Saturday, November 11, 2006

Click the photo for a slideshow.

This is Guoliang Tunnel, in the Taihang mountains in China. Pics are zooming around the internet claiming it's the Road of Death in Bolivia...but it's not. Here's the story:

"We chose the tunnel. Sitting by the elderly driver I was lucky to hear the story about the tunnel. Before 1972, the path chiseled into the rock used to be the only access linking the village with the outside world. Then the villagers decided to dig a tunnel through the rocky cliff.

Led by Shen Mingxin, head of the village, they sold goats and herbs to buy hammers and steel tools. Thirteen strong villagers began the project. It took them five years to finish the 1,200-metre-long tunnel which is about 5 meters high and 4 meters wide. Some of the villagers even gave their lives to it. On May 1, 1977, the tunnel was opened to traffic.

When I was mulling over what the tunnel looked like, the van started a very steep ascent. I looked up and could not move my eyes away - it was so beautiful! All of us were excited. We found ourselves in extremely gorgeous surroundings - against the blue sky, with a path frighteningly narrow, and the cliffs piercing the sky.

All of my fellow "donkeys" stopped talking; some were busy taking photos, some were just dumbfounded. The golden sun shone upon the ground and through the air vents in the rocky wall of the tunnel. We were sometimes in the dark and sometimes in the light. I was deeply moved and even wanted to cry, for the sacred Guoliang Tunnel and for what the villagers have done - to triumph over nature.

In about an hour, the small van slowly took us to the unsophisticated village surrounded by the towering mountains. The village, more than 1,200 meters above the sea level, seemed as if it had retreated from the world. Everything there was made of stone: the village gate, roads, bridges, houses, tables, stools, bowls and chop sticks. It is said the village originated from Guo Liang, a peasant army leader who used to fight there in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24).

There are currently about 83 households in the village with 329 people."

(from Tom's Jokes Collection)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Hallowe'en!

Pumpkins carved by my two-week-old son, Benjamin. OK, so he didn't really carve them, but the faces he's made over the past two weeks inspired the creations you see here :-)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Nicky Hayden wins MotoGP World Championship!

This past Sunday, Nicky Hayden became the first U.S. rider since 2000 to win the world MotoGP championships. It was probably the most exciting season ever, with the championship up for grabs between several riders on the very last race. The closest contender, Valentino Rossi, crashed a few laps into this race and never climbed back close enough to challenge.

The year was full of surprises and heartbreak--Rossi's bike blew up twice (once at Laguna Seca, right in front of us on the front straight, and once earlier in the year...on the last lap, while leading the race)...Nicky's teammate, Dani Pedrosa, crashed a couple of races ago, taking Nicky out of the race as well.

Congrats to the Kentucky Kid!

(The photo above is one I took at Laguna Seca after Nicky's win there this past July.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A bug in Google Earth

If you've been reading my blog, you're probably well aware that I'm a big fan of Google Earth...but even Google Earth has bugs sometimes. Like this one!

Apparently there is NOT a 50-yard long killer insect devouring the forests and fields of Germany, but rather some adventurous insect managed to crawl its way onto the glass plate used in the scanning process. Somebody at Google Earth has gone so far as to actually identify the's a thrips, very small bug at about 1mm long. Not a lot of people would have known that :-)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lost wedding ring video

Very funny commercial for an Australian brand of underwear!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Portland Voices for Darfur

My friend and executive coach, Vicky Trabosh, has done a ton of work in support of humanitarian causes in Africa--particularly in Rwanda through the organization Itafari. On Sunday Sept. 10th, Vicky was the emcee for a benefit called Portland Voices for Darfur.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Dance Lessons in the Cook Islands

My friend (and trusty customer service guru here at TheBigDay) Linda recently returned from the Cook Islands with her husband Karl. Apparently it was an educational trip for Karl, as evidenced by this video :-)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

2006 Rotary Club of Portland Road Rally

Here are my video highlights from this year's downtown Portland Rotary club Road Rally (click the image).

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Fourth of July fireworks

Here's a video clip from the 4th of July on Sauvie's Island, starring the neighbor's Fashion Wonder Dog, the Loch Ness Monster's stunt double (a nutria), a biplane, Paul the master oyster BBQ chef, wasp imprisonment techniques, some great fireworks, and a few fireworks *Whoops* incidents.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pamela Anderson's Big Days

Apparently Pam Anderson is planning to get married to Kid Rock several times this Yahoo News, Gina Serpe reported about 2 hours ago that Pam and Kid Rock are going to get married on a yacht in the French Riviera, in Detroit, and in Nashville. Pam was at the Laguna Seca racetrack this past weekend for the MotoGP races, and I got this pic of her.

