Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Turkey Lurkey

For Thanksgiving, Adria and I went to visit Adria's Grandfather in St. George, Utah. Adria flew down to Utah on the Tuesday before to visit some friends and I flew down Wednesday after work. We had a nice time in St. George. Adria's parents and siblings came down as some of here extended family.

On Black Friday, Adria and I went for a walk along the Virgin River. Adria especially likes the terrain around St. George just because it is so different to the terrain that exists in Oregon.
We also saw a rock (below) that looked like a soon-to-be-crashing-down-wave that Adria liked as well.

Also on Black Friday, as per tradition in Adria's family we went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant called Panda Garden. I ordered duck in celebration of Oregon State's victory over the University of Oregon earlier in the day. (As a side note: Hopefully this season will keep the Riley-haters quiet for a while.) After dinner, Adria and I watched the movie "Monster House" and were both pleasantly surprised by how much we liked it.

On Saturday, we drove to Salt Lake and met up with my brother Jeff for dinner. After dinner we went to see the Christmas lights at Temple Square. Adria and I both enjoyed the display. It was the first time that I had been to it. Below are some pictures from the light and nativity display:

After viewing the display, Jeff took us to our hotel so that we could prepare for an early-morning flight to Washington D.C. the next morning.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fantasy Basketball

The NBA season started 3 weeks ago, which means that the fantasy basketball season is just getting underway. And as usual I have multiple fantasy teams. The team that have captured my imagination the most is my team called The Serbian Gangsters. 2 years ago I created a team called The Eurotrashes that was an abysmal failure. The Serbian Gangsters is another attempt to see if it is possible to create a good fantasy basketball team stocked solely with Europeans. Presently the Serbian Gangsters are:
  • Ben Gordon- I think that if I had known that he was born in Britain while I was creating the Eurotrashes, that it might have turned out better. As a result of this oversight, I was forced to have people like Zoran Planinic or Marco Jaric as my 2nd guard.
  • Sasha Pavlovic- As long as he gets off the bench, he seems to produce.
  • Sergio Rodriguez- Same thing as with Pavlovic, if he gets off the bench he produces. And you have to like an 8 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio as well. Plus he has a highlight video with "Nuthing But A G Thang" in the background.
  • Peja Stojakovic- As much as Peja has let me down in previous years, I needed him this year.
  • Mickael Pietrus- If he could only shoot free throws...
  • Dirk Nowitzki- Really the key to all of this. If I couldn't draft him, having an All-Euro team would not have even had a shot at working.
  • Darko Milicic- I couldn't have a team called The Serbian Gangsters and not have the Serbian OG, now could I?
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas
  • Zaza Pachulia- Without a doubt, he has the funniest first name in the NBA. Not only is it fun to say "Zaza", it also sounds very similar to the word "zyazya" in Russian (which Zaza is fluent in). "Zyazya" translates roughly into "bunny-rabbit".
  • Nenad Kristic
  • Andris Biedrins- I like his hair in his Yahoo! Sports page.
  • Pau Gasol- Once his broken foot heals and he gets his rhythm back, he should be a valuable member of the team. Until then, he is just dead weight.
  • Tony Parker- Almost as important to the drafting strategy as was Dirk. Without Tony as a point guard, I might be forced to have Sarunas Jasikevicius on my team, who has done nothing for the Pacers this year.
My other two teams (The Minotaurs and The DPW), are "normal" fantasy teams built without regard to nations of origin.

While The Serbian Gangsters have struggled up to this point, I feel that the roster as it presently stands will be productive and will at least keep me in the playoff hunt until Pau gets back. Also I have done some tinkering with the roster so my team is stronger after I dropped players like Jake Tsakalidis, Sasha Vujacic, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Primoz Brezec, and Marko Jaric. So the future looks bright.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Faust: The Opera

Adria and I attended the opera last week. We attended the Portland Opera's production of Charles Gounod's Faust. Adria had attended 3 operas while in college (La Traviata, The Magic Flute, and Carmen), while this was my first opera experience. I suppose with this being my first opera and last week Adria attending her first college football game that it says a lot about how we entertained ourselves during our college years.
Adria thought that the opera was beautiful, but depressing (Adria has found that of all the operas that she has seen, only The Magic Flute was not depressing). I thought that it would have been interesting to be able to see an opera sung in English, instead of listening to the words sung in French and reading the subtitles as they did in Faust. On one of the flights coming home from our trip to Oklahoma, I read an interesting article about reading Homer in the original Greek. The authors main point in the article was that a translated work doesn't convey all of the richness that the words in the original. Personal example: Adria and I recently watched the movie Russian Ark with some friends. Because this is a Russian movie, there were subtitles which Adria and our friends read to follow the movie. However the subtitles didn't capture all of the texture of the dialogue, nor did it capture a lot of what the extras where saying in the background (however despite being able to understand what the extras were saying, the movie still didn't make much sense). Anyways in short, I probably would have enjoyed the opera more if I didn't have to read the subtitles to follow the plot of the opera.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Oregon State 44, Arizona State 10

