June 26, 2011
This past week I headed down to Tampa Bay to see my good friend Dan and go out on his sail boat.
The boat is kept in a marina in St. Petersburg and we took it north along the inter-coastal water way to a small town called John’s Pass. We had a nice meal in a giant University of Florida themed bar/grill called, “Gators.” I have never seen so much Gator memorabilia in my life. They had signed footballs, helmets, bats, hats etc…They also had a crazy crane game contraption that I have never seen before called, “The Lobster Zone,” as you can see from the picture below it is an arcade game to select your lobster. My favorite part of the game console is the tagline, “You Catch ‘Em, we Cook ‘Em!” The game cost two dollars and judging by the lobsters they have been in there for some time.
Since it was extremely hot and the boat didn’t have air conditioning we thought we would cool off by swimming, well, at least I did. We found a nice sand bar located near John’s Pass and jumped in. It wasn’t very refreshing as the temperature was similar to what you set your bath at. Nonetheless, it was a unique experience and the first time I have gotten into salt-water in some time.
After a peaceful night sleep aboard the boat in the middle of a flotilla of live-aboard boats we started up the boat and made it back to the marina by noon and I was back in the car heading home. Major thanks to Dan for the awesome time aboard the SS Morris.
June 20, 2011
Sarah and I made it to Kansas City and immediately we found ourselves looking for a banker and trying to avoid malaria:
This sign is from the Westport neighborhood which was located right next to our hotel. We hung out there a lot of the time and if we ever make it back to Kansas City this is probably where we would end up again. We had a lot of fun hanging out on the patios of the local restaurants and drinking beer with our friends from Minnesota:
The Westport neighborhood gets a Thumbs Up from Sarah:
It wouldn’t have been a trip with Sarah if we didn’t somehow work some educational experiences in:
We weren’t in town for the big speech, but it was worth the thought.
After all the fun in the neighborhoods of Kansas City we did the Zoo Bar in downtown. It is easily one of my favorite bars that I have ever been to. The bartenders were great, the jukebox was worthy and the drinks were stylish. Plus, it is the only place I have ever been able to buy a Stag, and I tell you what, the Stag is a quality beer:
A few of us continued with the tradition of the Zoo Bar and left our mark. A friend of mine put up his chosen nickname. I normally don’t let people choose their own nicknames, but we all thought it was fitting:
Before we knew it we were ready to go to the Sporting Park. After all, the reason we came to Kansas City in the first place was to watch the United States play Guadeloupe at the new stadium. I was extremely excited to go to the stadium, but first we had to hit up Oklahoma Joe’s at the ol’ neighborhood gas station. The place has a huge following and lines of 1hour are not uncommon:
The line is well worth it when you bite into the Z-Man. It is quite possibly the greatest sandwich I have ever eaten. It is made of beef brisket, provolone cheese, bbq sauce, two onion rings and a nice bun. Hot damn is it great. When we were done enjoying the food we were off to the new soccer park and a meeting of friends.
Naturally, I didn’t want to get placed on the Wonderboy’s black list so I had to go in disguise:
When I walked into the plaza I made sure to take Valley Forge with me in order to protect myself when I gave myself and imaginary blood transfusion. No matter what I said to Sarah I couldn’t get away with out taking a nice photo of the experience, sans mustache:
It isn’t until you get inside the stadium until you really appreciate its awesomeness. The place is a real palace to the game:
The best part of the game was getting to enjoy it with our good friends from Minnesota, of whom, an amazing banner was made and given prime billing on the corner facade above where we were standing for the game:
Did I mention how close we were to the field?
It wouldn’t have been a complete trip with out another photograph with me and my best friend at the stadium:
What a great trip.
June 16, 2011
It has been a whirlwind few days for Sarah and I. This past week marked the end of my first year of teaching and the beginning of our summer vacation together. However, since Sarah must return to teaching summer school in a few weeks time we had to squeeze in our family vacation almost immediately.
Prior to leaving for our big vacation I did have the formality of finishing up the last few days of school. This meant a lot of cleaning, organizing, grading and giving a final exam. I have learned a lot from my students, and I feel that they learned a great deal from me and many of them excelled in my classroom, but some still have a little bit to learn as shown by this tricky multiple choice question:
(I love the movie Animal House)
Yet, when the kids were given their choice of what movie to watch they nearly unanimously said, “Fat Albert.” I found this a little bit strange, but I didn’t have to think twice about what episode I was going to show on their last day with Mr. Hayes:
(The Junkyard Gang rules!)
