Monday, December 25, 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Soccer Season is Over (for now)

Yesterday was Max's last day of soccer season this year (and mine too). I was his coach at Goldstar Soccer Club for the fall season and we had a blast. I've posted some photos of Max and the rest of my team over at Flickr.

Indoor season starts January 4th!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My Group Hug with Craig Waibel

I went to MLS Cup 2006 over the weekend and had a great time. My morning started off photographing a couple of teams from the Raleigh area that were playing in a youth tournament in conjunction with the "super bowl of american soccer". My evening ended when Houston won the Cup on penalty kicks and Dynamo defenseman Craig Waibel was so excited that he ran and launched himself into the supporters section for a group hug. Above is a picture snapped just before Waibel jumped on top of me (in the red hoodie with a camera in my hand)!

My photographs from the game are available here. But here's my favorite, of Pat Onstad just after he saved the final penalty kick.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Off to GrandMott's

We're sending the kids to visit my mom this weekend and they are super excited about going to see their GrandMott. Earlier today, Max got his and Molly's suitcases out and started packing. So what does a 5 year old pack for a trip to grandma's?
  • 7 t-shirts
  • 3 pairs of pants
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 1 sock (note: note 1 pair of socks, just one single sock)
Molly on the other hand was more of a minimalist. First she packed her plush puppy, then she changed her mind and packed a bag of goldfish crackers instead.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ed Bradley R.I.P.

I once flew on a plane with Ed Bradley, the 60 Minutes correspondent who passed away today. Ed was in first class; I was in coach!

I remember the woman beside me debating if would be okay to go "through the curtain" into first class to get his autograph. :)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Guess Who's Three!

Well, technically, not until tomorrow but we celebrated Molly's birthday a day early. Here's some pictures from her party.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Why I Still Livestrong

2 years ago, everywhere you looked, you saw folks wearing yellow rubber wristbands. The Lance Armstrong Foundation's LiveStrong bracelets were a huge fad and raised tens of millions of dollars for cancer survivorship. While the fad has faded, you still ocassionally see someone wearing a LiveStrong bracelet. To this day, you'll never see me without one on my left wrist.

I began wearing one in 2004 in honor of a dear friend of mine from Austin, D.J. Francis. This morning, I received the sad news that I will henceforth be wearing the bracelet in D.J.'s memory. We lost D.J. this morning after an amazingly spirited and fierce multi-year fight with cancer.

D.J. took me under her wing when I joined KLA-Tencor back in 2000. The one year that I spent at KLA was very tumultous due to an absurd legal dispute between my former employer and KLA-Tencor. While I was there, D.J. did everything from HR, project management, communications, to being a sympathetic shoulder to vent to. Although I lost contact with most of KLA-Tencor colleagues after I left, DJ became a lifelong friend.

I have never known someone so ALIVE as DJ. Her spirit was amazing. Even when struggling with her illness, I watched from afar as she constantly kicked cancer in the teeth and kept doing the things she loved -- travelling the world and seeing the amazing beauty that surrounds us everyday in even the smallest things. Many times I'd be completely frustrated with work, kids, health, etc. and then I get these brilliant emails from DJ that made me realize that I had things to do, places to go, and people to meet. These things that were distracting me were really petty in the grand scheme of things and I needed to focus on the things that really mattered in life.

A few months ago, another friend's wife paid me a wonderful compliment. She said, "Jarrett's a doer, not just a thinker." That's one of the nicest compliments anyone has ever given me and DJ regularly serves as my inspiration for getting things done.

Last year, I did something amazing that I've always wanted to do -- I rode 100 miles on my bike in a single day at the Lance Armstrong Foundation's Ride for the Roses. I dedicated my ride to DJ and her friends and families helped me raise over $3000 for cancer survivorship. The amount of money they contributed stunned me, but it shouldn't have. DJ touched their lives in the same way she did mine.

As I prepared for that ride all summer and suffered through endless training miles on the bike, I kept thinking of everything that DJ was going through fighting cancer. I'd think how the pain in my legs and lungs was nothing compared to what she was going through and still managing to smile and comfort those around her. I'll never forget that about DJ. She was one of the most amazing people I will ever know.

The following is an email she sent me last year and I think it truly captures her vitality even in the face of all that she was dealing with.

Sunday night, 10-23-05

Dear Friends,

For those who don’t know, my former co-worker, Jarrett Campbell flew in from North Carolina to compete in the Ride for the Roses (100 mile race) this weekend, in my honor. Yea, Jarrett!

Yesterday, I went to the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s Live Strong Village, in the Palmer Conference Center, at 5:30pm, before meeting Jarrett for dinner and just before closing time for the Ride for the Roses registration packet pick-up.

