Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy America Day!

Things might be a little... off... in America these days, but there will always be muppets:

Monday, March 26, 2018

Rock Chalk

It's been a while since I have written about basketball. This is mostly, I think, because game time (usually in the early morning hours in Singapore) is often *exactly* the same as toddler time (usually the early morning hours anywhere). Don't let anyone tell you I'm indoctrinating my kids; I could easily have set them down in front of the TV to watch some KU hoops, but I've been good.

This year's Kansas team has been... interesting. I've woken up to see some really bizarre scenarios: three home losses! A five-star recruit quitting to go play in Europe! A near-total absence of depth! But at the same time, they have beaten more top-quality teams than any other program this season. There's something about the team that, when it works, works really well. They won the Big 12 regular season championship and the conference tournament.

The first trophy of, one hopes, many.

And this morning, they went to the Final Four for the first time since 2012.

I watched most of the second half on my laptop, in the dark, while I ate my cereal. Then suddenly it was overtime, and I was late for work, and I "watched" the last five minutes by getting score updates on my phone.

And they won. They beat Duke in what may have been the best heavyweight showdown of the tournament.

Basketball is fun, and a nice distraction from all the other craziness in the world. It would be an even nicer distraction if the Jayhawks, just as they did the last time they were in San Antonio, won their last two games.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Highway to the Nostalgia Zone

When I was a kid, there was one weekend every summer I looked forward to more than any other.

It wasn't the Fourth of July. It wasn't a birthday. It wasn't even the last day of school.

It was Operation Handshake.

What was Operation Handshake? Glad you asked (and even if you hadn't, I would have explained anyway). It was, at the time, the largest airshow in the United States, attracting about 500,000 visitors over two days. And man, what a show.

I remember seeing one of the first F-15s, back when they were still painted light blue, do a max-performance takeoff into the vertical. I saw an F-117 there for the first time, and a B-2. The airbase where it was held, Richards-Gebaur, was home to a squadron of A-10s, and they never disappointed with an appropriately over-the-top ground attack demo featuring enough pyrotechnics to make Michael Bay blush. My dad was my wingman for most of these, and I have many fond memories of wandering through all the wings and kerosene fumes with him.

I was most definitely in the crowd for this one.

The base closed in the '90s and the airshows stopped around the same time. I haven't been to one since.

Until this week.

I was at the Singapore Airshow, which is more of a trade event than a public relations spectacle, as part of my job. I had a lot of fun and helped with some interesting stories. I even was asked to look directly into the sun and ad-lib an interview about Chinese drones. Yes, I know "Israeli" is not a country. I only got one take, OK?

It was, obviously, a much different experience than the airshows of my childhood. For one, there were weapons being sold everywhere, including this lovely dessert case of 40mm grenades.

Fun for the whole family!

For another, I was working, which meant I didn't get to gawk at the airplanes as much as I'd like. The most common backdrop for my airshow experience was the Media Room, Brought to You By Pratt and Whitney:

There was free food and coffee.

And for a third, Operation Handshake was, even in its later years, an American affair. There were certainly no aircraft from Cold War adversaries. But at the Singapore Airshow, you could watch a Su-30MKM do its thing:

Thrust vectoring makes for great flight demos.

... or a Saab Gripen:

Small, fast, maneuverable and Swedish.

There were also aircraft on display that simply didn't exist when I was younger, like:

The F-22 Raptor.

The F-35 Lightning II.

The RQ-4 Global Hawk.

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (although its smaller, older brother, the F/A-18 was around back then).

The WL-2 Wing Loong II, a Chinese strike drone.

The entire suite of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation fighter aircraft, in model form or otherwise.

... among many other things. I got to nerd out, I got to be professional, I got to see a lot of interesting hardware and drink some remarkably bad coffee. Most of the time I was in air conditioning, which is also a big change from the airshows of my youth.

My enjoyment of all things flight-related hasn't changed. The brief bits of the Singapore Airshow where I got to just stand and watch planes in the air brought back a lot of great memories. And maybe, just maybe, I can take my dad to the next one... or take my daughter (but I need to be sure to keep her away from the grenades).

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year

I think for a lot of people, 2017 was a year that belongs in the rearview mirror. And it would be easy to spend this post listing the reasons why. In fact, I had written a couple of sentences doing just that before I caught myself.

