Monday, July 19, 2010

Al Jefferson

Big Al is joining the Utah Jazz. To say I am excited is an understatement and I will try to explain the reasons why I am so thrilled with this move. You can read about what Hollinger thinks of the deal here or Kelly Dwyer's take here or even a review of the entire Jazz team from right here.
  1. Al Jefferson is from Mississippi. Even better I went with Johnny to go see him play in 3A title game when he was with Prentiss high school.

  2. When he entered the 2004 Nba draft out of high school I was convinced that the Jazz would take him to try and fill a Karl Malone sized hole at the power forward position with one of their 3 first round picks. The Jazz did take a young power forward, but unfortunately they took the wrong guy in Kris Humphries. Humphries ended up playing two years for the Jazz before being traded.

  3. After Boozer left the team to go Chicago it was clear that the Jazz needed somebody else in the low post to help out Paul Millsap. Jefferson can be that guy.

  4. Jefferson should help the Jazz compete against the Lakers and their incredible front line.

  5. All the Jazz had to give up was a protected 1st round pick (from the Ronnie Brewer trade), their own 1st round pick (which shouldn't be high pick) and *Kosta Koufos.

  6. Al Jefferson is young and should be still improving.

  7. After dealing with the Sebastian Telfairs, Kevin Ollies and Jonny Flynns of the world he is going to be amazed at how much easier things are with Deron Williams.

  8. Jefferson always seemed to pick up his game when it was important. He seemed to want the ball and responded to the moment better than anyone else on the Twolves roster. If anything I think playing for a team that didn't play many big games overshadowed how much of a dominating offensive force he can be when the game is on the line. Someone who can take the ball and score in the paint is a valuable commodity.

  9. Jefferson is thrilled to be with the Jazz. After all the years of losing I think you can see his motivation with quotes like "I'm going to do whatever it takes. I'm just thankful for the opportunity to be here."

  10. Jefferson's addition sends a clear signal to Deron Williams that he can stay with the team and compete for an NBA title. The management is willing to take the extra step (and go into the luxury tax) if it means fielding a team that can win.

*the one Jazz fan I know up here told me the following thing after the trade was announced "I actually cheered when I saw he was thrown in."

This is a great time to be a Jazz fan and I can't wait to cheer on Al Jefferson when he returns to Minnesota this year. Hopefully by then I have a Jazz 25 Jefferson jersey.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Honeymoon in Spain

Well we made it back from Spain and with that we can put a close to all wedding related activities since the honeymoon is the "omega" to the engagement's "alpha." Of course that doesn't mean we aren't finished with the wedding since there are still pictures to compile and a video for me to work on. However, this blog post is just going to focus on the Honeymoon in Spain. Since my like/dislike post from the wedding was well received I will try the same format for the Honeymoon.

Mojitos - This great, summer drink was the featured beverage at many of the bars in Spain that we visited. We were both fans and would enjoy sipping a mojito while people watching especially in Palma.

The expensive hotel we had in Barcelona that was smaller than my tiny freshmen year college dorm room. The fact that we had used a travel agent (which could also be in the dislike section, but I think I have talked/written enough about that experience) made me think we might have better accommodations. That was a faulty assumption since our Barcelona hotel (Petit Palace) was small and also had a bathroom door that wasn't set up to close all the way.

European beaches liberal dress policy - I wish I could have the self-confidence as some of the beachgoers that we witnessed in Spain.

The quality of the beaches. The sand, water and overall feel of the beach is nothing compared to Florida. From a pure beach perspective the beaches in both Barcelona and Mallorca were not nearly as the nice as where my family would vacation in Florida.

Pigs blood mixed with rice. The surprising delite was part of my favorite meal of the trip. We ordered a tapas platter and were surprised when one of the things on the plate looked to be a brownie....pictured below:

When we tried it out it wasn't sweet and it was definitely not a brownie. Still it was really tasty and went well with the random pot of beans we were also served. We thought it could be something strange and that feeling was confirmed the next day when our food tour guide the next morning confirmed to us that it was pigs blood mixed with rice. Anyway, the place we went was expensive, but it was worth every penny. The wine was what I expected from Spain and the steak was unique and extremely tasty. Still the pigs blood mixed with rice was unexpected and good.

Having to admit to my Dad that it might have been better paying more attention in Spanish class. In all I took 5 years of Spanish between middle and upper school, which is surprising based on my ability to actually communicate with people who spoke Spanish. Generally speaking our best best was to just speak in English and point. Thankfully you can get pretty far with that strategy even though it probably would have been better to actually know the language.

Gaudi's park and his unfinished Cathedral. Both were more impressive than I thought and my only complaint is that they were surrounded by tourists. I would have loved to have been able to relax at the park and enjoy Gaudi's work at a slower pace.

