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I’m back…

I’m back…

On March 18th, 1995, Michael Jordan sent the above fax in response to questions about his future career plans…it simply said, “I’m back.”

Jordan, who retired from the NBA in October of 1993, was playing minor league baseball for the Birmingham Barons in March of 1995 when he decided to quit baseball (somewhat due to the ongoing Major League Baseball strike) and make his return to the NBA. In MJ’s first game back (wearing number 45) he scored 19 points as the Bulls lost to the Indiana Pacers 103-96 (I can still remember racing home from the WIAA State Basketball Tournament to watch that game).

 

Jordan would lead Chicago to a 13-4 record over the final 17 games (highlighted by a game-winning shot against the Atlanta Hawks in just his fourth game back and a 55 point effort in the very next game against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden) and helped the Bulls advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic.

Did you know…at the end of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Orlando’s Nick Anderson stripped Jordan from behind, leading to the game-winning basket for the Magic. Anderson would later comment that Jordan “didn’t look like the old Michael Jordan” and that “No. 45 doesn’t explode like No. 23 used to.” Jordan then returned to wearing his old number in Game 2, and scored 38 points in a Bulls win. The Bulls were fined $30,000 for the game…$25,000 for failing to report the impromptu number change to the NBA and $5,000 for Jordan wearing different shoes.

Orlando would go on to win that series in six games, despite MJ averaging 31 points per game. Losing that series only motivated Jordan and the Bulls, as Chicago would win the next three NBA Championships (their second three-peat of the decade). Jordan would retire again on January 13th, 1999…only to return on September 25, 2001 as a member of the Washington Wizards. Jordan’s final NBA game would come on April 16th, 2003 in Philadelphia.

On July 11th, 2014, LeBron James announced, via an essay he co-wrote with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, that he was modifying his own career plans…the essay was titled, “I’m coming home.”

James, who was a free agent in the summer of 2010, announced on a live ESPN special (The Decision) that he was taking his talents to South Beach and would become a member of the Miami Heat (I remember watching that “special” at Leff’s Lucky Town). LeBron joined fellow free agents Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami and they would become known as the “Big Three.”

 

In his first season with Miami, James led the Heat to the NBA Finals, only to lose to the Dallas Mavericks in six games. The following season, James led Miami to their second-ever championship and his first championship when they beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. LeBron and the Heat would go on to win their second straight NBA title when they defeated the San Antonio Spurs in seven games the next year. In his final season in Miami, James led the Heat to the Finals again, only to lose the Spurs in five games. That would be LeBron’s last game in Miami, as he opted out of his contract with the Heat and announced his return to Cleveland.

In LeBron’s first season back with Cleveland, he led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals (his fifth straight Finals appearance) where Cleveland lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games. James averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game for the series, as Cleveland played without starters Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Just months ago, down three games to one in the Finals to that same Warriors team, LeBron helped mount an epic comeback and lead Cleveland (Believeland) to the city’s first professional sports title in 52 years, as James became the first player in league history to lead both teams in all five statistical categories for a playoff round, as James was named the unanimous Finals MVP.

So with ALL that being said…on this day, August 1st, 2016, Clara and I would like to announce that WE will be coming back home. I know, not as exciting as the Jordan and James announcements of their return to their respective cities/teams, but exciting news for our friends and family back in Wisconsin (we hope). We also can’t guarantee any championships upon our return…but there is always hope (Go Pack Go)!

Last July, we moved out to California, and while our stay here has been fun (and ending shorter than expected), it is time to make the change (again). In California, we were able to experience many new opportunities and explore many new places, all while enjoying a pretty successful stay in the process.

We will miss being that much closer to Theune…as a 4+ hour car ride (as long as there is no traffic) definitely beats a 4+ hour flight (and all the airport fun that goes along with that). We enjoyed hanging out with Dave (we love L.A.) and having him come visit us this past year…and we will always have a spare bedroom waiting for him when he visits Wisconsin.

What we are going to miss the most about California will be our friends Grant and Megan, and their children, Tristan and Addie (they’ve grown so much over the past year)…and not to be forgotten, their dog Gilly (the best dog around). While it would have been nice to move to Napa and be even closer to them, that just wasn’t in the cards (and no, I’m not talking about Hand and Foot). I know that we won’t be able to hang out as much in the coming year(s), but the friendship that we forged over the past year, will only make the times that we do get together in the future, all the more special. Besides, December will be here before you know it (flight booked)!

Leaving California friends behind will be tough, but we definitely won’t miss all the traffic (more on that here) and the ridiculous cost of living in the Bay Area…especially in terms of housing (as the median home price in Livermore is only $700,000). Just look at all these new homes going up in Livermore…and they’re going up everywhere! We thought traffic was bad now…just wait! I’m glad we won’t have to experience that.

So, as we pack things up over the next two weeks, we look forward to our return to Wisconsin (I hope this is our last move ever). It will be nice to be close to family and friends once again. I’m already looking forward to hanging with friends at the Wisconsin vs LSU game at Lambeau Field on September 3rd. Go Badgers!

