Saturday, November 23, 2013

Because every now and then

you need a little Bill Hicks.

Yes, we all do.

Friday, November 22, 2013

On the road again: Portland, day 5

Ah, the joys of travel.  Today's trip started with a wake-up call at 5:15 a.m., a time when I am vastly more likely to be going to bed than getting up.  The next couple of hours went to the usual drill:  shower, check out, drive to airport, turn in rental car, check in, go through security, get some food for the plane, go to gate, etc.  No upgrades for me today, though I can't complain too much, because I had exit-row, aisle seats on both flights.

The first flight passed reasonably quickly, and I landed nearly caught up on work.

The time to the second flight was initially tight but grew a bit due to flight delays.  The extra minutes, even after the additional walking time necessary to change gates, still left room for a quick stop at a Red Mango for one of their delicious parfaits.  Red Mango makes every day better.

We boarded the second plane at the new gate and...sat.  And sat.  And sat.  A part necessary to make the captain-to-passenger intercom work had broken, so maintenance had to find and bring a new part.  Unfortunately, they brought the wrong part.  Repeat.

A couple of hours later, we took off. 

I'm home safely now, and I get to stay home until CES in early January.  That's a nice treat. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

On the road again: Portland, day 4

The meetings ended early enough today that I was able to head downtown for an afternoon snack of amazing ice cream at Salt and Straw.  I don't love every flavor these fine folks make, but I love the vast majority of them, and I applaud their inventiveness.  For example, today I tried the pumpkin and chevre ice cream, which was the happy child of an insanely rich cheesecake and perfect pumpkin ice cream. 

I'm so glad this ice cream place is nowhere near me.

After a lot of work, dinner provided a welcome break.  Tonight's meal was at Le Pigeon, which frequent readers will recall is one of my favorite places in the whole world.  I was able to sit at the bar beside the tiny kitchen, so I had the chance to chat occasionally with gifted chef and great guy Gabriel Rucker.  Gabe is one of the folks who noticed in my novel Slanted Jack that the title character bears a great resemblance to Harry Harrison's wonderful Stainless Steel Rat.  As I've explained, that was an intentional homage to a set of books that I greatly enjoyed many years ago--as did Gabe.

The meal tonight was, as usual, exceptional.  Rucker's complex combinations frequently leave you shaking your head in wonder at all the ingredients he manages to get to play together in incredible, delicious harmony.  I cannot recommend this restaurant too highly.

Tomorrow morning, I must arise way before the butt-crack of dawn to check out and head to the airport.  Oh, boy!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On the road again: Portland, day 3

Less than three hours after I crawled under the bed covers, I stood up and got back to work. The day passed in the usual business-trip way: lots of email, lots of work, all of it about very interesting topics that I cannot discuss.

Dinner this evening was a very good meal at Roe, a small restaurant nestled at the back of a bigger restaurant, Block+Tackle, in Portland's Richmond area. The four-course menu featured three seafood dishes and a dessert.  Each one was delicious and inventive.  My favorite was a beautiful tuna tartare covered in a foie gras snow made by shaving frozen foie and letting it come up to room temperature. 

If you like seafood and live in this area or visit it, you definitely need to check out Roe.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On the road again: Portland, day 2

From very early in the morning until very late at night (well after two-thirty a.m. Pacific time), work consumed almost all of this day.  It was a rough one.

At the same time, it was an exhilarating one.  The work meetings were interesting and exciting and gave me a great deal to ponder.  I like when I have to work my brain hard, and today gave me several opportunities to do that.  Great stuff. 

Dinner was with colleagues and friends at Irving Street Kitchen, a very good restaurant in the Pearl district.  David, one of my colleagues, learned that a friend of his was the pastry chef there, so we had to check it out.  She and they treated us like VIPs, sent us a couple of extra appetizers, and then delivered one each of every dessert.  All were excellent.  I'd definitely go back there again.

In the "I am weird" department, as the meal was winding down, while the others at our table were talking, the music playing just below the volume of the sea of conversation in the restaurant turned to this lovely Death Cab for Cutie song, "Transatlanticism."

I couldn't quite hear it at first, and we couldn't Shazam it, but moments after we gave up I caught the words clearly and recognized it.  The song hit me like a sledgehammer to the heart, and then I got a double whammy as I flashed on this lovely Levi Weaver video, which I've featured before and in which Sarah and Ben appear and something magical happens at the end.

In an instant and for only a few seconds, I ached unbearably for all the people I've ever loved and lost, for those I wanted to love but never had the chance, for those I've known who were so in need of love that they glowed with the pain of their need, for the times when my children were young and small and I could hold them close to me and thought I could protect them always just through the sheer power of my love, for all the times I wished I could hold someone closer. 

I thought then, as I often do, that of all the forces that bind us humans and all the traits we share, love and the power and the ability and the need to love are among the very finest, the very best parts of us. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

On the road again: Portland, day 1

When I know I have to get up at seven a.m., I inevitably take forever to fall asleep, sleep poorly, and wake up often.  Last night, I had four hours in bed, maybe two of them asleep.  Learning to fix this weakness in myself clearly needs to become a priority for me. 

Still, I felt reasonably good after my usual hot shower.  I made it to the airport quickly and without hassle, checked in easily...and then waited in a huge group for quite some time due to a false fire alarm. 

