Tuesday, March 31, 2015


I took Uma to the vet this morning. She's been limping for a couple weeks and we want to be sure nothing major was wrong. I piled her in the Suburban with the kids and dropped them off. Then I worked for about 45 minutes while Uma rested her head on my shoulder, wondering why the car wasn't moving.

The vet checked her out, saying nothing major, but she shouldn't be free running for a couple weeks.

Gonna have a stir crazy Great Dane here for April.


Last night Tia and Kendall went to get their hair done. They were out late, not back when I crashed around 10. However this morning I came down to a beautiful young lady in the kitchen.

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Up early, working on math after being out late for her hair. This after a long day Sunday playing volleyball.

Kendall sure is something special.

Monday, March 30, 2015

2015 Book #22 - Thomas Jefferson

tjContinuing with my goal of reading all the Presidential biographies, I completed President #3 - Thomas Jefferson.

This one was interesting. Not quite academic, it’s a look at each section of Jefferson’s life, a stretch of years that influenced him. As I read the book, I’m less enamored of the man. While he accomplished a lot, I find him to be much more flawed than I did when reading his autobiography. I’ll have to go read that again.

Jefferson was raised privileged, and went into law. As with many of that time, he didn’t go to law school, but studied with another lawyer, who then chose to sponsor him to the bar. He wasn’t much of an orator, like Patrick Henry, but he was quite accomplished at the written and analytical side of the law.

While he seems to have strong ideas on freedom and a desire for the US to be an agrarian society, he also allowed for slaves, a strange mix that haunted him. He was a prolific writer, sending thousands of letters out during his lifetime (he kept copies), but somewhat embarrassed by the public release of some of his letters that contained controversial topics.

I was surprised to read about him as emissary to France after their revolution, which Jefferson saw as inspired by ours. I didn’t realize he was Secretary of State under Washington, as well as Vice President under Adams. He didn’t want to run, but friends had him try and he narrowly lost. His own election in 1800 was narrow, over another Republican (not Adams, a Whig). That case went to Congress and the Supreme Court for resolution. Interesting.

He also lamented his lack of influence with Washington, which I think had to do with his lack of oratory skill (my guess). He certainly retired, but struggled financially as he tried to remain a “gentleman farmer”, trading debts and obligations, rather than managing a successful business.

An interesting book for #3 in my Presidents series.


After a day of volleyball yesterday, processing some pictures and trying to deal with life, I decided late in the day, about 7:30, to go for a run. I haven't run in weeks, and felt it was time to do something.

I had a good jog, not pressing, just moving through 2 miles. I keep seeing people celebrating their running streak anniversaries, from day 1, to day 100, to day 365, to substantially longer ones. I miss that a bit, and might start a streak again as I feel I'm getting heavy.

Took this one after I was done and trying to stretch.

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I'll avoid streaking for at least a week. With a ski trip planned and family coming, I don't want to interrupt the time with running efforts, but perhaps I'll start again next week.

Morning Commute

The first school commute in the BMW. It was nice to drive, and while it wasn't cold, it was cool enough to put on the heated seats and heated steering wheel. Very nice.

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Coming home, a great view of the house as I came home.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Power 5

A rough day. Glad it was close at least.

We were up at 6:15, out the door at 6:45 to get to the tournament. We were seeded 8th out of 8 in the Division 3, but we weren't hopeful we'd stay with 3 of our players out.

It showed. We stayed in the first match for a bit, but lost 25-11 or so. The second one was slightly better, but not great. The second match was 25-15, 25-15, putting us in a hole. The third one was closer, and we thought they might win either game, but the team couldn't put enough plays together.

All in all, the girls played hard, Kendall really working as she played every play all day. The somewhat fell apart in the crossover game, and so we finished 8th and will drop to Division 4 for the final tournament.

Hopefully the team will put their play together before then.

Kendall played well. Good serves, including some great jump serves. She was on the floor a lot, diving for balls, and had some good, hard hits. Proud of her.

Random pictures from the day below.

















Saturday, March 28, 2015


As soon as we drove the new BMW up the mountains, Tia remarked that I needed new floormats. The ones that come with it were the base fabric ones and not only absorbed lots of mud and dirt but they didn’t provide much containment.

While we were in the mountains, I ordered a set of Weathertech, custom fit mats. I got front, rear, and a cargo mat to put down. I was surprised to see the front and rears come on Thursday, so I asked Delaney to put them in Friday.

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I bribed him with a cream soda. He took to the job right away, removing the old mats and vacuuming out the inside.

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The mats came in large boxes. The fronts in one, the rear single piece in another.

