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NBA has no end in sight…but College Basketball is already here!

In the hopes of seeing a light at the end of a long tunnel, players rejected the latest deal, and will file anti-trust action against the NBA. No end in sight. Slight chance possible for decertification… Unfortunate but needs to have both parties on an even keel. Players and owners still negotiating and if there is any hope for a season,it won’t be in 2011.
With that said…Plenty to be seen in Washington, DC…College Hoops is back in full force in the DMV for any basketball fans. Terps, Hoyas, Colonials, Patriots, Hoo’s, Hokies, Tigers, The Bison, Eagles, Retrievers, Midshipmen, Rams, Mountaineers, The Tribe, Monarchs, Greyhounds, and Spiders. Take your pick!

La Russa Goes Out On Top

Three-time World Series champion manager Tony La Russa announced that he’s retiring this morning after the Cardinals beat the Rangers in the 2011 World Series. 

 

How much does St. Louis owe Albert? How much does Albert owe St. Louis? Your thoughts?

Eurotrip Part I: Preparation!

Jet lag is no joke, but was it worth it? Absolutely! I’m back in the States after my Eurotrip and what a trip it was. Of course watching the movie before going was in order, and the tune of “Scotty Doesn’t Know” was in my head for at least three days straight. It’s hard to prepare for your first time in a different country. You read articles, see pictures, and get those translators ready, but you aren’t actually prepared until you get there. The British Pound and the Euro cost more than a US dollar so prepare for things to be expensive over there.

As of August, 2011, the euro dollar (€) exchange rate is 0.349% higher with 1 EUR = 1.3512 USD. The euro pound (£) exchange rate is 0.168% higher with 1 EUR = 0.8688 GBP

On my 10-day trip we went to London, Brussels, and Amsterdam. I figured I’d be okay in England, but in Belgium and Netherlands there is a mixture of French, Dutch, German and a few other languages… You get to understand the gist of things pretty quickly though and after a day, you’re pretty much set as long as you have a map of the city.

Planning ahead, I must have googled about 50 different world travel voltage converters, each with four to six different prongs to use in different countries. I at first had to question, what could I bring that would actually work? I had read horror reviews about people bringing their laptops, hair dryers, straighteners and other electronics on trips overseas without the proper converters and them exploding and shorting out. Naturally, I didn’t want this to happen, so I did some research. I found the same converters from prices that ranged from 99¢ on Ebay to $40.00 at Sharper Image, I also found these large 30lbs generators that you could use that just had a two prong US plug which was close to $200 bucks and weighed a ton. Who would ever pack that in your luggage? No, Thanks. Luckily, for me, I was staying in hotels and not hostels, so bringing a hair dryer wasn’t an issue. Both places that we stayed at were equipped with hair dryers in the room. Problem one solved. At this point I was going to forgo bringing the straightener altogether as London has its reputation of raining and straightening my hair would have been pointless. In addition, the forecasts looked a little bleak and rainy in both Belgium and the Netherlands.

The second problem was bringing my laptop. I debated even bringing it, but I knew I wanted to offload pictures from my camera and be able to mildly check email if at all possible. Since I wouldn’t be able to use my phone over there (which by the way, was really nice…) I wanted to be able to check in with friends and family. I did enable and use Wifi only over there (which I will probably dedicate an entire blog post about after the Eurotrip series to prevent ridiculous roaming fees and still check email, etc.) My Macbook Pro is heavier than I wanted to deal with but I’m glad I brought it. Definitely getting an upgrade next year when I graduate, I’ve had the bulky thing since 2008! So I have the laptop, I figured out which charger to get…the Targus World Power Travel Adapter. It worked perfectly in all of the places we went, reasonably priced and compact so if you were backpacking it could easily fit in your bag. One thing to remember, as I sort of forgot, I had a few things to charge over there, might want to think about getting two of them since the charging takes a little longer to complete than it does here in the States.

Once the packing was more or less complete, I compiled all of my cords and electronics together and figured out what I needed to bring regarding camera chargers, etc. I just so happened to have looked at my mini straightener that I had in the box with the rest of my cords. This thing has been a lifesaver during football and basketball season, especially going to and from stadiums and arenas with just a small bag. It is a lifesaver for anyone working or on the go for long hours. Just for fun I looked up the specs to see if it was even possible to bring it with me. Hey, it said “travel”, right? Turns out, it is a dual voltage straightener, meaning that it designed to operate on voltage anywhere between 110 and 240 volts without damage. The one I have is automatic, so there was no switch to set it, just an on and off and it gets pretty hot, about 400ºF. The BaByliss Pro costs around $20 bucks, highly recommend.

The majority of responses upon returning home was “how was it?” Hard to sum it all up in one or two sentences so I figured blog posts were in order.

I wore sneakers for most of the trip, definitely necessary, I didn’t see many that wore flip flops during the day as you do a LOT of walking, and then again going during September over there it gets pretty chilly so sneakers worked best. Also, definitely check the weather, I’m glad I brought my North Face jacket with me and I had a couple thin scarves and it was fine. It wasn’t cold enough for gloves or anything super heavy but at night the temperature got down to the low 50s.

Next stop, London, Baby! (Total Friends reference, and I said this often…maybe a little too often!) We took the red eye flight, which ended up getting delayed because of the storms in DC, I attempted to sleep, but only got about an hours worth. Not sure if it was the comfortability factor, the excitement or what, but the flight itself was fine, big plane, and sitting in Economy Plus for an International flight was worth the extra dough. You get about 4 extra inches of legroom, even on the flight back from Amsterdam we had outlets in our row…pretty nice deal. My experiences flying was great thanks to United/Continental, my bag was a couple pounds overweight both coming and going but they didn’t end up charging me for it, I also got the free upgrade for Economy Plus on the trip there which was awesome.

We arrived in London mid-morning and Heathrow Airport was amazing. Huge, bright, and awesome, and with over 63 million passengers a year, it was indeed impressive. Currency exchange kiosks everywhere and there were large directional yellow with black signs telling you where to go. From a design perspective, it is the best combination of colors to use that can be read clearly and stand out. Now we know why road signs in the US are black and yellow. (Also explains why Ben Roethlisberger’s neck is so big in Steelers jerseys…)  The bathrooms had this little green running man with arrows pointing to where they were above them, it became an ongoing joke throughout the trip and of course we had to take pictures mocking the signs one night.

Check back for Part 2: Exploring brilliant London! Stay tuned, as the Eurotrip experience will be over a series of posts. I took over 2,000 pictures during the trip (again, are we surprised?)

Reality Check

It is really true when people tell you, “when one door closes, another opens”. In fact this quote has been modified time and time again to motivate, inspire, or just tell you to keep your head up.

“When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” —  Alexander Graham Bell

Sometimes…okay, most of the time, situations do not go in your favor, and you can either let it affect you, or do something about it to make YOUR situation better. Sometimes you just need to think of YOU.

The month of August was a stressful one. My international business and operational management classes really broadened my horizons for how naïve I am about the world outside of the U.S. I have always told myself that one of these days I will be throwing on a backpack (or rolling a suitcase) throughout Europe, seeing the sights and embracing different cultures. I’m not there yet, but one day, I know it will happen. Most of you don’t know that I was very close to going to grad school in London, England, but the timing just wasn’t right for me to leave. I’ll have my MBA come January and deciding to stick around was for the best and given me other chances to experience things I might not have been able to if I had chosen to study abroad. Sure it bummed me out at first, but I looked for the silver lining, and found it.  It allowed me to work some of the most amazing sporting events and meet some awesome people. It is not often people see me NOT happy because at the end of the day, there is always someone who has it worse…

Who said real life decisions can’t be funny? With that being said…the ups and downs of the past few months have given me the opportunity to travel up and down the east coast during the month of August and…well, starting tonight, I’m EUROPE bound!! I am beyond excited and definitely plan on documenting everything (no surprise there) in pictures.

I’m one to be very organized, make plans months in advance, and to have specific itineraries on what to do or where to go. But sometimes I can throw my stuff in a bag and just go somewhere for three or four days. When I went to Florida last month, I booked the flight on a Tuesday and was there that Saturday, and it was a great trip and much needed break. Toes in the sand and watching the waves of the ocean are nothing short of amazing.

Opportunities come and go but sometimes we need that extra push (or in some cases, shove) to force us into actually doing something about it. It could be a huge intervention, or small enough to seem insignificant, but this reality check is associated with school, work, life, anything. Pick something. It often includes having someone strong enough in your life that will be there to motivate you, but it doesn’t have to be a parental figure or family member, sometimes it is helpful even if it is some random person you talk to on occasion via Twitter.

I often feel like a cheerleader with my friends and I fully take on that role. I feed off the positive energy of others, but shouldn’t we all? This past Labor Day weekend I got to spend in NYC for my best friend’s birthday. Since she was coming from California, I decided to take off work for the weekend and spend it with her and our friends, first time in six years I was able to celebrate it! So. Much. Fun. My mood changed. It’s like with sports… when a team loses, specifically your team, you feel it and often it affects how you treat others around you. When your team wins, there’s no greater feeling of sharing that with everyone you know. (Go Vols, Go Skins!)

Remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books? They were the best because the choices that are made are ultimately up to us, so why can’t the same apply to us in real life? Well, the opportunity presented itself and so I’m headed to London, Brussels and Amsterdam for 10 days! I’m beyond excited to explore but even more excited to get back to share my experiences and see what new opportunities there are in store for me in the next few months!  Be prepared for my return…I’m ready to shake things up!

Time out! Break in the Action!

Going to try this thing out…and see how long I can stand it…Hopefully this will turn into something really fun. I think I got the name right, focusing mainly on sports and throwing in a little movie/tv trivia (or useless information, that only I seem to know), perhaps a little fashion, musings from life as an MBA and Marketing grad student, and yes, even a little Glee.

… Stay tuned.