Sunday, November 17, 2019

2019 Kings versus Celtics

2019 Kings versus Celtics

After having brunch at Echo & Rig in the Sawyer hotel, Larkin, Cindy, Sharon and I went to the Sacramento Kings versus Boston Celtics NBA game. It was an odd 12:30 pm tip-off.

The Kings led by as much as ten points in the first half. Trailing most of the fourth quarter, they kept the game close. On the strength of Hield and Bogdanovic's shooting and two clutch free throws by Holmes, the Kings won the game by the score of 100 to 99. Marcus Smart had a runner bounce around and off the rim at the buzzer.

Buddy Hield was the King's leading scorer. He had 35 points on 14 for 24 from the field and 7 for 12 from three. Hield didn't have a free throw?!?

I am disappointed that we didn't get a chance to see Fox or Bagley. The silver lining with their injuries is that the Kings are going to have to ride Hield and Bogdanovic.

Jaylen Brown was the leading scorer for the Celtics. He had 18 points on 7 for 16 from the field and 4 for 7 from three. Brown also didn't have a free throw...

The four of us ended up talking to Hunter and Yuli at half-time. They came around to the top of our section. We were in row B, seats 11, 12, 13 and 14 in section 108.

The four of us saw a game together last November.

The Kings have one win and one loss in games that I have seen in the 2019-2020 NBA season.

2019 Kings versus Celtics

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Ford versus Ferrari

Sharon and I have started our annual quest to see all of the films nominated in the major Oscar categories. At this point, we are guesting which films will be nominated. Saturday night, we went to see Ford versus Ferrari at the Country Club Cinema.

The film follows a team of American engineers and designers led by automotive visionary Carroll Shelby and his British driver, Ken Miles. They were dispatched by Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca with the mission of defeating the perennially dominant Ferrari racing team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. The plot follows the real life events pretty accurately!

Matt Damon plays Carroll Shelby, while Christian Bale plays Ken Miles. Bale is a chameleon; it is hard for me to believe that he is the same person that played Dick Chaney in Vice.

I enjoyed the movie, but not as much as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It will be interesting to see if the movie is nominated for best picture. I would probably bet that it will. My guess is that Bale is more likely to get a nomination for his performance than Damon would be for his...

Friday, November 15, 2019

Mass of Remembrance for Rebecca Frame

Sharon and I met her brother Tom at St. Ignatius for a Mass of Remembrance for Rebecca Frame. Becky passed away four years ago today. Eric and Ashley were also there.

Afterwards, we went back to Tom's house for dinner. The group for dinner included Larry, Ashley, Tom, Sharon and I.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Epic Fail [rehearsal dinner toast]

In normal circumstances, I am an emotional person. Drew and Shannon's wedding was not a normal circumstance.

I have a deep scar from the swirl surrounding Morgan's wedding. Having a chance to be enveloped in Drew and Shannon's wedding emphasized how much I missed with Morgan's wedding. When I got up to give the toast at the rehearsal dinner, the running amok from Morgan's wedding and almost 30 years of struggles were weighing on me. I wasn't able to get through much of the speech.

In hindsight, I should have just punted and handed a copy of the speech to Sharon to read. I had a copy in my back pocket.

Here is what I tried to say:

Good evening.

Thank you for being here tonight.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to interview a lot of people.

What fascinates me about those interviews is the arc of people’s lives.

It is amazing how little decisions made and forks in the road taken lead people to be sitting and talking to me.

Being here tonight makes me think of those interviews because Andrew and Shannon have a fascinating arc to their relationship.

More than twenty years ago, the drummer for Drew’s first band lived in the same neighborhood as Shannon. Drew will tell you that he can remember James King talking about this girl Shannon.

Over the next few years, they orbited each other. They knew many of the same people and frequented a number of the same places. Shannon’s brother Bryon played in a band that crossed paths with Drew’s band.

Like many things in Andrew’s life, the roots of this relationship date back to Sugar Loaf in 2005. Drew and I were talking the other night; he has been a camper or a counselor at Sugar Loaf for 19 years.

