Per CNN: With the year we’re having, every day should be National Beer Day. But the date of the official beer celebration is April 7. Crack a few of your favorite brews Wednesday and raise a toast to President Franklin Roosevelt, who signed the legislation into law in 1933.
Have you noticed that there is a day for almost anything? Lately, I have seen national popcorn day, national burrito day (I like that), world party day, national go for broke day (I assume to honor the 442 regiment), national raisin day, national pet day, you get the idea.
First, I never knew we had a National Beer Day.
Two, how is it celebrated?
Three, what are my favorite beers? Firestone Walker 805, Corona, and any beer served at the Oktoberfest in Munich.
Beer has been made for over 5000 years!
After he won the Nobel Prize, Neils Bohr was given a perpetual supply of beer piped into his house.
At the wife carrying championships in Croatia, first prize is the wife’s weight in beer.
The top state for beer consumption, per capita, is surprisingly New Hampshire.
Germany has a 5 kilometer beer pipeline carrying beer.
Winston Churchill called the concept of Prohibition “an affront to the whole history of mankind.” President Barack Obama was the first president to host a White House homebrewing session, according to NPR.
Is there anything better at a baseball game than a hot dog and a cold beer?
How best to celebrate? Either your favorite watering hole, a day at the old ballpark, and a six pack of your favorite brew on your back patio.
I went to the Final Four in Dallas two years (2014) ago. I went to a previous Final Four in Los Angeles back in 1972. This mega event, as you can read below, has morphed into an event bigger than anything else in collegiate athletics. And it is even more special this year. My California Golden Bears made the tournament as the fourth seed (and lost). And my adopted Fresno State Bulldogs made their first “Big Dance” since 2001 (and lost), by winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas. This year’s Final Four should be bigger and better than ever!
During last year’s shutdown due to the pandemic, the NCAA basketball tournament was not held, hence no Final Four. The many men and women who play college basketball missed out on the biggest stage of your young lives. This year has provided some redemption for their many years of hard work and sacrifice. I hope they enjoy every minute of their moment in the spotlight.
Here is my story from 2014: All sports fans know when I say Final Four, I mean the NCAA Division 1 basketball tournament, often called either “The Big Dance” or “March Madness”. The 68 best collegiate basketball teams play a single elimination tournament to determine the National Collegiate Champion in basketball.
The tournament was started back in 1939, and has since been called, among things, March Madness, the Final Four, and The Big Dance. Thirty two of the teams selected are conference champions. The other 36 teams are selected by the NCAA Selection Committee. The selected teams are divided into four regions, seeded based on record and strength of schedule. After four games played by the lowest eight ranked teams, the remaining 64 play a tournament over three weekends.
Each weekend eliminates three-fourths of the teams. The final 16 remaining after the first weekend are called, “The Sweet Sixteen”. The remaining four after the second weekend are called, “The Final Four”. This “Final Four” weekend is the biggest weekend in college basketball.
The UCLA Bruins have won the most NCAA titles with eleven, ten of which were coached by a legend, John Wooden, often called, “The Wizard of Westwood”. In fact, the first and only Final Four championship game that I have attended was in 1972 at the old Los Angeles Sports Arena. UCLA was victorious over Florida State by a score of 81-76. The famous Wizard of Westwood, Coach John Wooden
My California Golden Bears won their only NCAA Championship in 1959, over West Virginia, 71-70. The star for West Virginia was Laker great Jerry West. Cal had no real stars, but was coached by one of the best coaches of all time, Pete Newell. The following year, Cal was the runner up to Ohio State. Do you see a resemblance? Yes, it is Laker great and now Warrior exec, Jerry West, the logo for the NBA
The tournament has grown since I last attended. The weekend of the Final Four is now an extravaganza much like Super Bowl Weekend. Between the two semi-final games on Saturday, and the Final on Monday evening, numerous other events are held. This year, the biggest event is a three day free music concert in downtown Dallas, headlined by “The Boss”, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on April 6.
Officially, it is the March Madness Music Festival, to be held in Reunion Park, on a first come, first served basis. I wonder what time I need to show up? Other headliners for the three-day fest are Jason Aldean (it is Texas, after all), The Killers, and Tim McGraw. I just want to see and hear ‘The Boss”.
