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Marvel Goodness

Well on the weekend I saw the latest installment in the Marvel Movie line, Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier. I can’t describe how much I was looking forward to this movie, and it didn’t disappoint. It made me wonder though, why do I like the Marvel movies so much?

To be honest I don’t really know where it all started, my earliest memory of anything marvel has nothing to do with the comic books, I was never a comic book fan as a child and I don’t really remember my parents ever letting me have them. My earliest memory is of the cartoons that were produced. I am pretty sure my first memory was of Iron Man as a cartoon and I really enjoyed it. It kind of went from there.

Fast forward to the first Iron Man movie, which was really the first of the new “Marvel” series. After a long long period of time between when I first saw the cartoons and then saw the movies, it brought that fascination back to life. I loved the first Iron Man movie, it felt to me like Marvel really understood what making a good movie was about (Robert Downey Jnr was a perfect choice to play Tony Stark) and I grew to love the proceeding movies even more. When Avengers came out (I was in Seattle on my round the world trip at the time) I was like a giddy school girl, wanting to see it days after release. The first Captain America movie was great and I lapped it up.

Late last year Marvel took their first step into Live Action TV shows in quite some time with “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (I just call it Shield) and I loved every minute of it. Though not really to do with movies the back story kind of works around it all and I was hooked. When I saw the latest episode of Shield I was a bit shocked by the story line (no spoilers here) I knew about the background of what happened but it was like “where the hell did this come from”. Had I seen Captain America 2 first, it would of made sense. When I saw it on Sunday, things became clear…. it is all linked, even the tv show.

Linking the movies together over several years is a great thing to do for money but stretching it out over time, makes me go crazy. I still say that the 3 worst words in the english language are “To Be Continued” and this is kind of what it feels like (just with a several year gap between movies). I can’t complain that Marvel are doing justice to their own comics and making a movie that is not only entertaining but keeps fans talking about it for hours and days afterwards.

Captain America 2 to give you my thoughts on the movie, it was dark, it was moody and it was action all the time. At one point I did see a tear in Heidi’s eye. If this is the kind of movie that Marvel is going to produce… Bring it on!

Breakfast Chronicles: Portage Bay Cafe

The research continues! Since the weather turned to crap this weekend and cancelled my plans to go tulip photo hunting (though looking outside right now looks pretty good.. damn you weather! So I decided on Saturday morning that I would take another stab at a breakfast spot. I tweeted out to my usual suspects for some recommendations and did a bit of googling. I didn’t feel like eggs so filed away the options suggested to me for next time (got a number of good spots in mind now) and found Portage Bay Cafe.. they sounded like they had some good sweet options (I Do have a sweet tooth remember) so that was settled. They have 3 locations, Ballard, University and South Lake Union (SLU). Since it was Sunday morning I probably should of hit up the University location but with the 520 shut, instead I went to SLU. Figured it would of been quiet.

From Seattle Life 2013

Street parking was a b$%ch to find (and part of me went.. your dumb for even trying) but I found a spot about a block away and walked on over. When I got there it was PACKED! People were jammed in everywhere… (turns out not my best work on some of the photos… sorry)

From Seattle Life 2013

But there is always one thing that helps, being a single person eating alone. You can slot in anywhere, and for me it was like walking in ahead of the masses. As someone was told it was a good 45 minute wait for a table, I was directed to a seat at the side counter… score!

From Seattle Life 2013

Portage Bay Cafe is more like the trendy kind of place with Vegan this, and gluten free that. But no matter what it all looked tasty. I got a coffee pretty much before I took my jacket off which was a half decent sign of service. The menu looked good but I was sticking to the top half of the menu.