The efficiency of the unfinished Cathedral - Sagrada Familia. It has been under construction since 1882 and the optimistic projection of when it will be completed is 2026. You mean to tell me that they couldn't complete a church in the time the following things have been invented: Coke, radio, TV, planes, *bra, microwave, calculators, computers, and the Ipad. They don't even have pews yet. I know that it is a really nice looking church, but I think that even the most ambitious of projects should be completed in 10 years.

La Rambla (for a day) - For those of you unfamiliar with Barcelona there is one main street of bars, shops and restaurants that seems to be designed specifically for tourists. The best comparison I can think of is Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Anyway, this street is really exciting for about a day. The energy and the amount of people walking around is amazing. It is great visiting the tourist shops and seeing the street performers. However, after a day it made me want a more quiet hotel that was not near La Rambla. It just seems like most of La Rambla isn't authentic and while it is something to see and experience it isn't something that is best enjoyed over a long period of time.
La Rambla (for longer than a day) - Explained above.
Sundresses - I am a big fan of how the July heat in Barcelona brought out the best in women's attire in Spain. In fact I was a big proponent of M getting a nice dress that I financed the purchase of one near the end of the trip. It was worth the money.
College/high school students. I felt very old walking around Spain next to a bunch of kids that were probably backpacking across Europe. It amazed how much English was on the streets and how so many of the people we ran into seemed to be much younger than us. It made me wish that I had study abroad for a semester in Europe at Miami since my time for backpacking across Europe has likely passed.
M making the best of sometimes less than ideal situations - I appreciate how M can be resilient in her attempt to have a good time on a trip. It is almost like she realizes that things might not be going perfect, so she amps up the energy and enthusiasm. I like this because it prevents me from wallowing in poor decisions and not moving on. During the middle of a long day of seeing the tourist sites she helped pep me up at just the exact moment when I was starting to lose my enthusiasm. She is a fun person to travel with and I think we complement each other well.
Overall the trip to Spain went well. I can see the appeal though of going to one of those all inclusive resorts in the Bahamas and we already have talked about that as a possible destination for next year.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Neighborly love

There is a lot of negativity in the world. Turning on the news can be a depressing adventure with the economy, the crime and the constant bickering in Congress. Has it always been like this? It feels different for me, but I don't know if that is just because I am getting older and I am noticing it more. It seems like when I was younger I didn't follow the stock market or get offended when someone did something contrary to my social expectations. Even better when I was younger I wasn't aware that so many things I could do could possibly offend people. This point was hammered home in planning a wedding. The logistics and invite list were two topics that I now had to worry about not because I cared, but because I was was worried about offending someone.

Because of that I would like to share a story that isn't negative and is something that brightened up my day. This wasn't anything big, but it is a point in favor that the world isn't as bad as it might seem. There are good people and good things that can happen and sometimes it is better to focus on that.

Here is the story.

On Wednesday before I started writing some thank you notes I decided it would be nice to have a cocktail. Since it is rarely proper to drink alone and M wasn't home from the Bullseye yet I decided to knock on my *neighbors door and offer then a drink. We are friendly with our neighbors and it isn't unusual for us to offer them drinks or treats just like it isn't unusual for them to help out with things like grabbing our mail when we are vacation.

*Neighbors in a duplex is different than other types of neighbors. We share a garage, a wall and it is hard not to know what is going on the other side. You don't want to be intrusive in their lives, but when you are going about your day to day activities you tend to run into their Mom, boyfriend, friends, etc. Even if you didn't say a word to them I feel like you would at least feel like you know some things about them. I didn't feel the same way when I lived in a condo or a real house.

Anyway, Emily (the 11 year old girl) opens the door with Peggy (her Mom) standing near by in the kitchen. This is how the conversation went:
  • Me "I was going to make some drinks, would you like any."

  • Peggy (being polite) "Yes that would be great if it isn't much trouble."

  • Me "No problem. Any preferences?"

  • Peggy (again being polite) "Whatever you are having or whatever is easiest."

  • Me " Emily... Do you have a preference?"

  • Emily (not playing or knowing the social game) "A smoothie"
Thankfully I had the ingredients (a Target smoothie package, some bananas and honey) to make a smoothie for her. In addition to that I also made some adult beverages for Peggy and I. They thanked me and I went on my way with the task at hand of writing some wedding gift thank you notes.

About an hour passed and I heard my doorbell ring. This was unexpected since I didn't know of anyone planning on coming over and also it is rare that if people do come over that they use the doorbell. I went to the door and there wasn't anyone there. I looked out and couldn't see anything in the distance. Then I checked the door and there was a note stuck there. On the outside was "Mary and Kevin" in a kids handwriting. On the inside was the following note:

"Mary & Kevin thanks yoo sooo much for always being nice neighbors like giving us drinks and cookies! That's so thoughtful. Thanks Emily."

To say that brought a smile to my face is an understatement. The kids are alright. The kids are alright.