Friday, August 29, 2008

I Was At Invesco Field

Here's the proof. All pictures taken at Invesco Field, Denver, Colorado, on August 28, 2008

Sheryl Crow

Barack accepts the nomination

Fireworks and confetti

Convention Withdrawal

I need a day to decompress. I took quite a few pictures last night from the field at Invesco Field, where I sat with the Massachusetts delegation. I will post them throughout the weekend.
My seat was good enough last night that I felt bad every time I stood up, because I was blocking the view of my Governor, Deval Patrick, who was sitting five rows directly behind me. I sat one row behind the Dukakis family (including the former Governor).
As a grand finale, I managed to grab the Massachusetts sign that marked the delegation's position on the field at Invesco.

With Mass. Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh
Coors Field, Denver, Colorado
Early Morning, August 29, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Images from the Democratic National Convention

As promised. These are not in chronological order, but I took them all yesterday.
Looking at the "CNN Grill" outside the Pepsi Center on August 28.

Nikko and I with Massachusetts Lt. Governor Tim Murray on August 28.

No caption necessary (We were on the way to the delegate party on August 28).

Outside the Pepsi Center on August 28.

At the Hillary event on August 27. The hand with the credential is Nikko. She ultimately got her credential signed.

More Denver History (scenes from the DNC)

Pepsi Center
Denver, Colorado
August 28, 2008

"Celebrity" is a relative term. At the Democratic National Convention this week, I have seen many people I would call celebrities. Yesterday, I talked across the rope line with Terry McAuliffe. I thanked him for what he has done for the party and asked him to "keep up the fight."

Terry McAuliffe is a party celebrity. He's the former party chairman, and he was a key advisor to Senator Hillary's campaign. I find him to be measured and fair (also a relative term in politics). He was interviewed numerous times during the Obama-Clinton ongoing battle. Yet when I first spotted him at the event (a rally for Hillary delegates), no one around me knew who he was. I couldn't believe it. Contrast that to this morning, when I was told that Jennifer Hudson was performing tonight as part of the program leading up to Senator Obama's acceptance speech. I have no idea who she is.

Given that my roommate is a Hillary delegate, I have been spending a lot of time with the Hillary delegation. The general sense is one of Unity. All are still hurt by the fact that their candidate lost, but they all understand that it's time to support Barack Obama. The hottest button here is one that reads "Hillary supporter for Barack." That is a nice summary of the mood. I have not met a single Hillary delegate who does not intend to vote for Obama.

Yesterday, I attended the Hillary event, and then was able to secure a credential for the Pepsi Center and the evening program. My seat was a tad better than the night before (as you can tell from the pictures). Nikko let me go down into the Massachusetts delegation area for a bit to look around (that's where I took the picture above).

Bill Clinton's speech was, as one would expect, perfect, but Senator Kerry was the surprise of the night. His speech was funny and was on message in terms of countering John McCain.

Rumors abound about who is performing ahead of tonight's speech. I had heard The Boss (Bruce Springfield), but apparently he is in Boston right now moving his son into college. Bon Jovi? Sheryl Crow? We're only hours away. Even I recognize those names are, in fact, celebrities.

More photos coming soon...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Other Scenes from Denver

Outside the Pepsi Center on August 26.
Nikko and I on 16th Street in Denver, after Hillary's speech.

Nikko casting her delegate vote for Hillary Clinton on August 27, 2008.

Just an Ordinary Night in Denver

Pepsi Arena
Denver, Colorado
August 26, 2008

An amazing first day for me at the Democratic National Convention. I arrived in Denver and checked into my hotel room, and then proceeded to the Pepsi center for the Tuesday night festivities. I was excited to attend Tuesday. Senator Clinton's speech in my mind was one of the most important points of the convention.

A shuttle bus takes attendees from our hotel to the Pepsi Center, and I met a great person on the bus named Oscar. A delegate from Greenfield, Oscar has been volunteering for the last several weeks in New Hampshire for Barack Obama. He loves being active, and being involved in politics. We shared our experiences, and noted how while both like civic service, sometimes politics can be frustrating.

The events at the Pepsi Center were incredible. I had a nice seat up in the balcony, with a bird's eye view of the proceedings. Hillary's address was on the money, and the crowd was warmed by the Governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer. Behind Hillary, Schweitzer's speech was the best of the night. From my seat, I could see Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and Bill Clinton.

This morning, I picked up my credential for tomorrow night's acceptance speech by Barack Obama. I attended a breakfast of the Massachusetts delegation at our hotel. Congressman Barney Frank ran the agenda, with speeches by the House Whip, Jim Clyburn, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (The Massachusetts and Maryland delegations are sharing this hotel). I ran into Governor Deval Patrick and Suffolk County Sherriff Andrea Cabral, as well as my City Councilor Mike Ross.

The Massachusetts delegation cast its votes this morning, too. My good friend Nikko Mendoza, a Massachusetts delegate, cast her vote for Hillary.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Denver Here I Come

For the next few days, I am visiting the Democratic National Convention in Denver. I woke this morning to front-page stories about Michelle Obama and Ted Kennedy speaking last night at the Pepsi Center, speeches I heard on TV.

I thought the speeches were pretty good, but unfortunately, CNN did not. They quickly proclaimed that the Democrats "wasted" day one of the convention and did not focus enough on making a contrast between Senator John McCain and Senator Obama. This follows Sunday night, when CNN led off its convention coverage by highlighting the discord between the Obama and Clinton camps. It appears the McCain spin machine, which according to the New York Times has already introduced three ads since Saturday morning, has gotten to the CNN political team.

As for me, I am sitting at JFK airport, waiting for a noontime flight to Denver. It's a pretty busy day here at JFK. JetBlue is apparently building a new terminal, and my Boston inbound flight ultimately parked at a a retrofitted temporary terminal.