Reunion Park is located in downtown Dallas, about 18 miles from Texas Stadium. The Championship game will be held Monday, April 7. The Texas Stadium venue is also the site of the world record for basketball attendance. The 2010 NBA All Star game drew a record crowd of 108,713. I foresee a total madhouse.
My plan is to arrive Saturday, and make sure I secure a good place to hear “The Boss” on Sunday. But also, when I arrive on Saturday, I plan to buy my tickets for the Championship game on Monday night. But I will buy my tix from one of the two losing teams’ fans on Saturday, hopefully at a big discount. As they walk out of the stadium, rather disappointed, I will take advantage of their utter disdain for all things basketball. After all, 50% of all teams have to lose!!!
When I said the Final Four has grown, the entire CBS package brings $500 million to the NCAA. The revenue is divided among the teams and conferences, based on a rather complex formula. You can imagine back in 1972 when I last went, the TV contract was quite small in comparison, and there was no three day music concert. My how things have changed. I do not even recall a merchandise tent outside of the old LA Sports Arena. A good time will be had by all!
PS: I do not have a favorite for tonight, but will root for both an exciting game, and the underdog. This entire weekend is so different than my first Final Four. My seat was in a luxury box, of all things. And the food and booze were flying. And I had the first $20 burger of my life, certainly Texas sized, I could only eat about a third of it!
Fast forward to 2016. Only a single Number One seed made it to the Final Four. Once our own favorite gets eliminated, I think we tend to root for the underdog. No doubt these teams that make the Final Four often cheat like crazy. The problems at both Syracuse and North Carolina have been in the news throughout the past year or more. My feeling is that the schools should just pay the kids to play a sport, and make a space available in the classroom to the kids that want to be there!!
For 2021: The west coast has risen again in basketball. The Conference of Champions (Pac 12) had four teams in the Elite 8. And now two west coast teams, UCLA, and Gonzaga will play in the Final Four!!!
You can just imagine that with the vast amount of air travel I have done, that I have seen some really strange behavior. Maybe bizarre would be a better term. Here they are in no particular order.
Stinky First Class Yes, I was seated in First Class on a flight to Denver, but I actually had to ask the Flight Attendant if I could move back to Coach. Why? It stunk so bad, I could hardly breathe. Turns out it was the Grateful Dead on their way to a concert at “Mile High” Stadium!
The Big Breast Tell me how a woman is breast feeding a 7 year old on an inter island flight in Hawaii! Everybody was both appalled and laughing!
The Yogist She just decided to take over the aisle and start her yoga workout. She made everyone wait until she was ready to move.
The Quick Change Artist Some women think they can do anything underneath a blanket. Well, it was rather obvious, and it was not pretty, if you know what I mean.
The Farter Yes, on the way back from Costa Rica, the older Hispanic lady in front of us, in First Class no less, was farting up a storm. I started fanning with a magazine. The couple next to us covered themselves with the blankets, and were laughing hysterically at me!
The Clipper Not Joltin’ Joe, but an old Asian man who decided to slip his toenails at his seat!
I am sure each of you must have as good or better story. Let’s just say, when you think you have seen it all, something else rears its ugly xxxx!
Most of us have arrived at the airport, only to realize that we forgot something. I once went on a trip to Kauai, and forgot my golf clubs!!! And golf shoes. I had to rent clubs, and buy another pair of golf shoes. Since that untimely event, I always use a list when I pack for a long trip.
After printing my boarding pass, I always place my passport in a clear plastic folder with the rest of my travel related documents. If you use the airline’s app, I would still print a boarding pass as a backup. And I always keep my Driver’s License (Real ID) in my wallet. And I have photos of each on my cell phone.
The online check in process serves several functions. One might be paying for your baggage, printing a bag tag, and even choosing or upgrading your seat. I always try to do this 24 hours before boarding. Always!
I always have the airline’s app on my phone, even if I don’t use it. I also agree to receive text messages regarding delays or cancellations. And another really important notice, gate changes.
Often overlooked is how to dress for the flight. Comfortable, yet tasteful is my suggestion. One item that should be banned, in my humble opinion, is flip flops. Why? Think about it, in a fire, flood, or making a run for it, flip flops are a real liability. And even in summer, a light sweater or jacket since the planes are often quite cold.