As for our Wisconsin plans, Clara and I are closing in on a home in Whitefish Bay (thank you Closing Time)…we will refer to it as the house that Gallo bought or the San Lorenzo House (and yes, the Rau’s are only 1.1 miles away and Draft & Vessel is only 0.9 miles away). As for our jobs, I accepted a teaching position at John Long Middle School in the Grafton School District (thanks Deering) and Clara will go back to working for herself and doing a lot of consulting work for different wineries (Gallo included). So in a year, it has pretty much come full circle for the two of us, and to quote LeBron James, we are ready to accept the challenge.

On August 12th or 13th…we will be coming home. With an ETA of…August 15th or 16th.

See you soon Wisconsin!

Long weekends…

Long weekends…

Some weekends are better than others…and long weekends are simply the best! This past weekend was one of the most fun times I have had yet, here in California.

On Saturday and Sunday we attended BottleRock in Napa…and it did not disappoint. Saturday’s highlights from BottleRock were clearly Death Cab For Cutie and Florence + the Machine. Death Cab was very solid, but Florence stole the evening. Her energy during the show was fabulous (while her outfit was interesting)…but she had the stamina of a distance runner with all of her running around on stage. It was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a very long time…I was impressed!

BottleRock Line-up

2016 BottleRock Line-up

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Death Cab For Cutie

Florence + the Machine

 

Sunday’s highlights from BottleRock were The Lumineers and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Lumineers were very good, but the Chili Peppers were AMAZING! I can’t believe that was my first time seeing them live in concert. They had so much fun on stage and brought tons of energy (and I did lots of jumping)…I already can’t wait to go see them again.

 

The Lumineers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

 

Then something called GAME 7 happened on Monday…and I was there (thanks Grant)! What. An. Experience. Another sports bucket list item fulfilled. I wish all Monday’s were like that…and I wish the Bucks would be that good just once in my lifetime.

 

Steph Curry after his 3-point dagger late in the 4th quarter (it was pandemonium in the Oracle)

 

 

2016 Western Conference Champions

 

It was quite the weekend indeed…definitely the first taste of summer! And then reality hit today…70 minutes to get to work this morning (there were two accidents…it’s like everyone forgot how to drive over the weekend) and another 70 minutes plus on the way home…and not to mention 100 degree temperatures today as well. So while it said Tuesday, it still felt like a Monday. But the good thing is…the weekend is already only three days away…and we’ve got more things to go do and see!

Comedy night…

Comedy night…

Last night, Clara and I took in a stand up comedy show in Oakland (unfortunately, we didn’t see Jerry Seinfeld). I had been craving to see some stand up comedy since we stumbled upon a random show while visiting New Bohemia Brewing Company in early February. So this past week, we scoured the Internet, looking for something up and coming (i.e. affordable) in the Bay Area.

We came across, Critical Hit! Stand Up Comedy Show…and it fulfilled all of our requirements. When you advertise your show for $5 admission, free pizza and candy, and BYOB…how can you go wrong?! The guy that sat next to us actually brought in a full bottle of Bulleit Bourbon…and put quite the dent in it during the show! As for the location of the show, it took place in a games and hobbies store named It’s Your Move. Quite interesting indeed, but it worked very well.

Outside of all the Nazi references early on…there just happened to be an attendee in the audience who claimed to have lost a close family member (a mother?) during The Holocaust (yeah, that was an awkward moment when the individual spoke up about it…and yet that individual stayed for the entire show…even more strange), it was a great show and an even greater find for only five bucks! I would definitely go back again as the comics were all very good and had a great variety of jokes.

Now, a little bit about the comics themselves…

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And the headliner…

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All, very funny comics…but none, as good as this guy!

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I just can’t stop watching these Rayovac commercials…

 

Dave Theune > Michael Jordan…

 

Steph Curry…

Steph Curry…

There are simply no words for this! I mean…Steph Curry is just flat out ridiculous! Curry is a like watching a human video game…actually he’s better than the video game! But that hasn’t stopped NBA 2K16 from trying…this is almost as awesome as the real thing!

My wife and I took in last night’s game at Drake’s Dealership in Oakland…and I must say, I WAS IMPRESSED! Not only was Drake’s a really cool place to hang out, but the crowd there last night was fabulous! The fans were SO into the basketball game (I mean, this was simply game 58 of an 82-game schedule)…the atmosphere at Drake’s reminded me of all the fun we had during the last two Final Four runs by the Badgers. It was really energetic…and made me realize I need to go out for more Golden State Warriors games.

As for the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls 72-win mark…there was part of me that wanted that record to remain intact, but after last night…I realized it will probably be more fun (A LOT more fun) to watch the record go down…especially if I get the opportunity to witness more games in an atmosphere like last night (and since the Bucks are officially done).

Special shout-out…before we went to Drake’s yesterday, we took in Fieldwork Brewing Co. and The Rare Barrel…both were super! I literally can’t wait to get back to Berkeley!

In the meantime, more Curry please! MVP! MVP! MVP! GOAT?

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Who’s the band…

Who’s the band…

Last Thursday, at my wife’s urging (Happy Birthday!), we saw Josh Ritter perform at The Fillmore in San Francisco. Although I didn’t know any of Josh Ritter’s songs (not really my style) going into the evening…I must admit, I had a really great time at the show and enjoyed seeing a concert in a smaller venue like the Fillmore (capacity is only 1,150 people).

