Now is the Time…


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When looking at the hour glass I see the sands of time are moving towards the back end of life at a speed not imagined when I was young. Now I count each grain of sand that reflects the wisdom of how blessed I am to be above ground another day.

So many things we should experience when we are young but put off as if there is a limitless amount of that most precious commodity, time. Fortunately I can say that I’ve lived quite a full life. However, there is one thing I am going to do more of, and that is travel.

When you’re young there are family and job responsibilities. Then there is the reality that because of these responsibilities there is not much money for travel. Plus, there is no time because of all the obligations to sustain your family and lifestyle. In life, many times, when you have no time you have plenty of money, and when you have plenty of time you have no money.

However, after careful planning, and much pain, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not a train coming towards me. The light is the combination of time and money to enjoy the fruits of my labor. That means that places I’ve always dreamed of traveling to are now targeted in the not so distance future.

Many of my contemporaries have already traveled to Europe. Most have done it when they were fancy free and without the encumbrances of family or a job. They saved up and were able to plot a trip that included hostels, cheap food, and memories that would last a life time.

For the first time in my life, Nancy and I are going to Europe. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see, in person, the places I’ve only read about in books. It’s a dream come true to plan for what could be the trip of a lifetime.

Planning the trip is like planning a military operation. To enjoy the experience the most is an exercise in balance. Balancing between seeing what we want to see and not doing too much. The balance between being a traveler and a tourist.

The unbridled excitement is palpable as we get closer to our liftoff. We will be spending time in London, Paris, Dijon (in the Burgundy region of France), Switzerland, and finally Germany. Each place will be a catalog of carefully planned tours, meals, and independent discovery.

Each destination will be a wonderful travel log written in a diary that will attempt to capture the flavor of the experience. It will be the fusion of language to ensnare the emotion of discovery with the painting of a picture.

Iconic foreign statues, pictures, buildings, castles, rivers, museums, and restaurants will only be a complete interactive experience when we enjoy the people from those different cultures.

Across the pond (as they call it) will test our acumen to understand different languages, currencies, and of course the metric system. Not only those aforementioned items but also train and subway schedules, and local customs.

I believe that anytime you put yourself in the mode of discovery you grow as a person. This widens your horizons and helps you understand a little better the general mind set of those you come in contact with from other countries. I’ve met many people from different countries over the course of my culinary career. I’m sure its quite different when you greet them on their home turf.

We don’t have numerous tours booked but the ones we do have booked should be epic. I booked the most strenuous tour on our second day in Europe/London. We will be going to the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, a river cruise down the Thames river, finishing up at the famous department store, Harrods. That’s the only tour we are taking in London, an all day extravaganza.

In Paris we are scheduled for a river cruise down the Seine with a gourmet lunch and copious amounts of Champagne. Our last day in Paris will be a guided tour to one of the most famous galleries in the world, the Louvre. Then we’re off to Dijon in the Burgundy region of France.

We will take a train from Paris to Dijon and rent a car in Dijon. Too much beautiful scenery and country in Burgundy and eventually in Switzerland not to take it slow and enjoy every castle and lake along the way. This is a dream of mine to finally scratch off the bucket list.  The Burgundy region has produced my favorite wine in the world, La Tache in the Vosne-Romanee, France.

We will enjoy a wine tour which includes a lunch and wine tastings at several Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards near Dijon. After a couple days in Dijon we will drive to Switzerland.

Our first destination in Switzerland will be the Ambassador Boutique Hotel in Nyon on Lake Geneva. Then we drive past Bern Switzerland and into Lucerne where we will stay at the Hotel Royal Luzern with a room facing lake Lucerne. Our last destination in Switzerland will be the Hotel Mokka in Laufenburg Switzerland. Half the town is in Switzerland and across the bridge from Switzerland is the other half of the town, in Germany.

Our final destination will be a small town near Frankfurt, Germany,  Oberursel (Taunus). This is an Air B&B, checking out November 2nd, and flying out of Frankfurt Germany, back home.

I will be writing down the different takes on our experiences so that all whom follow will have a better idea of what to expect on this wonderful journey we call life.




Sports are the Unbridled Stage for Human Emotion


Each time I think back to my first experiences in playing or viewing sports I smile. The first time I threw a football, hit a baseball, or made a hoop in basketball I felt a surge of emotional satisfaction that transcended everyday life.

The first time I threw a football was in Fairfax California. I was on the street and a neighborhood father was throwing to his son. I asked, “Could I catch and throw the football with them?” They said, ” Yes”, and the rest is history.

I had an affinity for throwing small round balls against a wall so that they would bounce back to me,  but this oval ball was another story. Almost every afternoon (after I recieved a football from Santa) I would ask whatever neighborhood kid was available, to play catch. Eventually I got pretty good at throwing the football, maybe twenty yards, consistently.

Around that same time I would play basketball at my elementary school, Deer Park. I could hardly reach the backboard because the baskets were not lower then regulation. Still, I would be out there, virtually under the basket, waiting for a player to throw me the ball so that I could have a chance to score a basket. Didn’t happen too often, but I kept trying.

After a few growth spurts around the fifth grade, making baskets became easier. However, I found that my sport was kickball. Unfortunately this wasn’t a recognized school sport. I could kick that ball farther than almost anyone on that playground. I would catch the ball for outs and then I would kick that ball (when I was up) to the deepest part of the outfield, rounding the bases like Lou Brock.

Possibly the most fun I had in those elementary playground days was when I played what we called, “Prison Ball”. There would be a cordoned off court that was split in the middle. One team on one side of the middle line and the other team opposite them.

