Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Excursion to Egypt: Cairo, A City of Sites and Size

Last month, Diane and I took a fascinating trip to Egypt where we visited some of the world's oldest and most famous sights. For those interested in what we saw, did and felt about this adventure, I will post a few entries about it under the title "Excursion to Egypt." You can also see a set of pictures from our trip by clicking HERE.

To kick things off...

Cairo, A City of Sites and Size
The first thing that impressed me about Cairo as we rode in from the airport after arrival was that it is huge. HUGE. Locals will tell you there are anywhere from 18 million to 30 million people living "in Cairo." It just depends on who you ask. I don't honestly think it's that big, even if you factor in all the outlying and connected cities that make up the greater megatropolis. But, for sure the population is in the 10-15 million people range...and that does feel like 22 million. Trust me. It also means pollution. Bad pollution. I thought we'd never see pollution again like we witnessed in Shanghai, but I was wrong. Cairo is just as bad.

And all those people? Most have cars and use them. This makes for some of the worst, most congested traffic we've ever seen. With millions of cars moving around daily, there are bound to be accidents, and we saw three in person.

For all the perceptions of the Middle East as a dangerous place in terms of terrorism or just anti-Americanism, I will tell you definitively that your biggest risk of death or injury in Egypt is a car accident. That's right. It's not suicide bombers, machine guns or anything like that that's gonna get you in Egypt. Nope. Far from it. But a car accident just might. Below are pictures of two of them we saw:

Also, the look of Cairo is not beautiful. At least not to me. The city sprawls endlessly with office and apartment buildings galore. Some of them are ramshackle tower blocks, some of poorly build brick structures and some are more modern, but none are what most people would call "nice looking" buildings. And about 90% of them are either brown, grey or brown/grey in color. This makes colorful buildings really stick out. Here is one building that caught my eye:  

 We did have dinner and wander around the Zamalek neighborhood and that does have what I would call a nicer, more "old Cairo" feel to it with boutique shops, nice restaurants, narrow streets and old architecture. Of course, even in that neighborhood you are only a few streets away from mega freeways, tower blocks, congestion and crowds.

Down by the Nile River, things get better, however. We stayed at the very nice Grand Hyatt hotel with a view of the river and - on a clear day - the Great Pyramids too. For anyone going to Cairo, I would recommend this place as an oasis for the hustle and bustle of the city.

In the end though, you're coming to Cairo to see some major world historical sites and not the streets, buildings and neighborhoods. Here's what we checked out...

Egyptian Museum
The first site we saw as part of our tour was the famous Egyptian Museum. This is the building that holds the largest set of the artifacts from the tombs of ancient Egyptian Pharaohs, including the spectacular and golden contents of the tomb of King Tutankhamen.

 Our group gathered in the crowded front courtyard where large groups of other tourists milled around or formed up into their groups. For the first time on this trip I realized there were a lot of Russians around. Wherever we've been in the world, we tend to see large groups of Japanese tourists and then also usually a good representation of Australians, Germans, Brits and a few Americans. Never have we seen packs or tour groups of Russians. Apparently they like coming to Egypt.

Having sized up who all was there, our small group of 16 people headed on into the building. There are loads of things to see in the museum, but I'll give you my top three:
  1. The first thing most people stop to see is The Rosetta Stone. This is an ancient tablet of rock that has a single message carved into it, but in three different languages - Greek, Demotic Egyptian script and Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Discovered by more modern day explorers in 1799 the fact that the indecipherable hieroglyphs appeared on the same stone with the same message in a known language - ancient Greek - began to unlock the mystery of the hieroglyphs. Unfortunately, the original stone has resided in the British Museum in London since 1802. The one in the Egyptian Museum is an exact replica.
  2. Another impressive thing to see here are the mummies of the ancient Pharaohs. That's right, you get to see the actual Pharaohs! Mummified for thousands of years, these bodies are remarkably well preserved - to the degree that you can see what these people looked like.
  3. The other "gotta see" display in the museum is the comprehensive set of items taken from the tomb of King Tut. Unlike all the other Pharaohs tombs, Tutankhamen's was found in tact and undisturbed. The items in the tomb had not been stolen or damaged - simply sitting there unmoved since they were sealed away all those thousands of years ago. This means today we get to see what a Pharaoh's tomb contained all in one place. With all the gold, inlay, and jeweled work...it is impressive!
You can't take pictures inside the museum, so I have no shots of the wonderful things we saw. But, it's pretty easy to get the idea. For example, click HERE.