The proverbial refillable water bottle has become an important part of travel. But so are some snacks from home. Just a small bag of nuts, an energy bar, or cookies will help you get to the next meal. I hate paying outrageous prices for airport snacks that are both stale and unhealthy. Save some money and spend it on a nice meal at your destination.
Spring for TSA Pre-Check! The lines are shorter, and it only costs $85. And you generally leave your electronics inside your bag, keep your shoes on, and zip right through.
If you are unfamiliar with an airport, it pays to go online for an advance look, or use the map in the airline magazine. Some airports, like Dulles in DC, Denver, O’Hare in Chicago, Heathrow in London, LAX, SFO, and Hartsfield in Atlanta are configured in a confusing architectural nightmare at best.
Whether renting a car, using Uber or public transportation, I always look at my options online before landing. Signage, particularly in foreign airports, might not be as clear as airports here in the US. The worst of course, was in Russia.
If you have other suggestions, please share. Travel should be fun, free of hassles, and a memorable experience.
Now that we are flying again to far off places, jet lag has reared its unwelcome head. Nobody talks about it, since we are consumed with vaccines, masks, and which countries are open to Americans. It does seem that as I get older, I am more susceptible to jet lag. Also, flying west to east is a bigger issue than east to west. At least it makes European travel better once I return home.
What is jet lag? I like the Mayo Clinic and their explanation. Jet lag occurs because crossing multiple time zones puts your internal clock (circadian rhythms), which regulates your sleep-wake cycle, out of sync with the time in your new locale. And because it takes a few days for your body to adjust, your sleep-wake cycle, along with most other body functions, such as hunger and bowel habits, remains out of step with the rest of your destination.
And sunlight is a factor: A key influence on your internal clock is sunlight. That’s because light influences the regulation of melatonin, a hormone that helps synchronize cells throughout the body. At night, when the light signal is low, the hypothalamus tells the pineal gland, a small organ situated in the brain, to release melatonin. During daylight hours, the opposite occurs, and the pineal gland releases very little melatonin. You may be able to ease your adjustment to your new time zone by exposing yourself to daylight in the new time zone so long as the timing of light is done properly.
I have my own methods to deal with jet lag. First, some jet lag facts, per the Mayo Clinic, for you. My reactions are in (parenthesis).
You may experience one or more of these symptoms:
Disturbed sleep — such as insomnia, early waking or excessive sleepiness (always)
Daytime fatigue (definitely)
Difficulty concentrating or functioning at your usual level (rarely)
Stomach problems, constipation or diarrhea (rarely)
A general feeling of not being well (rarely)
Mood changes (not sure)
And some risk factors:
Number of time zones crossed. The more time zones you cross, the more likely you are to be jet-lagged.
Flying east. You may find it harder to fly east, when you “lose” time, than to fly west, when you gain time.
Being a frequent flyer. Pilots, flight attendants and business travelers are most likely to experience jet lag.
Being an older adult. Older adults may need more time to recover from jet lag than do younger adults.
So, how should you deal with or prevent jet lag?
Arrive early. If you have an important meeting or other event that requires you to be in top form, try to arrive a few days early to give your body a chance to adjust.
Get plenty of rest before your trip. Starting out sleep-deprived makes jet lag worse.
Gradually adjust your schedule before you leave. If you’re traveling east, try going to bed one hour earlier each night for a few days before your departure. Go to bed one hour later for several nights if you’re flying west. If possible, eat meals closer to the time you’ll be eating them at your destination.
Regulate bright light exposure. Because light exposure is one of the prime influences on your body’s circadian rhythm, regulating light exposure may help you adjust to your new location.
Stay on your new schedule. Set your watch to the new time before you leave. Once you reach your destination, try not to sleep until the local nighttime, no matter how tired you are. Try to time your meals with local mealtimes, too.
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your flight to counteract the dehydrating effects of dry cabin air. Dehydration can make jet lag symptoms worse. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these can dehydrate you and affect your sleep.
Try to sleep on the plane if it’s nighttime at your destination. Earplugs, headphones and eye masks can help block out noise and light. If it’s daytime where you’re going, resist the urge to sleep.
