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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Adams Family Does Portugal

I know it has been an awfully long time since I have posted in my blog.

Had a great time in Portugal in June, when my wife, son, daughter, grandson and my son's girlfriend Katie joined me to attend the wedding of Rodrigo, our former rugby-playing exchange student from Portugal.

We had a great time in Lisbon, and in the Alentejo, where Rodrigo and his charming bride Mafalda tied the knot in a gorgeous cathedral with wonderful Azulejos-the blue tiles famous in Portugal.

It was also great to catch up with some of Rodrigo's friends who came from Brazil, Chile, India and the USA to take part in an amazing reception and post wedding dinner, with DJ and dancing that went on until the sunrise on Sunday morning. Later on in the afternoon, we had a fantastic pig roast.

It was a great chance for my kids and my grandson to see why Portugal is just one of my favorite places on the planet.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Monty Python - "Not Dead Yet" Scene (HD)

57 Years old and catching up on rugby and life.

It has been a bloody long time since my last post. So much to go over.

I turned 57 two days ago. I had a wonderful birthday with my wife and my daughter at a fantastic restaurant called Quarters Korean Barbecue in the Koreatown section of Los Angles.

I have actually been able to play some rugby this year, after not playing at all last year. Back in the spring, I played in the Pasadena Old Boys vs B squad game. In August, I joined the Huntington Beach old boys and played at Sharkaplooza-where I was able to run into AB, a player I knew from my time with Metropolis RFC back in Minnesota. Tomorrow, I will play with the Huntington Beach old boys again in a match down in Temecula, California-my first time there. After not playing at all last year, it's great that my knees are feeling well enough for me to play-Losing 20 pounds since January, has not hurt either. (No diet, just eating more clean-more whole foods and vegetables)

Back in March, my wife and my partner in Rugby travel crime, Tom Daniels, went to Vancouver for the Vancouver sevens. had done the Vegas sevens 3 times in the previous 5 years, and although we have a good time in Las Vegas, I felt that it would be nice to check out a new place. Vancouver is probably the most beautiful city in North America(Sorry San Francisco). The people there are very friendly, lots of great  food(particularly sea food, Chinese food and Poutine-French Fries with Cheese curds and beef gravy) The rugby matches were at the BC Place, a covered stadium, which is good, because it rains-a lot- in Vancouver. I would strongly recommend going to Vancouver, either as a tourist, or to catch the HSBC Sevens tour stop there in 2018.

In June, my wife, Tom and I went down to San Diego to catch the USA -Canada Rugby World Cup Qualifier. a draw in Canada in the first game, all the Yanks had to do was was to win in Sunny San Diego. An emphatic 52-16 win over the Canucks not only punched the Yanks ticket for Japan 2019, it is the first time the USA had ever qualified in the America 1 slot. Well, the good news is that the USA qualified, but in doing so, the Eagles landed in what is pretty much The Group of Death in Japan: England, Argentina, France and Tonga. In my lifetime, it is probably the best game that I have seen a USA men's team play internationally. The second half was really a sight to behold in front of 5,000+ fans at the University of San Diego's Torero Stadium. (Would like to see the USA play there more often-it's a nice stadium, beautiful surroundings, and San Diego has several craft breweries!)

After going to Rugby World Cups in 2007, 2011 and 2015, we naturally are planning on going to Japan in 2019 have already starting saving our money, for what will surely be an expensive-but rewarding trip. One of the other things I want to do while in Japan, besides watch rugby, is to go to the city of Niigata, in the northern part of Honshu, where my son Ian stayed for a year with the Hara family as an AFS exchange student. It will mean a lot to me if I can meet the family who took my son in for the year, and also played a big part in his maturation process. I sent a 15 year old kid to Japan, and got a 16 year old young man when he came back. He had changed so much during his time in Japan, that I actually walked right past him in the airport.

My wife and I ended up buying a house and moving to Pacoima, in the northern part of the San Fernando valley.

Hopefully, I can blog with more regularity moving forward, and sorry it has been such a long time between posts. Last year was a tough year for me, but I'm doing better now. In the words of Monty Python, I'm not dead yet...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Spare a Thought and Prayer for our Kiwi Rugby Friends....

