Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Nice Weekend

After work on Friday Bonnie and I headed out for the weekend. We got a package deal at the Salish Lodge that included a night at the lodge, a big breakfast the next morning and messages for two.

The lodge sits on the edge of a giant waterfall and is located in Snoqualmie, Washington. The hotel was great, we had a giant Jacuzzi tub and a fireplace in our room.

Bonnie and I decided not to eat at the lodge (not included in the package and very expensive) so we went to dinner at Jak’s Grill in Issaquah. We met a lot of interesting people and the steaks were amazing!

Saturday we slept in, enjoyed a giant country breakfast, and then it was off to the spa. We started in the pools, which were basically giant hot tubs but with no speaking allowed at all. From there we had a hot stone message and by the time we checked out in the late afternoon, we both felt like overcooked spaghetti.

We took a quiet drive home through the country and relaxed for the rest of the weekend. Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie Falls and Jak’s Grill in Issaquah are both on our highly recommended list!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Island Daydreaming

It is a warm day in Washington today and the heat kinda reminds me of the tropics. I want to walk outside and jump into the warm waters of the Caribbean; granted it would be a long walk from the Northwest Coast. All of this got me thinking about how many wonderful trips that Bonnie and I have had aboard our sailboat the BlackSheep.

At first the BlackSheep lived in Miami. Well, there was that one crazy weekend in Key West with Ray, Ellen, John and Celita. Fantasy Fest was really something, but I don’t think we will be going again anytime soon. Then we moved the boat down to the islands.

Until just recently we have kept the boat down in an area of the Bahamas called The Abacos. Unfortunately, between the job and travel, we just do not get to use the boat as much as we used to, so it is up for sale. If you are interested in a great deal on a wonderful island hopper let me know!

One of our first big trips with guests in the Bahamas was when we spent Christmas and New Years on board with our friends Ellen, Faith and Bobby. Yup, just little ole me and four beautiful women; it was tough but I made it through, what an awesome trip.

During another big adventure we sailed with our friends David, Lori and Rebecca. David and Lori live in Chicago and Rebecca is a recently married attorney from Atlanta. Rebecca got so relaxed she came home and quit her job with a big law firm and now she is out on her own and doing great!

The trip that wins the prize for the most rum (and everything else drinkable) consumed was when we went down with our crazy but very lovable friends Kevin, Dane, Leslie and Becky. That trip we were there for the fourth of July, we saw the fireworks from Nippers Beach Bar.

To get to the Abacos you either have to fly in a very small plane to a very small airport, or take a boat across. If you fly you have to hope that the plane comes that day. Some days it is a longer wait than others. While we were waiting one day I had what will probably be my only chance to perform for an entire international airport full of people.

Well writing about the trips helped me remember all the fun we have had over the years. Almost as much fun as being there….well not really.
Like the man says:
"Yes I am a pirate, born 200 years too late, the cannons don't thunder, there's nothin to plunder, I'm an over 40 victim of fate".

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It Works!

I put this blog together in the hope that it would help me communicate better with family and friends. Guess what, it works! Since I launched the blog I have had emails from several friends, like the one I got today from my childhood buddy Kayla Moore, (who is now Kayla Helm). The email had lots of news and photos; it was great to catch up.

Kayla and I both spent our elementary and high school years as friends in the town where we grew up, Madison Florida. Unfortunately as things tend to happen, Kayla and I fell out of touch. I knew she had gotten married, and had an opportunity meet her husband Bud; they have been married for over 19 years now.

The amazing thing is that somehow while I was not paying attention Kayla and Bud managed to have three kids; Jenna who is 16, Emily who is 13 and the youngest Davis who is 11. Good looking kids, they take after their mom who always was one of the prettiest girls in town.

Kayla works for the State of Florida as a public health nutritionist in the local health departments, so I guess she is both pretty and smart. She travels a three county circuit and I am sure she still sees a lot of the folks we used to hang with as kids. If you knew Kayla and want to catch up with her (or her mom Beverly or her Dad Leland) drop me a note and I will send you her email address.
If you happen to see this and realize that I have not heard from you in forever, email me with photos so I can add you to the long lost friends list here on my blog.

Nice to see you again Helms family, stay in touch!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Malo, Not Bad

Bizim is Turkish for “Ours”, and that is the name of our friend’s boat. The boat is a Malo sailing yacht and Iain and Ruth are in the process of getting it ready to sail to Turkey. First they will sail down the West Coast, through the Panama Canal, through the Caribbean, up the East Coast to see Ruth’s family and then eventually over to Turkey where they have property and will be building a new home.

I got to know Ruth when we worked together at BellSouth International; now I work with Iain at T-Mobile, at least until he sails off into the sunset. You can learn more about the boat and keep up with their adventures on Iain’ Blog.

Bonnie and I went over to visit last night and check on the progress they have made in getting ready to go. The boat now has a new electronic navigation system, a new stereo, cutlass bearing and lots of other improvements. Most importantly they have just ordered a new mattress topper and fitted sheets for the cabin that Bonnie and I use when we come to visit, which we will be doing as often as we can get away with it!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Its Been Years....