Before I knew it the day was over and I was ready to head home for a nice summer vacation away from the kids! It was a lot of fun getting to know the kids over the past 10months and before I know it I will be packing up the car and reworking some lesson plans. The work of a teacher, despite what you may have heard, never stops. Well, apparently punctuation does, but who am I kidding?
We have long been planning to go on a return trip to Kansas City since we had so much fun there the last time we visited. Upon hearing that the US Men’s National Team was going to be playing a game at the brand new Livestrong Sporting Park we knew we had to go and experience the newest palace built for the beautiful game. When we found out that the US Men’s National Team was going to be playing a game in Tampa the day before we left to head to Kansas City it was truly icing on the cake!
The game in Tampa was against Panama. It was played at the colossal Raymond James Field, home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Prior to the game we met up with some friends and fellow soccer aficionados from Gainesville, Keith and Theresa, for a nice meal. After a 30min safari through ditches, grass and dirt we made it to the “RayJay” and lots of people were out:
We got the cheapest tickets available and took advantage of the relative lack of popularity in soccer and upgraded to very nice seats that were going unused:
The United States ended up losing the game 2-1, but it was a ton of fun and the excitement was well worth our upgraded tickets. The Panama fans were all class, although, they didn’t thank us for the canal, which I found a bit strange.
Before we knew it we were getting on a plane to destroy Kansas City, Missouri…
June 9, 2011
Sporting Kansas City is unveiling their brand new state of the art soccer stadium this evening:
The stadium, Livestrong Sporting Park, holds 18,467 people and is easily one of the nicest stadiums in the world. It boasts amazing technological features, fully covered seating area, an exclusive bar for the supporters group, and an amazing look and feel. Unfortunately, the team drank a little bit of the Lance Kool-Aid and has chosen to enter a sponsorship-charitable relationship with the Livestrong Foundation in naming the facility.
While admirable in theory, I think the club will resent this relationship in the long-term as more of Lance’s historic sporting fraud comes to light. In fact, the Livestrong name is also an avenue of revenue for the superstar athlete. An abnormally large percentage of the foundations fundraising goes to ‘legal fees’ and ‘travel expenses’. Charity Navigator, a well known charity rating service, gives the Livestrong foundation a 3 (out of 4) star rating with a 55% approval rating. In my opinion there are quite a few other foundations that may have provided a better outlet for Sporting Kansas City’s philanthropic ideals. But, naturally, this relationship isn’t just about raising awareness in the fight against cancer. The CEO of the franchise recently stated that the naming of the facility (the team agreed to donate 6.5million to the charity over the next few years) has already paid for itself through sponsorship agreements with brands that are closely linked to the cycling icon.
I, for one, am stoked that Sporting Kansas City is bringing this amazing facility on-line and is willing to use out-of-the-box thinking to help bring attention to the fight against cancer, but I am also one to realize that this partnership has huge profitability for both the franchise, and Lance.
It is only fitting that on the day that Livestrong Sporting Park opens for business it is revealed that six Mexican National Soccer Team players are busted for Clenbuterol, the same drug that was found in a sample given by Alberto Contador at the 2010 Tour de France. Making it all the more appropriate, they claim it was some tainted chicken. For my non-cycling friends, this defense may seem a little bit like a reach, but there is a historical precedence to this defense as it has gotten off other athletes that have tested positive for the drug, often used as a masking agent.
It is just a matter of time before the circle of denial comes full swing. Expect to hear claims of corruption within USADA/WADA by the Mexican Soccer Federation and claims of plausible deniablity. Eventually, the case will wind up before the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) and the players will more than likely be found guilty of sporting fraud, however, if they are able to locate some of the “tainted chicken” they may have a fighting chance.
It isn’t everyday that your sporting worlds collide like this, but I have the feeling that Alberto Contador is enjoying the fact that the six world-class soccer players got popped for the same drug that was found in his system. It will allow him to further question the reliability of testing for the drug.
June 1, 2011
One of the benefits of our apartment complex in Gainesville is the free HBO and Showtime. That means we are able to stay up to date on our favorite shows without having to wait for a DVD to show up via the USPS. In addition, we get to watch some world-class boxing almost every other weekend. Just the other day I was able to watch the new HBO movie, “Too Big to Fail.”
It is a very well done movie that is based on the global economic collapse of the housing market in September of 2008. While the movie is deemed ‘fictional’ I find it to be very captivating and I enjoyed it immensely. I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys docu-dramas. The acting is superb and it is always great seeing Henry Paulsen squirm.
After all, his son owns the Portland Timbers, an MLS team that I can’t quite hate, due to their support, but I don’t really like, due to their owner.
Check it out.