Saturday, January 31, 2015

Weekend Links

Deal with Hershey's Puts an End to Import of Cadbury Chocolates (I love Yorkies, Dairy Milk, and pretty much all their other chocolates. It's much better tasting than Hershey's. This makes me so sad! Guess we will need to go to England and get some!!)

Humor, Mostly Sports Related
Colts Mascot Beats Up Patriots Mascot with Inflatable Chair (The reaction to this in Indy seems to be one of appreciation. There are a couple good inflation/deflation comments in this article too.)

This Guy's Pet Rabbit Brings Him Beer on a Tiny Cart (I'm kind of allergic to rabbits but I wouldn't be opposed to one bringing me a beer on a tiny cart)

NFL 2015 - A Bad Lip Reading (You've probably seen this already but it's still worth posting. I'm not a plant.)

Drew Brees, #Deflategate Expert (via Eric) (Brees with Conan; it is very funny)

How to Tell When a Robot Has Written You a Letter (via Kottke)

The Queen of Code (also via Eric) (A short, well-done video on Grace Hopper from ESPN Films)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Naples, FL: Staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples Golf

Earlier this month I had the good fortune to go to Florida with my dad on a business trip. We used to go to Naples all the time when I was a kid (spring break, winter break, etc) but stopped going when my brother and I were in middle school. I have some really great memories of Naples, so when my dad asked if I wanted to come along, I said sure!

Since it was a business trip, we traveled a little bit differently than normal :) (i.e., this was the first time in my life I've ever been inside a Ritz, let alone staying in one). And since I am a photo glutton, I took a lot of pictures.

Along with everyone else on the business trip, we were staying at the Naples Golf resort, while the conference they all were attending was at the Naples Beach resort (post for that coming soon!). The Golf resort is about 3-4 miles north east of the beach, and has its own golf course, which is pretty much the only thing to do there. There was a nice pool, a hot tub, tennis courts, fitness center (where they also give massages and facials), and a few restaurants. 

This Lambo in front of the hotel was for sale at a charity auction. It made for a nice decoration by the fountain in the meantime.

The back of the Ritz looks out onto the golf course. It's a very nice course, from what I understand (I have never been golfing in my life either), and Dad and I ran through it each morning as the sun came up. It was very flat; I'm not sure why I was so surprised (Florida in general is very flat!), but at this point I am used to the hills of Bloomington so not having any on the run felt strange.

Inside, the lobby area looks like a nicer version of other hotels. There was a bar and area to view the golf course. Several nights there was a (very good) jazz band playing when we got in. I'm particularly fond of live music (especially jazz, swing, that sort of thing) while sipping some libation, and we relaxed that exact way two nights on this trip.

Hard to see, but these are the jazz musicians one night

We also spent some time at the Golf's pool. The Golf resort has one pool with tons of seating, a restaurant you can order from via pool concierge and will deliver to you poolside, and a water station (flavors of the day - fresh fruit infused in the water - included lemon lime, strawberry kiwi, and orange). A pool concierge will set up chairs for you with chair covers and towels (and an umbrella if you want one - Dad and I don't do anything to us that'll block the sun though).

We had a couple of days of cloudiness before the sun came, and these pictures were taken over the course of the trip, which is why the lighting and sky are changing.

Here's what our room looked like on the inside. The entire world (it seemed) was at a conference in Naples this week and the whole hotel was full, so we had a king-sized bed, a chair, a desk, a closet, and a dresser. The room was a lot smaller than I expected (considering how much it costs). We did have a balcony that looked out onto the golf course, which turned out to be really nice in the mornings and evenings.

That box holds a coffee machine and coffee/tea/etc

The bathroom was pretty awesome. I have a thing for nice bathrooms (I always want to feel like I'm at the spa when in a bathroom). There was a ton of marble, double sinks, a walk in shower with great water pressure, and a bathtub that I never got to use (and am still kind of sad about). There were plush robes provided as well as nice towels.

The view from our balcony at night was of one of the hotel restaurants.

At night the whole outdoors lit up. I love white lights like these and they look especially classy on palm trees.

