Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Most of us enjoy the three-day weekend that comes with Memorial Day.  It is unofficially the start of summer.  People clean out the cobwebs from their grill to start the outdoor grilling season, take a special holiday, or spend the long weekend on a road trip.  But let us not forget how wonderful it is to have the freedoms we cherish in this country, thanks to those who came before us and those who continue to serve in our armed forces.  We may all differ on our views about our nation's engagement in wars.  But we should all agree on one thing:  On Memorial Day we honor those who had fallen during those wars.  On Memorial Day, we recognize and remember those who have given so much.

The following are photos from the American Cemetery in Normandy, France, from June 2002; the Mardasson Memorial in Bastogne, Belgium, from August 2007; and the American Cemetery in Luxembourg, from November 2009.  American military members who fought during World War II are buired in the cemeteries at Normandy Beach and Luxembourg.  The Mardasson Memorial honors the memory of the American soldiers who were wounded or killed during the Battle of the Bulge.

Normandy American Cemetery:

Mardasson Memorial:

Luxembourg American Cemetery:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mile High Denver

I was in Denver last week receiving training in the fun and exciting subject of Cost Estimating for Construction Modifications. It's an intense class with a lot of homework and reading after the class sessions. I had been doing the homework and required readings during class breaks and lunch breaks just to be able to have the opportunity to explore downtown Denver after the class is over at 5PM.

On Monday and Tuesday during the late afternoon/early evening, I was walking around the city center to sightsee. The city center is about 20-minute bus ride from my hotel.  Denver's downtown area is quite impressive -- good mass transit system, pedestrian friendly, and quite a bit of revitalization projects even through the economic downturn. Three major sports facilities (for the Rockies, Nuggets, Avalanches, and Broncos) are all located nearby. There are many apartments, condos, and townhomes in the heart of the city. Museums abound in a designated area near downtown as well as other individual locations around downtown. Parks and smaller green spaces dot the area. There are nice shopping areas, myriad of restaurants of all types, hosts of cozy cafes, and plenty of interesting bars and mini-breweries. In my opinion, downtown Denver is a lot better than Seattle's.

Weather was fair during Monday and Tuesday.  By Wednesday and Thursday, it got wet, cold, and stormy -- even worse than the dull spring weather that Seattle is experiencing.  I stayed in my hotel Wednesday night to catch up on required reading and to finish the class project. It was too wet on Thursday evening to venture outside.  After the class was dismissed at 1130 AM on Friday, I headed straight to downtown Denver to do more sightseeing.   I had wanted to tour the US Mint, but there were no openings until July.  Apparently, it is a fairly popular tour taken by tourists and the tour must be scheduled and reserved way ahead of time.  The Denver Mint is the largest producer of coins.  Weather in Denver on Friday was glorious.  I had five hours in the afternoon to walk around downtown Denver before my flight out later that night.

I will post more photos in my flickr page, but the following is a sampling from Denver's city center:

Denver Art Museum.

The state capitol building and the "one mile above sea level" marker on the capitol steps.

Coors Field, home of MLB's Denver Rockies.

US Denver Mint tour entrance.

Pavilions Mall.

Convention Center facilities.

16th Street Mall, pedestrian and bus thoroughfare.

Sculpture in Civic Center Park.

Denver in the early evening.

Hard Rock Cafe.

Convention Center facilities.

Civic Center Park Sculpture.

Downtown Denver sculptures.

Sculpture in front of Denver's Main Public Library.

Denver Art Museum.

Falling Rock Tap House.

Pedestrian Bridge near the Union Train Station.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pacquiao vs. Mosley

Last Saturday, 7 May 2011, I hosted a family party at my house for many different reasons. One reason was to watch the Pacquiao vs. Mosley boxing match. I will cover the others in future blog posts. The party winded down with a viewing of the title fight. Most of the viewers, who enjoy a noisy and boisterous atmosphere, were in the living room. A few settled watching in the basement for a little more peace and quiet. One of my sisters watched upstairs in her lonesome for a total serenity viewing. My living room has limited seating. Viewers who did not occupy living room seats were seated on the floor, stood by the adjoining hallway, or were part of the “spill over” from the adjacent dining room area standing or seated on stools.

It was a fight mostly dominated by Pacquiao. We were all hoping for a knockout of Mosley. Most of the viewing crowd were energetic and animated. Each time Pacquiao put in a flurry of punches, the entire crowd cheered on wildly. There was no knockout, but Pacquiao received a unanimous winning decision from the judges. It was nearly 10PM when people, content with Pacquiao’s success, started to trickle out of the house.

The folks who were most fervent during the fight are also the most ardent followers of Pacquiao. Their enthusiasm for Pacquiao spilled on to their attire while viewing the match. The following photos are some of the Manny Pacquiao apparel worn by these devoted fans:

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Welcoming Greeting at Safeco Field

On Friday, 6 May 2011, we had a group of nearly fifty people watch the Seattle Mariners baseball game against the Chicago White Sox at Safeco Field.  I coordinated the logistics with the group and M's ticketing to get a reserved area for us to see the game.  It's one way to get family and friends to enjoy an outing.  There was also another reason why I was able to get a big group to attend the game:  Free Ichiro bobblehead to the first 25,000 fans inside the ballpark.

We braved the cold, wet day.  Some of us left work work early to get to the game early enough to receive the free giveaways.  We tolerated the seats located in the "nosebleed" sections of Safeco Field.  Our group received a big welcome greeting from the giant reader board located in center field.  The M's gave us a good and exciting show -- a two out ninth inning game winning RBI single.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Watching a Seattle Mariners Baseball Game at Safeco Field

On Saturday, 9 April, I joined nieces, nephews, and their friends to watch a Mariners (M's) game at Safeco Field, the M's home field, against the Cleveland Indians.  It was the second game of their first homestand series of the season.  It has been and continue to be an unusually cold and wet spring in Seattle.  It was too cold to watch a baseball game.  But there was a good incentive to attend the game -- the first 20,000 fans inside the ballpark receive courtesy Felix Hernandez bobblehead dolls.  Felix, the M's pitching ace, is the reigning American League Cy Young award winner.

It has been awhile since the last M's game that I attended -- six seasons to be exact.  Since we went early to the ballpark to ensure getting the giveaway prize, I had plenty of time to walk around the stadium and see the views inside and outside.  Although it was cold, as usual I was wearing short pants but still bundled up warm with a fleece jacket and a second rain jacket.  We had fairly decent seats in the outfield, but the area took a brunt of the cold wind that was briskly blowing.  A family who was sitting next to us didn't last through the first inning and went home because it was too cold.  We were able to last longer because people in my group were enjoying a host of stadium food during the first couple of innings of the game.  By the third inning, there were already a few of us that would go to the corridors of the stadium to get respite from the blustery weather.  By the fifth inning, we left our seats, and congregated and socialized among ourselves under the bleachers.  By the end of the sixth inning, we were all on our way out of the ballpark.  It was too damn cold, and the M's were not playing well enough to generate excitement.

This coming Friday, we have a much bigger group (48 people) to watch the ball game against the Chicago White Sox.  Seattle is still going through its cold spring spell; wet weather is forecasted for that evening.  The retractable roof of Safeco Field, if in the cover position, may provide adequate protection from the cold wind.  We will still attend the game because of the Ichiro bobblehead giveaway prize to the first 25,000 fans inside.  I am just not sure how long we will stay to watch the game.  If we have decent weather and a competitive game, we may stay the full course of the game.

Pictures from the April 9 game: