Saturday, February 24, 2007

I Must Be In the Front Row!!!

I have not met my goal of trying to post more often since my vacation, and the prime example of that is the details of the trip.

So in the spirit of B.O.B. and Nick, who are both posting things to remind themselves of weather unlike our own, I thought it was high time to relive the trip.

Now keep in mind, I don't get to travel as much as I would like. I really, really enjoy travelling, and don't have much of the opportunity or the means as I would like. So to say that I was looking forward to the trip, well, that would be a gross understatement.

The itinerary was as follows: Leave Milwaukee at 9:15 on Saturday for a flight of about an hour and fifteen minutes to Minneapolis. About an hour layover in Minny, where we board an EIGHT and a half hour flight to Honolulu. There, we have a two hour layover before a half hour flight to Lihue, on Kauai island. A shuttle to the hotel put us in the room at 8pm Hawaii time, or midnight on the internal clock.

Fifteen hours of travel, mostly in the air would wear you out pretty good..... except we flew first class bitches!!! I kid, of course... but if you ever have the chance at first class, take it. We flew Northwest out there, and despite SkyDork telling me that his airline has the best first class - I was super impressed with Northwest. As with any first class, they offer drinks before takeoff ( I had a Heineken at 9am ), and the seats are large and comfy. They didn't do food on the flight to Minny - but I wasn't going to complain for the hour flight.

But now imagine my surprise when we boarded the flight from Minny to Hawaii. We're still flying Northwest at this point, but the seats are bigger, there's a personal TV screen on your seat, and they have more reclining options. Now we're talking! Mai Tai's for the pre-flight drink, and they asked us if we'd like chicken, steak, or fish to eat. Before they even got to the main course, we had soup and salad - then they brought the steak. We were so busy eating the very good food, I didn't even have a chance to browse the 30 or so movies they had on-demand on my TV. After dessert ( cake and fruit ), I finally plugged into the TV and watched The Incredibles. I was about halfway through that, when they brought out cold cuts and bread, so you could make your own sandwiches. I love me some first class.

Oh, did I mention the free drinks the whole time? I hope I win the lottery some day.

After arriving at the hotel, it was dark and we were pretty tired, so we didn't do much. We did venture down to the beach ( it was about 70 degrees that night there ), and wandered over to a beach side restaurant called Duke's that was attached to the resort. The first choice for food there turned out to be the best one. Great atmosphere, and really good food too.

The next morning gave us our first look at the resort in the daytime. Wow. We stayed at the Marriott Resort in Lihue, and it exceeded every expectation I had. The resort was large, but not too big. Although, something that amused me was the room numbering system. When we checked in, they gave us all the paperwork and room keys. They told us we'd be staying in room 1709. I got exciting, thinking we'd be on the 17th floor, and would have one of the best views around. We got to the elevator and noticed that the first button started with 15. Thinking they were dedicated elevators, I didn't question it until I hit 17, and the ride lasted about 4 seconds. Turns out we were on the third floor ( of 7 in our 'building ). I never asked why they number it that way. The hotel does boast the largest outdoor pool in Hawaii. There's about 5 restaurants on site, and everything is landscaped to perfection. One of the things that struck me about the resort, and many other places in Hawaii, was that almost everything is open air. The airport had no windows - just open spaces where windows would be. The resort, had no doors from outside areas to common hallways. The entrance, no doors - just a big open area under the roof that stuck out, leading into the lobby. I suppose when everyday is 78 during the day, and 70 degrees at night, you can get away with that.

Sunday saw the conference championships for the NFL, and due to the time difference, the games were on EARLY. It's got to be weird living there, and rooting for your favorite team when they kickoff at 8am. Because it was the playoffs, they didn't kick off that early, but it was still afternoon when I was watching the Colts Pats game. I sent Nort a text message following a good play, and he responded with a message of disbelief that I would be watching the game on my vacation. I called him to let him know that I was watching the game in 75 degree weather, with the ocean 150 feet to my right, a huge pool 75 feet to my left, and 10 feet in front of me, behind the bar was a 60 inch flat screen HD TV. Not a bad spot to watch a game. In fact, almost beats being AT the game.

