Chance Encounter

Yesterday was wonderful. I went to IMD to have lunch (OH how I miss those lunches!) and talk with the MBAs about careers in technology. On my way out, I debated whether or not to stick around and play a little ping pong--oh why not?! As I was playing a my first game, who should walk by but Martin, my Czechoslovakian classmate, bbb7 member, MBAT volleyball partner, and ping pong opponent. An immediate timeout was called for a big hug and overjoyed surprise.

I invited Martin to join me in ping pong so we played against two executives in doubles. Our first game wasn't pretty but Martin had just enough time for a second before he had to rush off to the train station. We barely won the second game so he HAD to stick around--whether he had time or not--for a tie-breaker. Fortunately we won the third game handily and he made his train on time.

What a fortuitous meeting. IMD truly is the global meeting place for executive ping pong!

On a more somber note, I wish all my family--both immediate and extended--a good May 28. Wow, 19 years . . .


It Finally Happened

This weekend has been remarkable for several reasons. Chronologically:

1. On Friday it was announced that Jimmy Buffett will be performing not one but two shows in Europe this year, both in small venues. July 5th he will be in London in a theater that seats ~2,000 and September 26th he will be in Paris in a jazz lounge that seats ~900. Last year's show in a jazz lounge in Paris was UNBEATABLE. If you really consider yourself a parrothead, come join me one of these shows!

2. On Friday I finished J.R.R. Tolkien's Book of Lost Tales. It was very long and slow going but it provided amazing insight into how Tolkien arrived at the stories that were ultimately published in The Silmarillion and laid the foundation for The Lord of the Rings. It's not for the faint of heart but I recommend it for any die-hard Tolkien fans.

3. Many of you know that I have never been shat upon by a bird before in my entire life. Walking to and from IMD every day last year, I always had this fear that my streak would be broken as the paths through the woods around campus were coated with bird poop. Miraculously, however, I made it through unscathed and reached my 30th birthday still unsoiled.

Saturday morning, one of my coworkers, Bogdan, and I went to IMD to play ping pong. Bogdan is a good athlete; he was a soccer star in Romania and he has picked up beach volleyball very quickly, providing me with a much-needed partner who is consistently available. It turns out that he is pretty good at ping pong too; he beat me 5 games to 3, but most of our games were settled by 2-3 points and a few of them went to deuce.

During one game, as I was winding up for a forehand smash, I felt something on my shoulder. After putting the smash away for a winner, I looked back and was surprised to see what was obviously bird poop. On May 23rd, 2009, at approximately 11:30 AM, 30 years and 2 months to the day after I entered this world, my great streak was finally broken! It's actually kind of a relief. Bogdan and I already share a special bond because we went into the cold, cold lake together after beach volleyball earlier this year. Now we shall truly be united forever--thebrotherhood of Poken sports and bird poop!

4. After ping pong we went to play some beach volleyball and then met up with another coworker, Dave, for a late lunch. Dave and his family had arrived in their boat so they took us out for a quick tour of the lake. I'm embarrassed to say it but, after almost 18 months in Lausanne, this was my first time actually out on Lake Geneva. Crazy! Better late than never, though. It was fun looking at Lausanne from the outside in. We traced all the paths I usually run along and it felt like I was looking at them from the other side of a mirror.

5. I beat Military Madness and am now starting over, playing as the bad guys. I really don't have any time to play video games, but it really is therapeutic to devote brain cycles to strategy in a context other than Poken.

6. Rice baseball is undefeated in the C-USA tournament and will play in the championship game tonight. Go Owls!

Bogdan and I are off for some more ping pong and volleyball then this evening I'll work on a presentation for a talk I am giving on Tuesday. If anyone will be in Geneva on Tuesday, come by for the panel on new media and the future of social networking.

Pics of the above are in my facebook album.


Cheeseburger in Paradise

Last night I went to a coworker's apartment for . . . cheeseburgers! I can't remember when was the last time I indulged in meaty, gooey goodness--maybe not since 2008--but I was very excited to revisit it. When I arrived at her apartment I met several of her friends (from Switzerland, Russia, and the Czech Republic) who also had large appetites. We spent a while milling about while the burgers were prepared. Naturally I took the opportunity to teach the eastern Europeans the lyrics to Jimmy Buffett's classic Cheeseburger In Paradise, which I consider a real success of cultural exchange.

When finally it was time to eat, I realized that these were not exactly your typical burgers--they were a very Swiss version! There were apples and rosemary in the patties and the cheese was . . . raclette! After a weekend of perfect weather and, hence, beach volleyball--with the Poken team--I was ravenous and they were oh so good. I told myself I would quit after just one. Then I had just one more half. And then another half. Then, after dessert, one more half. So, 2.5 burgers and a couple glasses of nicely paired zinfandel later, I walked home very, very well fed!

Many thanks go out to my coworker for cooking--now it's back to salads and light pasta for a while! Pictures of volleyball and cooking are available in my facebook album.


Team Poken

Yesterday some coworkers from Poken and I played beach volleyball after work until it was completely dark out--around 9:30 these days. It had rained during the day so there weren't many other people there and we had no trouble taking the court we wanted. It wasn't exactly the highest level of play, but it was a good time. I like my coworkers; we have a good team full of smart, competent, fun people--it's a great basis on which to grow.

I've been blogging less frequently recently, partly because I've started microblogging on twitter. This helps me post those small, ad hoc musings that otherwise would need to wait for a more concerted blog entry.

The other reason I haven't been blogging much is that life has been pretty routine recently--hectic, but routine. In June my two favorite beach volley partners of all time (who also happen to be my two favorite wine consumption partners of all time) will come visit, though, so I expect plenty of bloggable stories to be generated then!


Long Time, No Blog

Sorry I've been off the scene for a while. Coming back from Italy there was a lot to do at work before gallavanting off to the US for the Nolte-Rakowitz wedding. Then, once over there, there was a lot to do trying to keep things moving forward remotely.

My time in the US was very nice. The wedding was lovely and neither the bride nor groom seemed too stressed. Always adventurers, they tried their hand at making jalapeno wine, which was very interesting. A little bit of it goes a long way and I wouldn't want to have it all the time, but its mix of spicy and sweet was very good.

After the wedding it was just nice living a "routine" in Houston for a few days: work, beach volleyball, running, seeing friends, cooking dinner, etc. My last night I was taken out for an exquisite dinner at the Petroleum Club, where it was nice to sit back and enjoy the finer things for the first time in a while.

Now I'm back in Lausanne and relatively well adjusted to the time zone. I got some beach volley in today and will again tomorrow. The annual Carnaval de Lausanne is going on right outside my apartment. This means that the streets are packed, live bands are playing, and vendors are set up all over the place. Thank goodness for ear plugs at night!

Over the past couple of weeks I've had the chance to enjoy some leisure entertainment. Via the Wii Virtual Console, I reconnected with Military Madness, one of my favorite games for the Turbo Grafx-16 back in the day. It was ahead of its time in terms of strategy game sophistication but I love how timeless it has turned out to be. I have as much enjoyment out of it now as I did in 6th grade.

All the flights have also given me the chance to watch a few movies: Valkyrie (ok), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (not bad), Taken (ok--Liam Neeson was an interesting casting choice), and The Wrestler (good). I think there were a couple more in there but clearly they weren't all that memorable. All this, of course, is just a distraction while I'm waiting for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to open in July!