The Great Pyramids
The next major thing we saw were the towering and impressive Great Pyramids of Giza. Dating back more than 4,000 years, these are the ones you grew up seeing pictures of.

The first thing we learned was that there is only one "Great Pyramid." It's the Pyramid of Cheops. It's the largest and tallest one - on the left in my picture below. The other two are also massive, but technically not "great pyramids."

The Pyramids were tombs built by Pharaohs as monuments to their rein and to act as vessels for their trip into the next life. Being huge structures visible for miles around, they also attracted a lot of robbers and thieves who within a few years stripped out all items of value. This primarily why the Egyptian kings began building hidden underground tombs in the Valley of the Kings up river near Luxor.

Anyway, seeing these structures in person is impressive. How did they build them? How could they have done this so long ago with such primitive technology? How have they been able to stand so long? These are the questions and mysteries that make seeing these pyramids so interesting. You also really set your mortality in proper balance when you see something that's been around for that long. I mean, if you're lucky you maybe live 80-90 years. These things have been standing for 4,000 years! Wow.

After viewing an ancient Nile River boat that had been found in one of the tombs nearby the pyramids, we proceeded out a little ways and saddled up for a camel ride with a view of the structures. That was fun...and here's a picture to prove it:

Certainly, viewing the pyramids together is a lifetime highlight for Diane and me and I would recommend anyone visiting Egypt should see them too. You should also check out the night time "Sound and Light" show at the Pyramids. It's a fun way to see the structures in a different way and get an education on ancient Egypt.

This is a giant fort topped by a giant mosque. It also offers a great view of greater Cairo. We ventured there with our guide for a delightful tour of the premises and inside the mosque. Here are a few pictures from our visit:

One of the last things we did in Cairo was to visit the massive, sprawling Khan al-Khalili Bazaar. Again, huge. We spent a couple hours strolling the alleys and lanes of this shopping district. Like many bazaars around the world, different streets offer different types of items. One street is for hardware, another grains, another plumbing, another clothing, another decorations, etc., etc., etc. This is how Cairo residents have been shopping for centuries.

And today, naturally, there is a large corridor of tourist related items. Not being in the market for home improvement items or dry goods, we stuck to the shops offering things like carved figures, glass, scarfs and the like. The other thing that the bazaar provides is a fairly constant barrage of guys wanting to sell you things. Diane and I are used to this as we've been in places like this bazaar, so we simply brushed them off with some well timed and directly delivered "no" replies to their requests. One thing I notice that really works well if you need to get rid of a particular annoying hawker is to firmly and directly look them in the eye and say "no, leave me alone." That usually does the trick.
At any rate, we came away with some nice souvenirs and an even better experience.

Whether it is the large collection at the museum, the massive Pyramids, the huge citadel and mosque or the sprawling bazaar, Cairo is definitely a city of size and sites that, despite the crowds and heat, really delivered the goods. I would recommend anyone going to Egypt to spend 2-3 days there

***Bonus Coverage - Eating in Cairo***
We ate at several good places in Cairo that if you ever find yourself there you should check out:

The Mogul Room at the Mena House Hotel
Cuisine: Really good Indian food
Why go: Beyond the food, this restaurant is situated in a beautiful old hotel...which is itself situated right by the Pyramids. So, you get great food, a wonderful setting and you get to see the Pyramids.

Cuisine: Italian and Mediterranean fare
Why go: Good food, nice local joint in the upscale Zamalek neighborhood - gets you off the tourist track, but in a nice neighborhood you can look around in before or after eating.