Approaching the building brought a rush of emotions. Walking from the parking garage, down the sidewalks filled with Lance Armstrong advocates, I kept wiping away my tears. I was surrounded by people who had lived through this crazy battle with cancer or were currently fighting for their lives. I tried to distance myself from the emotional wham by focusing on the building’s relief sculptures of sea urchins and shells. I told myself that it was just an event…

As I entered the exhibit area, my brain was saturated with the visual impact of very bright yellow. It was everywhere―jerseys, t-shirts, posters, wristbands, and booths. The air was filled with an energy that washed over me in waves. It was a crazy mixture of ingredients: anticipation; frustration; memories of loved ones now gone; hope for a cure. I would catch someone looking at me with sadness. My inch-long hair, scant eyelashes, and shadowy brows are a sure-fire giveaway that I am a cancer patient. I wondered as I walked past one woman whose eyes had connected and pushed us into one of those slow motion moments, did she lose someone she loved or is she thinking, “There, but by the grace of God go I.”

You see, I forget that I look like a cancer patient. When the pain or fatigue zaps my body, I remember. But so much of the time I find myself transported, in awe of life. It is so wonderful to focus on the clouds, delight in people-watching the arrogance and energy of youth, the beauty of the everyday, the humanity of my co-workers or those I meet in check-out lines and waiting rooms.

Today I was very tired. The housework and paperwork seemed to have consumed the day. I ignored my allergies and went for a walk in a beautifully breezy and sunny day. It took the last bit of my oomph. After showering, I didn’t feel that I had the energy to go to the Ride for the Roses, but then Jarrett called. He was at the 78 mile rest stop and the wind was taking its toll. In addition to starting 45 minutes later than planned, he was very tired and wanted to tell me that he would probably cross the finish line an hour later than planned.

I started sending him mental bursts of energy, through the ether. As I fought my computer crashing, trying to print out a map to the Travis County Exposition Center, I made a sign to hold up at the finish line. I grabbed a bottled green tea, rushed out the door with camera and sign in tow and drove to the race site. As I approached the grounds, the exiting traffic was amazingly repetitious. Car after car passed, with loaded bicycle racks, and front seats filled with yawning drivers and passengers.

I arrived 45 minutes before Jarrett’s expected finish, and raced across the field of the event grounds. Several times I had to stop and shake the pebbles from my Birkenstocks. Since the chemo zapped my toes, they are my standard shoes. I am so very Austintacious…

The finish line was congested. The local DJ, who had been announcing and congratulating finishers all day, soon shut down his sound system and the crowd took over hollering “good ride” and “you did it!” As I watched the survivors pass through their special chute and receive a yellow rose, it made my heart swell with hope, and again I was wiping away tears. I anxiously watched for Jarrett’s white jersey (donned by the Peleton Project riders) and his NC blue helmet. When he came whizzing through, I flashed a quick photo, then followed him to his turnaround, waving my wacky poster.

Another rider, pumped by adrenalin, chattered to Jarrett like a long time riding buddy. I asked his wife shoot our photo. When we walked away, Jarrett said he had never met the man. Oh well, this is Austin, and although it has grown into a very big city, folks are still friendly in this city full of soul…

Jarrett headed to the hotel, took a long hot bath and rehydrated a bit, then met Bobby and I for dinner at Curra’s Grill. What better way to resuscitate a worn cyclist than some authentic Tex-Mex.

Tomorrow will be here before I know it, so I am going to call it a day. Hopefully, I will receive the scan results tomorrow, and decide the next steps in my walk through cancer. Thanks for joining me for the journey.

Peace and Love,


So next time you see me. Notice my LiveStrong bracelet, think of someone you know like DJ, and remind yourself to be a doer, not a thinker.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Blogging From Space

Anousheh Ansari is a space tourist, currently on board the International Space Station. Check out her blog from space. It's fascinating to see space travel from a civilian's perspective.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Don Walser's Final Yodel

Don Walser, the Pavarotti of the Plains, died on Wednesday at age 72.

One of my first memories of Austin, Texas was, shortly after I moved there in 1995, heading down to 6th Street, stopping off in a little sports bar called "Babe's", having a terrific cheeseburger, and listening to Don Walser, the Yodeling Cowboy, play western swing from a barstool for tips.

I remember thinking to myself..."I can't believe I'm actually being paid to go to school in this town. This is amazing!" We spent 7 years in Austin and I saw Don a number of times in different venues, but I'll never forget that first night I heard him yodel. I knew then that I was (at least temporarily) a Texan.