Wayne Rainey

I got a chance to talk with 3-time 500GP World Champion Wayne Rainey at the Yamaha party at the Aquarium in Monterey last weekend. Despite being paralyzed from the waist down as a result of a crash at Misano, Italy, in 1993, Wayne has continued to be very active and influential in the world of motorsports. Wayne has been a huge help to my friend Gill Campbell (who manages Laguna Seca Raceway) in getting the MotoGP races to come to the U.S. last year and again this year; as well, he now races a hand-controlled kart in the World SuperKart series based in Northern California. Laguna Seca raceway has named a corner in his honor: the Rainey Curve is a medium-speed, acute left-hander that follows the famous Corkscrew.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

MotoGP races at Laguna Seca

I just returned from the MotoGP motorcycle races at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey. What a fantastic weekend! All sorts of celebrities were on hand, and my press credentials got me up close and personal with all sorts of racers and celebrities, including Fabio, Pam Anderson, and Mini Me. I chatted with Kevin Schwantz in the media tent, and talked with both Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey at the Yamaha party at the Aquarium on Friday night...and talked briefly with Ben Bostrom and Randy Mamola after Randy gave Ben a ride on the back of a Ducati Desmosedici...including 100mph+ wheelies (leaned over!) and a nice stoppie in front of the crowd on the front straight. My photos are here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Bomb Hunters: the film

My friend (and fellow member of the Portland Rotary Club) Kilong Ung helped put together a film called The Bomb Hunters about Cambodians disassembling unexploded bombs to sell the metal for scrap. What a scary way to make a living! He's interviewed in the film as well--Melinda and I saw it at a screening here in Portland a few months ago.

Forest Grove Concours D'Elegance

My friend Paul and I were judges at the 2006 Rotary Club Concours D'Elegance in Forest Grove last weekend, judging vintage motorcycles, scooters, and commercial vehicles. An amazing event--if you've never gone, you're really missing out. I took a few photos and uploaded them to this album.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Jungle Lobster Hut, Ocho Rios, Jamaica

I was emailing back and forth with a tour operator from Ocho Rios, Jamaica today, and was reminded of a funny experience I had while in Ocho Rios--about a place called "The Jungle Lobster Hut".

We'd read about it in a guidebook, which said it was a bit primitive, but said "The Rastafarians prepare seafood dishes that are absolutely dazzling." So with that comment, we HAD to go...

4 of us showed up there for dinner. It was primitive, with a roof and 2.5 walls, dirt floor, 2 picnic tables, and an open view out over a beautiful harbor. They brought out a galvanized bucket of Red Stripe in cold water, and asked us what we'd like for dinner.

Clearly, there wasn't going to be a printed menu anywhere. And the guy just stood there waiting for our answer...just as clearly, he wasn't going to tell us our options without prompting. So I asked, "well, what do you serve?"

He replies "Seafood."

After a few quiet moments, I asked "what kinds of seafood?"

He smiled broadly and said "Fish and lobstah."

I waited a couple more seconds, and with nothing more coming at me, I asked, "well, how do you prepare them?"

That was the magic question, I guess, because then he launched into about a ten minute description of all the ways they cooked the fish and prepared the lobster. We got very excited & hungry and each chose a way for our lobster to be prepared.

We happily went back to the view, our conversation, and our Red Stripe. Meanwhile, all sorts of banging and clattering and sizzling is going on in the kitchen area. For OVER AN HOUR. After which the guy comes back out to our table with three words for us:

"Got no lobstah."

So we ordered kingfish etc., and in about 15 minutes the food was there, and it was great. Apparently the guy had to walk a half-mile back up the road to a house where the seafood was kept in a refridgerator, so he didn't know he was out of lobster.

Unfortunately, the Jungle Lobster Hut is no longer in business...sure was a funny experience though!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Interesting display option in search results at

I spotted this feature today at if you hover over the little binoculars next to a search result, they pop up a snapshot of a page from the site.

