Monday, September 27, 2004

Photokina in Köln

I am in Germany this week at the Photokina conference in Cologne (Köln). This is my first trip to Germany and it is very cool. About 12 people on my team flew from Seattle through Copenhagen to Düsseldorf and then took a shuttle from the airport to our hotel.

The only remarkable moment on the trip here happened when I was just starting to get to sleep on the flight from Seattle to Copenhagen. My seat was right next to one of the lavatories so it was really noisy each time someone would use the facility. I had just dozed off when something whacked me on the head. I looked over a bit groggily and saw a woman sitting on the floor in the aisle next to me looking a bit out of it. I asked if she was OK and she said "no, I don't think so" and then proceeded to lie down in the aisle. I tried to press my call button, but it was broken. At that point, Dave (who was lucky enough to get Economy PLUS seat on this flight) comes out of the lavatory right next to us and sees the woman on the ground. He looks at me and then steps over her and heads back to his seat. I guess having someone lying in the middle of the aisle on the plane isn't that unusual for some people. As I am about to get up to go find a flight attendant, the woman says "Oh, wait a minute" and crawls into one of the other lavatories and I don't hear from her again. Weird.

I didn't get much more sleep after that due to the fact that I was sitting next to a pretty big guy and we spent most of the flight trying to negotiate space usage between us -- without ever actually speaking.

When we got to Copenhagen, we walked through passport control (new stamp!) and then had to walk through a big mall to get to a different terminal of the airport. Most signs in the airport were in multiple languages and of course, I was pretty tired but it was interesting to think about my perceptions as I walked through the airport. Part of the time, I would be completely unable to read anything and it was like I was in a dream where you can see the writing but you can't figure out what it says. At other times, the nearby English translation would get processed before I even really thought about it and it was like there was nothing strange about it at all. This continued into Germany where many of the words are either the same, or clearly related so it isn't that hard to get by.

David (no, not Dave, on of the other Davids on our trip -- there are 4 -- let's call this one little David) mentioned as we were walking through that mall area that sometimes you hear a group of people in a mall back at home speaking a foreign language, and this time, we were that group. That made it much cooler :) It is definitely a lot easier to travel in a foreign country when you are with a bunch of people who speak your language.

More on the trip throughout the week due to the fact that this hotel has a broadband internet connection. YAY!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Apparently, my career is about to sizzle!

According to Yahoo my career is ready to sizzle. In actuality, it is just more famous people talking about how gorgeous and buff I am.

I have to admit, though, that it has always been my dream to play the Human Torch and I am thrilled and honored to finally have that opportunity.

They did get one thing wrong though -- I'm not single. Silly tabloids. :)

¿Dónde están los irons?- Golf @ Plateau

After getting home really late from the Glow Ball event last night, Rick, Paul and I moved our tee time from 7:18 to 1:00. Dave was planning on joining us and I sent him email last night about the change but apparently he didn't get it since he showed up 6 hours before we did (Sorry Dave!)

In general, my driving continued to be good, as was my short game but my mid irons decided to take a vacation. We started on the back 9 and after a par on 10 and two great shots on 11, I was sitting 150 yards from the pin. I took my 7 iron and figured I had this shot locked when I pushed it off to the right and into the woods. Huh? The same kind of thing happened with my tee shots on 15 and 7 (both par 3s). I just couldn't make good contact with my 5-7 irons. Short irons -- no problem. Rescue and fairway woods -- rockin'. Putting wasn't even that bad.

The other thing that really got me was penalty strokes. I had five of them. I think a bunch of that is just the Plateau Club. I am getting tired of hitting slightly off tee shots and just losing the ball altogether. Sure, I should just hit it straight but that just ain't gonna happen :)

Next week - Sahalee!

It's dark, it's raining, I'm drinking -- and we're playing golf - Glowball @ The Plateau Club

Rick, Paul and I were joined by our wives last night for the Plateau Club "glow ball" event. This is where we play an alternating shot scramble at night with glow in the dark balls. Sounds like fun! Just to make it more challenging, though, we started drinking at dinner just before the event and then -- on the third hole, the skies opened up and it started pouring rain. We were at 2 over after 4 holes when it started to back up. Standing around and waiting in the rain in the middle of the night sucks, so we bagged it and walked back to the clubhouse but it was actually quite fun.