The Fillmore has TONS of history behind it, but one of the aspects that I found rather interesting (and that my wife pointed out) was that the Fillmore is also well known for its concert posters by artists. Copies of the night’s poster are given to fans free of charge as they exit shows (for some reason, I didn’t take a Josh Ritter poster on my way out of the show…and my wife let me hear all about it).

A collection of all these posters (thousands) is also on display in the auditorium today…we tried to view the collection after the show, but to no avail (this will be a must on our next trip). Other quirky traditions that are carried on at the Fillmore is a large tub of free apples for concert goers positioned near the entrance along with a greeter who welcomes each guest as they enter…Welcome to the Fillmore!

While waiting for Josh Ritter to go on stage, my mind started to race. The following picture that I captured reminded me of something…

Who's the band?

Who’s the band?

Back in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s, Miller Genuine Draft had a Blind Date promotion going on in which bands that typically played in large stadiums would now perform for small audiences in intimate club settings (Large Bands – Small Clubs – Big Mystery…was the slogan). These Blind Date promotions took place in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. While MGD ran an exhaustive slate of national TV, print, and radio ads, as well as tie-ins with bars and restaurants…I can’t for the life of me (or the Internet, which I find hard to believe) find any of these ads. But the quote…who’s the band?…I remember being all over radio and television (mainly because I wanted to be one of those lucky people).

On our drive home, I got to thinking (again, scary)…was the Fillmore used for this MGD Blind Date promotion? Well, look what I found here (this time, the Internet does win)…

The Foo Fighters!

The Foo Fighters!

Yes, the Foo Fighters (relative new comers at the time) performed at the Fillmore as part of the MGD Blind Date promotion…and of course, here’s the poster from that July 18th, 1997 evening (it was a Friday). That had to be one of the coolest moments in any concert goers overall music experience (the lucky few that actually saw it)…but, as always, there is someone that is tough to please…and in this case, a Dave Matthews fan strikes again!

Other MGD Blind Date gigs that I could find (through exhaustive research) included: Bush, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Creed (come on, really?!), David Bowie (RIP), Incubus, Third Eye Blind, and Stone Temple Pilots (also RIP).

Please, Miller Genuine Draft, bring this promotion back! And an MGD sounds like the beverage of choice this evening. Cheers!

 

 

The Oakland Double…

The Oakland Double…

One of the neat things about living in California is that your hometown teams (the teams you grew up rooting for…and still avidly follow and cheer for) come and visit once in awhile. This past weekend, it worked out to perfection…the Bucks played the Warriors on Friday night and the Packers played the Raiders on Sunday afternoon. We now have officially checked off the “Oakland Double” on the list of things to do in the Bay Area.

To put into perspective...Oracle Arena and O.co Coliseum are neighbors that share parking lots.

To put into perspective…Oracle Arena (right) and O.co Coliseum are neighbors that share parking lots.

Bucks vs Warriors

Not a bad seat in the house.

Not a bad seat in the house.

We took BART to the game, and due to the rain, we went straight into the game instead of checking out nearby bars for our pregame. Oracle Arena opened at 6pm and we got the opportunity to explore everything the arena had to offer…as the game was still 90 minutes from tip-off. We witnessed something, that if you ever get the chance, you absolutely must do…watch Steph Curry’s pregame warm-up. I’m not sure what Michael Jordan’s warm-up included back in the day, but Curry’s is simply amazing and fun to watch…including this shot.

As for the game itself, it was quite possibly the best regular season NBA game I have ever attended. Watching a game at Oracle is fabulous…as the arena reminds me a little bit of The Kohl Center in terms of layout. The fans are super into the game and the arena gets really loud (something you don’t often experience at the Bradley Center)…and you get to stand up A LOT (something I love). The Bucks played their hearts out (please play like this all the time), but fell short in the 4th quarter, when none other than Steph Curry, took control of things. Clara and I were two of just a handful of Bucks fans at the game, but we represented, and we’re treated very cordially by the Warrior fans. As for Draymond Green, he’s still the same whiny little bitch that he was at Michigan State…grow up!

Final: Bucks 112, Warriors 121

2-0 vs the Warriors would have been amazing.

2-0 vs the Warriors would have been amazing…but the Bucks are still the only blemish on Golden State’s record.

Packers vs Raiders

Great seats...I could watch all Packer games like this.

Great seats…I could watch all Packer games like this (home and road).

Thank you Grant for the tickets! Who would have thought that Mike Tice (yes, him) would one day be our connection to getting Packers tickets (in Oakland). Well, thank you sir! With our tickets in hand, we set out early to enjoy the full Wisconsin tailgate experience…cheese, brats, and cold Miller Lite. Of course, it started to rain during the tailgate and into most of the game…as I’m now 0 for 2 in terms of nice weather for Packer games (I’ve attended) this season.

As for the game, it was nice to see lots of Green and Gold (Lambeau West?)…and the GO PACK GO chant late in the game, made me smile. Our seats were wonderful (players section), and we even had another Packer fan next to us (they’re everywhere). The Packers once again struggled offensively and at times it was really hard to watch the futility of the offense, but it was nice to see another win…and it was nice to leave O.co Coliseum in one piece (thankfully we weren’t anywhere near The Black Hole). This was my second time at O.co as I took in an A’s vs Dodgers game there last summer…and it truly makes you appreciate Lambeau Field even more when you attend a game at an out-dated facility like O.co.

Grant dressed like a Raiders fan, but didn't hold back when the Go Pack Go chants started.