I didn't luck into upgrades on either flight today, but I had an exit-row, aisle seat, and the planes offered bandwidth, so I could work.  I alternated working with dozing throughout both legs of the trip.  In DFW, I had just enough time between flights to grab a small lunch from the only restaurant near the gate--Taco Bell, the first time I've eaten there in ages--and then I was on another plane.

The rest of the day also went to work, though a working dinner with colleagues and friends was a very good meal at Toro Bravo, a local Spanish place I've long wanted to try.  The portions of the large plates were way bigger than I had expected, so I sent home with a colleague 80% of my entree untouched.  I would definitely go back there, but I'd order far less.

Now, it's time to finish unpacking and crash.  Tomorrow, meetings!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

UFC 167: How we fared

There's no nice way to put this, so with great reluctance I will get right to the point:  I kicked Kyle's butt in the prediction contest last night.  With me correctly picking the winner in four of our five disagreements, I had what may be my biggest victory ever. 

I wish I could claim skill made the difference, but our track record proves that's not the case.  I just got lucky.  Still, I'll take it. 

Let's run down the results, starting with the Facebook prelims.

Cody Donovan vs. Gian Villante

At the end of the first round, which Donovan won easily, I was despairing that Kyle would start off the night with a victory.  In the second, as both fighters began to gas, Villante clocked Donovan with a right, followed him to the ground, and punished him until the ref stopped it.  Villante's victory put me up 1-0.

Sergio Pettis vs. Will Campuzano

Boner-powered Will Campuzano looked a bit over-matched for most of the first two rounds, as Sergio Pettis was enough better to clearly win those rounds.  In the third, Campuzano made a push, and one judge even gave him the round, but Pettis was clearly the winner.  My choice of Anthony's little brother put me up 2-0.

Jason High vs. Anthony Lapsley

In one of the night's many grinders, High and Lapsley went back and forth in every area, though much of the fight was on the ground.  High took the first and third rounds and so won the fight. 

I finished the Facebook fights with a perfect 3-0 record, while Kyle started the televised bouts only 1-2. 

Erik Perez vs. Edwin Figueroa

We both chose Perez, and we were both right.  Figuerora was never in this one, as Perez did exactly what I'd predicted and ground out a victory. 

Brian Ebersole vs. Rick Story

Ebersole is a tough, tough man who ate a ton of shots for 15 minutes and kept coming forward.  Rick Story, though, dominated him the entire time.  The end was never in doubt. 

We'd both picked him, so I moved to a still-perfect 5-0, and Kyle improved to 3-2.

Ed Herman vs. Thales Leites

I began my prediction with "Poor Ed Herman," and I was right to feel sorry for the ginger.  Leites dominated him for all three rounds, though to Herman's credit Leites was never even close to finishing him.  We both said it would go for Leites, so neither of us gained any ground on this.

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. Evan Dunham

By this point we were desperate for a finish.  We got one.  I wrote yesterday that I wanted Cerrone to win, even though I chose Dunham, and I got my wish as Cerrone dominated Dunham in the first and submitted him in the second. 

Cerrone's win ruined my perfect record, but Kyle had also picked Dunham, so he didn't gain on me.

Going into the pay-per-view, I was 6-1, while Kyle 5-2. 

Tim Elliott vs. Ali Bagautinov

Elliott was very aggressive and drove the pace of the fight for most of the three rounds, but Bagautinov landed more strikes and carried the day.  His victory gave me another win over Kyle, as I improved to 7-1 and Kyle dropped to 5-3.

Josh Koscheck vs. Tyron Woodley

Josh Koscheck was in this fight right up to the moment the referee told them to fight.  From then on, Tyron Woodley was everything Kyle said he statistically should be:  more powerful, more accurate, and possessing stronger take-downs and better take-down defense.  With less than half a minute to go in the first round, Woodley knocked Koscheck down and nearly out, then hit him again and put him completely out.

Woodley's dominant victory dropped me to 7-2 and improved Kyle to 6-3.

Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler

If anyone had asked about Rory MacDonald in the post-fight presser, I'm pretty sure Dana would indeed have blasted him as I predicted.  I was also correct to note that MacDonald would turn in a safe, boring fight.  Heck, at times it looked as if his goal was to avoid touching Lawler.  What I got wrong--and what Kyle also called wrong--is the outcome:  Lawler clearly (to me; one judge saw the fight for him) won two rounds and so earned the (split-)decision victory. 

With the co-main event ahead, I dropped to 7-3 and Kyle 6-4.

Rashad Evans vs. Chael Sonnen

If Chael Sonnen's testosterone usage was helping him, you couldn't tell it past the first minute of tonight's fight.  Evans dominated after an initial take-down attempt, and, to my surprise, Evans finished Sonnen in the first round. 

This was the last fight on which we disagreed, so with a record of 7-4 (to Kyle's 6-5), I won our competition going away. 

Georges St. Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks

If you look only at the list of winners and losers, Kyle and I both appear to have correctly called this fight for GSP, because the judges awarded him a split-decision victory.  Though the stats were close, the result didn't appear to be:  Hendricks looked like no one had touched him, while GSP required stitches and was a bruised and bloodied mess.  Fans will be dissecting this controversial ending for a long time. 

I ended the night a very respectable 8-4, Kyle stayed over .500 at 7-5, and we had a generally good time watching the fights. 

As always, don't rely on us for betting advice!


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