Wellington, the Kiwi Capital suffered damage in the last quake
Back in 2011, my wife and I were fortunate enough to make it to New Zealand. I have been to some pretty amazing places, like France, Portugal, Scotland, Thailand and Australia, but I think New Zealand is the most beautiful country I have ever visited. My wife and I had the chance while we were in Nelson, on the South Island, to take a trip over to Able Tasman National Park. It was so beautiful, green, and lush with Turquoise half expected to see Adam and Eve stroll by you..
Flying low towards the South Island of New Zealand...breath taking

The thing when you are in a place that has mountains and great scenery-like New Zealand, Italy and where I live now in California- is that the beauty comes with a heavy duty price tag: Earthquakes. California has suffered from more than a couple of catastrophic earthquakes, and central Italy just got hit a few weeks ago. This past weekend, New Zealand got hit with a major 7.5 shaker that killed a couple of people, but also caused a great deal of damage to roads and infrastructure. Places where my wife and I had been on our trip, like Wellington, Lower Hutt, Nelson, and Picton all suffered damage from the earthquake and the multiple aftershocks.
Picton also suffered earthquake damage.

I mentioned briefly in my last posting on what a classy bunch of rugby fans Kiwis are-but to be honest with you, if you have ever had a chance to visit, or get to know Kiwis and Aussies, is that they are like a pack of golden retrievers. They are among the nicest people you will ever hope to meet. Thanks to being on the blogosphere, and my travels, I have been so lucky to befriend a great number of Kiwis. Right now after the quake, there are many people who have had their lives tipped upside down. With that in mind, spare thought, a prayer, or a dollar or two to the relief organization of your choice to help these amazing people out in their time of need.
Wishing the best to my Kiwi friends during this rough time....

Monday, November 7, 2016

Ireland Defeat the All Blacks in an Epic Match in Chicago 40-29

I always enjoy a trip to Chicago. I lived in the Chicago area from the time I was 10 until I was almost 15, and my wife, my kids and I lived in Chi-Town from 1992-1993. What's not to like? Deep dish pizza, Italian Roast Beef Sandwiches and the Chicago style hot dog.
The Chicago Deep Dish Pizza-a work of art!
Taking a picture with a green screen while wearing a green shirt-gives ghostly appearance.
Oh yeah, since AIG is based in Chicago and they give an awful lot of money to the New Zealand Rugby Union, it also means that Chicago has now hosted the All Blacks twice in the past couple of years. Two years ago, my buddy Tom Daniels and I were there to watch the All Blacks take on the USA Eagles which showed just how far behind the Kiwis we really are in rugby.
It was an Amazing atmosphere with the largest crowd to ever see a rugby match in the USA

Ireland was to put up a better match against the mighty men in Black, but not many people really gave the Irish much of a chance of actually beating the All Blacks. In 111 years of matches between these two nations, the Irish Men's top side had never beaten the All Blacks. I think most of us in the record breaking crowd of 64,000-the largest crowd to ever see a rugby match in the United States-really just wanted a competitive game. What we ended up witnessing was an epic piece of history as the Irish played an amazing first half of rugby. They controlled the ball, and took advantage of a 10 minute All Black sin bin to race off to a 25-8 half time lead. The Ireland forwards did an amazing job in the scrums, line outs and at the breakdown.
The Irish Forwards dominated in the Line outs, as well

Ireland would end up scoring the match clincher off this scrum deep in Kiwi territory
The crowd was buzzing at half time, but the Kiwis that were sitting near us were still pretty confident that the All Blacks had enough skill and power to over come the 17 point deficit.

In the second half, the All Blacks attacked the Irish with all they had-when they had the score to within 4 points, more than a few green clad fans thought that Irish hearts would be disappointed again. The Irish kept their composure and were able add a late try and then to hold on for a 40-29 win-their first ever-against the All Blacks. It's not often where the Kiwis get defeated in a match where they score 4 tries, but that was the case in this emotional match.

Even at the beginning, when the All Blacks did their Haka, the Irish formed themselves in a number 8 to pay homage to former Munster and Ireland great Anthony Foley, who recently passed away at the tender age of 42.  He wore the Munster jersey 200 times and was capped 62 times for Ireland.With all of the Munster players in the Irish line up, and what a respected player he was for Ireland, It was a very touching stand by the Irish as they faced the Haka.

The only thing that made witnessing this epic match even better, was that I was able to share this experience with my wife, my son Ian, my daughter Rachel, my friend Tom Daniels and my Grandson Duncan. He's only 8 years old, and I don't know how much of this game he will remember, but I know it will always stick with me.
My wife, my grandson, me, my son, my daughter and Tom fuel up before the game in Chicago
With my Grandson Duncan

With all of the fan support that came from all over the USA and all over the World, it just made for an unbelievable atmosphere. Of note, to show you how Rugby fans are just a cut above the rest, I had at least 8-9 All Black fans on Saturday walk up, shake my hand and say good game when they say me clad in my Ireland Jumper.(Scots-Irish DNA-along with some German and Swedish) It's hard to imagine any other sport or any other group of fans who would show as much class as the All Black fans, who did not whine or make excuses about missing players or calls made by the French Ref. This is what makes rugby so great.