Cuisine: Lebanese 
Why go: Really good Lebanese food. Excellent. Nice white table cloth ambiance. Inside the Intercontinental Hotel by the Nile River so easy to find and easy to get a cab home from.

NOTE: All pictures featured in this article were taken by me, Marc Osborn. They are copy written in my name and are not authorized for any use by anyone without written permission directly from me. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

USA Out of the World Cup - Now What?

Now that the US is out of the World Cup, most Americans will promptly forget about soccer until the next World Cup in four years. I've been thinking about what might help make soccer a more attractive sport for Americans in that four year period and have a few suggestions.

Here are four things that could be done to make the sport much more interesting the U.S. fans:
  1. Instant replay. Not for everything or even most things, but certainly for determining if a goal has been scored. Americans won't accept a sport that consistently lets non-goals count and denies goals where the ball clearly crosses the goal line. Hockey saw the light and now uses replay for questions on goal scoring. Soccer could easily do the same. Ask England if they'd like a little instant replay.
  2. Accurate clock. Stop the clock for when the ball goes out of bounds or when a player is rolling around on the ground after presumably getting injured...say after 20 seconds. Restart the clock when the ball is back in play or, in the case of a potential injury, when the player either gets up or is escorted to the sideline. This will reduce fake injuries and eliminate the need for the "guess-timate" of stoppage time at the end of each half that seem so subjective. To the degree that all this might make each game a little longer, I don't think American fans would care. Remember, they are used to watching football games that last 4 hours, b-ball games that are more than 2 hours, baseball games that can last...well, as long as they take. Adding somewhere around 20 minutes onto the overall game experience would be minimal.
  3. No ties. They are distasteful to American sports fans. I get how it all works now, the points system, etc., etc. I like it and can appreciate it, but most Americans don't and will always cite that as a major problem with the sport and why they don't want to watch or care. So, eliminate ties. If regulation time ends in a tie, play a short overtime period and then do PKs if needed after that. Yes, that would probably mean the end of a points system, but that would be OK with me if it broadened the appeal of the game overall.
  4. Don't reward acting. "Diving" is a hallmark of soccer. Players fake being fouled and then fake being injured to either 1) kill clock, 2) in hopes of being awarded a free kick or 3) to get an opposing player a yellow or red card. The reason this behavior persists is because refs reward it. This should stop. If a player goes down and cannot get up within a certain amount of time, say 20 seconds, the clock is stopped. This takes away motivation #1 above. It would also help refs make a decision on if the player was really fouled. As in, if the guy is still down after 20 seconds, it's more likely that he was really fouled. The would help sort out situations #2 and #3 above for more accurate calls by the ref. 
Ultimately, however, none of these changes to make soccer more palatable to Americans would be as effective as the U.S. making it into the later rounds of the World Cup or winning it. Now THAT would put soccer on the map here. But I don't think it'll happen any time soon. Until top US athletes start choosing to play soccer, we'll not be able to compete at the very highest level. 

Put it this way...what if LaBron James, Adrian Peterson, Duane Wade, T.O., Derek Jeter, Reggie Bush, Kobe Bryant and other top caliber athletes went into soccer and played in the MLS or European leagues instead of football or basketball. You think the US would be beat very often in the World Cup? You think MLS would have to play second fiddle to premier leagues in England, Germany, Italy and Spain? No. We would be big time players internationally. But for now, top athletes in the U.S. have no conceivable reason other than personal passion to go into soccer because it just dosen't pay like the other American sports. Our best won't chose soccer because there isn't the same abundance of big money contracts for loads of players as is the case American football, baseball and basketball. Throw in that we have our own traditional sports and big change seems unlikely. So, my guess is that we'll always be in that Top10-15 teams in the world, but never a serious contender to win a World Cup.
    So where does that leave us? I'd like to see some American rules for soccer in the MLS. I think if that league is going to grow and thrive, and I'd like to see that, it's going to need to do some things to draw in more than hard core soccer fans. Changes such as the ones I suggest above might help in that effort. 