No where else but Austin could a guy like Don Walser end up touring with both Johnny Cash and the Butthole Surfers! If you haven't heard Don Walser, check out Melissa Block's story on NPR about him and visit

Monday, September 18, 2006

Avast, me hearties!

Tomorrow (Sept 19th) is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Are you ready? If you need to bone up on pirate, try this handy educational film. Afraid you might need a reference on the go? Check out this book.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Never Buy Music Again

Last week I discovered The Hype Machine, a daily music blog aggregator. Subscribe to their RSS feed in a podcatcher like iTunes and you'll never have to buy new music again...but you might have to buy a new hard drive to hold all the mp3s you're downloading.

In 7 days, I've received 1031 songs, 5.5 Gigabytes of free music through this aggregator. The music ranges all over the board -- from the Monkees to Public Enemy. There's truly something there to suit everyone's fancy...the only problem is deleting the stuff you don't like to save disk space!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

She opened government to everyone

Former Gov. Ann Richards, the witty and flamboyant Democrat who went from homemaker to national political celebrity, died Wednesday night after a battle with cancer, a family spokeswoman said. She was 73.
She died at home surrounded by her family, the spokeswoman said. Richards was found to have esophageal cancer in March and underwent chemotherapy treatments.

The silver-haired, silver-tongued Richards said she entered politics to help others - especially women and minorities who were often ignored by Texas' male-dominated establishment.

"I did not want my tombstone to read, 'She kept a really clean house.' I think I'd like them to remember me by saying, 'She opened government to everyone,'" Richards said shortly before leaving office in January 1995.

I wonder what the world we live in today would have been like if Richards hadn't lost the Texas gubernatorial race to one George W. Bush.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ridiculous Guitar Talent

My brother sent me a link to this amazing guitar player...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tell ABC to Tell the Truth about 9/11

ABC is preparing to air a "docudrama" on Sept 10 & 11 that has serious distortions of the facts as reported by the 9/11 commission. While I appreciate that "storytelling" sometimes requires poetic license, I believe it is reckless for them to air this film in a way that many people will accept as fact without any acknowledgement that many of the scenes are contrary to undisputed facts. Click on the link below to find out more about the film and to let ABC know that they owe the public an accurate account of the "Path to 9/11".

Tell ABC to tell the truth about 9/11 - A project of

Monday, September 04, 2006

Kirk Does Camelot

What if Star Trek characters could be 'beamed down" into the Camelot dance routine in Monty Python's Holy Grail?

Monday, August 14, 2006


What happens when folks (with way too much time on their hands) combine Karaoke / MIDI files with the computerized pronunciation guides from various online dictionaries?

Dictionaraoke: The Singing Dictionary.

I think so far my favorite is the Ramones' I Wanna Be Sedated or perhaps Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues.

Radio Clash 84: 1984 v2.0

An excellent episode of one of my favorite podcasts. Starting with a clip from V for Vendetta and, as the host Tim puts it...

This podcast is meant to be one long scream for equality and righteous justice. Yep I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore...

Click your mouse in the air peace sign yeah (50Mb, 85mins):

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Latest reads...

I may have called time on my 52 books in 52 weeks project, but I'm still reading when I get the chance. Here's the latest books I've been reading this summer.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Free business idea

If you own a hotel. Offer me a free toiletry kit with toothpaste, mouthwash, shaving cream, and any other "liquid or gel" you can think of that I can't carry-on a plane in my luggage. I'll pay a premium to stay at your hotel if I can get away with not checking my luggage!

Show me that smile again...

Check out this pilot (in 3 parts) for a new sitcom called "Nobody's Watching". Apparently, the WB canned it but when the developers released the pilot on YouTube, it was downloaded close to half a million times so NBC has decided to put it back in development. It will be interesting to see if this makes it onto TV.

The Premise: Two "old school" sitcom fans make their own sitcom as an homage to sitcoms past. Check out the sets of some of your old time favorites. Growing Pains fans should love this one.

Part 1:

Click here for Part 2 and Part 3.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

V is for...

Very Good. We finally got to see V for Vendetta last night and loved it. One of the best sci-fi movies I've seen in a long time (since the original Matrix I suspect). I tried to read the original graphic novel the movie was based on back before the film came out but I just cannot deal with that format in print. Since I'm going to be working a trade show in Chicago on Halloween this year, perhaps I should pick up a Guy Fawkes mask to wear to the show.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

TriSoccerFan in Print

For those of you that don't know, I run a soccer supporters club and news site in the Raleigh-Durham area. TriSoccerFan is an all-consuming labor of love. I don't get paid anything to run it, we don't make ad revenue through the site, etc. It's a pretty thankless effort save for the kind emails that I often get from my readers (which I thoroughly appreciate!). But every now and then, there is a little reward for all the hard effort.