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The mats are custom molded to the shape of your car. They say laser measured and I believe it. They fit well.

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Delaney figured out the install to secure the mats to the floor. When I got in at night to go to the gym, they were looking good.

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One thing done. I also ordered some wind deflectors and I want to get some roof rails that will let me carry bikes or skis on top, but no hurry there.

2015 Book #23 – Saint Odd

saintoddI knew Saint Odd was the last of the series, and I approached it with some trepidation. The title seems to indicate Odd will die, and I didn’t want that.

It starts out with a bang. Odd is returning to Pico Mundo, riding a motorcycle, which eeems out of character. The writing of his thoughts as well, don’t quite seem to be what I expected.

He’s pursued by a truck trying to kill him. He evades it, and it wrecks, catching on fire. He continues on to Pico to visit the mall from the first book. However is memories are interrupted when three members of the cult from the previous book are there. They see him, but he manages to escape to go meet with the chief and his mentor for breakfast. He lets them know something bad is coming. He can’t tell them what, but he moves on.

The book then moves between a thriller, with the help of his friends from the previous book, and supernatural, with the continuation of some satanic group. There are no bodachs, and it really seems the series moved in a way I hadn’t expected after the first 4 books.

However it’s a good read, and it wraps up things at the end in a good way.

2015 Book #22–Deeply Odd

deeplyoddI started the Saint Odd book, but realized I was missing something. That’s when I found this one and pegged it as the seventh book.

Deeply Odd starts just after the previous book, with Odd, Annamarie, and Tim in a cottage by the ocean. Odd goes out one day, feeling strange that he won’t see her soon and starts into town. He’s drawn to a semi and approaches it with the feeling that violence is coming.

He’s surprised by the owner, a cowboy in a rhinestone outfit that immediately threatens him with a gun. When Odd hits his arm, he gets a vision, a scene where three kids are on a stage and this cowboy burns them with a flamethrower.

The cowboy knows something is up and pursues Odd. Bystanders don’t seem to see them, but Odd manages to escape, destroying a car. However he’s picked up by another elderly lady (like in Odd Hours), who hires him as her chauffer, though he declines the job.

The rest of the book is the rest of the day. The pursuit of the cowboy to try and save the kids, the recognition of supernatural powers at work. It’s a twist for the series, going into more supernatural and religious areas rather than just strange ones.

Not great, but it continues the series.

Hot Yoga Morning

Tia had wilderness survival training this morning (and yesterday), so I was on my own. I slept in a bit, but woke up and decided to get to yoga. I’ve been letting exercise get delayed until later, and I don’t like that, so I got up, grabbed a bar, and headed to class.

A tough one, as I haven’t really been in weeks. Good, however. I need to get back and do this more. my balance, core, etc. aren’t great right now.

I could feel sore abs, however. Last night Kendall and I went to the gym, did a little cardio, did some core, and I was impressed with her work ethic. She finished the elliptical first, and went to work on core. I walked over and she was planking, then did a bunch of ab work like leg touches and crunches. She’s going to be much stronger than I am.

We also did a little volleyball, nothing heavy, but some hitting and serving practice as well as some receiving bumps.

Friday, March 27, 2015

A long day

And a crazy day at work. Back from vacation with lots to do. I saw the emails stacking up, and glanced at them while in Winter Park, but didn’t do anything.

Had lots to do today and still behind.

The Death Tax

The Senate voted to repeal this today.  This means if this passes the House and gets signed, the inheriting more than $5mm from your family won't result in taxes. On one hand, I'm glad, since I don't like the idea of the estate tax for family. Spouses are exempt, but not children. On the other hand, large estates don't necessarily do much to encourage anyone to live their own life, away from what others have accomplished.

However in the piece, there's a note from Bernie Sanders that says "This amendment exclusively the wealthiest 0.3 percent of the families in this country."

To me, that's the sad part. I would hope that $5mm would be more like 10% of the country. However it's a sign that we are stratifying our wealth more and more, which I think fundamentally distorts how things appear in our government, and hence, our laws.

In the 2011 census, we see the top 20% mark at $630k. If you were lucky and could count on a 10% return, then this would give you $63k a year, or just over the average income of the US. Not bad at all. However, if you earn $60k a year, it's difficult to save enough, unless you diligently start from your early 20s and can put away the 8-10% a year.  Retirement calculators say this works, but the reality of life seems to be that you won't earn $50k at 21 if that's your average salary expectation when you're 30 or 40. Which means you'd be behind.