Grant dressed like a Raiders fan, but didn’t hold back when the GO PACK GO chants started.

Final: Packers 30, Raiders 20

All in all, a very successful Oakland Double…a sweep would have been awesome (and almost un-thinkable as the Bucks were 19.5 underdogs), but the Packers probably needed to win the most. I can’t wait to do it again sometime…and I’m still holding out hope for Super Bowl L (because you never know) as the Packers are officially in the playoffs.

 

 

 

Mission Accomplished…

Mission Accomplished…

During the wee hours of the morning on January 1st (when all good ideas are usually concocted…thanks Mike and Pat), while drinking a Jigger Ale (beer #1) at The Horse & Plow, I decided I would use the Untappd app (drink socially) to track ALL the beers I would drink in 2015 (I was curious what the number might be).

As the beers were going down quite easily/quickly during the month of January (what else is there to do during that month in Wisconsin), I set a goal (thanks Jimmy V)…to drink 1,000 beers during 2015. And thanks to the Packers and Badgers successes, I was well over 100 beers for the month of January alone…a pace I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up…but with that, I knew, 1,000 could be attainable…as long as I remembered to check-in each beer. By July 1st…I was still ahead of the pace.

Well…yesterday, at The Trappist, I rolled 1,000 over on my beer odometer. I enjoyed a St. Bernardus Abt 12 for beer #1,000…it was delicious!

Beer #1,000 in all its glory.

Beer #1,000…in all its glory.

The official check-in.

The official check-in.

With all that being said…here are the “stats” on my 1,000 beers. I just love stats!

  • Different (distinct) beers: 402
  • Drinking badges earned: 233
  • Highest check-in: Miller Lite (285)…next was Spotted Cow (22)
  • Highest rated: 5 stars – Pliny the Elder and St. Bernardus Abt 12
  • Lowest rated: 2 stars – Hopsburger (Grumpy Troll), Coffee & Cigarettes (Cellarmaker), and Star Baby IPA (Brenner)
  • Beers per day (based on 339 days): 2.95 beers
  • Beers per month (based on 11.16 months): 89.60 beers
  • Hangovers: I’d rather not say…
The official numbers.

The official numbers.

Now, the question is…how many more beers can I drink before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st…only time will tell (I also have been challenged), but I will definitely keep you posted.

And, please remember…always drink responsibly! Cheers!

Hoodie Power…

Hoodie Power…

Who knew all it would take to break a 3-game losing streak was a simple hoodie. While James Jones’ hoodie look may have reminded me of a JV football player standing on the sidelines watching the Varsity play on a Friday night (a look I have seen all to often over the years)…his six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown was just the type of performance the Packers needed to get back on track and takeover the NFC North lead. Heck, the hoodie is so popular now it even has its own Twitter account.

Speaking of hoodies, Clara and I (coincidentally) both wore hoodies to watch the Packers game yesterday at our home away from home…The Good Time Tavern.

Official Packers bar in Livermore, CA

Official Packers bar in downtown Livermore, CA

Knowing that we wouldn’t be able to watch all the Packer games from home (stupid 49ers and Raiders), I went to Packers Everywhere to find a nearby bar that would show all the Packers games each week. We found The Good Time Tavern in downtown Livermore and pre-scouted it on the Friday night before the Packers vs Chargers game…and the second we walked in, we knew that this was our place to watch Packers games. The Good Time Tavern is a classic Wisconsin dive bar…and with that description, it needs no further explanation.

Robert is a great host and a life-long Packers fan.

Robert is a great host each week and a life-long Packers fan. He also loves to talk Fantasy Football.

$3 Miller Lites in the Steinie bottle...you can't go wrong!

The GTT even has $3 Miller Lites…and in the new Steinie bottle…you simply can’t go wrong (especially in CA)!

SNOW…Thanks to all my friends and family that sent pictures of Friday night’s/Saturday morning’s snowfall. California wins! I don’t miss that crap one bit…especially when it is snowing days before Thanksgiving…that is just wrong! While I must admit, it really doesn’t feel like late November around here (as people are already putting up Christmas lights), I think I’ll be able to adjust to the Christmas season without snow rather nicely (although it is strange seeing commercials with snow). As for El Nino…let’s just hope that doesn’t happen (for the sake of my job…if I’m not on strike).

I must admit...I did chuckle when I saw this pic Saturday morning.

I must admit…I did chuckle when I saw this pic Saturday morning.

BAN REPLAY…After Saturday’s debacle in Madison, I’ve officially had it with instant replay! It is time to finally get rid of it altogether. Replay is doing nothing but extending games and destroying pace of play…and (too often), replay STILL doesn’t get the call correct after the review! Look, if we can live with pass interference calls being decided on the field…we can live with ALL calls being decided on the field. If football (and all sports for that matter) don’t want to ban replay, then rules and interpretations need to be simplified…because week after week, the officials are merely choking when it comes to making decisions and replay is not doing its job to avoid Monday apologies…or in the Big Ten’s case, standing up for unacceptable officiating because they don’t want to look bad.

I have no idea what a catch is anymore in football...and this, was ruled a catch on the field!

I have no idea what a catch is anymore in football…and this, was ruled a catch on the field!

So to sum up…I guess not all hoods were created equal.