I have my own little routine for long flights to Europe, Asia, or South America. I try to get plenty of rest before my trip, but it is not always possible. Most flights leave mid-day from California and arrive the next day. I generally have my first meal and a glass or two of champagne.
I take advantage of the overnight “darkness” of the flight by sleeping with the help of a low dose prescription sleeping pill. I either read or watch a terrible movie until I fall asleep. I always take my shoes off and use the airline socks.
I forgot to tell you I am generally seated in First Class since I use miles to upgrade! That is my SECRET to beating jet lag!!!
Perhaps, it should say in the AIR again! Per CNN: Spring break is here and people suffering from a year of cabin fever are throwing caution to the wind. Saturday marked the 10th straight day on which more than 1 million passengers traveled through American airports.
The TSA reported 1,369,180 travelers passed through security checkpoints Saturday, a day after air passengers set a new pandemic record, when 1,468,516 traveled through TSA security.
Although millions of Americans have been vaccinated, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend that people avoid travel. It has so far declined to issue new guidance on travel for vaccinated Americans out of concerns prompted by travel-related surges that the United States encountered during previous holiday periods.
From Business Insider: The number of flyers departing from US airports has topped 1 million for 10 days in a row – even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging people to avoid traveling. The US Transport Security Administration (TSA) said Sunday it has screened more than 1 million passengers at US airports every day since March 11. It screened around 13 million passengers over the 10-day period, it said.
For the first time during the pandemic, air travel is higher than it was at the same time a year ago. On Saturday, the most recent day data is available for, the TSA screened nearly 1.37 million passengers – more than double the number it screened on the same day in 2020. US air travel peaked on Friday, when the TSA screened close to 1.47 million passengers, the most in more than a year.
But the good news: Airfares are hitting record lows as airlines try to lure flyers back. I flew to Phoenix, AZ last weekend. I would not have gone if I was not vaccinated. Everyone on the plane wore masks. All the baseball fans at the ballparks wore masks, despite the limited seating and spacing. But restaurants were operating at FULL capacity, indoors and out.
Renting a car was a real PIA. Each shuttle bus from the airport to the Phoenix rental center allowed only about half capacity, creating long lines outside the airport. Same for the return after I dropped the car off.
I also give full credit, A+++ to my hotel, part of the Marriott chain in Scottsdale. They had both masks and alcohol hand cleaner for guests. The rooms appeared spotless. The only downside was no housekeeping services on my three-night stay.
But you know me, I always say, “Let’s go!” no matter what.
One of the more interesting and unusual places I have visited is Lake Baikal in Siberia. I stopped there for several days while taking the Trans-Siberian Railway from Vladivostok to Moscow back in 2014.
I will spare you the facts, you can google, or refer to my emails from 2014.
Recently, a hockey game was played on Baikal’s famous clear ice. Small air bubbles can be seen beneath the surface of the ice, since it is so clear. And the Russians even drive over the ice in winter. Yet when they tried to traverse the lake with a branch of the Trans-Siberian, the very first train plunged into the lake! The lake is fed by warm, volcanic springs.
A few things stand out from my visit. The lake contains plentiful fish, the most famous of which is the omul. Omul is delicious smoked or in a Russian “stew” or whatever they call it. Even in May, it was cold, particularly when it snowed for several days. And the residents are a rather cultish and hearty people, who seem to thrive on the lake’s uniqueness.
Walking over a frozen body of water is rather unnerving. When I was up in the Arctic Circle in Alaska to see the Aurora borealis, we passed by the Yukon River. They said the ice was 5 to 6 feet thick, so I did manage to cautiously walk a few yards on the ice.
By the time I was in Baikal in May, the ice was gone, despite the unseasonal snowstorm. In fact, I took a short cruise on the Lake with a variety of strange Russians. They chose to ignore me for the first half of the trip. At the halfway point, we got to the tracks of the Trans-Siberian for a short walk. And they needed considerable help disembarking the boat and walking up a small embankment. Suddenly, I was their best friend. When we re-boarded, they were offering snacks and hot tea, as if I was a VIP!!!!