I'd like to see more effort to teach retirement savings and preparation for people, but I'm not sure how well it works. Kids at 16 can't envision life at 60. They assume things will get better. It's what banks and auto loan officers want us to believe. We'll do better over time.

However that doesn't seem to be reality.

This really is a wealth person's repeal. If family farms are the issue, raise the limit for those, but not for anyone else. $5mm is a crazy amount of money to give away.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Winter Park–Day 1

Day 1 was slow to get started. We were all tired from the weekend. Tia taught, I had a scrimmage, and the kids were just slow to wake up and get moving. Probably a large batch of fajitas Sunday night didn’t help.

We got up late, packed, fed horses, in the crazy wind, and headed to Winter Park around 10:30. Tia wanted to drive my car, so I took the Suburban. Unfortunately we both were kicked out of the driver’s seat.

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We made it up, though Tia and Kendall decided not to ski. Kendall needed a helmet and goggles, and they went shopping. The boys and I headed up, working our way through a slushy spring ski area.

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It was a nice day, the snow a little dry and powdery at times. Icy at the top of the mountain, soft at the bottom. We were careful, but had fun for 2 1/2 hours.

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We went until 3:30, closing the mountain and then Delaney was done. Kyle wanted one more, so we headed over to the lift, and Delaney came to catch up for one more run.

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A post ski hug afterwards for the boys. We headed to our condo, which was great. We cooked dinner and then called it a night.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


I pulled the trigger today. I hadn't really planned on it, but after we finished the refinancing on Tuesday, I decided I'd go look today.

Here's the listing, though that will disappear soon: http://www.murraybmwofdenver.com/certified/BMW/2012-BMW-X5+xDrive35i+Sport+Activity-ff96ebb80a0a006547b7fcb6bc575314.htm

And a picture.


And the description


Tia was teaching all day up North, and I had a morning massage booked, so after I finished, I headed over to Murray BMW to look at their inventory and drive a couple. I'd drive a 35d (diesel) before, but wanted to compare it to a gas powered one.

At 11:30, it was quiet, and I got a nice salesman right away. He took me over, asked questions about what I wanted and then pulled up a bunch of cars on his inventory. He recommended this one, with sportier tires and pretty much what I wanted. I was thinking black, but they didn't have any and I decided to try this one.

I drove it, impressed with the turbo power. It really moves well, and has a nice feel. I took it on the highway and through the city a bit before we came back. Compare to the BMW, Santa Fe, Acura, and Lexus, this felt more fun to drive.

We switched to a diesel, same route, but it felt sluggish and heavy. Same car, one year different, roughly the same miles, but it felt a lot worse. We got back and I wanted to look at the other choices, but this one felt right. I believe in instincts and this felt good, so I decided to just get it. About $3k more than the others they had in stock, but 10k less miles, so I decided to get it. I signed the initial agreement and went to lunch.

45 minutes later I got back and didn't have to wait too long. I chatted with a guy there to buy a 325 for about 30 minutes and they came to get me for paperwork. Finance guy was quick and efficient and didn't press on the extras they offer.

$40k to me out the door, a little more with handling and taxes. I drove out to get Delaney, getting off track as he wasn't where I expected, but enjoyed the car. Having it stream music from my phone was very cool.

When I picked up Delaney, I let him drive it home and he liked it right away. Much nicer to drive than the Suburban,

Exciting. Need to take more pix and then get it ready for our vacation in the mountains.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


After 75+ on Monday and 60s on Tuesday, we had a 50s day yesterday. This is this morning.

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A quick pic as we headed out to get approval for his Eagle Scout project from his beneficiary. That was the last step before he heads to the council for formal project approval.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Red Army Choir

I was surprised last night after Scouts. I’d asked him to drive there, and though he was tired, he drove home. He asked if he could hook his phone to the car stereo and play music. No problem.

He put on music, and it was slow, and I was surprised. I’d been reading emails as he got started, but looked up and asked him about the performers.

The group was Red Army Choir, and the music was old world foksy at times, but mostly operatic. An interesting choice and one I wouldn’t have expected from him.

Monday, March 16, 2015

On to State

Today was the regional meet for Delaney's Knowledge Bowl team. It was up in Weld County, but he enjoyed having us root, so Kyle, Tia, and I packed up and headed north.

This was after I had to get up early to get him to school 40 minutes earlier than normal. Kendall had to go, but she's am morning person, so she didn't complain. We dropped Delaney off and then went to get coffee together and grab a few groceries. A nice half hour with my daughter, just living life.