These guys are good…

These guys are good…

If you saw the commercials put together by the PGA Tour a couple of years back, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Yesterday, Clara and I went to the Fry’s.com Open at Silverado CC (North Course) in Napa to be reminded (again) just how good these guys are. Let’s just say…they didn’t disappoint.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy watching live golf…especially when it is at a smaller venue with way less people. I’ve often said, I’d rather watch golf at (the former) U.S. Bank Championship at Brown Deer Park versus the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching a Major Championship in person, but there is something to be said about the intimacy at the smaller tournaments that you don’t often get at a Major venue (unless you’re the shotgun microphone guy…more on that later). Also, having played the North Course a few times (it pays to have connections), I know my way around just enough to avoid the crowds and see some of the best shot making on the course.

Today, is the final round of the Jackass Open at Whistling Straits (Irish Course) with my friends back home. Obviously, I won’t be able to make it (as tee times are in less than an hour), but it was nice to golf with (okay, watch) one of the best players on the planet yesterday…Rory McIlroy. It kind of made up for missing the JAO…just a bit. While McIlroy wasn’t on top of his game yesterday, it was very cool to see the world’s former #1 (depends on the week these days) play…up close and personal. We almost saw a hole-in-one too…by his playing partner, Adam Hadwin…he almost had one¡ Somehow, that shot didn’t make the third round highlights package or this one…nice work PGA (I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it).

The best part of the day, was the hook-up we got from our friend Erin…18th hole skybox passes! With these passes, we had all the food and drink you could imagine…for free! Oh, and great views of the 18th green, of course.

Rory and his caddie on 18 from the skybox.

Rory and his caddie on 18 from the skybox.

Rory striking his pose of the day on 18.

Rory striking his pose of the day on 18.

Rory eyeing up another missed putt.

Rory eyeing up another missed putt.

Rory on 11 waiting to tee off.

Rory on 11 waiting to tee off.

It truly was a great day of golf! I can’t wait to go check out Pebble Beach in February for the AT&T Pro-Am (talk about a checklist item). Now, can someone please tell me how I can get this job…

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Sorry, not the greatest picture.

It seriously looks like the best job on the course. If you know, please drop me a line. Thanks!

FORE!!!

Guys Weekend 12…

Guys Weekend 12…

Was a major SUCCESS (dare I say it was the best ever, but then again…I’m biased)! Thank you to all my friends and family for helping me pull off the greatest Wisconsin football weekend (plus golf!). This was the first time in my life that I was able to attend a Badgers and Packers game on the same weekend (the Monday night game really helped with this…Sunday would have been tough AND rough). It just won’t be the same watching the Badgers and Packers from afar for the rest of the football season…so I’ll just keep that February 7th date open here in California for all you Packer fans (book now!).

Here’s a quick recap of the Badgers and Packers games and festivities.

Saturday…We golfed at Ironwood thanks to Greg’s connections…I shot your everyday 50 on the front nine and 39 (best ever) on the back nine (by the way Greg, I’m not sure we did all SIX shots for your birdies that day). Drove to Madison for lunch/dinner (linner?) at Blue Moon. Pregame CaptainS at Bucks(inghams)…no lip gloss (I’m disappointed)! Regent Street Liquor (hopefully someday Camp Randall will sell beer and this stop won’t be necessary). Jump Around! Badgers win 28-0 (thanks again for the seats Mike)! Postgame celebrations at Mondays (really?) and Whiskey Jacks. And who could forget, Greg’s $98 Uber to McDonalds (why did La Bambas have to be closed).

Monday…Tailgated on Potts Avenue (otherwise known as Puddy Pass…I mean McCarthy Way) in the rain (Brian Gotter really blew that forecast…and twice he tried to crash our weekend). Outdoor club seats on the 50-yard line (thanks again Greg). Halftime on the rooftop. Unfortunately, we couldn’t celebrate the Packers win (38-28) due to work and flights the next day…but Ryan did crack the code (no more waiting in traffic after Packer games…we’ve found the secret route).

Go Pack Go!

Go Pack Go!

Best seat in the house

Best seat in the house

Again, just a tremendous weekend…I got to see family and friends and I was able enjoy all the things I miss most about Wisconsin. Thank you all for making this happen and we’ll see everyone again in 2016…unless any of you are planning any trips out West (come on, you know you want to).

Okay California, the ball is now in your court. What do you got?

 

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y…

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y…

NIGHT! Camp Randall. Guys Weekend 12. The first night game since Utah State in 2012 (#unbielemable). I wish there was more on the line (really, Hawaii?)…like this memorable game versus #1 Ohio State in 2010…possibly the earliest we have ever been into a Badger game (we just knew Ohio State was going down that night). Either way, I can’t wait to see the Badgers under the lights, a little Jump Around, and then a whole lot of State Street. Throw in the Packers game (thanks Greg) on Monday night and it is a gonna be the most epic Wisconsin sports weekend. I can’t wait to take it all in! I’ve got goosebumps.

On Wisconsin!

Go Pack Go!

The Valley…

The Valley…

Johnny Drama’s policy on going to The Valley (much less living there) is spot on! We live in the Tri Valley area and here is what we are currently experiencing temperature-wise (it’s September 9th, right?).