From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013

With the top half of the menu you also get access to the “Breakfast Bar” which is really all the stuff you would normally see on the side of most restaurants. So really if you can’t find a topping you do like for your pancakes you can just make up your own. Me… I was going for something tasty ;) I checked out the “toppings” after ordering and they looked good

From Seattle Life 2013

While ordering I got suckered into a Side of Bacon. Not that I needed it. The wait wasn’t to bad, I had just finished my emails when my breakfast arrived

From Seattle Life 2013

Let’s look at them individually shall we… first up the not so needed side of Pepper Bacon. Good (although not at all as peppery as it could of been), not 100% crispy, but not aussie crappy bacon either. So that wasn’t to bad.

From Seattle Life 2013

But the main show this morning was this:

From Seattle Life 2013

Bananas Foster French Toast! 3 big chunks of Challah dipped in “custard” (ie egg) and then grilled and topped with the most craziest of real caramel sauces. How do I know it was real caramel? The damn stuff was hardening on the plate! It was sooooo good. I grabbed some whipped cream, some flaked almonds (for that crunch) and some berries (Strawberries & Blackberries for some Tartness to offset the sweet) and tucked in!. My god it was good. The bread was as light as a feather so even though they looked huge, they were light and airy in the middle meaning it wasn’t as filling as you would think. Three pieces was the perfect size as it wasn’t to much but it was just enough.

I saw some of the other meals go out while I was eating and they looked good. Although the special (which I never got given a specials menu mind you) Spare Ribs Benedict looked more like a Loco Moco to me, since it came with rice not bread. The service towards the end got a bit shoddy. My coffee was hardly ever refreshed, I was never asked if I was enjoying my meal and at one point a couple moved to the counter to my left (where there was only meant to be one person but they tagged on another spot). I had gotten up to go get some extra whipped cream cause I ran out and before I even came back they were planning to move into my seat… I hadn’t even finished. From that point in I felt like I was being pushed out the door!

All up the food was good. The french toast would be worth the trip back that’s for sure. I would definately skip the bacon though. Price wise all up set me back $23 incl tax & tip, so about average for the preppy places. Definately more of a special occasion place than a “I feel like breakfast out” kind of place. With the amount of people there as well, it would be worth it to come early…. REAL early. I don’t know if the other cafe locations are as busy on a Sunday morning but if they are more busy than that, tables may come at a price. Definately recommended for the sweet tooth!

Book Review: Where Men Win Glory

Finished a very interesting book today.

Where Men Win Glory

The book is Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer. What the title doesn’t tell you is that this is a book on the Pat Tillman story. Who is Pat Tillman, well here’s the brief run down.

Pat Tillman was an NFL player for the Arizona Cardinals. Just after the September 11 attacks in New York he gave up a very lucrative deal to instead enlist in the US Army as a Ranger and was deployed to Iraq & Afghanistan. Here’s the kicker. He was killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire.

The book follows his life but also how Afghanistan’s tumultuous history saw the beginning of the taliban and other tribal factions. So not only do you grt Pat Tillman ‘s history but also why he was there.

Then once you get to the day it happened the events are given a good amount of detail so you can understand what happened. The aftermath and cover up is also covered which may have been a bit one sided but it does pose a good amount of questions. The whole premise of the possibility of many more unreported friendly fire incidents.

The events never really made newa media in Australia and the book was recommended by a friend. Well worth the read and makes you think about the real merits of selflessness and sacrifice. Worth the read!

Book Review: Without Hesitation

I wasn’t going to write up a book review on this one but by the time i finished it i just bad to.

Without Hesitation

The book is Without Hesitation by General (Ret) Hugh Shelton. Your probably thinking right now “another boring military biography” and that is kind of what I thought originally. This book was a gift from my parents so I never chose it, but I am glad they did.

Although probably not written in a fashion I like (where it jumps around a bit) it was a fascinating and inspirational read nonetheless. Probably need to give you some background first though. General Shelton was in the US Army leading Infantry, paratroopers & special forces as fsr back as Vietnam. When he left the service in 2001 (just after September 11) he finished up his time as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). What is the “Joint Cheifs of Staff?” Well they are the leaders and top advisors for each of the US Military Services. You have the Cheif of Staff for the Air Force, Cheif of Staff for the Army, Marine Corp Commandant and the Chief of Naval Operations. Along with other staff members and the Chairman and his Vice, these Generals and Admirals become the sounding board for the US President on military matters. Though the Chairman doesn’t necissarily run the day to day operations of the Military forces he is like the President’s right hand man.