Is this a trip for everyone? Probably not. Am I happy that I went? Yes. Would I go again? Probably not.
I found this article from Trip Savvy to be very interesting:
As the world locked down a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people searched for a way to stay healthy, sane, and socially distant. Like me, they found it on a bicycle. Countries from South Africa to Italy saw bike sales skyrocket. The NPD Group, a market research company, reported the U.S. had a 121 percent spike for the year in leisure bike sales.1 And when this rapid rise in bicycle transit became apparent last spring, cities and countries around the world rushed to accommodate two-wheeled travelers.
Some countries, like France, began providing biking subsidies to citizens for repairs of up to 50 euros in designated bike shops, and many city governments around the world began expanding cycling infrastructure. London, Brussels, and Bogota all saw new bike lanes added to main thoroughfares and reduced speed limits for the cars driving alongside them. Even in countries where governments were slower to promote biking during the pandemic, citizens started biking anyway. Bike activists in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and Nairobi, Kenya, petitioned governments to expand biking infrastructure, while many more citizens began cycling on streets without bike lanes to avoid mass transit lines and potential contagion. The cyclists of these countries showed that while government support helped to grow the bike boom to an extent, the real fuel for it came from individuals themselves.
While many of these riders were using their bikes as an alternative commute to get to work, seek healthcare, or tend to other essential needs, others bought bicycles or broke out their existing ones simply for a safe and fun way to explore their home cities and countries outdoors. Before the onset of the pandemic, bicycle travel in itself had a strong appeal, offering a multitude of benefits to travelers.
“It was a way to get exercise, a way to connect with your surroundings more,” says Jim Taylor, Ph.D., a sport psychologist and consultant to USA Triathlon. “You really can’t enjoy your surroundings when you’re going 70 mph.” Those long-standing benefits of bike travel were further amplified by the challenges and stresses of the pandemic, driving more people into saddles this past year.For me, the question will be what happens to the bicycle craze when the pandemic subsides? I was a regular cyclist before the pandemic, and will continue throughout and beyond. I often take cycling trips to other countries. I ride in numerous cycling events here in California. It is my main form of exercise.
Bicycle infrastructure has improved in the past year. Cities have taken the lead in creating safer bike lanes, and roads. The city of Oakland went so far as to close numerous streets to through traffic. The benefits of cycling center around these four: improved mental health, a cleaner environment (less driving), bicycle travel, and improvements to the bicycle infrastructure.
Whatever you do, please keep cycling, and wear your helmet!
I was having such a great time in Scottsdale, that I forgot to send this!!!
Despite many visits to Scottsdale, we never tire of the “Valley of the Sun” and its many activities. In particular, we enjoy Spring Training with the Giants, some of the outlet malls, the interesting southwest food, and the plethora of plastic surgery, not necessarily in that order.
So, in the name of review and to make sure you know what to do, here is a list of tried and true places to visit.
Old Town Scottsdale (always a treat, no matter how many times we visit)
TPC Scottsdale golf tournament (most attended sporting event in the world)
Barrett-Jackson Car Auction
The Sugar Bowl (order the cream puff with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge)
Taliesin West (Arizona home of Frank Lloyd Wright)
Pinnacle Peak Park
Carefree Desert Gardens
James Beard Dinner
Cactus League Spring Training (my favorite event)
Fort McDowell Adventures
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Rusty Spur Saloon
Museum of the West
Buffalo Chip Saloon
Scottsdale Music Museum (very interesting)
Camelback Mountain (worth a climb for the great view)
Mayo Clinic (yes, Scottsdale has a branch of the famous Minnesota clinic)
Penske Racing Museum (small, but historic)
I realize that going to a Spring Training game takes up the better part of a day, as does a round of golf. Can you believe we actually did both on most days when my kids were young? We would tee off in the early morning, then get to the baseball stadium around 1pm for a nice day of spring baseball. Then, in the evening, we would go out for a nice dinner, where my kids hoped to see a baseball, basketball or hockey star eating dinner.
Fast forward to 2021: It became price prohibitive to attend a Giants game here. So, I opted for a game in Phoenix, between the Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers. It was easily about one-fourth the price of a Giants game! But some good news, Buster Posey is back this year, after taking a year off. Other than this change, I hope the Valley of the Sun trip will be about the same as previous years. It remains to be seen how many venues are open, and where I can go.