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This is day two of this triple-digit heat (oh, but it’s a dry heat¡). Imagine having to teach PE outdoors (there are no gyms) in this stuff…thankfully it’s only in the low to mid 90’s in San Lorenzo (I really couldn’t tell the difference as I was being cooked on the already fried grass/dirt/quack grass at school)¡ Some districts are actually sending students home early because most schools in California have no air conditioning (really?!). Not having AC in California makes as much sense as not having a furnace in Wisconsin.

Thankfully, we are heading back to the great state of Wisconsin this weekend for my friend Aaron’s wedding. I am definitely looking forward to the Fall-like temperatures. See you soon Wisconsin (I can’t wait to start hydrating)!

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Time flies…

Time flies…

When you’re having fun. We say it all the time. The adage held true again as Clara and I had our first visitors…my parents. While my parents stay was brief, we were able to accomplish a lot and hopefully they were able to see as much of our California life as possible. Here are some highlights…

On Saturday, after picking up my parents from the airport, we decided to head to the coast…Half Moon Bay. This excursion didn’t prove to be very successful. The drive to Half Moon Bay was extremely slow (and that’s putting it nicely)! Apparently, everyone likes to go to Half Moon Bay on the weekends. Once in Half Moon Bay, let’s just say the weather wasn’t great…overcast with temperatures in the high 60’s/low 70’s, my parents must have been wondering what was so special about this place. We did, however, find a nice place to eat lunch…the San Benito Ale House had a nice beer menu and the fish and chips were great.

Saturday evening we decided to hit up a nice restaurant (my mom wanted to dress up) in our neck of the woods…the Oasis Grille & Wine Lounge in Pleasanton. When I saw the statement…Mediterranean cuisine with a modern flair…I probably should not have ordered the filet mignon kabobs, but I did anyway. To put it nicely, the food was interesting. Thankfully, we brought some of our favorite wines with us and were able to wash away some of those interesting tastes.

On Sunday (after watching Jordy Nelson tear his ACL), we decided to drown our sorrows by checking out a few wineries. My dad felt right at home when we found 3 Steves Winery on our drive through Livermore. He took to the wine so much that he even purchased a hat to go with the wine (he also now knows how to wear that hat correctly). After 3 Steves, we hit up Wente Vineyards for a full glass of wine and enjoyed a pizza appetizer. Even after all the wine tasting, it didn’t help with the revelation that Jordy would be lost for the season (I guess I won’t be wearing my Nelson jersey around California this year).

Soon to be 4 Steves Winery?

Soon to be 4 Steves Winery?

Monday morning, with Clara at work, I took my parents to the San Francisco Premium Outlets and to In-N-Out Burger for lunch (their first In-N-Out experience). In the afternoon, my dad and I hit up Poppy Ridge Golf Course for 18 holes. We found Poppy Ridge on Sunday, almost by accident, when were driving around Livermore looking for wineries, but I’m glad we found it. Poppy Ridge is a very nice course and it is super close to our place. The course has three nines (Zinfandel, Merlot, and Chardonnay) with an amazing backdrop set in Wine Country…and many different elevation changes from hole to hole. Considering how dry it is in California, the course was in very good shape. And Monday evening, we had one final dinner together at Sauced BBQ & Spirits, that wrapped up my parents stay very nicely.

The time sure went fast (and it was very fun), and we look forward to my parents next visit…and the visit from some more Wisconsinites as soon as possible. So, get those flights booked…Clara and I promise to show you a good time!

Checked off…

Checked off…

In my quest to attend a baseball game at every Major League ballpark, I was able to check another park off the list today. I went to O.co Coliseum (it’s been called so many different names through the years) to take in some afternoon baseball between the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers (some would say it was Dodger Stadium North with all the Dodger fans in attendance today). To say the least, O.co was a very interesting stadium…especially when you could still see the yard lines from last Friday night’s Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams football game…and the fact that almost the entire third deck is covered with tarp. There was nothing special at the ballpark in terms of food or beer either (except high priced premium beers), but overall it was a pretty decent experience (and an easy BART to the game). The ballpark has a very intimate feel as it only seats around 35,000 for baseball games (56,000 for football). There really wasn’t a bad seat in the house and I was able to sit in a lot of different areas without any hassling from the ushers (that will happen when your team has the worst record in the AL…even the ushers have given up). So as of today, I have been to the following Major League ballparks (only 20 to go¡):

National League: Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers), Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs), Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati Reds), Busch Stadium (St. Louis Cardinals), Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks), Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers), AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants), and National Park (Washington Nationals).

American League: Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles) and O.co Coliseum (Oakland Athletics).

I’m not sure what my fascination is with Major League ballparks (or any athletic facility to be honest), but I just love checking out and experiencing games in different cities. From the looks of my list, I guess I have a little catching up to do in regards to American League ballparks, but that could make for a great road trip sometime in the near future.

Note: I also attended games in two former ballparks (Milwaukee County Stadium and Busch Memorial Stadium) before they were replaced.

It was Nuts…

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The Modesto Nuts!