Yesterday in the mail, I received a copy of Issue 01, 2006 of Wednesday: The Official Matchday Programme of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club. An Owls supporter who had been reading the TSF site during the SWFC tour of the States recognized my name in the photo credits of some of the pictures and was kind enough to send me a copy.

I knew the communications director at SWFC had asked about using my pictures in print, but I never imagined that they would use them so prominently and prolifically throughout the magazine. This may be just about the coolest thing ever to come of my amateur photo work for the TSF site!

In addition to the table of contents photo of Deon Burton above, here are some other pages that included my photos. Click on the image to see the full size picture. The original photos as they appeared on my TSF site can be found here and here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Will you watch my bag?

Today in the Boston airport, a gentleman approached me, put his bag down in the seat next to me and said, "Are you going to be here for a couple of minutes?"

Back in the day, it was not unusual to watch someone's luggage for them, even if you didn't know them, while they went to the restroom, etc. No one has asked me to watch their bag in all my travels in close to 5 years now!

My response, "Yes, but I'm not watching your bag. I have no idea who you are sir."

I hate to say it, but we do live in a different world today.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Big Media's Worst Nightmare

We're coming to get you...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Spike Jonze on Al Gore

Back in the mid-90s, I thought Tipper Gore was evil incarnate for the work she was doing with the P.M.R.C. to censor music (I still disagree with her on that). In 2000, I, like many folks, just couldn't relate to Al Gore at all (though I'm please to say I didn't vote for Bush!).

I know George Bush won a lot of votes because people liked his "folksiness" while the public perception of Gore was that he was "stiff." You have wonder if this Spike Jonze documentary on Al Gore had been released during that election (if only Al had invented YouTube earlier), how many people could have related to him more...and perhaps changed the course of our history for decades to come.

Bizarre Public Art

I stumbled across this blog entry of bizarre public art today. Check it out.

In particular, item 39 is almost identical to some statues I noticed in the Time Warner center in New York City. And just like in the picture here, the statue in NYC had a certain part of his anatomy that had been fondled so many times that it was actually a different color from the rest of the statue.

I guess some folks just can resist the urge.

Friday, July 21, 2006

RailHawks 'Til I Die

The new pro soccer team here in Cary announced their name this week -- Carolina RailHawks FC. The name was selected as part of a name-the-team contest and, as luck would have it, RailHawks was the name that me and my buddy Jonathan submitted into the contest. Although I've been taking a lot of abuse from some folks on the internet that don't see the brilliance of the name, it'll all be worth it as I have won 2 lifetime season tickets to all the club's games!

To find out exactly what is a RailHawk and why that's the name we came up with, read the story over on my soccer blog or the coverage in The Cary News.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Duke Gardens

The Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham are a beautiful, serene oasis here in the Triangle and a wonderful backdrop for photographing the kids.

Click here for the full album of pictures from the Gardens on Flickr.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


I had to get up Friday morning in Prague at 4:25am to make my flight to Brussels, en route home...before most of my friends back in the States even went to bed. When I got to Brussels, all the newspapers were screaming about the pending doping scandal that was threatening to tear the 2006 Tour de France apart. By the time I reached New York 10 hours later, it was confirmed...the riders that finished 2nd - 4th in last year's Tour de France are OUT for being linked to Operación Puerto. With Armstrong in retirement, that leaves American's Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, and Levi Leipheimer all eyeing podium places in Paris.

I managed to make it back home withough finding out the details of the Germany v. Argentina match (although I did overhear someone saying Germany had advanced) so I watched it when I got back home on Tivo. After a pretty good night's sleep I watched the Italy v. Ukraine match from yesterday and now I'm settling in on the sofa to watch the Le Tour's Prologue and the two WC semis today. Should be a nice day to relax, play with the kids, and get back on Eastern time.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

283 Steps

283 Steps. That's how many stairs you have to climb to reach the top of the bell tower at St. Vitus Cathedral, which is situated inside Prague Castle high above the city centre. I'm not sure what possessed me to climb them but the reward was a brilliant view of the beautiful city of Prague and the Vltava River.

I finally found some free time today after my meeting ended and visited a few of the sites. Besides the aforementioned castle and cathedral, which was absolutely gorgeous (see pictures here), I also saw St George's Basilica, the Prague Toy Museum, the Charles Bridge, and the Astronomical Clock.

Ironically, we walked up on the Astronomical Clock just on the stroke of 5pm so we got to see the little animated "Apostles Dance", which frankly was a little anti-climatic after hearing about it from several others who had visited Prague. I guess I was expecting something more along the lines of the Rathaus-Glockenspiel in Munich.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Red Bull Flugtag Prague

If only I'd gotten here one day earlier, I could have witnessed Red Bull Flugtag Prague. For those not familar with Flugtag, or "Flying Day", here's a brief summary:

The idea of the Red Bull Flugtag is stunningly simple. The home-made flying machine may be no longer than 6 meters & no wider than 10, and may only run on pure muscle power! It should also be able to float, as each Red Bull high-flyer splashes down in the water - so that a not unwelcome return to Mother Earth, albeit wet, is provided for the pilots. The quantity and quality of the hopeful pilots' entries for previous flying days all around Europe have confirmed that to fly is still Man's greatest dream. The entrants then have to build their machines - and hope!

Flying depends on having the right attitude. Although for most of the flying machines the six metre high take-off ramp is the highest point they'll ever reach in their short life-span, the competitors proudly climb into their creations to win over the illustrious jury. At the Red Bull Flugtag the distance of the aeronautic descent is marked and points are also given for the machine's originality. It's doesn't matter how the pilots arrive in the water - horizontally or in a nose-dive, elegantly or in hilarious fashion - what does matter is that in the evening, they all have a great party together and swap stories over the day's unusual flying experience...

Here's some video from the event in Prague on the River Vltava. I hate I missed this.

This should be fun...

The way my company works its global marketing strategy is that in each segment, one country takes a leadership role and assists the other countries around the world with their business plans. For example, I have the leadership role in Semiconductor Manufacturing (because so many of the machines are made in the USA) while my work in the packaging industry is directed out of our office in Italy. Today, at the conference I am attending, I met my new counterpart from Italy and all I can say is that I've been paired with Roberto Benigni!

Not only does this fellow have the effusive, bubbly, excitable character of Benigni, but he kind of resembles him AND his first name is Roberto and his Italian last name starts with "B"!

There is no way I'm going to be able to put that image out of my head when working with this guy. This should be fun...or at least interesting.

The World's Largest Stadium

I'm sitting here on the 24th floor of the Corinthia Towers in Prague staring out the window at a beautiful view of Prague (I swear, it's a nicer view than this live webcam, more like this). Atop the hill across the river Vltava, I can see the Strahovský stadion (background in the picture above), the world's largest sports arena. The stadium seats close to a quarter of a million people! The sport field is 63,500 square meters. Compare that to a typical soccer pitch which will run you about 10,000 square meters. They don't use the stadium for events much anymore but Sparta Prague has recently turned it into a training facility with 6 full-size and 2 futsal-sized soccer pitches. Ironically, Sparta's new training facility sits directly beside Stadion Evžena Rošického (mid-ground in the picture above), the home of SK Slavia Prague, Sparta's cross-town rivals. Our meeting is wrapping up at 2pm tomorrow and I plan to spend most of the day wondering around Prague. Perhaps I'll take the funicular to the top of that hill and see if I can get inside the world's largest football stadium.

Last night, after two days of sweltering (mid-90s) heat, it cooled off nicely with a massive electrical and rain storm just about the time we were headed out for our free evening on the town. We ended up ducking into a little Italian cafe near the Staroměstské náměstí, or Old Town square. Just as we finished up dinner, the weather broke for a beautiful evening and we stumbled (too much Gambrinus I guess) into the square where we watched the France v. Spain World Cup match. By the end of the match, when France finally broke it open, there were probably about two thousand supporters in the square, broken out evenly between French, Spanish, and neutrals chanting, singing, and drinking their way to the final whistle. I had a lot of fun at our get-togethers at the Fox and Hound in Cary, but it didn't come close to the atmosphere in the Square last night. My favorite part was when one of my colleagues, a non-soccer-savvy sports fan asked me "Why do the keep singing Yellow Submarine in French?".

At this point, I feel I am a cursed football supporter, so far I have thrown my support behind the following teams -- United States (out), Holland (out), Australia (out), Switzerland (out), Ghana (out), and Spain (out). I'm almost hesitant to declare my allegiance for the next round. Perhaps reverse psychology will work? If so, then Forza Italia!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


After I got back to the room Monday night, I tried to stay awake to see the end of the Ukraine v. Switzerland match but as the match looked likely to head to extra time, 36 hours of being awake got the better of me and no matter how hard I fought, sleep came.