    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    Word of Mouth Is Where It's At

    To paraphrase the late-great Joe Strummer, " I think we're going to have to forget the Internet and go back to word of mouth."

    Joe originally said, "...forget radio and go back to word of mouth." His exact phrase is probably still true, but I think that in today's Internet based entertainment society, the best music you can discover is done so by recommendations by friends and not by - what is today the equivalent of radio in the 1970s and 80s - the Internet.

    Talk to your friends. Find out what they are listening to. Go to an actual music store and talk to the people who work there. Find out what they think is hip. Chat up a buddy (or better yet someone you've never met) at a party. Find out what they are listening to. Check it out. Maybe you don't like it, but maybe you do.

    But either way, that's gotta be better sourcing of music than MSN, iTunes or other online sites.

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Know Your History: BP's Deadly Impact On the World

    You think the current oil spill is the worst thing BP has done? Think again.

    Indeed, BP (or, back in the day when it was known as the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company) has bequeathed the world much more than a sticky oily Gulf of Mexico, dead sea life and unemployed Americans.

    In fact, they helped mightily in delivering to the world stage the militant, fundamentalist Islamic state of Iran.

    Huh you say? True I say. Oh, and the "Anglo-Iranian Oil Company" had some help from the good old USA in setting in motion the events that would lead up to the 1979 Iranian revolution and institution of Ayatollah Khomeini.

    The BBC has an excellent article on this history that you can read by clicking HERE.

    The BBC article is the best place to get the info on this history, but here is a summary:
    • In 1951 Iranians democratically elected a leader, prime minister Mohammad Mosaddech.
    • He decided to nationalize Iran's oil production and facilities for a number of reasons.
    • This REALLY ticked off the oil company.
    • They and the British government took steps to undermine Mosaddech and re-establish their control over Iranian oil...but they were not successful.
    • Becoming more desperate, the British government under Winston Churchill's leadership started calling Mosaddech a socialist, a communist, a dictator etc. despite those things being untrue...and they said these things directly into the ear of the White House and the CIA.  
    • We bought it and in 1953 helped execute a plan to overthrow Mosaddech and install the Shah (king) of Iran.
    • The Shah's regime was so brutal, so repressive and so hated that by 1979, religious factions had galvanized a movement to overthrow the Shah...and they did. You may remember this little episode best by the capture of the US Embassy in Tehran and the holding of US hostages.
    • During and after the revolution, the Ayatollah Khomeini became the country's leader. He and then the fundamentalist Islamic movement he created have ruled Iran ever since.
    • Unless you are from Mars, you know how this has played out over the past 31 years.
    This is the power and influence of oil has on world events. This is the power and influence of corporations have on the lives - and uncounted deaths - of people all over the world.

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Stars Aligning?

    Could the stars be aligning for a USA run into the "elite 8" or "final 4" of the World Cup?

    France is out. Italy is out. Spain has struggled. We don't have to play Germany next. Sure, we would have to beat Ghana (not a given AT ALL), but seems like the pathway forward is as good as its ever been.

    As always with sports....we. shall. see.

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Team USA Wins...Moves On to Next Round of Wold Cup!

    Oh what a difference one run down the field can make.

    After wasting opportunity after opportunity to score goals vs. Algeria in their World Cup match today, "The Yanks" finally put one in at the VERY end of the game.

    And what a goal.

    Scoring it means that they advance on to the next round of the tournament.

    Scoring it means they win Group C...the first time USA has won a group since 1930s.

    Scoring it means they get an easier draw for their next opponent as they will play the runner up in Group D rather than the group's winner.

    Scoring it means USA soccer can hold its head high rather than slink home a la France or some other nations who turned in less than impressive showings.

    Scoring it means more Americans will get to see USA soccer.

    So, great job Yanks!

    But now things get even more difficult, and from this point forward it's "loser out."