Well, I survived my first trip to Modesto (The Death Star…yes, George Lucas is from there)…barely. Let’s just put it this way, if Clara had made us live in Modesto…I’d already be back living in Wisconsin (and I’m being dead serious). I’d compare Modesto to a Wisconsin city, but I don’t want to offend any cities there (just think of your least favorite city in Wisconsin and times that by 10, and you’ll have Modesto). When one of your most popular bars is in a strip mall…you know you have problems (major problems). Thankfully, the Modesto Nuts game was fun (very similiar to a Lakeshore Chinooks game, but with less people). It was also Barefoot Tasting Night at the game (very refreshing¡)…I guess that was probably why we got free tickets (plus almost half of the entire crowd were Gallo employees…we also could have gotten a free Nuts hat). We even spent the night in Modesto at the Best Western Palm Court Inn…nothing like staying in a motel (Pitbull wasn’t there). Today, I got the much anticipated E&J Gallo tour (nothing like getting a tour from a recent college graduate). It was nice, but nothing too amazing (the history and production were impressive though…more of that please). I guess you could say, been there done that (when you’ve been on as many brewery tours as I have…you become desensitized to it all). Well, I survived, and safe to say, I probably won’t be going be back to Modesto anytime soon…maybe a Nuts game (I guess).

More: Special shout-out to our little buddy, Ari. Five years ago today (time flies), we went to the Wisconsin Humane Society just to look for a cat…and lo and behold, we came home with Ari. It’s been a blast having Ari in our family the last five years…he has definitely changed our lives (Ari has no trouble waking us up super early every morning…he’s like a kid), and more impressively he made it to California no problem at all (where he is living the life in our fenced in yard). Ari, enjoy an extra scoop of food on us tonight…hopefully the food coma will help you sleep an extra hour or two.

Ari's (or Moo Moo's) adoption photo.

Ari’s (or Moo Moo’s) adoption photo.

Even more: Tomorrow we are making the trek to Russian River Brewing Company. There are no words that I can use to give this place the proper recognition it deserves. So, let’s just put it this way…it is going to be AWESOME! (I got the cooler all ready).

I want to ride my bicycle…

I want to ride my bicycle…

I want to ride my bike (now that song will be stuck in your head). Seriously, it is so nice to have my bike back…even though it is not in tip-top shape (thanks moving company). Exploring a new city is best done on a bike. You can see so many things that you wouldn’t normally be able to take in while driving in a car and there are always cool bike trails to check out. So as I get acquainted to the Livermore area and find the fastest route to Altamont Beer Works, it is nice to have a little piece of home back…my bicycle, bicycle, bicycle!

Speaking of back home, yesterday I had the opportunity to meet up with a former student/athlete of mine, Jake. Jake was one of my really good jumpers from back in the day (he was actually pretty good at everything…especially pole vault) and is currently doing work out in Redding, California. Jake attended UW-Oshkosh and competed in track & field while there (I think I may have helped recruit him there). It was nice to catch up with him and reminisce about the glory days at good ol’ UW-Zero…especially over beers at 21st Amendment (Jake’s pick). I guess we learned something at Oshkosh…how to drink beer and find good breweries. And yes, that is back-to-back Wednesday’s spent at 21st Amendment. I guess you have to become a regular somewhere…right?

Welcome home…(almost)

Welcome home…(almost)

Sorry I have been idle, but we’ve been rather busy over the last few days as we moved into our rental home on Saturday afternoon. The moving truck came and dropped off all of our stuff (most things came in one piece…except my bike and watch so far…) and we have literally been unpacking ever since (I found out again how much I really hate moving…word of advice, don’t do it).

Yesterday I spent the day setting up all the essential services in our names. California is absolutely ridiculous when it comes to this…everything required some sort of start-up fee (usually around $100). It was really annoying and a very drawn out process too…as I would have to call AND fill out forms online for most services! And of course, the cable guy can’t come until next Monday (between 7:30-8:30 AM of course)…so no cable or Internet at our place till then (it is going to be tortuous…kind of like No TV Week – now called Screen Free Week). I tried to set-up an antenna yesterday so that we could at least watch basic channels…no such luck (even with a Mohu Leaf…one of the best antennas on the market that worked to perfection back in Wisconsin). There is just no way to pull a signal when we are living in the valleys that we live in as I was only able to get 3 channels (and two were in Spanish). At least I have my phone…I guess. So don’t expect too many blog posts until next week…when we start to return to some sense of normalcy (I hope).

Without further ado…here are a few pictures of the outside of our place. I’ll have the inside pics once everything is un-boxed and organized to the way we like it.

Backyard

Backyard

Sideyard

Sideyard

Ari digs the fenced in yard.

Ari digs the fenced in yard.

Tidbits: Before we moved in on Saturday, we spent Friday in Berkeley. We hit up three breweries (Jupiter Brewhouse, Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse, and Buffalo Bill’s Brewery)…all decent, but nothing real special and we walked around on the California Berkeley campus checking out Aaron Rodgers’ former stomping grounds (no key needed…just walk right in).

California Memorial Stadium

California Memorial Stadium

The house that Aaron Rodgers re-built...renovations were completed in 2012.

The house that Aaron Rodgers re-built…renovations were completed in 2012.

Take me out to the ball game…

Take me out to the ball game…

Nothing like a little matinee baseball to make the week go by faster (or to at least give me something to do). And as luck would have it, the Milwaukee Brewers just happened to be visiting San Francisco for their lone trip to AT&T Park this season (talk about great timing). With temperatures projected to reach triple digits in Pleasanton, yesterday seemed like a great day to venture into The City and see some afternoon baseball…even though I would have to do this solo, as Clara would have to work (hey, it still is the SOH 13).