I'm feeling a lot better this morning after 8 hours sleep and a huge European breakfast. The meeting has kicked off and you know I must be in the midst of a global conference representing 34 countries because the first 5 minutes were spent lamenting the World Cup results from yesterday. (What do you get when you cross the Italian Olympic Diving team with...I digress)

As I settle in for the week, I'm having fun observing, comparing, and contrasting some cultural items. One thing that is fun is to see which things are the same here, for example, there is "TigerWash" at the Esso (Exxon/Mobil in the States, I guess "TigerWash" doesn't translate), the McDonald's has a "McDrive" (instead of a drive-through) and then there's a KFC to satify your fried chicken fix on about every other street corner.

However, there are a few things that you don't find in the States that I've come across already. For instance, the muzak speaker in the hotel room's bathroom incessantly playing elevator music (it took like 5 minutes to figure who to shut it off) or perhaps the "ironing room" -- apparently ironing is a big deal to the Europeans, something you definitely shouldn't do in your own hotel room. The Metro has the fastest escalator's I've ever dared step on to (or maybe it was just the aforementioned Pilsner Urquell) and then of course, there's the Sex Machines Museum.

Monday, June 26, 2006


Well somehow, I made it. It's 10pm CEST and I haven't fallen asleep yet. The team building exercise turned out to be a bit of a Prague scavenger hunt. After about 10 minutes, me and two Aussies decided not to get off the Metro with the rest of the group and headed to the downtown square where they were showing the World Cup on a giant screen. We gathered there and watched with hundreds (maybe a thousand?) Aussie, Italian, and neutral supporters to watch the match. I was completed gutted for my new Aussie friends when they lost on a penalty kick as stoppage time expired. I have no doubt that the penalty was drawn by yet another Italian dive...disgusting.

The only good news is that as the party broke up in the square, we happened to catch the rest of our team-building group winding down their scavenger hunt. We re-joined them for the last ten minutes and ended up at the Pilsner Restaurant at the Municipal House near Namesti Republiky metro stop. The place a beautifully decorated cellar pub and the food was supposed to be authentic Czech cuisine. Honestly, I wasn't that impressed, having had much better fare in Dresden, about 100km away, but you can't really complain too much as the Pilsner Urqell was flowing like tap water.

The buses weren't supposed to pick us up until 10:30pm but by nine, I was nodding off at the table so I jumped on the Metro and headed back to the room. After all, we have to be back at it by 8:30am tomorrow morning. On the way, back to the room, I saw a really cool ad in the subway station honoring the Carolina Hurricane's Frantisek Kaberle, the Czech hockey player who scored the Stanley Cup winning goal at Game 7 a week ago Monday.

Made it

Turns out we made up all but about 10 minutes in the air due to favorable winds, but honestly it wouldn't have mattered. Brussels Airport is an awesome airport to connect through. Nice and quiet and convenient transfers, no luggage hassles, no passport control if you're in transit. Not at all like Heathrow or Charles de Gaulle the last few times I've been through there. I think it took me a grand total of 10 minutes to change gates, and that included a trip through security.

Had a nice flight down to Prague on Czech Airlines, where I learned from the in flight magazine that Peter Cech transported a porcupine and a lemur to London when he transferred to Chelsea, and CSK arlines flew them there.

I was a little anxious about flying Czech Air not knowing what to expect, but I was impressed. Roomy, leather seats...a complimentary sandwich and soda snack...and even a "landing sweet" (a piece of chocolate). More than you can expect from American Airlines.

I took a taxi to the hotel. Not having any concept of where anything is here, I would swear the cabbie took me on the "scenic" certainly wasn't direct. If it hadn't been a flat-rate fare I would have been worried. Nevertheless, I got to the hotel too early to check in but an hour later I managed to get into my room and splash some cold water on my face. I've had 90 minutes of sleep and my meeting starts 20 minutes from now, and runs until 10pm tonight.

I got a response from the Aussie ex-pat group but now I don't know if I'll be able to make. We'll have to see what they have planned for team-building tonight at the meeting (and if it involves a TV tuned to the soccer match).

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hoping for a tailwind

6/26 3am CEST

I watched the Holland v. Portugal match today in a bar at O'Hare airport. It was an interesting mix of folks that had taken pause from their travels to catch the match. I ended up chatting with a bunch of Englishman (who supported Everton, Mansfield, and Huddersfield, respectively). Interesting conversation. Turns out the McBride and Convey are the only two American soccer players in England that they respect. Just after halftime, a dutchman joined us and we hung on every futile Oranje attack with him. This match ended up looking a lot like the Italy v. USA match to me. Certainly not 'o Jogo Bonito' and the side I was supporting didn't win.

Because there was so much stoppage time, I had to run through K Concourse at O'Hare to catch my flight. Just as I was thanking my luck that not only did I get on board in time but that the only empty seat on the plane was the middle seat in my aisle, the pilot warned of pending weather delays out of hour later we were airborne. Let's hope the winds favor us as I only had a 80 minute connection in Brussels!

-- written Sun night / Mon morning, 33,000 ft above Northeastern Canada

Blogging my way to Prague

Well, I'm on my way to Prague on business. I used to get terribly excited every time I got to go to Europe on business, now I'm just annoyed that I won't be at home during the World Cup to watch all the matches in High-Definition. I guess I've become pretty jaded about all this. I understand Prague is an amazing city and I really can't wait to see some of it. Unfortunately, I arrive Monday morning 90 minutes before my business conference starts and they have us programmed about 14 hours a day every day I'm there (save one free evening).

The adventure started at the airport when I realized that one leg of my airline ticket was missing from the paper ticket my travel agent issued. I hate paper tickets and still don't understand why sometimes they still issue them, but nevertheless, I was a bit concerned that I was going to get to Brussels and get stuck without a ticket to Praha. A quick call to my company's emergency 24 hour travel agency (glad I programmed that into speed dial) confirmed that I did in fact have a ticket, but that one leg (of the 6 I'm flying roundtrip) was issued as an E-Ticket (go figure).

I missed the first 80 minutes of the England v. Ecuador match this morning while I was in the air to Chicago. As soon as we were off an active runway at O'Hare I was texting my buddy Jonathan asking for the score. As I de-planed, I noticed that one of the video terminals that normally shows arrivals and departures had the match on so I stood in the middle of Concourse G creating a traffic obstruction (with about a dozen others) and watched the last 10 minutes of the match.

Now, I'm killing time on my 5 hour layover (the joys of trying to get a good connection out of Greenville-Spartanburg, near where I had to be Saturday for my cousin's wedding). The good news is that boarding for my flight to Brussels should start at just about the same time as the Holland-Portugal match will be wrapping up. I've already staked out a spot at the bar across from the gate to watch the match!

Since I know I won't have a lot of free time, I've hardly spent any time planning anything to do. Thanks to the WiFi in O'Hare though, at least I was able to download a few wikipedia pages on Prague and fire off an email to an Aussie ex-pat group in the Czech Republic asking for a good spot to watch them humble the Italians tomorrow night (fingers crossed).

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sam's Army

Most of you know that I travel around the country following the US National Soccer Team as part of Sam's Army. Here's a great feature ESPN2 did on "The Army". Look for me in the opening scene.

Bring Out the Cup

Looks like my investment in a Game 7 Stanley Cup ticket is going to pay off. After going up 3-1 in the playoffs, Carolina has conceded two games to Edmonton and will be playing a one game, winner-take-all Cup Final here in Raleigh on Monday. I've always dreamed of going to a Stanley Cup Final Game 7 -- I even decided not to spend some time in Germany during the World Cup and rather spend that budget on hockey tickets. It should be a grand time.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Chicken Dance Elmo

Now that was a $200 hockey game

Ever since December, I felt like that Carolina Hurricanes were going to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Then, as the playoffs wound up, I began to feel like the Canes were a team of destiny. I decided to not buy any playoff tickets and instead save up all my money for the Finals.

Sure enough, Carolina polished off Buffalo in 7 games to make it to their 2nd Finals in 4 seasons. So for my birthday and for Father's Day, Liz allowed me to buy myself tickets to Game 1 and Game 7. Each ticket cost a whopping $194 (including all the TicketBastard convenience charges) but it's not like you can see YOUR team play in a cup final every year so I bit the bullet and hoped the game would be worth it.

I must admit that when Carolina was down tonight 0-3 with less than 24 minutes to play in the game, I was feeling like I'd thrown $200 in the trash. What a disappointment the game was turning out to be until our captain Rod Brindamour, number 17, scored at 17:17 of the 2nd period to give us a lifeline. Numerologists take heed -- that magical combination of 17s set off Category 5 squall inside the RBC Center that saw the Canes rattle off three more unanswered goals, the last of which was even shorthanded, to take a 4-3 lead. After the home team squandered the advantage, Brindamour stepped up just as he did in Game 7 of the Buffalo series and scored the game winner -- this time with a mere 31 seconds to play in regulation.

You can bet I'm feeling like that was money well spent at the moment.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!

The Carolina Hurricanes gave me a wonderful birthday present last night when they came from behind in the 3rd period to win Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Now that they've captured the Prince of Wales trophy, Carolina gets back to work on Monday, June 5th in the Stanley Cup finals. Since Monday is the day after my birthday, it quickly became pretty obvious what I was getting for my birthday!