    And lets face it, as much as we all will be rooting for a win for Team USA, the odds are not good. Why you may ask? Well, in three group games the trends are disturbing. Too many breakdowns on defense. Too many misses on easy open net goal opportunities. Too many times US players were a step to late or too slow. Too many sloppy turnovers in midfield. Too much possession time by opponents.

    Sure, they were criminally robbed of two goals by referees, but overall the type of play on display will very likely get you beat at the next level.

    But hey, for now let the celebration commence. USA is through to the next round and that's a BIG deal. It's exciting and a major accomplishment for the nation's soccer team.

    And you never know. Sports are the ultimate "reality TV." Who knows how we'll do in the next game. Maybe we'll work the magic once again.

    Here's hoping!

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    BillyBobNeck - Comic Genius or Majorly Disturbed Man?

    Billybob Neck...a man who is either a f-ing comic and satire GENIUS or a really, really stupid man the likes of which we need to be afraid of.

    Judge for yourself by watching the video HERE.

    This is perhaps the funniest thing I've every seen on YouTube...but also among the most disturbing becuase whether he's authentic or performing satire, it's based on a reality that is depressing.

    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    The Transparency of Some Politicians

    You want to see how connected certain politicians are to corporations? You want to get a real indication of some elected officials' motivations?

    Unfortunately, this week proved to be quite revealing as a number of current and former politicians have come to the defense of BP - apologizing to them for our government forcing BP to pay for cleanup of their oil spill and taking the Obama administration to task for telling a company what it should do.

    So far the people saying these things are conservatives. It may not stay this way, but for now that's how it is on the public record.

    My guess is that particularly aggressive conservatives see this as a winning game for three reasons:
    1. It's one more way they can make a point that somehow, some way this Obama guy is "a socialist" by criticizing government involvement what BP does. It's actually brilliant because...
    2. As they do that they can also - out of the other side of their mouths - criticize the administration as not doing enough. A double dip.
    3. And, as the cherry on top they can retroactively rehabilitate the W reputation by saying or implying things like, "Obama's response is no different (or worse) that Bush's during Katrina."
    Anyway, I think the perhaps even bigger point and the real transparency in the rush to defend BP is how much influence companies like it wield in the corridors of power in the U.S.A.

    My summary? Rallying to the defense of BP, apologizing to them, saying that they're being "shaken down" by the White House and that they should not have to pay for their oil spill clean up is straight up disgusting. It shows a) that some politicians are 100% megalomaniac opportunists (far from "country first,") and b) connected at the hip with big oil interests. These are the people we need to concerned with.

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Door Still Open for "The Yanks" in World Cup

    Wow, now that the more recent round of "group games" of the World Cup for the USA has been completed, things didn't shape up as expected as both USA and England tied their games instead of winning them. But, that still leaves the door open for "The Yanks" to advance.

    Here is where the teams in the USA's group stand now with matchups of Algeria vs. USA and England vs. Slovenia all that remains in the first round:

    Slovenia - 4 pts
    USA - 2 pts
    England - 2 pts
    Algeria - 1 pt

    Keeping in mind that a team gets 3 pts for a win, 1 pt for a tie and 0 pts for a loss, this means that the USA can "get out of their group" to advance to the next round of the World Cup if:

    They beat Algeria. This would earn the US 5 pts and no matter what anyone else does, they would finish no worse than second in the group...and that would advance them.

    There may be a way to advance if they tie Algeria and and England ties with Slovenia if you throw in some goal-differential stuff...but I'm not sure what that is.

    Basically, beat Algeria and move on. Here is hoping!

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Goodbye to Cereal

    I noticed something about food that you all may be interested in.

    I'm the last person to give diet advice. Heck, my approach is eat what I want (staying reasonable of course) and exercise like a fiend. And that works for the most part.

    However, recently we were away on vacation for two weeks in Egypt. We did not exercise - at least not at a gym like we do at home. And, we ate great food the whole time - even indulging in beer or wine most days. Yet, when we came back I was down by five pounds.