I had a conference call, which suffered from the lack of good service outside of Denver. I dropped a number of times, but managed to get on just as I dropped off Tia and Kyle. However I had to go back because we were at the wrong school and needed to drive another 4 or 5 miles. We did and I managed to wrap up things after only about 30 minutes, so I didn't miss a lot.

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They take a written test and then the teams are ranked. In this case, 6 teams competed, with 3 to a room. EHS didn't do that well, so they were in the second room, second slot, which would be 5th to start. Their teacher suspected they tanked the written test, but Delaney said they didn't.

The way things work is that you get a question, like a game show, and you buzz in to answer. Fast buzzes matter. However the top team in the district is really fast. Being in another room is an advantage, and of the 50 questions, Delaney's team got 19, which was the second highest oral round score all day.

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That helped them move into the first room, where we watched them compete well against the top team and the third place team. They finished round 3 up by 7 over the 3rd place team, but way behind the top team. As we've seen all season.

The fourth round had them struggling. Delaney buzzed in early on a question, missed it (he needed to hear the whole thing) and then was discouraged. His team struggled and gave up their lead. They were up by only 3 going into the last round. A little encouragement from Tia helped.

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They took second place running away. Still behind the top team by a lot, but comfortably in second by over 10 points.

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Now they get a week + off, with Spring Break next week, then cramming for the state competition on Apr 17/18.

Boy, he's tall.

Car Search Update

It's been interesting to see how salesman work. I certainly don't present a luxury look as a customer, and I've ended up with the newer salesman each time.

The Cadillac salesman (first one, Tahoe) has called me twice with models that came onto the lot, but I haven't been able to get over there. I need to call him and say we're looking X5 now.

The Lexus salesman called once the next week, but not since.

The Acura salesman never called or emailed.

The VW salesman hasn't emailed, though he said he would. To be fair, it's been 2 days, one of which was Sunday.

The Hyundai salesman emailed me a spec sheet today, referenced a side conversation we had and said he'd like to have my wife come look. He followed up with a call this afternoon. I may go test drive that thing back to the ranch, just to make his manager happy.

The BMW salesman didn't follow up, though I mentioned I knew another (former) sales manager and his wife, who still works there. They were so busy, I don't suspect they care if I come back.

Interesting who followed up and who hasn't.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


While I was working in the morning, I Kyle go over to each little kid's room and ask them if they'd come out. They did and he asked each to go with him to ride bikes downtown and run a few errands. Delaney had gotten up to drag the arena and had planned to go back to bed. Once he gets a plan, he's loathe to change it.

I understand. I'm the same way.

However Kendall said sure, and as I packed up to look at cars, I watched Kyle and Kendall load bikes into his car and then head out for an afternoon ride.

It's neat to see them spending time together, and a surprise that our 22 year old will ask the 13 year old to do something. So many people I know don't have kids that spend time together, or even get along. While ours do their own thing, they also do get along well.

They also went shopping, texting me and getting supplies for dinner. Good, because I didn't have time.

Hyundai Santa Fe

In the search for a luxury SUV with lots of stuff, I was surprised to see the Santa Fe come up. I actually first thought about it when looking at a BMW forum online and a few people compare the X3 to it. Since I was out and there was a dealer, I swung by.

In my t-shirt, I got a newbie, which was fine. He had lots of numbers and specs.

We drove the non-third-row version of the Santa Fe first. A 4 cylinder, but a turbo. It's loaded, and nice, though certainly a step down from the BMW and Lexus. It drove well, had rear seat heaters, a panoramic roof, leather, cooled seats, which was really nice. On a hot day, with a cotton jacket, I could feel the seat getting cooler.

There was lots of room behind the rear seat, and overall, if I wanted a new car, with the features, this is a good choice. New this is about what a 3 year old BMW costs.

There was turbo lag, and the finish inside just isn't as nice. I switched to the third row seat version, which has a semi-usable third row and captain's chairs in the middle. All I all, a better fit for the family. However using the third row removes pretty much all cargo space and it's just not what I want. The seats don't quite compare.

A nice one, but not for me. Still, I'm glad I drove it.

VW Toureg

I had some time yesterday, with nowhere to be, so I decided to drive a few cars. We should finish our financing changes this week, so it's time to get serious.

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My first stop was the VW dealership. It's across town, but it's a large one and I drove up and as I was walking to see what they might have, a salesman came over, introduced himself, and said they only had one used Toureg. It had come in that morning, so he went to check on it. While he did, I checked out a '14 in the showroom. At $45k, a gas R-line, it was nice. Certainly larger than the Cayenne, which is the same platform. However VW has made it a foot longer.