Tickets went on sale this morning at 8am and I have tickets to both Game 1 and Game 7 of the Finals. I've been to the Stanley Cup final once before, in 1999 when Buffalo played Dallas a few years back. I even caught a puck at that game! But I've never actually been to a game of this magnitude where MY team was one of the competitors. This should be amazing!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I Love Mashups

Whether its music or video, I love it when someone takes original works and "remixes" them to create something completely different. Here's a few great video examples:

10 Things I Hate About Commandments

Brokeback Top Gun

And probably my favorite, the Shining Remixed

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Alternate Reality

President Al Gore speaks to the country (via SNL).

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Times They Are a Changin'

Remember when you used to go to a rock concert and wave you lighter in the air? Shoot, I didn't smoke but I bought a bic to take to the concert. Well, according to this post, the new thing to do is wave your cellphone in the air -- the LCDs creating a similar effect as the lighter -- without the added risk of setting someone's hair on fire!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Seat Guru

I was just booking a flight to Europe for a business meeting this summer and since I was going to have to fly an airline that I don't normally fly, I was curious what was the seating arrangement for USAirway's A333 jumbo jet. I stumbled across this amazing website,, which is an absolutely wonderful guide to seating arrangements on all the major airlines and planes out there.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hey! Hey! What do you say?!?!?!

After giving up 9 goals in the first four periods of the playoff series and losing 2 games on home ice, the Carolina Hurricanes have won four straight games to book their ticket to the 2nd round of the playoff!

Guess I better be on in the morning looking for tickets, eh?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Best Laid Plans..

What is it they say about best laid plans? Back on New Year's Eve I blogged about my intention to read a bunch of books and review a bunch of albums this year. And I got off to a pretty good start too (6 books and 18 albums in the first month). I also rambled on about how I was going to become of king of the mountain and tour North Carolina on my bike this year.

Well, things change...

On January 26th, an investment group from Rochester, NY announced that they were bringing a professional soccer team to my hometown. I immediately dropped all my bookwormish plans and aspirations of being the next Lance Armstrong (okay, maybe Stretch Armstrong would have been a more realistic goal) and started a fan club for the new team. Then, somehow I managed to volunteer to intern as the new team's webmaster and IT admin until they can hire someone permanently.

So I've been completely consumed with those two endeavors for the past 3 months and I guess we'll chalk my new year's resolution up for now. But I am pretty proud of the other two projects. Check out the website that I designed for Triangle Professional Soccer and I'm excited to announce that Triangle Soccer Fanatics now has 25 paying members and more than 105 email list members.

Here's a picture of our supporters group in action at the USA v. Jamaica game in Cary a few weeks ago (notice the cool TSF flag in the lower left that Griffin designed for me!)...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Juggling Act

Sometimes staying on top of two kids under 5, a job, my soccer supporters club, soccer coaching, my blogs, my IT internship for our local soccer team, and my bike riding feels a bit like this...

I guess the key is a driving Soundtrack to keep you on song!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Lunch Menu: Chocolate Bunnies & Discolored Devilled Eggs

If the lunch menu consists of chocolate bunnies and slightly pastel-colored devilled eggs, it must be Easter. Here are a few photos from our festivities this weekend.

Two Weeks of Soccer Photos

In the last two weeks, I've shot over 5 gigabytes of soccer photos. I hope my soccer blog readers have had as much fun viewing the photographs of the US National Team, USL First Division pro teams, and ACC collegiate teams as I did shooting them out at SAS Soccer Park. I even managed to get a few of my photos picked up by the marketing departments at the Rochester Rhinos, Atlanta Silverbacks, and for use in their publicity efforts.

Shooting the US National Team practices (4/9 & 4/10) and game on Tuesday was really a dream come true as an amateur soccer photographer, but honestly, it still can't compare with shooting your own son playing. What a great way to finish up a fantastic fortnight of soccer here in the Triangle.

Here are some photos of Max's Dream Camps' U5 Sweden team playing at Green Hope Elementary this morning.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Washed and Dried

See the picture on left...nothing remarkable about it really. Just another soccer photo -- I've taken plenty.

But here's the catch. That photo came off a CompactFlash card that I washed and dried by accident this week. Color me amazed that it didn't damage the card but all the pictures seem to have come out fine! Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 24, 2006

A 4 Year Old Goth?

I went to Max's month-end school program today. At one point, they did a little song where they all had colored kites to wave around. Most of the kids had colorful kites of blue, green, pink, red, etc.

My son's kite was completely black! Perhaps we need to listen to a little less Nine Inch Nails and Johnny Cash around the house? Posted by Picasa