With Drew in Irvine and Shannon in Portland, they started a long distance relationship after connecting at Sugar Loaf. Sharon, Jack and I actually had the opportunity to meet Shannon during this period more than 14 years ago.

Long distance relationships are not easy and they ended up going in different directions. Shannon lived in Hawaii for a number of years, while Drew literally traveled the world with Milo Greene.

Then, early last year they reconnected and started down the path that led us to this evening. Sharon, Jack and I, and particularly Andrew, couldn’t be happier to have Shannon back in our lives.

So my toast tonight is to all of those little decisions made and forks in that winding road taken that have led us to this celebration here tonight!

Monday, November 11, 2019

2019 Fall East Coast Trip - Day 6

This was the first day that I sent an alarm on the trip. We were up and moving about 7 am. After staring to pack, we caught an Uber to Saxbys near Jack's apartment. We met Jack for breakfast at 8 am.

After breakfast, the three of us walked into campus and wandered through the bookstore. Jack took off for class about 9:30 am. We walked back to the hotel. Off of M Street, we walked up Dumbarton Street to Rock Creek Park. We enjoy exploring the streets in Georgetown.

We caught an Uber back to BWI about 11:30 am. The drive took about an hour. Although the driver was following Google Maps, I am very perplexed by the route that we took. For the first time, I had an odd experience with Uber billing. The initial bill was much more than I expected. I intended to try and contact Uber, but before I could I got an email with an adjustment down to the original rate that I had committed for...

Breezing through the luggage check and security with CLEAR and TSA Pre, we had a bite to eat at Vino Volo. I upgraded Sharon's boarding pass from C14 to A11. Nevertheless, we weren't able to get one of the two seat sections on a new 737.

The flight was uneventful. We are on the ground in Sacramento a little before 5 pm. In spite of multiple planes landing at the same time, the luggage showed up fast. Sharon made the point that the flight was continuing to Portland and they would want to get it unloaded quickly.

For only the second time that I can remember in the last couple of years, the garage was full when we showed up last Wednesday. We ended up at the back of the daily lot. Catching a shuttle to the lot, we were home before 6:30 pm.

I am already scheming how I can get back to see baby Lee!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

2019 Fall East Coast Trip - Day 5

JackFor the second day in a row, we slept late. We eventually wandered down to breakfast in the concierge lounge. After breakfast, I did 40 minutes and three miles on the treadmill.

After getting cleaned up, we took an Uber into Georgetown. With Jack running a little late, we walked down along the waterfront and checked out the restaurant for dinner.

We met Jack for lunch at Sweetgreens. After lunch, the three of us took an Uber to Safeway and bought a few groceries for Jack. We caught another Uber back to his apartment from the store. My only comment on the afternoon is that Jack and his mom are two peas in a pod...

From Jack's apartment, Sharon and I took an Uber to the Dumbarton Oaks Museum. Dumbarton Oaks is a historic estate in the Georgetown. The upper sixteen acres were transferred to Harvard University in 1940 to establish a research institute for Byzantine studies, Pre-Columbian studies, and studies in the history of gardens and landscape architecture. We toured the Byzantine and Pre-Columbia artifacts on display. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Pre-Columbian pieces. Sharon spotted an interesting painting by El Greco [The Visitation] in the music room. After touring the museum, we walked through the gardens.

From there, we walked down to M Street. We had a couple glasses of wine at ENO Wine Bar. This is another of our favorite Georgetown spots. We showed up just as it opened at 4 pm on a Sunday afternoon. Within a few minutes, it was packed and turning people away.

We walked back to the hotel. Along the way, Sharon spotted a couple of restaurants for future trips including: an Italian restaurant - Ristorante La Perla; and, a Japanese/Peruvian restaurant - Nabu.

We finished the night with dinner at Reverie. We shared Scallop Crudo [Buttermilk/Dill/Dried Scallop], Agnolotti [Mentaiko/Tobiko/Chili], a very good Burger [Misozuke/Special Sauce/Smoked Cheddar] and Lamb [Smoked Butter/Spruce/Tapioca]. We sat at the counter and watched the chefs. Although we had some confusion with the menu, I would definitely go back. They have a tasting menu that I would love to try.

