Thursday, March 27, 2008


Barbara had her last fellowship interview in Austin and I thought I'd tag along to visit one of my friends. Boy, was she going to be sorry. We caught a 6am flight out of LAX on the Monday after Easter. Even though we got about four hours of sleep the night before, we hit San Antonio running.

Barbara in front of...I can't remember

We headed over to the riverwalk and although we didn't hit the nice part, we still enjoyed it. Of course, no trip to the area would be complete without visiting the Alamo, which was actually cooler than other people had made it out to be. There was a lot of informative exhibits and friendly guides to share a lot of inside stories. You could tell that Texans have a lot of pride in that place and treat it like a religious shrine.

Mike and I after coordinating wardrobes

We then headed over to Mike's place. Now this wasn't a normally planned trip. Barbara didn't really have a choice on what date we were to come out, so of course, it was going to coincide with Liz's due date. Fortunately for us, she went into labor two days before during the UCLA-Texas A&M game. By the time we pulled up that afternoon, they had only been home an hour. Little Tyler was lying there bundled up and on display like a picture frame. Sam wandered in and was trying to make friends with his "bro". Impressively, at two and half years ago, Sam already is speaking three languages, which is three more than I have mastered.

"Hi Five, Sam"

We made it out to Austin that night and after a quick drive around, we gave it a quick thumbs up. It's full of a lot of unique restaurants, bars and museums without many of the generic starbucks, gap, pinkberry, etc. We ate at a restaurant called Trulock's, where Barbara got the trout and I had a sampler of steak, chicken and shrimp which both were exemplary. Amazingly, we refrained on a dessert that was a hard chocolate shell the size of a women's shoebox filled with ice cream, chocolate and fruit. The three girls sitting next to us each got one. They should have split just one between them. Everything is bigger in Texas.

I dropped Barb off to her interview the next morning and once I got myself together, I headed out to explore more. I headed over to the capitol first, which was real impressive in size and design. Strangely, having been heavily security checked going into LA City Hall a couple weeks earlier, I was surprised to just be able to walk right in. That's southern hospitality for you.

Video Highlights & Lowlights

I then headed over to the University of Texas campus to see what the state's finest had to offer. First, I headed to the football stadium which was already huge and was adding at least another 15,000 seats. It also had three gift shops built in which were all open four months away from football season! The rest of the campus is very dense, and it's hard to have enough space to tell if the buildings are nice or not. I also tried to go up the clock tower, but surprisingly it's been closed for forty years since the shooting and just opened for the weekends two years ago. I then wandered over to the local campus digs and it's actually very similar to Berkeley, except less transients and no "for lease" signs up.

U of Texas Clock Tower

I picked Barbara up from her interview around six and since traffic was so bad, we decided to eat into before heading back to San Antonio. One of the doctor's recommended a seafood place called Eddie V's. I'd say my salmon was just good next to Barbara's lobster which was amazing. Another thing I have to add is that all the local beer I tried was exceptional.

The trip ended on a bad note as the hotel we were staying in San Antonio(rhymes with "milton") was full and threw us in a handicapped room which had a broken shower head unsuccessfully kept together by a rubber band and a twin sized bed which forced me to sleep on the floor. After getting about two hours of sleep we headed out to the airport which went without a snag unless you count me accidentally throwing away my driver's license. In summary, we were very impressed with this part of Texas, especially since we've had bad experiences in other parts of the state. If Barbara does end up getting her fellowship here, at least I know she'll be in good hands.

Spring Training '08

I try to go to spring training every year(I'm currently on a three year streak), but I'd never been with more than one friend before. This year we had a crew of five guys going, but the challenge was how to get a group of guys out after a night on the town to a 1pm game. The solution, was to bring the game to them:

It was a great idea in theory, but I had no idea how it would work in a real world environment. It was scary to drive, but at least other drivers would yield against any moves I made. I also didn't know that it didn't come with any bedding. Thankfully, Lindsay(Costello's girlfriend) is a Phoenix native and supplied us with about all we needed.

