Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween!!!

Happy Halloween!!! In late October 2004, I hosted a party in Seattle to celebrate James’ birthday and also make it a Halloween costume preview for the kids. Below are pictures from this party.

Ina as the wicked witch from Poulsbo and Paige as a bumblebee. Ina was awarded with the best Halloween costume.

Payton as Spiderman and Salia as Dora-Dora.

All the kids gathering around James’ birthday cake.

Nathan as the big, bad wolf.

Samantha as the wicked witch from West Seattle.

Two month old Cameron as herself, a baby dressed all in pink.

After all the playing around and eating, some of them eventually got tired.

Below are more pictures from past Halloweens:

Lil Pumpkin Paige at the pumpkin patch.

Ina as a princess and Jessica as a revolutionary militant.

Salia as Snow White and Paige as a Ninja Turtle.

Send me pictures of your kids dressed in this year’s Halloween costume and I will post them on this blog.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's October -- It Must Be Time for Oktoberfest

With all the carnival rides that entice you with their multi-colored, flashing lights and spinning at a dizzying speed; the carnival games that lure you to win stuffed animals and other worthless prizes; the hunger inducing savory aroma of the different variety of food being sold including an assortment of sausages, roasted chickens, roasted knuckles of pork, and grilled fish on a stick; the selection of snack food from pretzels, candied nuts, and giant cookies that you hang around your neck; and the countless vendors that peddle their wares and souvenirs – the Oktoberfest scene is somewhat similar to the bigger state fairs back in the US.

I liken it to the Western Washington State Fair, better known as the Puyallup Fair, with two major differences – a lot more people and BEER. Instead of the big barns that showcase well groomed farm animals and display blue ribbon quality farm produce, Munich’s Oktoberfest flaunts its beer halls jam-packed with people enjoying the hearty drink of Bavaria.

Beer tents outside and inside, before it gets really packed --

I have “done the Puyallup,” as the tv ad melodiously refers to attending the event, numerous times. During my high school years, the Puyallup Fair was where your clique of high school friends met and hung around for a day to enjoy the last vestige of summer, see classmates you have not seen for the last three months, and to welcome the new school year. The Puyallup Fair is also the home of the scones and thick pattied burgers topped with grilled onions – it did not matter that you waited in a lengthy line to get these goodies; you could not leave the fairground without at least savoring these fares. The allure and fascination of Puyallup Fair to a wide-eyed, na├»ve teen has been a bit relegated and replaced by the enthrallment and revelry of Munich Oktoberfest to a potbellied, middle aged chap.

This is my second time attending this Oktoberfest in Munich. Like last year, I attended the event after the mad rush of work that kept my section very busy with awarding new projects at US military installations throughout Europe before the fiscal year end. So attending the event is actually a release for me – a celebration of the fiscal year end and the end to all the work for the three months prior, including weekends.

The following are photos from this year’s festivities (names are withheld to protect the innocent, but the faces are not to document the merriment and to blackmail those that had a bit too much wobbly juice):

The group of people that I went with --

The food that we ate --

It was difficult enough to hold a mug full of beer --

But to carry 10 or more mugs; I will leave it to the pros --

A “toast” with the knocking of liter-sized beer mugs is offered to everyone within a one and a half arm length away after singing the obligatory “Ein Prosit” song. This happens every 10 to 15 minutes.

Every so often, the crowd will start singing with the band.

A few more liters of beer will embolden you to pose for pictures with total strangers.

We were based in Schwabhausen, 45 minute train ride from Munich. Our hotel was a 15 walk away from the train station in Schwabhausen. We headed towards Munich, via commuter train, at about 0900 and left Munich about 2230. We arrived back at our hotel just before midnight. Fun was had by all. We topped last year’s enjoyment of the event. Let’s see what more fun next year’s event will hold for us.

Just a clarification to family and friends back home – I have not turned into a boozer while in Germany. I was pretty much sober the entire stay at the fairgrounds and during the train ride back to our hotel. I may have had 5 to 6 liters beer, but that was paced throughout our 11-12 hour stay at the fairground and mixed in with a lot of food. This guy who usually turns down an offer of a bottle or can of beer back home, enjoys a few swigs of German brewskie every now and then.

On a different subject, I will be in Turkey from Monday thru Thursday for work. I will have one day on my own to explore Istanbul before continuing to Incirlik. It should be time enough to give me a flavor of the city to determine if it’s worth visiting again at a later date.

Happy birthday wishes to James.

I finally got my MiniCooper this past Friday. I drove it around Wiesbaden and nearby areas this past weekend. Having a car will provide me more options for weekend activities. I am looking forward to exploring more of Germany and neighboring countries.