Catching an Uber back to the hotel, we crashed after two late nights. I fell asleep watching the Sunday football game between the Vikings and the Cowboys.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

2019 Fall East Coast Trip - Day 4

With Sharon feeling under the weather, we slept late and had a very slow start to the day. I went for a hour plus run on the treadmill covering just over five miles. Eventually, I brought her some food from the concierge lounge.

Getting cleaned up and finally getting going, we went to The Phillips Collection. Sharon had been there before with Mary Maloney. The permanent collection included Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party and Vincent van Gogh's The Road Menders. There was a special exhibit titled BONNARD TO VUILLARD: THE INTIMATE POETRY OF EVERYDAY LIFE.



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Afterwards, we headed to the Sovereign. We first went to this bar/restaurant in 2016 and it has been a regular stop over the last three years. Jack met us there for a late lunch.

From there, we headed to the rooftop bar at the Graham Hotel. Sharon and I have also been there before. We are going to miss our trips to Georgetown when Jack graduates. We have a number of favorite haunts and enjoy finding new ones.

Having turned 21 in August, Jack wanted to take us to a couple of his favorite places. Walking back towards campus, we met up with Sophia. The four of us took an Uber to the Dacha beer garden. We met up with another of his friends (Helen). The five of us visited, watched the LSU/Alabama game and split some share plates of mac and cheese, brussel sprouts and cabbage rolls.

Eventually, we caught an Uber to Booeymonger in Georgetown. Sharon, Jack, Sophia and I finished the night there with a couple of pitchers of Shock Top.

By the time, we split up and Sharon and I caught an Uber back to the hotel, it was 11:30 pm. I fell asleep watching Saturday Night Live. I woke up about 1:30 am with the television blaring...

Friday, November 08, 2019

2019 Fall East Coast Trip - Day 3

This was a moving day. As an aside, I don't recommend the Courtyard Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. This was not originally built as a Courtyard. It is an older hotel converted into a Courtyard. We won't stay here again.

Packing up the room, we were in the car headed to the airport about 8:30 am. We had a couple of omelets for breakfast across from our gate at The Local @ MHT. We took a 10:25 am Southwest flight from Manchester back to Baltimore. Boarding with A27, I wasn't able to get an exit row on an older 737-700.

National Museum of African American History and CultureThe flight landed early and our bags were at the baggage claim before we were. We ended up taking a taxi from BWI to the Georgetown Marriott.  The trip took forever; it took more than an hour and fifteen minutes. The hotel had a room ready. We are staying three nights at the Georgetown Marriott.

After a quick bite at the bar in the hotel, we headed to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I didn't know what to expect, but was surprised by the experience. The displays are very dense with information. It seems like you could spend a couple of days reading all of the displays and watching the film clips.

It is poignant that I am reading a book about Andrew Johnson that focuses on the years after Lincoln's death. More on that book in a future post. It seems like reconstruction would have gone very different if Lincoln had lived.

Back at the hotel, I did a quick twenty minutes on the treadmill. After getting cleaned up, we headed into Georgetown. We met Jack at Bar à Vin.

The three of us had a late dinner at Chez Billy Sud. We had dinner at this restaurant in June. Jack had GNOCCHI PARISIENNE [cauliflower, hazelnuts, sage, aged goat cheese, black truffles]. I had SAUMON ROTI [potato crusted Scottish salmon, hen of the woods mushrooms, spinach, lemon beurre blanc]. Sharon had STEAK FRITES [Allen Brothers strip steak, pommes frites, sauce béarnaise]. The food was solid, but Sharon was a little underwhelmed.

After dinner, we caught a taxi back to the hotel and crashed.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

2019 Fall East Coast Trip - Day 2 [Baby Lee!]

First grandchild - Lee HufflingFirst grandchild - Lee Huffling

After a long travel day, we were moving a little slow in the morning. Eventually, we both wandered down to the fitness room. I ended up running 5.2 miles in an hour.