Players would be given two balls on either side of the middle line, one each. Then they would rare back and throw the ball at the opposing teams players. I would always aim for their heads (although this was frowned upon) to exact the most damage to the opposing players. I just wanted to win and not have these players re-enter the game on the opposite endline.  Because then there was the brutal crossfire that would eventually leave you crying or winning. There was no in-between, there was no “participation” trophy. There was just win or lose.

Another sport that I learned in our recreation camp in the summer was “Capture the Flag”. This was a game where the flag would be secured in a forest setting usually with the border of a creek or a ditch being the safety zone. When you crossed over to the enemy territory you would run like your life depended on it to “Capture the Flag”. If you were tagged in the process then you would be led to the jail  (usually located near the flag).

If there were enough of your teammates in the jail then it was very difficult to protect your flag as likely you’d be overrun. Then the opposing team would “Capture the Flag”.

All of these wonderful games have probaby disappeared. However, in my day they were the spark that brought out your competitive spirit and as Wide World of Sports would say, “The Thrill of Victory, or the Agony of Defeat”.

Watching sports became a very enjoyable pastime in the sixties for me with the advent of the two football leagues (the AFL and the NFL). The first game I remember watching is what was called “The Ice bowl”. The game in 1967 was played at Lambeau field in Green Bay Wisconsin.

At game time the temperature was 13 degrees. The Green Bay Packers were playing the Dallas Cowboys. The Packers quarterback was Bart Starr. With the temperature 18 degrees below zero and 16 seconds on the clock, Bart Starr  ran the ball into the endzone for the game winning touchown. I will never forget that first memory of the National Football League.

I went to many 49er games in the 80’s watching the greatest decade of 49er players ever assembled. That’s truly when I became a 49er faithful watching the team to this day as they amassed five Super Bowls.

Being from the Bay Area I was blessed to watch the San Francisco Giants win three titles as did the Golden State Warriors. The emotion from the players and the fans is truly a script that is never written. To unleash an emotion that only comes after experiencing the ebbs and flows of a whole season is magic.

Playing or watching sports is a gift. The competitive spirit that is intense and focused carries into all facets of life. The stage is different but the relentless will to win in anything that features competition instills the spark that pushes one to victory.


Planning for Tomorrow, Today

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Each day in the future reveals a message from the past. That message is predicated upon life’s chessboard and the pieces that are moved to achieve said goal. Along the way we can look to see how the moves affect our future and if the plan has worked, or is working. 

Everything from the mundane grocery list to the selling of a property or the interaction with an attorney or even a spouse can be dissected. Even vacations, recipes, the recording of a sporting event or your favorite show… we should have a plan.

When you plan for tomorrow it’s important to not take your eyes off the experience of today. Living in the future completely, totally, means that today may not be enjoyed to its fullest. Life is about balance to fully be engaged with the choices of today will ultimately help us prepare for tomorrow.

The plans that are thought of well in advance are the most difficult to execute. These objectives are usually produced in carefully designed steps that most importantly are carried out in a certain order. This order can not be deviated from unless of course extenuating circumstances reveal their ugly head.

Health, job, monetary considerations, any change in circumstance can and will send us down a different path. However, the main plan/goal is etched in our DNA so that our focus is clear and our plan is a determined one.

Many roundabouts send us in one direction while the traffic of circumstance blows us to a different route. There are seldom shortcuts, because one thing in life is certain… there are benifits to gaining wisdom based upon the difficulty we endure to achieve our preordained destiny.

The art of creating a plan are two fold: First is the importance of our resolve to stick to our commitments. Second is the benefit from the satisfaction of achieving our plan. Each time we follow through with our goals in a timely fashion our belief in ourselves grows exponentially.

If we let life happen to us then we put ourselves in a position of always being reactive as opposed to being proactive. There is a huge difference between the two mindsets. One is based upon our strenght of will and our commitment to ourself while the other is making excuses for not keeping our word. Its about honor and integrety.

Honor… no man can give it to you, no man can take it away. It is a gift you give yourself.

Usually when we plan today for tomorrow it also involves others we love and care about. There are two ways for those we love and care about to view us as a person. There is the belief that we can achieve our goal in a timely manner (very important). Or there is the belief from those we love and care about, “Here we go again with the unrealistic goals never being met.”

So often people rely on the excuse, “A thinly veiled lie wrapped in reason.” To whom much is given, much is required. If you have a strong support system and an education there is nothing you can’t achieve given hard work and determination.

The art of planning today for tomorrow is the ability to realize potential obstacles before they occur. With that observation each obstacle must be looked at one at a time and not as a whole. If each time we hurdle the obstacle because of our preparation and opportunity then we set ourselves up to achieve our prospective goal.

However, if we look at all the obstacles in their totality then we are likely to be defeated before we even start. The task is too daunting and our resolve may come into question. Never let others point to the negative aspects of a decided goal as this too can add more stress to the aformentioned finish line.

Everything from the five year plan of action to the daily purhcasing of necessities executed in a way to save our most precious commodity, time, is of vital importance. When we save time and money with our daily routines we are putting ourselves in a mantra of success to achieve the more difficult long term goals.

Planning ahead with vacations so that we may experience the most from these sojourns is another important aspect of reward. Making the most of our time to enjoy a new experience helps us gain the reward of realizing the benifits of what we are so blessed to enjoy in our daily lives.

The place, the people, the things we’ve always wanted to see. eat, drink, etc. are so important to our psyche.  The possitive memories we can create from planning today for tomorrow is worth its weight in gold. For if we are in a position to enjoy forever that very special memory we share with those we love and care about… then our life will be enriched beyond anything we could have ever imagined.