Costello, Dan, Campbell & LADave catching rays

Friday night we were supposed to go to the Brewers/Padres game, but Dan & Costello's flight came in late, so me and Campbell went solo. Prince Fielder hit a massive shot, but of course, I didn't think to record it. It's actually still in the air as of press time. We all met up after the game for a few drinks at the Rock Bottom Brewery and then a few drinks in the RV. After settling down we drove out to set up camp near the next days game. We settled at a Walmart parking lot that seemed tame enough, but as you'll see in the video, we got rudely awakened.

The whole trip video compilation!

That day we headed to the Royals/Brewers game where LADave met up with us. I was looking forward to the sausage races, and figured Churizo would win because it was Churizo bobblehead day, but it wasn't meant to be. We then headed to the Coyotes game early and tried out the RV shower before we headed in. We got to watch the Pac10 Final game at the Fox Sports Bar before and was actually pleasantly surprised at how good their food was despite their crappy beer selection. As for the hockey game, it was one of the worst in recent memory. For a team fighting for a playoff spot, the Coyotes played one of the most uninspired games ever. It was nice to get free green St. Patrick's Day Coyotes hats, but it would of been nicer if the cold air wasn't turned on in our section.

After the game, we headed to a Dave & Busters which was singularly the most genius/idiotic idea of the trip. I liked the cheap beer and the most games were fun enough, but as it got closer to closing time, things got retarded. Everyone started sliding their cards into this game that would give you coins that got flung into the game and if any fell over the edge, you won tickets. I think we literally spent $60 dollars on it. We had a little argument at the ticket redemption center as Dan really wanted the oversized pink Little Mermaid ball, but we settled on a purple metallic soccer ball and three inflatable hammers.

That night we decided to park in a residential neighborhood to avoid any urban woes, but this time we were rudely awakened by roosters! We got to the Cubs game early enough to hit around some balls, but unfortunately were parked to a larger group of goofballs. And yes, they were Angels fans. Dan had to head back early, but the rest of us went to Lindsay's parents place where we were treated with pizza, a good old-fashioned shower, and some 2x2 hoops in her backyard roller rink. We then hit the dog track which was the most underrated part of the trip. Every race took place about every 12-15 minutes, which was way faster than the horse races. We all won money too, so that was also a factor.

We parked the RV in another residential area that night, but even though we were parked in the flight path of the airport, we didn't seem to care anymore. Dave caught an early flight out, but the rest of us hit the A's St. Patty's Game. Of course, we tried the green beer which was actually a green-dyed Corona, but for some reason it tasted better. Campbell also caught a foul ball, although it bounced a few times before he corralled it.

All in all, a great trip considering all that could have gone wrong, like crashing the RV, not being able to shower or inviting Parker. Next year might be packed with the Dodgers moving to town, but I'm willing to give it a go now that I've got over 200 miles logged into a RV.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Los Angeles Marathon 2008

This Sunday morning, me and my roommate Stone Cold Chinfoo headed out to the hardened streets of Los Angeles to capture the essence of the 2008 Los Angeles Marathon. We made our first stop at the corner of Hollywood and Highland to catch the early leaders.

The elite women came by first due to the twenty minute head start on the men, but what surprised us was the first male. Minutes before he came by, there were a number of "recreational" runners that jumped onto the course to get a head start on their twenty minute-a-mile pace. We thought that this guy was doing the same since there was no lead pack in sight and he wasn't a Kenyan. Sure enough, he was running right behind the official pace cars. The elite men pack didn't show up for another minute and a half, meaning this guy was running a mile thirty seconds faster than the rest. That was a physical accomplishment of it's own, but it turns out he held the lead for two thirds of the race and wound up taking sixth place.

We then camped out at Vine and Melrose where I told Ezra we'd be stationed to give him props when I realized that there were a bunch of freaks running this race. I was the freak for not having my camera running, so I got a few of them, but there was a larger army of mutant runners out there than the X-men.

We then hopped on our bikes and made it near the finish line in downtown LA. There's something about the end of the race there that doesn't get the crowd involved as much as they should, like the Boston Marathon. People are limited to stand on a narrow part of the sidewalk and there's a bunch of "VIP" seating near the end that isn't being used. The winner's sure looked happy they won, but didn't seem to have a clue whether there were people cheering for them or not.