They had said there would be "plenty" of glow balls but it was not long before the Plateau took it's ball tax and we were down to just 2 balls. When we are supposed to be hitting 3 balls for each shot, that makes it a little more difficult. Fortunately, one of us would usually top a shot and we could retrieve it pretty easily. It is amazing, though, how playing in the dark was not as bad as I though it would be. I had several very good 3 wood shots, my irons were a bit tougher but when you can't see how the clubface is aligned, it is harder to hit it straight. Rick's putting was on in the dark. He has been complaining about not being able to read greens and when he couldn't read them at all due to darkness, he made a lot more putts, including our birdie putt on 2.

If it hadn't been pouring rain, and if we had had enough balls to just play, this would have been a great event. As it was, we had fun and it was certainly memorable! Now I need to go and play the same course in the daylight. Perhaps I'll just close my eyes....

Monday, September 06, 2004

1.88 Rounds - Golf @ Plateau and Bear Creek

So it's Labor Day and my intention was to both sleep in, and play a bunch of golf. Paul had us scheduled for a 7 am round at the Plateau but given that it was the morning after our Luau, I wanted a chance to sleep in a bit so Paul rescheduled the tee time for about 8 am. (whoo! that's some good sleepin'!) Dave had us scheduled for a second round at 1:00 at Bear Creek. 4 hour round at plat - drive to Bear Creek - no problem.

I showed up at the course and I am definitely still feeling the effect of four of Alex's particularly potent Mai Tais from the night before. I'm playing OK, not great, but not horrible. The round, though, is going slowly. Not insanely slow but enough that it is starting to look like I won't be able to make it through 18 and make it to Bear Creek in time. For some reason, I kept ending up on the edge of bunkers. Not in them, but close enough that I have really weird shots to make. Then, on 11, my phone dies. While up to this point, the battery indicator has been saying it was full, it was clearly confused because it was completely dead. And this is a "smart" phone.... So now I've lost track of my score, it was heading towards a 93 or so but by the time we got to 17, I had also lost track of enough balls and the hour was getting late -- so I bailed :)

I drove over to Bear Creek and got there just in time for us to head out to the first tee with Dave, Clint and Kevin. No warm up, but I had just finished playing 16 holes so I should be ok. Almost. I figured I would try to play with the Titleist Pro V1 balls they had given us at the Plateau Club member/guest. No way was I going to pull these puppies out at the Plat. Tee it up and BAM -- a nice slice well right of the fairway. Ick! Stuck behind a tree, I try a low hook to get out from under the trees but back in the fairway. It does what it's supposed to do, but way too much and hooks across the fairway into nothingness and is gone. Fluff a pitch shot. Twice. End up with an 8 on the first hole. OK -- maybe I don't like Pro V1s.

I return to my old Nike Super Flys and the round immediately starts to get better. a couple of pars and a birdie on the 8th hole and even with the 8 on the first hole, I shoot 45 on the front 9 - Even par for a bogie golfer. The back nine starts off with 2 double bogies but then on 12, a reachable par 5, I hit a great drive into what Dave calls "the go zone" and pull my 3 wood to see if I can hit the green in 2 but I hit it waaay fat and it only goes about 20 yards. Oops ;) My next shot with the same club is great though and it is just left of the green and just past the hole proving that if I had hit it correctly, I COULD have made the green in 2. I chipped it to a couple of feet and made the putt for a par. I also parred the next hole - a cool downhill par 3 that Dave said is always a 9 iron. I've always used a 9 iron before and I've always been short so this time, I took an 8 iron and was pin high about 10 feet left.

The rest of the round was all bogies for another 45 and an overall 90 for the round which is 4 strokes better than any other round there. I liked 18 where Clint was trying to catch me (he was 3 strokes behind) and I pulled my drive so it was just under a tree. I backed into the tree with a 6 iron and punched it back to the fairway, hit a good 3 wood, then hit the green and 2 putted for a bogie. Clint got a par, but I still beat him by a couple of strokes - of course, he had a couple of very strong Tequila shots while we were playing which might have affected his score :)

The best part of the day was my tee shots (not counting 1). My swing plane was consistent and noticeably better than a few weeks ago and the result was much better driving. That was good to see. The Ignite continues to be my driver of choice though an encounter with the Nike rep at a demo day earlier made me start to wonder if I should not only have a stiffer shaft, but also a less lofted head as well. Perhaps I should just try the 9.5° version with the NV65 stiff shaft and see how that works for a while. Hmm......