Adria and I went to the Oregon State/Arizona State football game on Saturday (the day after getting back from Oklahoma). This was Adria's first time attending a college football game. She attended the Oregon State/Oregon basketball game last March, which was also her first college basketball game. While we were walking to the game, one of the shuttles that takes fans to the stadium stopped and the driver offered us a ride to Reser Stadium. Once we got on the shuttle one of the riders (who was clearly jealous of our gear) said to his girlfriend, "Why don't we have stuff like that?" His girlfriend wasn't as impressed as the boyfriend was, as she just shrugged her shoulders. She probably hadn't seen some of the other goofy outfits that my friends and I have worn to previous games. For example:

By contrast, we were dressed far less goofily than at previous games. Here is us in our gear:

It turns out that it rained almost the entire time that Adria and I were in Oklahoma. The rain continued during most of the game, but we were lucky to have seats that were very dry. We were seated next to the club section of the stadium, which blocked almost all of the rain. I didn't realize how much it was raining until Adria and I got up to leave the game and we got wetter leaving the stadium than we did watching the football game. Plus our view of the game wasn't bad either, as seen below.
During halftime they held the ring ceremony for the 2006 NCAA Champion Baseball team.

As for the game itself, Oregon State rolled to a 44-10 victory. The outcome of the game was never really in doubt. It was nice to see that the Beavers didn't celebrate their victory over USC for so long that they didn't get ready for this game. What a difference a month makes. A month ago, there was rampant talk of Riley being shown the door along with Matt Moore being benched in order to begin the Sean Canfield era. Now, the Beavers are 6-3, ranked in the BCS, and there is talk that the Beavers could run the table and play in the Holiday Bowl.

It would be less than honest if I said that I saw this coming. After the Washington State game I was going to write a post that I was going to title either "When Moore is Less" or "When Less is Moore" that was going to detail the fact that up to that time in 3 games against non-cupcake teams (i.e. not Eastern Washington or Idaho), Matt Moore had led the team to one touchdown, and even that drive was aided by a fake punt. Further, even after the Eastern Washington game (which briefly made Oregon State the highest scoring team in college football), Matt Moore lead the time on only one long sustained drive. Luckily for me, I never got around to writing the post, mainly because I was working graveyard and was too tired when I wasn't at work to create critical arguments more complex than "Matt Moore isn't very good, therefore he should be benched".

Let's hope that the Beavers continue to keep working and hopefully they will be able to keep this momentum going on Saturday against UCLA.

After the game Adria and I drove back to Portland to see her brother Hayden in a play called "The Man Who Came to Dinner." Hayden did a good job in the play.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Oklahoma, Oklahoma, Oklahoma

Adria and I recently returned from a trip to Oklahoma. I had a training class in Norman and Adria came along. We both had a nice time in the Sooner State. Here are some pictures/stories from the trip:

Here is a picture of Adria and me sitting in the airport. After spending so much time in airports over the past week, I wondered "Why don't more airports offer free wireless Internet?" Travelers would like it, and when flights are delayed there aren't too many other ways to kill a couple of hours in an airport that don't involve spending money. I think the answer comes down to $$$, the airports want it, and the Internet providers have it, which is why is seems that the larger the airport, the more likely you will have to pay for internet access.. Here is a list of which airports have wireless Internet, and which are free.

At nights after I was done with work, Adria and I would go for a walk around the hotel's fitness course. One night while we were walking we enjoyed this sunset:

Adria brought her sewing machine along with her to Oklahoma so that she could working on some projects while I was at work (yes, if you can fit your sewing machine into a piece of luggage you can bring it onto an airplane as a carry-on as long as you put the needles in you checked baggage. But the person on the x-ray machine at the Oklahoma City airport gave us an odd look when we said that there was a sewing machine inside of the suitcase). My co-workers got wind of this and asked Adria to help make some alterations to a pair of jeans that were going to be part of a Halloween costume for my co-worker Joe, who had decided to be a hippie. Adria gave the pants decidedly more flair than they had when they were purchased (as you can tell from the picture to the right). A bunch of my co-workers got dressed up in costumes and went out on the town. A picture of them is below (if you look to the left of the picture, you can see the workers at the hotel registration laughing):
The costumes in the group included Catwoman, an afroed hippie, Mario, a dread locked hippie, the Invisible Woman, Wonder Woman's cousin, Raphael the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, a pirate, a spider-woman, Rainbow Brite, a hunter, a cowboy, 2 nurses, an angel, and Harry Potter.

One night, Adria and I took a shuttle from the hotel to Oklahoma City. There we visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial. This Memorial is necessarily a sad place, but they did a very nice job with the Memorial. After visiting the Memorial, we took a short bus tour of downtown Oklahoma City. After the bus tour, we walked around downtown and bit. We saw Toby Keith's restaurant, which has a video screen on the outside that shows clips from Toby's music videos.

About two blocks from Toby Keith's restaurant, we found a paper mache buffalo

Other highlights from the trip:
  • While sitting in the Oklahoma City airport waiting for our plane, we heard the song from Napoleon Dynamite that was in the background when the Helping Hands Club performed early in the movie ("They say love, it is a river...")
  • While we were waiting to be picked up at the airport, Adria and I were standing on the curb outside of the baggage claim, Adria and I were chatting and watching the cars go by. Then Adria says to me, "Look" and she pointed at the gray car to the right which contained 3 guys in Spiderman masks. While this was kind of scary at first, I chased after the car for a little bit and was able to snap this picture of the car on my cell phone. Adria wants everyone to know that this actually happened and that these pictures weren't doctored. Below is a magnification of the car driven by Spiderman: