Had This Year - yep, I liked it...a lot. Sure, there were a couple 100+ days that were not great, but overall I LOVED how warm our summer was. Growing up around here, we would normally have temps in the 70s, 80s, and 90s in the summer. Over the past 5-10 years, however, it seems like our summers have become cooler with fewer days in that temperature range with more rain. Last year, for example, I declared the summer a "bust" the second week of July. Not this year though! It was hot and I loved it.

Our Trip to the South - instead of going overseas this year, we visited a few places on southeast coast of the United States. We had a real good time seeing a part of our country we've never been to before. Click here for a review of our vacation.

Sounders FC - I'm really pleased that Seattle has an entertaining MLS soccer team to root for. The Sounders are also the only major Seattle-based pro team that's performing well - they made the playoffs! Ms and Seahawks can't say that. I've gotten into "footie" more than ever by following them this season.

I made 40 - yes, this year (on Thanksgiving Day no less) I turn 40 years old. It's been a good run so far, and in those four decades I've been able to do so many wonderful things...things that I've always wanted to do. Here's to more fun ahead!

Monday, November 16, 2009

One Good, Three Bad in Footballville

One great outcome and the rest, well, not so good this week in my own private footballville.

As a reminder, I attended and graduated from the University of Oregon, I was born at the University of Iowa and as a long time resident of Seattle I keep tabs on the Huskies and Seahawks.

My Oregon Ducks got back on track with a beat down of Arizona State. The high flying O continued to race down the field and score a lot of points, this time against a very good ASU defense. The Duck D that played so well in all but the Stanford game showed up again. If not for a strange ASU interception down by the Oregon goal line, the D would have held ASU to 14 points. The win extends the Duck's record to 8-2 overall and 6-2 (and alone in first place) in the Pac-10. All is good...for this week. However, upcoming games at Arizona and then the Civil War at Autzen will determine which school wins the league championship and plays in the Rose Bowl Jan. 1, 2010. In fact, it's likely that the Civil War game will determine if Oregon or Oregon State plays in the big game. Should be an interesting two weeks.

The Iowa Hawkeyes lost a close one at Ohio State. Iowa was without their starting QB due to injury. Oh well. They still have a good record at 8-2, and will be playing in a decent bowl, but with the defeat Ohio State wins the Big-10 and will play in the Rose Bowl.

The UW Huskies lost in embarrassing fashion to Oregon State. The same things that have plagued them all season did so again - porous defense and an interception-prone QB - and now it appears the team may be quitting a bit on the season.

The Seahawks lost again. No surprise to me at all. At least they put up a fight this time. Kinda.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pictures for Veterans Day

As we honor our veterans today, I wanted to post a few pictures I have taken of places where so many members of the US military gave everything to keep us - and the world - free. Thank you.

Omaha Beach, France
June 6, 1944
World War II

Belleau Wood, France
June 1918
World War I

Point du Hoc, France
June 6, 1944
World War II

Nijmegen Bridge
Nijmegen, Netherlands
September 1944
World War II

Hue, Vietnam
January 1968
Vietnam War

Hue, Vietnam
January 1968
Vietnam War

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bummer-Palooza in Football Land

Not a good weekend in football land.

The Ducks lost on the road to Stanford by a score of 51-42 and now have a record of 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the Pac-10. That's still good for tied for first in the league, and if they can win the rest of their games (vs. ASU, at UA and vs. Oregon State) they will go to the Rose Bowl.


It has to be said that the big Stanford offensive line and their huge running back absolutely WORKED the Ducks defense...especially in the first half. Worked! Stanford literally punted only one time in the first two quarters, and maybe twice in the second half. In all other instances they scored on their drives. Sure, the Ducks scored fast and often with their high octane offense...and if you told me before the game that they'd put up 42 points I'd have been confident they would win... but the UO defense could. Not. Stop. Stanford's offense. Could not. And that was the difference in the game. Any one time, if the Ducks D had risen up and stopped a drive in the first half, the Ducks likely win the game. I guess you just chalk that up to experience and move on with the goal of winning the next one and making your way (hopefully) to the Rose Bowl or another good bowl. But for sure on Saturday, Stanford was the better team.