Just when I was expecting to take my first trip out of the county (after getting my Covid vaccinations) since last March, this happens: Cactus League officials sought a delay in a letter to Major League Baseball released Monday, saying, “In view of the current state of the pandemic in Maricopa County — with one of the nation’s highest infection rates — we believe it is wise to delay … to allow for the COVID-19 situation here.” Flash: Some fans will be allowed, but will I be able to get a ticket?
The letter to MLB, first obtained by Phoenix television station KPNX, suggests mid-March as a potential start date rather than mid-February, explaining that the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects a sharp decline in infections in Arizona by that point. Of course, they allowed the NFL to practice and play here. Even our San Francisco 49ers came down here after getting shut down by the Santa Clara County Health Department.
Commissioner Rob Manfred informed teams two weeks ago to prepare for an on-time start of the season, but in the meantime, Arizona’s infection rate remains the worst in the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker. Arizona’s rate of new positive cases over the past week was 95.1 cases per 100,000 people. The U.S. average is 54.4 cases per 100,000 people.
There are 15 teams based in the Phoenix area for spring training, playing at 10 ballparks, but no Cactus League team has begun selling tickets. Ticket sales, once given approval, will be sold in pods of two, four or six, and spaced at least six feet apart from one another. In my opinion, baseball is in a precarious position. No fans last year, undecided this year, revenues down, TV and cable viewership down, players unhappy. That is not a formula for success and profits.
Then again, we still have some idiots: Mask mockers in the skies:Flight attendants hate being COVID-19 police, scolding people who flout mask-wearing regulations. They’ve experienced passengers nursing a drink or a snack for long periods of the flight in order to keep their masks down when the flight crew is around. They are hoping that a new federal order requiring mask wearing will make their jobs easier, writesJohanna Read. “I get that some [people] don’t like wearing them. I don’t like it either,” says JSX flight attendantRoshonda Payne, “but it’s vitally important to keeping everyone safe and protected.”
So, I still have my flights for March 12 to 15. I do not have tickets to the game, as they are not yet on sale. And my other reason for going to the Phoenix area was to visit the Gila Area Indian Reservation, where my parents were incarcerated after Pearl Harbor, during WW2. I have tried to visit this restricted area for almost ten years now. And I am no closer today than I was back then!!! Very frustrating.
Coincidentally, Scottsdale was our last destination prior to the Covid lockdown. We left Scottsdale a day early, with Lexi, and drove back home in a single day! Interestingly, we left early since it rained in the Valley of the Sun for several days!
But Scottsdale does have many places that I enjoy. Some of my favorite restaurants are here, including my favorite Tex Mex place, Los Sombreros. The weather is fantastic for hiking and biking. Though I no longer play golf, the courses here are among my favorites, like Troon, and TPC.
Travel and Leisure says: Hiking trails from easy strolls to challenging climbs are great exercise, and they come with the bonus of spectacular views. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve, 35,000 acres of undeveloped land, provides accessible and dog-friendly trails. If you prefer your outdoor fun on the water, Scottsdale has plenty of that too. The Salt River and Verde River provide for canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, fishing, and more. In town, explore the city’s museums and outdoor art, and spend some time in walkable Old Town.
Some of my dear friends are no longer here, as some have moved away (Debbie), and some have passed on (John). But new friends await, of that I am certain.
And there is always the charm of the desert, so foreign to most of us city dwellers. Just the famous Saguaro cactus, often towering above us, seems to create a totally different expectation. I love to browse around Old Town Scottsdale. Two Scottsdale standards, the Pink Pony and Don and Charlies are gone. Town Lake in Tempe sounds good for an afternoon of paddleboats and water balloon fights.
I was able to get tickets to a game over in Phoenix, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers. Giants games were sold out immediately to spring training season ticket holders. Scalpers are trying to get well over $150 per ticket on resale. I remember the “good old days” when we could just walk up to the gate, buy tickets, and sit just about anywhere my son could catch foul balls.
If nothing else, it will feel great to get on a plane, rent a car, check into a hotel, and dine out somewhere.