I hadn’t really read anything on the JCS so this portion of the book was great, but the biggest thing I got from the book was the part I didn’t really like the most. Like I mentioned before the book jumped around a lot. At the end of each chapter it flashes back to the “present” so you may have been reading a chapter about Vietnam then the last few pages of the chapter your reading about the present. But that is the part that really suckered me in. These “Flash Forwards” are about how the General had fallen off a tree and suffered a spinal injury, an injury that he was told he would never recover from. Well that’s where the inspiration comes in. He DID recover and in fact is still alive today and walking (though from what I read he didn’t get full 100% mobility back, but he may have by now). Reading about his recovery, his determination to prove that point that no matter what you set your mind to, it can be done.

It set me back to the way that I had been with my weight loss. Reading about his recovery, his determination to just prove them wrong to do it for no one but himself, that hit home. I highly recommend this book to anyone, not only for the military and leadership side of things, but for that read to get inspired to do the things that you don’t think you can, that others tell you that you can’t. To defy what others will think.

Trip Report – The Comfy Run: San Francisco to Seattle

Introduction
Seattle to San Francisco
Aloft San Francisco Airport
San Francisco to Atlanta
Atlanta to Newark
Fairfield Inn & Suites Newark
Newark to Minneapolis
Minneapolis to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle
Conclusion

Apoligies in advance but this is going to be the most boring portion of this trip report.  By the time I made it through to Check in at T3 and found out that I couldn’t get home any earlier.  I was just totally over it.  I was tired and wanting some sleep.  But that wasn’t going to happen.  I had 5 hours to waste, so I figured I would clear TSA and head to the International Terminal to the United Club there, I had never been there before and figured it might as well be worth visiting.

I cleared TSA (and at the same time, forgot that I had a bottle of water in my bag… absolute fail move) and then by the time I was finally through I had missed out on the Air China 747 pushing back.  I walked on over to the United Club, and wow… is it crap compared to a Delta Sky Club.  I have to admit… Delta wins the lounge competition that is for sure!

I settled in and caught up on the trip report and some other work, and then by the time that was finished I figured incase I fell asleep in the lounge, it would probably be smarter to at least be in the right terminal.  So I walked over to Terminal 3 and the united club there, and then promptly did the most boring thing ever.  I sat back and trolled the internet.  I wrote a couple of letters, I did some reading, I spent some cash ordering a new running watch.  O so thrilling.

What I was not to proud about doing was eating my weight in Chocolate Coated Pretzels.  Yes they are tasty, but it was a stupid move doing that.  Pretty sure I made myself sick eating them.  I got so tired and angry at myself that i decided to go and do a lap of the entire terminal, then go hang out by the gate and remote into work with the free wifi and test out the laptop connection ready for my next trip.

The gate area was ok, fairly empty and I just settled in with the rest of the crowds waiting for the flight to board as I did a bit of work.

United Airlines – UA971
San Francisco to Seattle-Tacoma
1932-2141
Airbus A319 (N863UA)
Economy Class – Seat 25A

Boarding: 1855 (Gate 68)
Push Back: 1930
Take Off Roll: 1845 (Runway 1R)
Top of Descent: 2103
Touch Down: 2131 (Runway 34C)
Shut Down: 2136 (Gate N16)

The flight was called and the scrum began to get onboard as they were telling people if they were in Boarding Group 5, you have no chance of overhead bin space and to just gate check the bags right there and then.  I got onboard and asked if Channel 9 was going to be active.  This was the first time in like 10 United flights that I was on a legacy United aircraft so was looking forward to some Channel 9.  But sadly… nope!  I was rudely informed by the FA that they would NOT be having Channel 9 on, even if I asked nicely.  I tweeted my displeasure about said incident.