Getting photo bombed by Tom-but the 40-29 score line is  no joke.
The Re-match in two weeks in Dublin should be very interesting, to say the least.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Countdown is on for New Zealand-Ireland in Chicago on November 5th

Plane tickets to Chicago: Check. Air BNB Lodging in Chicago: Check. Match tickets for the All Blacks taking on Ireland in Soldiers Field for me, my wife, my kids, my grandson and my buddy Tom Daniels. Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, and Check.
World Series back to Wrigley Field for the first time since 1945...

We have picked an interesting time to go to Chicago next week. For starters, the Chicago Cubs have made it to their first World Series in 71 years with a chance to win it for the first time since 1908.  Game 7 of the World Series-if it gets that far-would be on November second.  Either Chicago is going to be having a massive party, or the world's biggest Irish wake.

The name of the game on this trip will be rugby. The USA Eagles will take on the New Zealand Maori on Friday night as an appetizer, with the All Blacks taking on Ireland on Saturday afternoon from Soldiers Field.
The Silver fern is becoming as well known in the USA as it's Native New Zealand...

The All Blacks, the defending Rugby World Cup champs have been on a bit of a roll: 18 straight international wins and total dominance in the Rugby Championship, with 6 straight bonus point beat downs on South Africa, Argentina and Australia. With the November internationals starting up for teams from northern and southern hemisphere alike, more than a few people are wondering if the plucky Irish-who had a so-so Six Nations back in the early part of the year-will be nothing more than a green clad speed bump for the Men in Black.
Ireland may need some help from a higher place against the mighty All Blacks

It will be quite the spectacle, with Chicago having many people of Irish origin living in the City of Big Shoulders, and with the All Blacks looking to draw in Kiwis from all over the planet to converge on Chicago, just as so many did for the USA-All Blacks game at the same venue back in 2014. (Where the USA Eagles were on the receiving end of a thorough beat-down)
November, 2014 Soldiers Field. There will be a lot of Green and Black in Chicago next week...

Still, with a top flight international match being played in the USA and NBC Sports Channel showing the Top Flight of English Rugby on weekends, these are pretty heady times to be a rugby fan in the USA.

Very much looking forward to some rugby, deep dish pizza...and a Pint or two with my family and my very good friend.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Knee Surgery-Getting Old is NOT for Sissies.

2016 has proven to be a very frustrating year in terms of my health. I had knee surgery for a torn Meniscus on my right knee back in April. I missed 6 weeks of work and it really put my fitness behind the 8 ball, as it made aerobic work difficult, to say the least. The original injury was from warming up before a Metropolis RFC rugby practice about 9 years ago, when I stepped into a hole while doing some warm up laps. I lived with it for a long time, and finally decided to get the knee worked on, as it was starting to catch on me.
As Harrison Ford said, "It's not the years-it's the mileage"

Well, I had so much fun getting meniscus repair on my right knee, I somehow managed to tear my meniscus and some cartilage on my good, or LEFT knee. I did it while I was recovering from the first knee surgery. It made for a crappy summer and put a major crimp in my training. The knee discomfort forced me to miss Sharkapalooza in New Port Beach, which a a super fun old boys tournament down in Newport Beach, California every August. I have played there with Pasadena RFC and with Huntington Beach. 

Not being able to play any old Boys rugby has been very depressing, to say the least. The knee discomfort has made me feel every one of my 55 (soon to be 56) years. 

Difficulty doing leg training has also made it hard to train for over 50 highland games events. I had to  bow out of throwing in this past weekend's Seaside Highland Games in Ventura, California. I had a really good time competing there back two years ago.
This picture of me wiping out in the hammer throw two years ago sums up my 2016.

I had my left knee meniscus repair a little over two weeks ago, and I am just hoping that I can get back into the swing of things and do a couple of the things that I really enjoy-the camaraderie in rugby and Highland Games sport is pretty hard to beat.'s nice to have a carrot on the stick for me to give me a good reason to keep going to the gym. I have been able to do upper body training, but if you are going to play prop or throw heavy objects, you gotta have a good base to work with, so I am hoping I can get my legs doing better to get back to doing what I love. 

Indeed, Old age is NOT for sissies...