    I got to thinking about why this might be. One thing to consider is that we did in fact walk around a lot every day, so we were essentially exercising daily. By no means as intensely as we would back home, but for a longer time each day.
    The other thing I realized is, I think, the real eye opener. The one food I did not eat the entire time on our trip was breakfast cereal. Our lunches and dinners were as big as we wanted. Same with breakfasts - pastry, eggs, cheese, bacon. But, I didn't eat cereal the whole time. And I think that's what accounted for my loss.

    On a hunch I've been abstaining from cereal over the last two weeks since we've returned, as well as getting back to my normal eating and exercise routine. And guess what? I've kept the five pounds off.
    Hey, I like breakfast cereal, and I was not eating the sugary kid stuff either. It tastes good, is quick and easy to eat in the morning and fills you up (for the short term).

    But, with what I've observed over the past couple weeks...with condolences to Post, Quaker and General Mills...I will be bidding breakfast cereal goodbye. I like it, but goodbye.

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    2 Items on the BP Oil Spill

    President Obama has given his speech about the BP oil spill, but here are two things I want to add...

    Reminder: This Oil Spill Brought to You By Private Business
    While some may want to assign blame for the failure to cap the leak and clean up the spill on the government, I'd like to send out a friendly reminder that this spill was brought to you by BP - a private, for-profit company and nobody else. As far as cleaning up their mess, they assumed responsibility for that, but have failed and now the government is involved.

    Look...since the mid 1980s, the Federal government under Republican and Democratic leadership has gone on a massive deregulation binge, particularly in the financial, energy (read: oil and coal), pharma and environmental industries. This was done under the now obviously false premise that only private enterprise can do things correctly and government will invariably screw it up. It also helped a relatively few people make a spectacular amount of money.

    Well, I submit that now we've seen the ultimate result of all that in the past two years as private enterprise has hand delivered to you the housing crisis, the banking crisis, the stock market crash, negative drug interactions and recalls and now the biggest oil spill and environmental disaster in the nation's history.

    Government has a role to play in regulating industries that impact so many Americans, and if I blame Obama and Congressional Ds for anything it is not re-instituting more aggressive regulations for key sectors of our economy.

    Question: If This Spill Hadn't Happened, Would the Oil Still Cause Massive Environmental Problems?
    This spill is horrible. Awful. It has killed people and animals and had a terrible impact on the environment. However, what if the oil leak never happened? Would that oil still have a negative - albeit not as immediate as a spill - impact on the health and well being of people, animals and the planet?

    If it was processed into fuels for autos and airplanes and petroleum products for industrial use would those uses still not disgorge huge amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the environment? And, would not those pollutants lead to diseases and other health problems for people, animals? Sure, not as immediately as a spill, but would they not still have an impact?

    My guess is yes, it would.

    And that brings up the major takeaway I have from this whole thing...we GOTTA get off oil. For more than a century it has been an essential ingredient to building a modern world. Fine. But we have the the means to move onto something better and we should for many reasons - health, jobs, security are among them.

    UO Has Nice Track & Field Season

    Congrats to the University of Oregon track and field team.
    • Runner Andrew Wheating is national champion in the mens 800 meter and 1,500 meter events.
    • Athlete Ashton Eaton is national champion (for the third year in a row) in Decathlon.
    • Runner Brianne Thiesen is national champion in Heptathalon and women's 4x400 relay.
    The overall UO track and field team took 3rd place in mens and 2nd place in women's national championship this past weekend.

    Earlier, both the mens and women won respective Pac-10 championships for the second year in a row.

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    My Re-Cap of USA vs. England

    Over this past weekend, Diane and I attended two high school graduation ceremonies for family and friends. Good times to be sure and our niece and friend's daughter are respectively off onto the next chapter of their lives.

    Another thing I did this weekend was watch the USA vs. England - or, more accurately, the second half of the game as we were on the road driving to the destination of the first graduation ceremony during the first half of the match. With a little time to kill before festivities started, I was able to catch the entire second half.