Bonnie and I got together for dinner tonight with an old buddy Geoff Kohles, and his wife Alexandra, who we had not met before. We both decided we really like her and that Goeff should keep her around.

Geoff and I worked together on several projects including Sao Paulo Brazil, Rio de Janeiro and Santiago Chile. Santiago is where Geoff met Alexandra. We talked about some of the folks we used to work with, like Saeed Butt, Jim Goepert, Rob Purks and Ellen Roberson.

The two of them are expecting a baby in October. Of course we waited for them to tell us she was pregnant. Being a good Southern boy, I know that a gentleman does not ask a lady if she is pregnant unless he actually sees a baby emerging from her at that moment.

Geoff and Alexandra had a big day; they made an offer on a home in West Seattle, which was accepted; plus they got to see Bonnie and me, who could ask for more in one day? (grin)

We had dinner at Pasta Freska, a great little restaurant that Iain and Ruth introduced us to.

We are looking forward to seeing a lot more of these two.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Thanks Ya'll

It is good to have friends.

My brother went into the hospital in New Orleans and gave us all a bit of a scare; he is doing better now by the way. I called my buddies Kevin and Becky (pictured here), who are both in the medical business, to find out more about the hospital. They got in touch with another friend Jo Seger. Long story made short, before you know it my brother got a personal visit from Grant Walker, one of the vice presidents at Ochsner Hospital. Grant went on to write a nice email with a status update on my brother along a promise to make sure he has everything he needs.

Having a relative in the hospital is a scary thing. Having friends like Jo, Becky and Kevin make it a lot less scary…thanks ya’ll!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Saturday with Dave and Marion

Our fun day started off with a big fat Greek wedding party dancing on the sidewalk across from our apartment. Two big limos pulled up and disgorged a wedding party complete with band. They danced on the sidewalk then went up into the building, brought the bride out, danced some more. Then they all got into the limos and left.

Bonnie and I drove down to meet our friends Dave and Marian who were on their way back from an Alaskan cruise. We took them down to do the sightseeing thing. We went to Pike Place Market; bonnie bought a nice Copper River Salmon, which the fish mongers then threw across the market (all part of the show) to the guys that filleted it and prepped it for us to take home.

We wandered around the market for a bit more, stuck our head in the original star bucks and then headed back to our place in Bellevue. We put the salmon on the grill, and introduced Dave and Marian to cosmopolitans. We all had a great time. I drove them to the airport early this morning and thy are now on the way back to Boston.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

I love my Bose System!

Bonnie and I went out (OK I kinda dragged her along) to the Bose store and purchased a new Lifestyle System. It is basically a full home entertainment system that now houses all of our music collection (we loaded all of our CDs into it, kind of like you do with an IPOD). It is also our FM stereo, DVD player, video receiver and everything else all built into one tiny little box. It even upconverts video from our TIVO to high resolution format, so we do not get squishy images on the HD monitor.

I must say I LOVE THIS SYSTEM. I got rid of a huge wall unit full of gear and replaced it all with a little box.
The speakers are cubes, which can travel anywhere with us. Very best of all we can now run everything with just one remote control (we used to have 5). This remote also controls the TV and TIVO.

I have heard some people make negative comments about Bose gear. Things like if it is all highs and lows it must be Bose. I will admit it does not have as full a midrange as my huge system did, but it sounds great. I am sure that most would not notice the difference, even in a side by side comparison.

Setup was amazing simple, there is a software tool that configures the entire system for you. You put a little gadget on your head, it looks somewhat like headphones, but there are actually microphones built into it. The system plays a series of squeaks and burps from each speaker and then uses the information collected to recalibrate the settings to fit the room you are in. The result is amazing surround sound regardless of how bad your room is.

The other cool thing that the system does is allow you to create profiles of the style of music you want to hear. You vote, via the remote, to tell the system if you love a song, like a song, dislike or absolutely hate it. After a few votes the system begins to figure of your taste and starts selecting music that suites you. The more you use it, the better it gets at predicting. Our friend Ian hates country music, so we let him create his own profile to use when he is visiting.

We have enjoyed our Wave Radio for a long time, they let us trade it in on the latest model so that now we can link the Wave Radio into the lifestyle system and have remote access to the music library. Bonnie can listen to her profile in one room, while I watch movies in another.

Consider me a fanatic!
Post Script: for those of you wondering what happened to the giant audio/video system I used to have, we sold it all piece by piece on Craig's List. Then we used the proceeds to pay for the new system!

A Day At The Freemont Festival

I like to think that I am a pretty well rounded guy. But I was tickled to see that there are still things that I have never imagined. I spent the day the Solstice Day Celebration in a funky little suburb of Seattle called Freemont.

The parade was the highlight of the festival and I got to see the much discussed NAKED BICYLE RIDERS. Most were painted in very clever ways,

A few just took the opportunity to get neckid.

It was a fun day