At first glance, this looks cute but kinda useless :-) But actually, with the avalanche of what we call "scraper sites" (websites that copy content from legitimate websites in an attempt to get their pages high in the search results and make money off of pay-per-click ads), this allows you to quickly look at the pages in the results and see what looks real and what looks like a scraper.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Construction zone

They're tearing up the parking lot next to our offices at TheBigDay, and building a 500-car underground parking garage...then covering it with a new park. Sounds like a terrific idea--it'll take 18 months, though. Here's a short video clip of what it looks like today.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

My favorite haunts: Vino in Sellwood

I've been going to wine-tastings at Vino in Sellwood since soon after Bruce opened the shop. Great place, friendly and knowledgable staff, and Bruce does a super job of finding great wines for the money at both ends of the price spectrum. Bruce just got back from Europe, and there's some fun posts of his time in Paris and Barcelona on his blog. Bruce's tastes tend to run a little more sophisticated than "Euro Fried Chicken", but this pic he took was pretty funny!

Monday, July 03, 2006

CNN and Fox News Chicago

TheBigDay made the TV news twice in the last week or so, with news stories on CNN Headline News on Friday, June 23, and on Fox News in the Morning in Chicago on Tuesday, June 27. (the links are to video clips of the two stories)

Mayan ruins in Guatemala

Mayan Ruins - Temple IV, Tikal, Guatemala
Patti, our operations manager at TheBigDay, recently returned from a trip to Tikal, Guatemala with her family. She's got some cool pics of the Mayan ruins at Tikal on her blog, including Temple IV (at 212 feet, it was the tallest structure in North America from 741 AD--when it was constructed--until the late 1800's, when skyscrapers came about); a viper up-close and personal; and leaf-cutter ants.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Topless across America?

I first met Alyce Cornyn-Selby through my friend Paul--she was trying to get rid of her old hot tub, and would give it away to anyone who could get it out of there without wrecking her deck. I rounded up the 4 largest friends I had, bribed them with beer and pizza, and headed for her place with my 67 Chevy pickup. Note: if you're ever the recipient of such a request for a favor, let me advise you that for hot tubs, pianos, and hide-a-beds, there isn't enough beer or pizza in the world to make this a Good Deal for the helpful friends :-)

Alyce is quite a character--recently, she drove across the U.S. in her Bugatti replica, "Seno" (pictured). She even wrote a book about it. She's also the creator of The Hat Museum, and is helping us out at the Portland Rotary Club with our 2006 Road Rally. There's a video of a King 5 TV story on the Hat Museum at YouTube.

Venice advice

If Las Vegas' recreation of Venice doesn't cut it for you, and you want the real thing, Ed has a great post on his blog about what to see and do in Venice.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Google can't hold its liquor

Proof that Google can't hold its liquor:

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Good Day LA - Fox 11 Los Angeles

Fox 11 Los Angeles' Good Day LA show did a story on TheBigDay, featuring our customers Rob and Margot, who honeymooned in Costa Rica...and were terrific in the interview. Their story really communicated what it is that's special about our honeymoon registry: creating an opportunity for the wedding guests to really have fun giving a romantic, exciting gift that Margot & Rob will remember forever.

Here's the video clip of the show.

Benjamin at B-Day minus 4 months

The little guy (who's now got a name: Benjamin Leo) is about 5 months along, which I guess is 4 months before his zeroth birthday...and he's wriggling like crazy. The ultrasound tech had a hard time getting a few clear pics, as he kept moving his arms and legs in the way.

Here, he's showing an early interest in art, doing his Rodin "The Thinker" impression.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Honeymoon with my Brother (by Franz Wisner)

Franz Wisner (author of Honeymoon with my Brother) spoke yesterday at our Rotary club lunch about his experiences, writing the book, and travel. In a nutshell: after getting dumped just before his wedding, he and his brother decided to go ahead and use those non-refundable tickets for Costa Rica and go on a little vacation. They returned with a new outlook on life, and promptly quit their jobs, sold everything they had, and took off on a two-year, 53-country trip around the world.

It's a great book (and a true story), but what makes this meaningful for me is the story of his grandmother, who when she heard about their plans to scrap their current lives, careers, etc. and travel around the world thought it was a terrific idea. Valuing travel experience above stuff...that resonates with me and our mission at TheBigDay.

Franz is a great speaker as well--if you get a chance, definitely go see him.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

It's a boy!

We had our ultrasound this morning, and the baby cooperated...we can tell it's a boy!