    Here are my take-aways from the game as a whole and what I observed:

    1) Team USA is VERY lucky to have tied England. By my estimation, England is the far superior team. They were faster, better able to control the ball, easily set up plays and get shots on goal. Sure, USA almost delivered the go-ahead and likely winning goal mid way through the second half, but that was a one-off charge by our best player. Meanwhile, England kept their wolves at the USA goal's doorstep most of the half.

    2) USA goalkeeper Tim Howard is extremely good. He stopped several point blank shots from England that by all rights should have been scores. Despite the goal by England early in the game, Howard is nails. Glad we have him for the other games coming up!

    3) A tie against England is good. Real good. American sports fans abhor a tie, and I know why. Hey, who wants to walk away from a game with nothing really decided? Someone should win, right? Well, in soccer a tie can be a win or it can be a loss. In the case of an underdog team playing a heavy favorite, if you come out with a tie...you actually have won while the favorite has lost. But it's not just moral wins and losses either. In soccer, you earn 3 points as a team for a win, 1 point for a tie and zero points for a loss. These points accrue and determine if your team moves onward in whatever league or tournament you're playing in. So, in the World Cup...USA ties England and both teams earn 1 point. USA has now greatly increased chances of moving forward in the tournament based on points because the main competition in their group has also only got 1 point. They don't need to worry about making up points against England in the standings. That's how soccer is. It's different than baseball, football and basketball - not better or worse, just different.

    4) The England goalkeeper should probably think about new real estate back home if England fails to earn enough points to advance on to the next round of the World Cup. If that happens, "Jolly old England" will not be too jolly towards the keeper who bungled a shot by the USA and let it through for a score.

    Next up is USA vs. Slovenia on Friday. The Slovenians won their game vs. Algeria over the weekend and thus posses 3 points in the standings to USA and England's one point. So, team USA really needs to beat their next opponent to jump up to 4 points and take the lead of their group. If they do not, then it's a do-or-die game vs. Algeria a few days later.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    World Cup 2010: Why Soccer Isn't So Popular In the USA

    The World Cup starts this month. Will anyone in America watch?

    Certainly yes. But, despite it being THE big sport in virtually every nation on the globe, soccer definately isn't nearly as popular in the USA as it is elsewhere.

    I've always wondered why this might be...especially considering that teams from the USA have done decently well in World Cups gone by.

    CNN has a good story HERE that explains some of the reasons soccer hasn't taken off in the United States.

    Popular or not, I'll be watching the World Cup and rooting for our team to advance as far as possible.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    Egypt Pictures

    OK everyone, I've put together an initial set of pictures from our recent trip to Egypt.

    You can see it by clicking HERE.

    If you want to see it in "slide show" mode, once you arrive at the page you can click on the little slide show screen in the upper right side of the set page.

    I took A LOT of pictures while we were in Egypt, so these are certainly not the only ones I have or ultimately will share, but I thought it would be a good first step.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Blog Publishes My Charleston Pictures

    A blog called 82K has published and credited several of the pictures I took of Charleston, SC when Diane and I visited there last year.

    You can see the full blog post with my pictures by clicking HERE.

    The blog appears to be for a guy who sells jewelry, but it also seems like he writes about other stuff too.

    You can see a more full set of pictures of our trip to Charleston, Savannah and Williamsburg by clicking HERE.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    One of My Photos Published In a Book

    One of my photos has been published in a book!

    Specifically, the new book titled Historical Tweets by authors Alan Beard and Alec McNayr includes a picture I took in India when Diane and I visited there in 1999.

    You can see some of the hype the book is getting by clicking HERE, and a scan of the page bearing my photo is below:

    My photo credit appears at the back of the book along with all of the others.

    You can see the original picture that I took on my Flickr Photostream by clicking HERE.

    To date, that means I have had my photos published and credited in a book, in a newspaper, in an online educational program, on a travel web site and on several blogs.

    HERE is a link to my pictures that have been published.