The cabin was old school, but comfortable and it filled up pretty damn quickly.  Even though I was way down the back, by this stage I didn’t care.  I was to busy trying to keep my eyes open.  I read my book as we pushed back and headed over to the dual 1’s.  We lined up next to another aircraft and although I didn’t have Channel 9 I was kind of pretending I could hear it with my brain thinking “United 971 Cleared for Takeoff Runway 1 Right”

We took off (without a companion on the dual runways) and climbed into the sky.  The flight was going to be all sorts of boring.  Reading, nodding off, and a drinks run in the next 1 hour and 45 or so minutes.  Yay!  The only highlight of the flight was getting the whole can during the drinks service!  I was impressed at least.

I managed to finish my book and also have a bit of a chat with my seat mate as we descended into Seattle (maybe a 3rd client for the trip) and we touched down in Seattle with a nice thump.  Not bad!  We taxiied quickly to the N terminal where I was not in a hurry to get off as being up the back, I knew it wouldn’t be quick.  By the time I was off, it was onto the Train to the terminal, then the shuttle to the car park, then home to my apartment.

22 hours after I woke up in Newark… I was putting head to pillow in Seattle.  Way to long of a day :(

Book Review: The Joker

You know the drill:

Untitled

This weeks book (yeah its barely been a week) is “The Joker” by Pete Scholey. A look at life in the SAS for over 20 years. This is the real SAS he is referring to. The British one. From the time of the campaigns in Borneo, all the way through to the Falklands. What was the reincarnation of the SAS after World War 2. To give you a bit of a background the SAS during World War 2 was a revolution and one of the first real Special Forces in the world. They started up operating in Africa, penetrating far behind enemy lines in the deserts attacking the Nazi airfields and other targets in small groups. Fast forward to after the war and a reformed SAS was used in the Malayan Campaign in the jungles of Malaysia.

The British SAS have long been referred to by some as the very epitome of special forces (though I wont get into that fight) and there has been a number of books written about them (including Bravo Two Zero). But the thing I like about this book is the fact that it looks at the comedy of the events that can happen in amongst all the hardship, death & destruction. The author describes some good histroy of operations (obviously the ones he can talk about) but with each of these decriptions come the funnier more light hearted moments. This to me was fantastic! I do enjoy a good chuckle and there are plenty of laughs to be had. I was lol’ing on the bus a number of times at some of the book. Though most of the funny moments are as you would expect with a group of men, boyish, childish humor it is still good to read that they are just like everyone else, real people.

A good read!

Book Review: History of the Glider Pilot Regiment

Ahh Avgeek Book Review time… well.. Kinda..

History of the Glider Pilot Regiment

This weeks book (it has been a week right?) is the History of the Glider Pilot Regiment by Claude Smith. Your probably thinking “the what regiment” and why the hell do I care. Well the British and the American’s in WW2 had been using Gliders to bring in parts of their Airborne forces, well before the invention of the helicopter insertions that are seen today. These gliders were towed into the air behind either a bomber like a Halifax or perhaps a Wellington or behind a C-47 Skytrain/Dakota (DC-3). Made of wood or fabric these flimsy aircraft were a 1 way ticket for the pilots and crew and they were used to ferry troops or vehicles into the war and essentially crash land them into a site and off they would go.

The biggest thing for this was the fact that the pilots of these gliders were pretty much stranded once they got there. During the build up and start of these forces the British went back and forth between the Army and the Royal Air Force to fight over who did what. Eventually it came down to the army to control the pilots and hence the Glider Pilot Regiment was formed. These pilots once they landed were dual role troops and once they were on the ground, they became soldiers, trained to not only lead men but fight and act like infantry till they could be exfiltrated back behind the lines to their home bases and restart the process.

