Sunday, February 25, 2018

Some spicy food (and a track meet)

Track season has begun with a bang....and a habanero.

Indoor National Championships in Albuquerque, same as last year. A nice track set up in the Convention Center, the hotel connected via underground walkway, and the best Mexican food I've had in a long time!

A nice Mediterranean lunch in the airport courtesy of Priority Pass...




I used PP to also pick up dinner from the Capers Marketplace; basically, a lox/bagel package without the bagel. I'll eat it in the Oakland airport on my layover. Priority Pass = $0 out of pocket.

Two words: Sa-WEET!!

Flying Southwest Air for the first time in awhile, so I have to drive to Portland. I pay the $15 for Early Bird boarding, and it's worth it to find an aisle seat.

But that lunch is so filling that I skip eating in Oakland in favor of a little nosh on the final flight.



Amazing what reduced ambient pressure does to a sealed container, like a bag of potato chips or a pigskin. While I have no football favorites, the whole DeflateGate mess makes me shake my head. Inflate a football to the minimum allowable pressure while in a warm, dry environment, then take said football outside into a cold, wet environment. Pressure goes DOWN. It's like gravity or taxes or death; an inevitability. Those with pre-standing Patriots animus scream the loudest about 'cheating' while ignoring a physical principle that has been  in existing since.....forever.

There is (was?) a blogger called The Food Babe who likens herself a champion of purity while decrying bad things...like 'pressurized air in a plane that 'forces' gases into our bodies, making us feel sluggish after a flight.'   OMG....okay, airplane cabins are indeed 'pressurized'....to a level equal to around 8,000 feet. In other words, the air inside a plane is higher pressure than the air outside of it (thank goodness!), but much lower pressure than at sea level.

If you're going to quote science, at least know what the heck you're talking about.

In a magazine, my buddy Zendaya...


Looking a little like my other buddy (and daughter) Zoe...


Quality...Sophistication...Style....for a moment, I think this is the title of my upcoming autobiography.


Credential pickup.


Time to figure out the city bus system. An elderly woman exits while pushing a two-wheeled cart; the wheels stick in the gap between bus and curb, causing her to lurch forward into a pending face-plant.

I couldn't save the day, because the two men in front of me do. One grabs her cart, the other grabs her arm in time to keep her noggin from impacting cement. Nice job, guys.

Getting my kicks on Route 66 (aka Central Avenue). Heading west on the 766 Red Line to...




Nice, clean, EMPTY pool. 


Afterward, on the walk back to the bus stop: Lori, some minor swim googles (aka goggles).


Do you see Phoenix in the distance? It's only about 400 miles.


Breakfast the next morning included a walk to..


 Buddy Dave recommends this place for breakfast.



I NEVER refuse chicken tortilla soup, time of day be damned.



Pre-meet briefing:


Before the meet starts, I become painfully aware of a toe blister. Young guy at Medical takes a full 10 minutes to find me one band-aid. Didn't mean to put you out, guy.

 And now, the main event...


(That's USA Track and Field, not US Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms)



Someone must be lost...this ain't NYC and Madison Square Garden (or The Armory)


Back to the Frontier...did I mention the posole...and more chicken tortilla soup? 

Indescribably good!!

I'm in the elevator with 800m runner Donovan Brazier. He broke the 50 year old collegiate record back in 2016.

I tell him I wrote him up for a line violation at Sacramento's Outdoor Nationals last year. Overruled by the referees, to my amazement, because it was clearly a foul coming out of the blocks. 

He says, "I was DQ'd in Eugene (NCAAs) last year for stepping on the line."

NBC: "That was me, too."

DB: "You must not like me."

NBC: "Just stay off the line!"

The next day, he wins the national title at Indoors. 

In Birmingham, England at World Championships, he is once again DQ'd for a line violation. 

Kids today just don't listen. 

Vashti Cunningham wins another high jump title, and receives her medal from dad (and former Eagles QB) Randall. I'm guessing he enjoyed watching this year's Super Bowl. 