The next few days consisted of sitting at the beach, playing in the ocean, playing catch on the beach, eating at the beach, boogie boarding in the ocean, drinking on the beach, reading on the beach, walking on the beach, and more lounging on the beach. Guess where we spent most of our time while the sun was up? It sounds rough I know, but the sun would really wear you out. Getting to the beach around 9:30, and by 2-2:30 you'd feel tired. I mean, a lifestyle I'd get used to for sure, but I didn't expect that part.

Most of the evenings were spent at the various restaurants or bar areas of the resort. Again with the open air theme, the sushi bar was on the walkway on the second floor of the resort, and there was a poolside restaurant that we tried out. We hit up Duke's a couple more times. We also wandered to the outskirt of the city, and checked out the shops outside the resort. When people tell you that things are expensive in Hawaii, they're not kidding. Robyn saw about 347 pieces of jewelry that we couldn't afford, but we picked up the requisite photo album, shell necklace, and t-shirt. We had the tourist thing down pat. We hit one of the 5 hot tubs that surrounded the pool one night, and Robyn got to do a hula dance another evening. The last night we were there, we went and watched a torch lighting ceremony that was pretty neat to watch.

One of the things I did for me out there was to go hit nine holes of golf. I was able to do this the last day. I hit the Lagoons of Kauai Lagoons course, about a ten minute walk from the hotel. This was by far the best course I have ever played in my life. Now, that's not saying too much, but it can't get much better than this. Not only was the temperature perfect, the lush grass made for a perfect course. Even I hit the ball well on this course. At some point in the next 10-15 years, all my guy friends have to pony up for a week in Hawaii for nothing but golf. It was that good. I even had to call Nort from the course, not to brag about where I was at the moment, and how well I was shooting, but to tell him to start saving up for that trip. Again, if I could just win the lottery.

Quite an excellent vacation. Like any other, it went way too fast. And I'm sure it will be a long time before I get to go back - but I will go back. I'd still like to learn how to surf, and I didn't go scuba diving while I was out there. But I wouldn't have changed the vacation one bit. Everything was amazing. We even talked with some of the locals that worked at Duke's about how perfect the island was... to which one of the girls said that she couldn't wait to get off "this rock". We tried to explain that one alternative to the rock was living in a Wisconsin winter, but to no avail. She was determined to leave, at least to go to Honolulu, where she'd never been. It was so perfect for us, it was interesting to see someone with the perspective that it's not paradise. Must be rough to live there, I'm convinced she was dropped on her head at some point.

I try not to set the bar very high on expectations for things, and try to take them as they come. Everything about this trip exceeded even the lofty expectations I put on it. I didn't want to set the bar that high, but I was so excited about going, it just kinda happened. So imagine how good it was if everything was better than I thought it would be.

Well, everything EXCEPT the return flight. As I mentioned, Sky Dork flies for an airline ( and as I said in a previous post, it rhymes with "Fontinential" ), and he assured me that his airline has the BEST first class service around. So much so, that when it's review time for the airlines, his airline really only cares about how they score for first class in relation to the other airlines. He told me about the seats, the service I'll get from the flight attendants, the personal TV screens, the food choices ( lobster or steak ), and a host of other things. Well, we flew this airline back from Honolulu to Los Angeles.

I'm NOT impressed. Now, granted, it was the overnight flight ( we left at 9pm, arriving in LAX at 5am ) - but Northwest was better by leaps and bounds. The seats were just as big, but didn't have the same recline options, or recline as far back. The food? A cheeseburger that could be generously described as 'microwaved'. That was it. No salad, no snacks, a microwaved burger with fake cheese on it. The TVs? Sure it was a personal TV screen, but if you wanted to watch a movie, you'd pick it from the list provided in the in-flight magazine. Trouble was, they were all on VHS loop - so you couldn't start the movie when you wanted. The loop restarted every 2 and a half hours, so you could watch it then if you wanted, or catch the movie in progress. The movie Robyn wanted to watch was so static laden, she gave up after a half hour.