My seatmate on the way to New York was coming here for work. He mentioned Senator Kennedy's speech last night, noting that while he doesn't agree with Kennedy's politics, he can't help but admire him.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Bonnie Levanto (holding Frank)
Point O' Woods
South Lyme, Conn.
August 23, 2008

My mother turned 60 today. My brother Brett flew into Boston last night, and we drove to Connecticut to the beach cottage this morning for a family party.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Final Trip To Yankee Stadium

This past Saturday, I said goodbye to Yankee Stadium. I made one final trip there with my brother Mark and my nephews Jack and Frank. We watched nine innings of the Yankees eventual win over the Kansas City Royals (the Yankees needed 13 innings to earn the win).

The Yankees are building a new stadium which opens ahead of next season.

It was fitting that my brother Mark was with me, since he's the reason I am a Yankees fan. He remembers the great teams of the late 1970s, I remember the tough "Mattingly" years. Having watched quite a few Yankees games this year via a special Comcast package (InDemand) available in Boston, it was fitting that the game itself exemplified the Yankees season. The big bombers, A-Rod and others, did little; the Yankees twice left the bases loaded, and at least once had them loaded with no one out and failed to score. It took a base hit with barely anyone left in the stadium by a player who makes comparatively nothing (Brett Gardner) to win the game.

It's sad that the Yankees are building a new stadium. But the trip was a lot of fun. We toured through Monument Park. While there, Jack was able to get a real baseball; a Yankee batter during practice hit one onto the screen that protects Monument Park, and the usher gave the ball to him. I was amazed at how small Monument Park is. It looks a lot bigger on TV.

Mark, Jack and Frank (in Mark's arms) at Monument Park
Yankee Stadium
August 16, 2008

Jack also told me he had the best hot dog ever at the stadium. Granted, I have yet to buy him a Fenway Frank. Maybe next year.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Welcome Red Sox Fans

While everyone is watching the Olympics, my Yankees are falling apart. Opposite synchronized men's diving on NBC, the Yanks have fallen behind the Twins 2-0 in Minnesota.

If you had told me when we started this baseball season that any of the below would be true, I would have called you nutz:

o Joba Chamberlain will become a starter, then get hurt.
o Injuries would sideline Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui,
o Neither Phil Hughes nor Ian Kennedy would earn a win,
o The Yanks are *excited* about Carl Pavano potentially being back in the rotation, and
o The Devil Rays would lead the American League East.

It turns out, all of the above is accurate.

Why should Red Sox fans care? Well, the Yankees are playing the Twins, who are only 1.5 games behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card race. The Yanks winning actually helps the Red Sox chances, since the hometown team is not exactly tearing things up right now.

Red Sox fans, if you'd like to borrow a Yankees hat, drop me a line.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Best Badminton Announcers in the World

It's 7:38 on Saturday morning in Boston and I am watching badminton on TV. It's the first time I have ever watched badminton. What I love about the Olympics is it gives you an excuse to watch sports that you never even knew were really competitive. It's fun, especially when the Americans compete.

I am listening to the announcers. They are really into it. I guess the most common thing to say in badminton commentating is "it's on the floor." That means the shot was in fair play and counts as a point.

I wonder: Are these the best badminton announcers in the world? Why wouldn't they be. I mean, this is the Olympics. How does one become a world-class badminton announcer? Are there badminton announcer scouts? NBC must have to sign contracts with these announcers, obviously.

One of the announcers just said that the player from Ireland currently competing is something like the 47th ranked badminton player in the world. I took a step back. To say that means there is some sort of international badminton ranking committee. Which means there have to be a lot of people who follow all the random players from different countries. Do you think they have some sort of BCS-style ranking system (using different computer models) for badminton?

I wonder, what do the best announcers of badminton in the world do when they are not announcing Olympic matches?

Well, it turns out there are several international organizations that coordinate badminton. There's even a European championship. More importantly, there is an association in the United States, and if I want to play, I can go to a gym at MIT and pick up a match. I notice the marketing on the U.S. site is pretty advanced, they lead the web page by saying "Badminton - The world's fastest racquet sport." How about that.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Travel, Travel, Travel

When I was a kid, my dad traveled all around the world for Pratt & Whitney. Many times a friend would stop me in school and ask, "Where's your dad today?" and I frankly would not know. "Somewhere in Africa, I think," would be my response. He's been to Moscow (one trip I took with him), South Africa, Zimbabwe, Japan, China, and all throughout Europe.

Often, people would marvel at his opportunity. They would express envy at the fact he got to go to all these cool places and see very neat sights. "You don't understand," would be his reply. "All I see is a hotel room."

I have been traveling quite a bit this year, and I can relate to my dad. Yesterday, I got back from a two-day trip to San Francisco for work. San Francisco is a great city; one of my favorites. But I didn't get to see it. When you travel for work, you really don't sight see. Walking to my company's west coast office early Friday morning, I forced myself to stop in Union Square for a minute or two just to look around.

Here's what I saw for the majority of my trip:

July 31, 2008
Jetblue Flight 475 (Boston to Oakland)

August 1, 2008
San Francisco office desk (595 Market Street)

The two images above pretty much summarize my trip. (I probably should also include a picture of the inside of a taxicab.) I will say that this time, one of my west coast co-workers invited me to his house ahead of my redeye flight back to Boston and we had some BBQ outside, which was nice. But there is no touring or visiting of wine country on my trips west.

By the way, Jetblue told the passengers on the way back from Oakland that they are about to charge for pillows and blankets on its flights. Thankfully, the airline has not started charging for the first bagged checked (though I am sure that will change eventually).