Shelby Houlihan completes her second consecutive double at Indoors, winning the 1500 and 3000. The longer race is Saturday: World steeple champ Emma Coburn takes control with a half mile left, but Shelby destroys her at the bell. Next day in the 1500, Shelby is near the back with 1.5 laps to go: i figure she has heavy legs from the day before. Maybe, but she kicks hard and somehow comes around the field on the final turn. 

The women's pole vault has the 2012 Olympic Champion, Indoor world record holder, and last year's World Championship silver medalist. It also has an unknown named Katie Mageotte; all she does is clear her first 8 heights without a miss, including three personal bests in a row, and narrowly misses setting her own world record while beating the entire field. She is somewhat pleased with her performance. 



Meanwhile, from across the pond: Buddy LJ is currently on a Parisian romp and posts one of the coolest pix I've ever seen.


Hurdler Sharika Nelvis breaks the American record and spends the next few minutes dancing on the track. 



The final event is the men's 60m sprint. 21 year old Christian Coleman puts an exclamation mark on the meet with a tidy little world record.







i imagine I'm due some credit, so....


Our stalwart umpire team..



To celebrate the end of the meet, I reserve a table for eight at a Brazilian grill nearby. Lots of animal protein...and Rory does some carbo-loading as well. I believe he suffers a sugar coma shortly thereafter.





In the Las Vegas airport on the way home...



Ugh....sensory overload.


Good meet. More to come this spring!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Zoe Destroys the Big Apple


I've been looking forward to this trip for a while.

We moved from NJ to Oregon in 2007 when Zoe was 4 years old. Since then, most of my East Coast relatives haven't been able to see Zoe grow up. That all changed with an invitation to a family Bar Mitzvah in north Jersey, and the wheels started turning....great opportunity for a daddy/daughter weekend in the city.

Zoe is a bit pumped up at the idea.


The adventure begins with a 5:09AM departure from the Redmond Airport. That means my teenager has to rise two hours earlier. Never fear: that girl was up before the alarms. As for me, my sleep was spotty, so I was in the shower at 2:30.

On the drive to the airport, with music blaring, Zoe drops the following goodies:

"That's gucci."  (in response to something outstanding)

"This song has a good emo bop."  (translation unknown)

and when arriving at the cold airport:

"I don't want to leave the warmth of my butt."   (she likes my car's heated seats)

This kid of mine....shortly after, she's celebrating a successful transit thru TSA:


Security Dab
While waiting for the flight, Zoe notices the time of 4:24 and says, "Shoot, we missed 4:20."

That kid. She's doing two shows a night at the Copa.


We had a 30 minute connection in Portland, tight enough that I called a breakfast order in to Le Capers Cafe while we were still taxiing to the gate.

A short walk to our next plane, and a huge line already boarding. Let's sit down and eat our breakfast now, since our bags will fit under the seats (no need to fight for overhead storage). So we sit and begin to eat...when I notice those people are at the next gate, San Diego bound. Our gate is adjacent...and the door is open...and there are no passengers standing there. Hmmm.....

Yep, boarding on our flight is almost done. Yikes. Underway shortly.

Zoe loves her bagel and egg sandwich.



My breakfast is a little more unconventional, especially at 7am.


She held out as long as she could.


Upon landing at EWR, I'm blaring Cameo's Word Up while trying to impress upon Zoe the sheer magnitude of Larry Blackmon's high box.



And now the adventure kicks into high gear, with Zoe's first ride on NJ Transit, not to mention that first glimpse of New York's Penn Station.


Friday at 4:30pm, the subway is a bit crowded. Who knew?


We're staying at Pod 51, this really neat and quirky hotel, with a tiny room that we won't spent much time in. Zoe loves the bunk beds, as I thought she would.






Cool elevator!
And now, the adventure goes nuclear; we walk past Rockefeller Center, and I casually inform Zoe that she will be skating on Sunday morning if she can drag herself out of bed. She says that won't be a problem!