This book is a pretty indepth look at all the different gliders and the regiments that pretty much existed for WW2 only and was gotten rid of once the war was over. As technology in aviation advanced they were no longer required as parachute technology expanded and the invention of helicopters came around, why would you need an aircraft that isn’t powered, is a one way ticket to possible death and destruction and really just an empty money hole? I guess they decided the same thing and it just slowly went away.

I have stood next to a Hamilcar glider in France and jesus they were big, its scary that they could carry a small light tank! It’s a good read, pretty interesting at least!

Book Review: Combat Swimmer

Good book that you get engrossed in means you finish it quickly (plus it is a small paperback):

Combat Swimmer

The Book is “Combat Swimmer: Memoirs of a Navy Seal” by Captain Robert A Gormly. A Now retired US Navy Seal Captain Gormly was a seal from an era I had not read much about. I have always had a fascination about Navy Seals ever since I first saw the Navy Seals movie (from back in the 80s, not GI Jane). The one thing you mostly read about these days are modern day seals, what you hardly read about is the history of the seals and where they first got their real taste of action. Vietnam. This was close enough.

Gormly was a seal from the Vietnam era so it was great to read up on how things happened back then. I really need to read some more on this war as it is fascinating to me on so many levels. It saw leaps and bounds improvements in war fare but yet was so close to modern war fare in the fact that they in some cases were fighting a more guerilla style war (like today with the Taliban in Afghanistan). It looks at the basic rudimentary technology and weapons they used back then compared to now and it was great.

Definately a good read for someone who is into this sort of thing.

Book Review: The Day the Devils Dropped In

I was lucky enough to finish this book just before my trip to Dallas, so had a fresh book to start the trip

The Day the Devils Dropped in

The book is “The Day the Devils Dropped In” by Neil Barber. This was a book recommended to me by our tour guide while in Normandy in 2011 (yes it has taken me this long to read it, judge me later). This follows the lead up to and the first few days (well 6 days) of the Normandy campaign for the 9th Parachute Battalion of the British Army.

On D-Day the biggest mission for the 9th Para was the attack on the Merville Battery and after visiting the site back in 2011, I really did want to read up a bit more on it as it was this crazy attempt at attacking a heavily fortified position, but that did not go according to plan at all, yet they still managed to pull it off.

It is a good book and interesting to read on Normandy airborne campaign from a Non US perspective (as the US did kind of dominate this campaign). What I learned from it though was how different the British armed forces are compared to the US Armed forces. With talks of “assistants” and “batman” etc it is very different to what you would expect to see, or even read about and compared to other countries.

A pretty good read, mind you it is not at all that long (190 pages) and I managed to finish it off in less than a week.

Another year…

Another year of Football is now complete with Yesterdays Superbowl. Pretty much I no longer have any real interest in sport for another 6 months or so…. Awesome!

The Superbowl was a bit of a dissapointment to me 2 weeks ago when the Patriots lost to the Ravens, so it wasn’t really as big of a deal as it could of been had they won. So even though I was at home, watching on the tv (with a friend who was visiting) and relaxing, I still enjoyed it.

The best thing about the game was watching it live on TV and getting the ads as well. Finally I get to see what all the fuss was about with Superbowl ads and I have to say, it was pretty cool! Getting to watch the ads going live to air, talking about them live on Twitter as well. Good way to spend an evening. The game itself was good to!

Funniest thing of the whole night was the Power outage just after half time and when the 3rd quarter had just really begun (about 2 minutes in) and out goes the power. Twitter was amass with “Whats going on” “Is anyone else not getting sound” stuff like that. Eventually partial sound came back on, word got out, and then the jokes started rolling in. The best call of the night went to Oreo’s though with this tweet created meer moments into the outage.

Maybe it was all them but who knows! It was an awesome call!

Looking forward to next season, I should hopefully get to see some interesting games, maybe a Patriots game at home? Who knows!