Now I'm sure it was still a better experience than the coach class, but Lee had set the bar WAY up there. Northwest did such a good job with first class, and Lee had me convinced that his airline would be even better. He tried to explain my experience by saying that he found out that the Hawaii flight is technically a 'domestic' flight, and the super first class experience is what he sees on his international flights. This may be true, but if I ever have to go anywhere domestically, and have the opportunity, I'll take Northwest first class.

But now we've been back for a bit, and resumed the daily rat race. Tomorrow's portion of the rat race includes shoveling an ass load of snow from the weather gods. Maybe tonight wasn't the best time to talk about my trip.... I want to go back.

Tell Me Again Why We Live Here?

The red dot is an approximation of where I live. The dark blue stuff on the radar is an estimated 8-14 inches of snow. This is on top of the 6 inches we got last night - that by the astute weatherpersons of this area estimations was only supposed to be 1-2 inches.

I have not complained too much about this winter. A week in Hawaii will lift your spirits enough to make it through the bleary days. But I said once that there was a reason that "Mother Nature" was given a female identity. I didn't wear a jacket to work one day this week, and now this. F*ck you weather gods.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Nort Says

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Wish I Played For Money

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Caption Contest

SkyDork was in Chicago tonight, and of course he waited till 3pm yesterday to tell me about it. Unable to go see my friend, I'm posting this in his honor. This was sent out the day after the Bears got destroyed in the SuperBowl.

So hold nothing back, lets hear your best caption for the picture. All entries will be forwarded on to Lee.

Nort Finally Speaks

So Eric helped me out with a component, which meant I didn't have to f*ck around with preloaders.... but I still couldn't get my final swf file to work outside of the "Test" part of Flash. Worked beautifully there. So the peeps over at Photobucket have a video uploader on there, so we'll use that until Eric can walk me through the dual swf problem.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Nort Speaks

I spent WAAAAYYY too long on a Flash project this evening.

I'm still too much of a Flash newbie to have it up here right now, but I'm working on it. It's an extended piece on the "Nort Says"..... but with actual sound. I'm having trouble with a preloader, and some ActionScript.

But I will get it on here. I am determined. So until then, Willy and Nort have had the .swf files sent to them, and I hope they approve.

Good night peeps.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Duke Sucks

The title echoes a popular cliche - but one I agree with.

Duke was unranked for the first time since '96, and guess what? They were on national TV tonight. And who was one of the announcers? None other than the gas-bag Dick Vitale. Dick, your shtick was cool for about an hour back in the 90's.... but give us some relevant information. In today's broadcast, he said that a kid wasn't just a "Triple S" ( which is Vitale speak for sensational, spectacular, and scintillating ), but that he was also a "Triple D". Vitale did explain on air what the 3S's are, but never mentioned what the 3D's are. I'm thinking it's class grades, but maybe Vitale shouldn't have left it up to me to decide.

But anyway, fuck Duke. They're in my category of teams I don't like. Duke basketball, FSU football, the Yankees, the Cowboys, the Lakers, the Travelling Circus...... okay so that last one doesn't quite fit this group. There were teams that were winning when I started following sports that just won all the time, and I just began to root for them to lose. Not only would they win, but they hardly ever showed emotion when they did. Winning was robotic for them ( which I understand is a landmark that every program in the world shoots for ) - but it wasn't fun to watch.

So I began to dislike them. Eventually the teams fall upon hard times ( well, hard times for them. There were many years when the Badgers could only DREAM of going 8-3 like FSU would. ) FSU is finally hitting the downslope, despite stellar recruiting classes every year. Parity in the NFL killed the Dallas dynasty. It apparently killed Jerry Jones, but I don't think anyone in the state of Texas has noticed yet. Can we get him another face lift??? Anyone?? The Yankees decided to never play hard in the playoffs.

But Duke basketball never seemed to waiver. But they finally did this year. They lost four straight at one point. I finally decided to accept that this was not the Duke of old when I saw them go absolutely bat-shit crazy on the bench after they came back from a 10 pt second half deficit a few weeks ago. If this was the Duke of old, they would have expected to overcome the margin, and walk away with a win. This group looked like they couldn't believe they pulled it off. Even the coach, Coach K ( I'm not going to try to spell his name, and I'm too lazy to look up the spelling. But it's pronounced Sh-Chef-Ski. And it starts with a "K", and there's like 3 "Y"s in the name ) was jumping around with the players. Here's a guy that graduated from West Point, played under Bobby Knight, and coached under Knight, jumping around like a school girl.