In fact, the little guy was squirming and wriggling up a little storm in there, rolling around, turning over, wiggling his little arms and legs...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Portland Japanese Gardens

Mel & I visited the Japanese Gardens here in Portland this past Saturday...and were reminded what a beautiful city we live in! Rhododendrons were in fine from the gardens are here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Live Internet Weddings in Hawaii

One of our partners in our 21st Century Wedding contest is Live Internet Weddings, based in Hawaii. Larry Fair, the owner/founder, started the business after an accident which left him disabled. He'd thought his productive life was over, and that he'd be on disability forever, but got the idea for webcasting destination weddings and realized that he could do this work even with his disability. His son moved to Hawaii and together they started the business. They were able to launch the business with the help of The Abilities Fund.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Fabulous Fiji!

Being a scuba diver, I've always wanted to go to Fiji. The corals there are supposed to be fantastic (there's a cool IMAX film called Coral Reef Adventure which has a lot of footage of diving in Fiji).

Fiji never seems to get the attention in the press that Tahiti does, and in a way it's a shame...but the "plus" side is that roughly equivalent resorts seem to be a fair bit less expensive in Fiji as a result. Fiji doesn't have the overwater bungalows that Tahiti is famous for, but you get the same kind of private island luxury resorts. Really great for a honeymoon.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Real-time travel info, flight stats, etc.

How late, how often, and how come: Gary Price of Resource Shelf posted an article on real-time info websites, including FlightAware. There's also Portland-based FlightStats with free widgets for both flight status and flight ratings (on-time, cancelled, avg delay, etc.) which is pretty cool.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Honeymoon checklist

I just updated our honeymoon checklist at TheBigDay...some new "lessons learned" from my own honeymoon trip to Africa. Who'da thunk that a tented safari camp in the middle of the Maasai Mara wouldn't have an ATM? You know what they say: good judgment comes from experience...and experience comes from bad judgment :-).

Friday, April 28, 2006

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Historic motorcycle race in Italy

My friend Paul Duchene is racing in the historic Motogiro d’Italia on May 20th, riding a 1957 Ducati 125.

The Motogiro d’Italia 2006 starts on the 16th of May from Rimini and will unwind through Romagna, Marche, Abruzzo and Molise in 5 legs of approximately 250 km each. The route will follow many of the roads ridden in the original races of the 1950s. Special attractions and local events will be held throughout the itinerary to evoke the authentic spirit of the tour which has always been popular with the public.

Some very cool pics are here.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Mexico travel tips

TheBigDay's Mexico specialist Ann Lile just finished up her article on travel tips for Mexico. Good stuff in here on the Colonial Cities--the historical cities of Mexico, mostly in the interior, offer the culture & history flavor of Europe, but much closer to home (and cheaper!). We're the combination of a few nights in the colonial cities with a few more at a traditional beach resort becoming more and more popular.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

In the news...

Our partnership with Pleasant Holidays was announced via a press release this week. So far, we've seen articles in the Portland Business Journal, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Pacific Business News, and the e-newsletter. And it's only Wednesday!

Friday, April 14, 2006

We gave away a wedding and honeymoon in Hawaii!

TheBigDay Travel ran a wedding contest this year, and we gave away a wedding and honeymoon in Hawaii (partners in the contest were Lisa Light from Destination Bride, Starwood Hawaii, Blue Nile,, Live Internet Weddings, and Hawaiian Airlines). The lucky couple is getting married at the Royal Hawaiian hotel on Oahu this summer!

Local TV interview

Fox 12 came by and did a 2-minute news story on TheBigDay. Interviewed me and one of our local Portland wedding couples. They did a pretty good job of telling our story and how the registry works. A video clip in WMV format is on TheBigDay's In The News page.

Another honeymoon registry article

I put a new article up on TheBigDay last week about how to create registry items that really mean something to the wedding guests who buy them. Essentially it's advice on how to break your honeymoon activities down into gifts that make sense, are fun to buy, and are easy to take pictures of to put in your thank-you notes.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Vicky Trabosh speaks at the United Nations in NYC

My friend and exec coach, Vicky Trabosh, spoke to the U.N. on April 7th on Rwanda. Her speech is here, and there are details of the Rwandan Remembrance Day at

She's created an organization called Itafari to help Rwandans recover via education, microbanking, and partnering with organizations within the country.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Rotary - Camp Enterprise 2005

I'm a member of the downtown Portland Rotary Club...and one of the projects I'm involved in is Camp Enterprise, where we take 60 to 80 high school seniors from Portland schools to a weekend retreat and teach them a bit about the free enterprise system. We have presentations and lessons for them, plus guest speakers such as Sunny Kobe Cook, Bob Farrell, and Junki Yoshida to inspire them with their stories of how they started their businesses. A photo album from the 2005 Camp Enterprise is here.