The Huskies lost a close one to the UCLA Skippy Neck-Weasels down in LA. Like some of their other losses this season, there were some controversial calls by the refs, some poor decisions by the UW coaching staff (how about a time out to review the last UCLA touchdown?) and a pick off of QB Jake Locker. Not a good combo. The Dawgs drop to 3-6 overall and now need to win their remaining games (vs. Oregon State, WSU and Cal) if they hope to make a bowl game.

The Hawkeyes lost a game at home vs. Northwestern. Not only that, their starting QB is now injured and questionable for the rest of the season. So, while they sit at 8-1 overall on still in first place in the Big-10, all bets are off for the rest of their games.

The Seahawks managed to beat the worst team in the NFL. The 32-20 final score is actually a little deceiving as it was 25-20 Seattle going in the last minute of the game. As Detroit drove the field trying to score, the Seattle defense intercepted their QB and ran it in for a touchdown to close the game. So, congrats Hawks, you're now at 3-5 overall having beat three of the wost teams in the league (St. Louis, Jacksonville and Detroit) at home and losing badly to five good teams pretty convincingly both on the road and at home.

The Sounders lost their playoff game vs. Houston Sunday, thus ending their first season in the MLS. But what a season it was. A winning record, great attendance, made the playoffs and won the US Open Cup. Not bad at all for a first year team. I'm not a soccer expert, but it seems like the Sounders are going to need some more offensive firepower if they expect to go from one of the best eight teams in the league to, say, one of the best two or three teams.

Here's to hoping for better results next week.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Football Treats and Tricks on Halloween

Well, well, well...Halloween weekend presented some new "treats" for me to be excited about in my football world, as well as one "trick" that was unfortunately all to predictable.

Starting with the sweet stuff...unless you spent your Sunday sleeping off your Halloween party hang over, you no doubt heard that the Oregon Ducks took apart USC to the tune of 47-20 Saturday evening. This runs the UO record to 7-1 overall and 5-0 and solo first place in the Pac-10. They are also now #8 in the BSC rankings. For as well as they've played most of this season, this game is the first that has convinced me that the Ducks are legit Pac-1o title contenders and...who knows...even more. They didn't just beat USC, they destroyed them. Big games at Stanford and Arizona remain, along with home tilts against ASU and the hated OSU Beavers. So, nothing is settled yet. Part of me thinks all this is too good to be true. Surely the Ducks will stumble against a supposedly inferior team or a key player like QB Masoli will go down for the season with an injury. It can't be this good for real can it? We shall see.

Meanwhile, the Iowa Hawkeyes survived another poor performance and won a game they could have easily lost. Ultimately, they beat Indiana by a pretty decent margin, but that came late and only after the Iowa QB threw five - FIVE! - interceptions. I cannot ever remember a team doing that and winning. But...somehow, some way, the Hawkeyes are 9-0 overall now and 5-0 in the Big Ten. They are #4 in the BSC standings and have three games to play: home against Northwestern, at Ohio State and home vs. Minnesota.

The UW Huskies had a bye and did not play.

The Seahawks did have a game vs. Dallas, but they didn't play either and lost to the Cowboys in miserable fashion. The Seahawks are a pathetic team, and I predict a 4-12 season. I know it's hard to believe they can win one more game, but they do have to play St. Louis again. They'll probably get that done and that'll be that. 2010 anyone?

The other football: the Sounders hosted Houston in the first of a two game series in the MLS playoffs. The game was good, but ended in a 0-0 tie as Houston played slow down and keep away. This means it comes down to who wins the game Sunday. The winner moves on to the next round.