Duke is on the ropes boys and girls. And I'm excited for the fall.

Of course, the sporting gods will spite me, and Duke will beat Wisconsin in the tourney, and maybe even win the damn thing. Fickle, the gods are.

One last note about Coach K. While I hate Duke, I respect him. Ted and I were at a NCAA football coaches clinic about 7 years ago in Chicago. We were only there for a day, and Coach K was actually a speaker at the conference. We weren't there to hear him speak, so I'm not exactly sure why he was at a football thing. Anyway, when we got there, we were checking in, and to the table to the left of us was Coach K and a bunch of NCAA admins. Ted is a huge Duke fan, so he couldn't help himself, and he introduced me and himself to Coach K. A handshake, a nice to meet you, and we were on our way.

Fast forward about 8 hours, and Ted and I are going to leave. We get off the elevator, and Coach K gets in to go up to give his speech. This time Ted doesn't say anything, but Coach K pauses, and says, "Ted? Matt? Right? With Wisconsin?"

Ted says something to the effect of 'Yes sir, have a nice day' - and that was it. But it struck me on the drive home that he must have been in contact with over 500 people that day. Between reporters, coaches, assistant coaches, AD's, assistant AD's, SID's, support staff, auxiliary staff ( like Ted and myself ).... and he remembered our names from 9 in the morning. I found that to be pretty impressive. It says a lot about the position he's been able to achieve, and how he got Duke to where they are.

So while he's the reason that Duke is where they are, and I hate the program, I don't hate him. A paradox for sure, but still, Duke sucks.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Day One

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Nort Says

Actually, this is the first Nort Says that isn't a direct quote. Although, I imagine that this edition is a close representation of something that would come out of Nort's mouth regarding the situation. Future editions will try to stick to actual quotes.

That Didn't Go Over Well

Got a good workout in last night.

Of course, yesterday was Monday, the day after the Super Bowl. The day after I spent many hours drinking with Nort and Will. The day after I ate nothing but pizza, cheese triangles, and about a gallon of Will's famous bean dip.

Yeah, it didn't go so well last night.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

You Want Me To Take This Serious Right Now?

One more bit about the cold. This is a screen cap from the JSOnline this evening. If you scroll down, you'll see the rest of the page. Take note of the temp, and the article I've circled. As always, click on the pics for bigger images.

Cooler Than A Polar Bear's Toenails

This is a screen cap from 6:30pm. F*ck.

Overheard at the track clinic this morning:
"You know the Indians had to have settled here in July. There's no other way. You know the Chief walked them up here, showed them the plentiful land, the great nights, the ample water supply, and they were loving it. They even named things after the Chief on his great discovery. Then, in the winter, they banded together and killed the Chief."

The guy they brought in to speak about the pole-vault was from Arizona. He said he'd never come back to speak in Wisconsin, unless they moved the clinic to the summertime.

But still not as cold as a few years back. One fine winter day, I awoke at college to find out they cancelled classes that day. Temperatures were hovering around the negative 18 to negative 20 that morning, when I received a phone call from B.O.B. My father was more than happy to let me know that it was a full one hundred degrees warmer where he was, than where I was. He was in Arizona at the time, and it was around eighty degrees when he called. He thought it was hilarious.

Although, once it gets below zero, does it really matter? When your nipples can cut glass at the mere thought of going outside, why keep score? It's not like you can feel the difference between negative two, and negative fifteen.... YOU CAN'T FEEL SH*T!!! How the hell did the Indians ever live here? Or even back in Civil War times, when there was no insulation, no central heating, no space heaters, no electric blankets, or gore-tex jackets? Why did they not just pick up and move to the south??

I ask all that, and meanwhile, my buddy Josh is prolly outside salting his driveway in his shorts, and Nort is wishing there was a football game in the state of Wisconsin that he could attend this evening. They're f*cking nuts.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The NFL vs God

Good thing my TV is only 50 inches.

I'm too tired to even begin to talk about how stupid and ridiculous this is.