Afterwards, we got cleaned up and had breakfast in the bistro in the hotel. The plan for the day is to drive to Acworth, New Hampshire to visit David, Morgan and baby Lee. Lee was born two and a half weeks ago on October 21.

Although it is only about 70 miles, it took over an hour and a half. The drive was beautiful. More than half of the drive was on two lane roads through some very small towns. Sharon and I need to come back and spend a couple of days exploring the area.

We got to Morgan and David's house about 1:00 pm. We visited them there two years ago on our fall trip.

We spent a couple of hours visiting with Morgan. Lee eventually woke up and we got to spend some time with him. As Sharon said later in a text to Drew and Shannon, I am very smitten by Lee.

David eventually wandered home from work. In the late afternoon, Sharon and I headed into Bellows Fall, Vermont to pick up some take-out Chinese food at Joy Wah. It took a surprisingly long time to wind our way to the restaurant and back.

The four of us had a nice dinner. With a lactation consultant coming at 7:30 pm, we took off.

The drive back to the hotel in the dark was a grind. With a mixture of rain and snow falling, it took about an hour and forty-five minutes. After a nightcap at the hotel, we crashed.

I am very conflicted. I am really want to come back and see the baby again soon! Unfortunately, it is journey to get to Acworth...

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

2019 Fall East Coast Trip - Day 1

I had originally been scheming to intersect Tomasin et al on their Rugby World Cup 2019 tour in Tokyo in early October. With Morgan due in mid-October, I changed my plans over the last six months to a trip for Sharon and I to visit her, David and the baby.

Sharon and I caught an 11:40 am Southwest flight from Sacramento to Baltimore. Typically, we get up very early for east coast flights. This late morning flight felt very different. I upgraded Sharon to A8 and we were able to get one of the two seat rows on a newer 737-800. Boarding with A31, I don't know that I have ever seen a plane take so long to board...

Landing at 7:30 pm, we had a long layover in Baltimore. We had a leisurely dinner at Obrycki's in the B Concourse. Afterwards, we wandered to Vino Volo Wine Bar for a quick glass of wine. In hindsight, we probably should have just eaten there.

We caught a 10:10 pm Southwest flight from Baltimore to Manchester. Boarding with A33, I was able to get one of the two seat rows in a new 737-800. We were on the ground in Manchester about 11:20 pm. They were closing the airport behind us.

We got our luggage and wandered into the parking garage to pick up a Hertz rental car. We have a Nissan Armada for the next two days.

I booked us for two nights at the airport Courtyard. With the hotel close to the airport, we were in the room before midnight. A long day. We still have an hour and a half drive tomorrow to where Morgan lives.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Fleabag - Season Two

Sunday night, Sharon and I finished watching season two of Fleabag. We watched season one in October.

Season two received eleven Primetime Emmy Award nominations. It won six, including: Outstanding Comedy Series; Outstanding Lead Actress, and; Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. Sian Clifford, Olivia Colman and guest stars Fiona Shaw and Kristin Scott Thomas also received Emmy nominations for their roles.

Season two includes six episodes. Each is roughly 25 minutes long. It seems more than a little incongruous that Fleabag would compete for an Emmy against network television series that might include 20 or more episodes...

I said after season one that we were both initially lukewarm on the show, but it grew on us. Season two is even better. I recommend it.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

The Guardians by John Grisham

My book for November is The Guardians by John Grisham. Somewhat unbelievably, this is the 33rd book by John Grisham that I have read in the last twenty-eight years. I am not sure that this is something that I should be proud of... Interestingly, I skipped last year's The Reckoning. I may go back and read that book at some point.

The plot revolves around The Guardian Ministries, a group that works to free innocent people from prison. While the story touches on four cases that the main character is working, it focuses on the tangled web around one particular murder conviction.

About two-thirds of the way through the story, the books shifts from a first person voice to a third person perspective in order to speed a sequence of events. It then shifts back to a first person narrative. I found that a little jarring.

I enjoyed the book as a nice light entertaining read.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Beast + Bounty

Sharon and I finished the day with dinner at Beast + Bounty. She and Tom had brunch there last month when he got back from this travels. Sharon had a new york steak, while I had duck breast. The food was very good.