And this was the view from our balcony in the morning:

Overall, very nice, although I don't think I'd stay there again (so expensive but nothing's included! even wi-fi was extra per day, which seems ridiculous). However, it was still really fun to check it out and stay in a Ritz for once :)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bloomington, IN: Cincinnati Reds Caravan - Western Tour Stop

The Reds Caravan once again popped by Bloomington (we went to last year's event too) and Eric and I went over to the mall to meet speedster Billy Hamilton, prospect Jesse Winker, announcers Jim Kelch and Jeff Brantley, and World Series-team member Glenn Braggs.

I did another write-up for my favorite Reds blog, Redleg Nation, and you can read about it over there or scroll to the bottom of this post to read it. (I've attached it here because last year's post on RLN is gone now.) I've included a lot more pictures over here!

We had another good time. If you're a Reds fan near Bloomington, it's a fun event to check out while we count down the days to Opening Day!

Article for Redleg Nation (thanks, Steve!):

Reds Caravan Event: Bloomington

[This post was filed by Maria Schwartzman, who attended the Western Tour Reds Caravan event in Bloomington, IN. Thanks, Maria!]
A few hundred people showed up to College Mall in Bloomington, IN, this morning to welcome the Reds to town. Bloomington is about 3 hours away from Cincinnati, with a large contingent of Reds fans in the basketball-crazy college town. The crowd felt quite a bit larger than last year’s (when we had some snow) and we waited a little over an hour in line to see the guys – Billy Hamilton, Jesse Winker, Jim Kelch, Jeff Brantley, and Glenn Braggs.
Jim seemed to hurry us through the Q & A section after making all of his announcements. Last year it felt like we had a much longer amount of time to ask questions before getting autographs; I’d be curious to know if he hurried the other stops on the West tour as well, or if he felt like there were so many people here that he had to hurry up so that everyone could get through the line before the tour had to leave for Indianapolis, where they were due at 3pm.
We did get some great responses to the general group questions, though. Asked to Glenn Braggs, “Did Randy Myers ever buy you a steak dinner for catching the ball against the wall?”, he replied that he didn’t think he ever got that steak dinner, but Randy said he threw that pitch so Glenn could become famous. A little kid asked Billy Hamilton why he wore the number 6. Billy replied that it was the only single digit the Reds had, and wearing too many numbers on your back slows you down.
get-attachmentMy fiance Eric and I also asked questions to each guy on stage as we got their autographs. I asked both Jim Kelch and Jeff Brantley if they had any tips on how to keep from getting a sore throat while talking so much (I’m a teacher and this is a problem for me), but neither of them did. I also asked Jesse Winker if he would show up Marlon Byrd during Spring Training, to which he laughed and replied that was his intention. Eric asked Billy if he always has a green light to steal – the answer is yes! – which makes us happy. We told him we really enjoy watching him play. Finally, we asked Glenn Braggs if it hurt when he broke the bat on his back. He said no, that he only knew it had happened because he heard it break and then saw that most of his bat was missing. He told us he had done the same thing 3 times with the Brewers and 3 times with the Reds. All the guys were very nice and friendly, and we thanked each of them for doing the Caravan.
Before waiting in line, we went to check out all the goodies you can buy (Hall of Fame-opoly, posters) and take (schedules, tourism info, stickers) from the Reds Hall of Fame booth. There was a large picture of Tony Perez swinging, and one of the staff, Mark, told us they are putting in a Perez statue near the HoF this August. He also told us that they are hoping to follow the trajectory of the ball and have a large baseball statue embedded in a building across from the statue, like he hit the ball into the building! Hopefully that can actually happen. Mark also told us that there are fun little things like that all over the ballpark that a lot of people don’t realize (but they tell you about if you go visit the HoF), such as a tidbit about the Rose Garden: there is a large rose garden visible from the HoF that consists mostly of red roses, but there is one white rose that marks the exact spot where Pete Rose’s hit #4,192 landed at Riverfront Stadium.
Despite such a large crowd, we had another good time at this year’s Caravan. We picked up a matted version of Reds Hall of Fame poster (last year we just got the poster, and it’s a weird size that they don’t make frames for, so it’s just been stored away instead of hung up). Rosie the Red was at our stop and was a hit with both the kids and adults – much better than last year’s Gapper. We hope to see the Caravan come back to Bloomington next year.