Starting a new year isn't about looking at all the bad things from the previous you want to avoid in the next one. It's about hope. About a clean sheet and a brand new indelible marker to write with.

Definitely not visible from my window.

Sitting here in a serviced apartment in rainy Singapore, two kids fast asleep and a hectic December behind us, it's hard not to feel like we are poised for a big transition. Temporary housing will give way to a permanent home; we will get to know this city better (why are all the nearby playgrounds closed right now? Don't they know we have restless kids?) and forge ahead. I'll start a new job that will mean days of playtime with the kids and family lunches are back to being weekends-only treats.

All that is certain. I don't need to hope for it; it will happen.

So do I want out of the next year?

It's not hard. I want my family to be healthy, happy and safe. And I want 2018 to exceed 2017 in every way that it can. Is that boring? Maybe. But I won't be disappointed if those hopes are realized.

No matter how you feel about 2017, and no matter where you are or how you're celebrating (I will spare you the details of New Year's Eve: Corporate Housing Edition), I hope your hopes are realized too.

Here's to a bright, new year.

*edited to remove the artifacts of writing while recovering from 2017’s parting gift: a family-wide stomach bug.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

It's Christmas Eve, babe

... and, as always, I hope most fervently that none of you are in the drunk tank. It's been an interesting December, but Christmas has arrived nonetheless. Here's to a great one, and a great finish to an, uh, exciting year.

Happy Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate (even if it's just a responsible trip to the bar).

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Revenge of the Return of the Misc Box, Part II: The Boxening

Well, readers, I'm sure you're just as aware as I am that it has been a long time since we've exchanged electrons here on the blog. Like a long time. As usual, I will offer no excuses other than: life has become busier than usual.

Sure, Gerry, you may say. But that's true of all of us out here in the world, watching American democracy teeter and Hollywood greenlight remakes of movies that were great the first time around.

And you're right. We're all busy in our own way.

My particular way of being busy these days is another international move.

Mrs. Blog and I, now joined by Little and Littler Blog, as I guess I'm calling them, are moving to Singapore. And I have a new job, with another global news organization. New climate, new restaurants, new weird-but-iconic statues.

Weird-but-iconic merlion.

It's a whirlwind, moving a family. A real maelstrom of stress, planning and preparation. All you can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other, logistically and mentally speaking, until you're at your new home. At least that's the theory. We haven't arrived at that home yet, so I can't say for sure.

An artifact of previous international moves has been the existence, at the end of a day of packing up a home, of a catchall box. It's not full of one type of thing (like glasses) or even stuff that all goes in the same room (like the kitchen). No, it's a Misc Box that holds stuff you want to take with you but isn't easily categorized.

This time around, it doesn't look like we'll have one of those. That's partly because Mrs. Blog is an expert at organizing, and partly because this move will be the best supported in terms of relocation services. I won't go into the boring details, but it does appear that everything--regardless of categorization--will be neatly packed away, only to rematerialize in our new Singapore pad.

Instead there's a mental Misc Box. We've been here six years--my longest stretch in anyplace that's not Chicago or Kansas City. We have roots and friends and two little kids who were born here. What the movers can't take, but what I'm bringing with me, are those things. Those relationships, memories and experiences--good and bad--we found in Hong Kong. They'll always be with me, even if they defy categorization.

And so off we go. Soon we'll hop on an airplane, shake the dust of the 'Kong from our shoes, and embrace the future (which may or may not be devoid of chewing gum).

Hong Kong hasn't been perfect. But it's been home.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Or as they say in Hong Kong, "Bye bye!"

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Just like old times

Frank Mason III was fun to watch in college. Not just because he's a Jayhawk (which is awesome) but because he had an uncanny ability, maybe more so than any player since Jacque Vaughn, to take the tiniest crack in a defense and break the whole thing down for a scoring opportunity. It looked a little something like this:

Now he has been drafted--by Sacramento, in the second round--and is trying to play his way into a guaranteed contract in summer league games. A friend posted this clip of highlights from his latest game, and I have to say... it looks like he's doing the same sort of stuff as a pro that he did in college. It's uncanny:

I've never been a huge fan of the NBA, but if Mason sticks, that might change. He's that fun to watch.