Schlepping across midtown, we arrive at the mecca that is Times Square. Zoe is mesmerized at the....'whatever you want to call it' quality of those amazing few blocks. Everything is lit, including some of the pedestrians.





We continue our stroll, as it's still a few hours before the main event. I scratch my chin thoughtfully, and tell her we might want to check out the next block.

Which of course holds the Richard Rodgers Theater, home of 'Hamilton.'  Yes, she loses her mind....


And we found Hamilton's retail store across the street...I hope Alexander still gets royalties.



Dinner:


A pizza that goes to 11....


Hello......NEWMAN.


The Broadway Bookstore....I could spend a few hours in there.

I see you shiver...with antici....PATION. 


Zoe's musical du jour is Kinky Boots. She practically knows the script...






It's been almost 20 years since I've seen a Broadway production.


The sets are perfectly done....the engineer in me appreciates the ease at which the crew changes scenery on the fly. Everything fits.

Oh, yes: the story and singing are exceptional.

At intermission: Zoe is just a bit jazzed.


Tremendous show. Poignant storyline, two male leads with widely disparate backgrounds dealing with similar issues. Powerful singing, full commitment by the cast...no kidding, that's what it takes to win a Tony Award....or six, as the show did in its opening year.


Phenomenal makeup, too. My intuition was telling me that the 'Angels' were one gender, but my eyes were saying something else.

On the way out, I suggest that Zoe grab some extra Playbills.



She IM's one of her friends, who says (in the spirit of capitalism), "sell them and get that coin."

On the walk back...Rockefeller Center



 NBC at NBC (2018):


NBC at NBC (1990):

Yeesh. 

We finally collapse in our beds around 1AM. Very long and amazing day.

I'm up at 0640 for a walk thru Central Park, and to do some shopping.






Too bad I didn't have my wallet with me. Yeah, right.

9 West 57th, home of many financial firms. The business nerds among us might remember the RJR Nabisco LBO; this building was the site of many a negotiation (and late nights) on that deal.


Here's Tavern on the Green.


I can practically see Louis Tully being ravaged by the demon dogs while banging on the Tavern's windows, requiring an intervention from Ray, Peter, and Egon.




 That short building in the middle...

is artistically enlarged into Dana Barrett's apartment building, and site of an attack by the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.



Runners are careless about their litter. I'm standing at the finish line of the recent NYC Marathon, picking up a lot of F-bombs dropped by Shalane, the first American winner in 156 years.

I have all my business meetings at The Plaza.

 The White House...


Back at the hotel, I rouse Junior from her slumber. Onto the subway, then NJ Transit enroute to Bloomfield for Jesse's Bar Mitzvah. A nice reunion with my brother and sister, who I see way too rarely nowadays. And they haven't seen their niece in over a decade.

my sibs: Leslie and Curt


Zoe doesn't look much like Leslie, does she? 

Cousin Tara and my 'little' brother






Once in the city again, we walk north a few blocks to Serendipity, on the advice of my doctor.




Zoe devours a chicken pot pie...and then there's this beast:


A frozen hot chocolate. Ice chunks in the chocolate, blended into the consistency of a smoothie. Not exactly benign.

Zoe and her good friend RuPaul...


Sunday morning means skating. Zoe has had lessons since age five...while she's enjoying the ice, I'm across the street at the Today Show, looking for a cameraman who needs footage of skaters for the morning show. No luck.




I'm above the ice at street level, watching my beautiful girl skating away. She sees me and says something, but I can't hear her. She pulls out her phone and texts me.

"I need water."

A quick walk back to the hotel. Pack up, check out. A quick ride back to Penn Station, more NY pizza for Zoe, then the train to the airport.



Six hours later, we're in Portland and awaiting the final flight. In the interim, we have dinner: a shared shrimp puttanesca...



And for Dad, an exquisite Adelsheim Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley. I highly recommend it...or maybe I'm just tired.



Home at midnight. Yes, I'm tired: we did a lot, and we did it together. 

I love you, Zoe: here's hoping you remember this trip for a long time.