No third row, and no rear seat heaters, but a nice feel inside. The salesman came over and he'd pulled a '12 out of the shop with 70k on it. The inside hadn't been cleaned, but it was still nice. He had another customer, so he let me take it along for about 20 minutes, which I liked.

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The sunroof is nice. As you can see, it's large. A panoramic one, with a shade. I drove around a bit, in traffic, on the highway, and enjoyed the ride. A TDI diesel, the VW gets great mileage (21/29) and it's nimble. Plenty of acceleration and smooth.

Lots of air, as I tried the sunroof open and closed.

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However it doesn't offer anything over the BMW. The controls are slightly more updated than the Prius, but not a lot. It doesn't have the third row, and it's not larger. The rear seats don't have heaters, and so while I enjoyed it, not sure it's the truck for me.

Still, a nice one to drive.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


I was so happy to get to the Denver airport last night. Actually, glad to get to Chicago and back on US soil. It seems like I've been traveling for a long time. 10 days, which is the longest business trip I've ever had, and the longest I've gone away from the family.

It was long, though finishing up three days in Ireland was great. I really enjoyed that. So much so that I think I may try to slip over for a couple days the next time I go to the UK. I rarely feel that way, but the people in Ireland really made me feel good.

That was appreciated as I was exhausted when I left the UK on Sunday morning. A warm welcome was what I needed.

It was so nice to be in my bed last night. Dog hair, dirt, everything was OK being back home and next to Tia.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Long Day and Night in Dublin

I really like Ireland. From my tour around to the people I spent time with in various shops, they are very friendly. It’s a level above what I experience in England, and I need to make it back sooner than the 28 years it’s been since I was last there.

All day I taught our first workshop on CI, and it went well, but we certainly have things to work out. My voice was tired, so wen we finished, I ordered room service and tried to relax for an hour.

I pulled myself up and headed downstairs to the Dublin User Group meeting, where I had a talk scheduled. More casual than US groups, and really based around just the talk, I gave my testing spiel.

With no time limits, I relaxed, moved slow, and enjoyed the interaction with people. About 25 or so people had some out to see me and afterwards, quite a few of them stuck around and bought me a few pints of Guinness.

They convinced me to walk down the block to another pub where I had some fun chats with a couple Italians, an Englishman, and an Australian that were at the presentation. Only one Irishman around, which was strange, but Ireland has spent a lot of effort to woo technology companies and lots of Europeans have emigrated to work there.

I managed to get to sleep by 11:30, with a 5:30 wakeup to start my journey. A cab to the airport and another great conversation with an interesting Irishman. Then an easy flight to London, a plane change and I’m across the Atlantic.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Donkey Island

One of the leaders of the Dublin User Group really wanted to spend time with me. He’s an Italian with a lot of energy and excitement, and I avoided going out on Sunday night after a long day. However he wanted to take the Red Gate group sailing Monday and I agreed to go.

The weather wasn’t great after rehearsal, too windy to sail. However Marco managed to get a Coast Guard friend to take us out in a rigid inflatable. It was a small boat, and as we arrived at the St George Yacht Club, the sun came out and the drizzle stopped.

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We were given bad weather overalls and coats, which was nice. Having been out in rough water, I knew we were likely to get wet. My regular shoes, but I thought the worst case would be I’d be wearing running shoes later. I looked like this (no selfie)

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I rode in front and my life jacket blocked access to the inner pocked with my phone, so no shots on the water.  My jacket was older, and the zippers stuck.

We went out of the harbor and headed South around the island. The water wasn’t too bad, and it was fun. I’d forgotten how I like being on the water, though it was windy and I wished I had my sunglasses.

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We pulled up to Donkey Island, a few acres that are just a few hundred yards offshore. It’s deserted other than animals. Lots of rabbits and holes to avoid along with some feral goats.

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There’s a 13th century church structure that’s there. It has no roof, but someone decided to settle here rather than the main island. An old lighthouse exists on one end, so maybe that’s why.

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There are also the remains of a fort from the Napoleonic era. It contained the remains of three large cannon emplacements ready to defend Ireland from the South.

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It was a real treat to get out on the water and visit the island. Not a lot to see, but it was peaceful and interesting. We headed back and each of the three of us drove the boat, with me bringing it into the dock. I was a little worried, but I managed not to bang into anything.

It was interesting to drive the the boat with a power trim and use that to get going. Hard in a rough ocean and 2ft seas.

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Afterwards we had a pint to the yacht club, which definitely isn’t my kind of place. Too formal, and we only could drink in there because it was off season and jackets weren’t required.

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Afterwards we went to a steakhouse where I had the best steak I’ve had in Europe.