I arrived to the stadium well before the opening pitch. So early, that the gates weren’t even open yet. So I wandered around the outside of the stadium taking in all of the monuments and plaques (interesting all the Barry Bonds love, I guess cheaters can prosper), tried to imagine what it would be like to win three World Series titles in the last five years as the Giants have (could Milwaukee or our livers survive even one World Series title), and took many (many) pictures for groups of fans (not sure why they would ask the guy in the Brewers shirt to take their picture, but I did…even if some of them barely spoke English).

Once inside, I was hoping to catch some batting practice…no such luck. With it being a day game, the players were forced to take BP in the cages under the stadium. So instead of watching the players hit, I was stuck watching the Brewers pitching staff go through their warm-ups. While definitely not as exciting as BP, watching MLB players warm-up by playing catch (just like we did as kids growing up) still is cool to watch. All I could think of at that point, was how lucky these guys are to play baseball for a living. It just can’t feel like a job…can it? No way.

Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse (bomb) playing a little pitch and catch.

Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse (bomb) playing a little pitch and catch.

Once the game started, there were limited Brewers highlights. Outside of a couple of nice grabs by Carlos Gomez (is he/was he traded?) and another two-hit day by Gerardo Parra (will he be traded?), the Brewers failed to generate much excitement for the 50-100 of us Brewers fans that were in attendance. And by the time the wheels were starting to fall off for the Brewers in the 7th inning, I realized I could never (ever) be a Giants fan. The Giants fans were starting to remind me of Chicago Cubs fans…you know, the kind that stand up and get excited for easy fly balls caught in the outfield (not even warning track power).

So as any veteran sports fan would do when you see your team is down by a number that looks insurmountable (and you are in enemy territory to boot)…I headed to the bar. And why wouldn’t I, 21st Amendment is right up the street. It also was happy hour.

So what did I learn yesterday…I can watch the Brewers lose anywhere this year (I’ve now seen it in person at home and on the road…probably the last game I’ll see all year too), Miller Park is still way better than AT&T Park (this was my second experience at AT&T, and while I like it…I’m just not a fan of their standing room only policies, really high beer prices, and no secret stadium sauce), and I will never, ever be a Giants fan (the Brewers are probably gonna be bad for some time, but they are still my Brewers). One last add, I need to remember to pack some sunscreen next time…burnt forehead, not good!

Are you ready for some football…

Are you ready for some football…

Today marks the official kick-off to the NFL season for me. Today is the Green Bay Packers Shareholders Meeting. While I am disappointed that I will not be able to attend the meeting in person (you have no idea how much it pains me to miss this event)…you better believe that I will be streaming the meeting on my computer. Mike and Ryan, you guys better be doing the same, since you have decided not to make the trek to Green Bay (sorry I had to break up our streak…I really could have gone for a steak sandwich at the Courthouse Pub along with the multiple refreshment stops along the way). So start airing your grievances and let the season begin! Super Bowl L here we come (conveniently located in Santa Clara, California…it’s got to be fate)! GO PACK GO!!!

More…check out the sweet new throwback uniforms leaked last night. They look awesome!

Settling in…

Settling in…

Well, we survived our first weekend in California. After sleeping in on Saturday (kind of), we ran some errands so that our temporary home (apartment actually) has all the amenities that we need to survive over the next couple of weeks. The Pleasanton Farmers’ Market, Target, Costco, Walmart, Safeway…all we missed was Home Depot and Bed Bath & Beyond and we would have had a nice little Saturday…just ran out of time I guess.

We also spent some time driving around looking for an apartment this weekend…as our searching has been done exclusively on the Interweb since our visit in early June. This has become a very daunting task. Pictures online never paint the true picture of what these places actually look like. Everything is small and expensive…and in a lot of cases, not very impressive. We aren’t sold on the apartment complex idea either and would rather find a home that we can rent, but getting in touch with people has become quite the process as well. Hopefully in the next week (fingers crossed) we will find something. While our temporary housing (apartment) is fine, it is temporary and it just doesn’t feel like home, and besides…Ari misses all of our furniture!

On Sunday afternoon, after some more house rental hunting, we decided to have a little fun and did a wine tasting at Wente. The wine was great and the complex was really nice. And because Altamont Beer Works was super close by, we had to make a stop there…I really dig this place and their brew. And it just wouldn’t be California if we didn’t hit In-N-Out Burger, so we closed out our Sunday there. All in all, a nice start to our California adventure.

Tidbits…I was able to stream the Brett Favre Packers Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday night (thank God for technology). It was really good stuff, and I could have listened to Holmgren, Winters, and Favre tell stories all night. In the end, this is what life is truly all about…not the wins and losses (remind me of that during the season). And I would be remiss, if I didn’t mention how much I miss Jim Irwin and Max McGee calling games…I absolutely loved their calls during the highlights portion of the program. It brought back so many great memories. Also, in case you haven’t noticed, the Brewers are undefeated since we left Wisconsin. I’m taking all the credit for this, but I have to ask…when are the trades going to start happening? Seriously! Lastly, I’m addicted to the show Ballers on HBO…I’m not sure if it is even that good of a show, but I can’t stop watching. I love Ricky Jerret! It has become my new summer addiction show.

And now, time to settle in for the conclusion of The Open Championship. Spiethslam?