House projects

In a 75-year-old house, there's ALWAYS another project to be done. Mostly we've tackled the interior so far. "Under construction" pictures are here, while pics of the outside in various seasons are here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Went diving

Last week the inlaws took my wife and I on a cruise to Mexico and Belize...did a little diving too. Here's a photo album of pics I took with a $20 disposable underwater camera (with a flash, even...and it's reloadable...takes regular 800 speed 35mm film!).

But wait, there's more :-) here are pics from onboard the cruise ship, San Gervasio ruins, Playa del Carmen, etc.

Wallowing bison???

I Googled myself the other day...and found this:

Wallowing Behavior of American Bison (Bos bison) in Tallgrass Prairie: an Examination of Alternate Explanations

It's NOT me, even though his middle initial is even the same as mine. The closest I ever get to wallowing bison is the occasional buffalo burger :-)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Rally of the Lost Patrol

Welcome to the Yukon...and ya might want to bring yer coat

A few years ago, I went on a little drive in the snow with some friends. Actually, it was about 6,000 miles...from Seattle to Seattle, with a wee stop at the Arctic Ocean in the middle. The event was called The Rally of the Lost Patrol, and it's a TSD (time-speed-distance) rally held in the dead of winter (and up there, winter gets REALLY dead...we saw -57F!).

I think this is where God practiced making trees...once he was good enough at it, he came down and did British Columbia, Oregon...

I went with my friend Paul Duchene--he wrote a story on it for the Chicago Tribune, while I shot the photos.

Snow like satin in the Richardson Mountains, Yukon

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hotel engineering

Having just returned from a quick business trip, I have one (1) rant and one (1) rave about Hotel Room Technology! :-)

RANT: the world DOES NOT need a new engineering idea for how to control water volume and temperature in a shower. Yes, I went to university, but I shouldn't need all my years of education just to turn the shower on in the morning! The plain old round turny things labelled Hot and Cold work just fine. LEAVE IT ALONE. I'm sorry your job is boring, Mr. Plumbing Designer, but it's not my fault and you're making things worse!

RAVE: ok, I'll have to support Matt Cutt's opinion on the curved shower rod invention...I like it!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Cars (and bikes) I've owned

An incomplete list...but found these old photos and thought I'd collect them in one place online.

things with motors

MotoGP race at Laguna Seca!

I missed the American Nicky Hayden winning the inaugural MotoGP race at Laguna Seca raceway last year (MotoGP is essentially the Formula 1 of motorcycle racing)...but this year, I'll be heading down with my friend Paul. He's doing a story for a midwest newspaper, and I'm shooting the photos. Gotta love press credentials! :-)

Friday, February 24, 2006

A guy with an even better job

I spent a number of years in Toronto, home of CFNY, the best radio station I've heard anywhere. Back then, there was this guy "Revvin' Kevin" that CFNY sent out to report on all sorts of local happenings. Well, Kevin's moved on and now has his own TV show on the Fine Living channel called The Thirsty Traveler.

Kevin wants a wee dram, so he goes to Scotland and tours all the big-name distilleries, drinks for free, then they feed him a fantastic dinner and more scotch. Next he'd like a beer, so (sorry Milwaulkie!) he heads for the Czech Republic, visits the Pilsner Urquell brewery, gets a few free beer, and a fantastic dinner. And more beer. Off to Brazil, where he messes around with Cachaca (made from sugarcane, sounds a bit like rum). He must have blown his travel budget though, because at one point he does a show on Canadian rye whisky.

Seriously, this is a great show if you like travel and are interested in the history of some of the world's most interesting beverages. My Tivo box is locked on...

World Rally Championship no longer on SpeedTV

I was EXTREMELY disappointed to find that SpeedTV had dropped the World Rally Championship series for 2006. I can't figure out whether it was Bill France or Barry Meguiar who bought the station :-) but the programming on SpeedTV is pretty grim these days (with the notable exception of Canadians Peter and Tom on Dream Car Garage!).

Register your indignation at this petition site--don't know if anything at all will come of it, but I felt better afterwards :-)

Monday, February 20, 2006

I'm gonna be a dad!

Melinda and I discovered last week that we're going to have a baby! Due date is currently predicted to be Oct. 16th, which happens to be my father's birthday.

While undoubtedly Melinda's got the toughest part of this job, there is a silver lining...she gets out of cleaning the kitty litterbox for at least 9 months :-)