Thursday, July 29, 2010


We traveled from (the complete blur of) Paris to Versailles - a quick 30 minute train ride outside of town.
Louis XIV totally knew how to live it up - an amazing "villa" (also known as a chateaux) on the outskirts of Paris. And, he even built a summer house for Marie Antoinette, which is only about a 20 minute walk from the main estate. So, when Marie got sick of her high-heel wearing husband, she could take a carriage ride for about 10 minutes and be at her own summer estate. How cool is that?

Pooh (see prior blog entry for embarrsing self-disclosure about Pooh) made it safely to Versailles and, once again, embarrassed his two "40-something" owners by appearing in public for a photo op on the front grounds of the palace....

My dear friend from high school (Heather) reminded me today that she has photos of me at Versailles from 9th grade during a trip we both took with a high school group (a school that shall remain nameless, as I did not enjoy those four years very much). That trip, however, was tremendous fun and Heather's message today reminded me of one of the great times I had during high school. I believe I discovered wine then, too. Thanks Allen (aka, my father who likes that we have been on a first-name basis since I was in high school) for sending me to France at such an early age with a laissez-faire French teacher!

Remember - live every day as if it is your last, because one day you will be right.

Kick Butt Golden Gal

Now really, how awesome was Joan of Arc (Jean d'Arc in French). I mean, seriously - a woman who was petite took on a revolution and won - way before Sarah Palin ever stepped foot on a stage to make a complete fool of herself.

Joan - you rock and totally deserve a gold statue in the middle of Paris.

Making the Most of Life

Since moving to Texas (well, actually since starting to commute to Texas 2.5 years ago when Phil took the job at LIVESTRONG to work for Lance Armstrong), I have been fortunate to meet a number of amazing people. One of those people is Helen Knost (and you have to love the fact that Helen requires people to say the "K" in her name, so it is Ka-Nost).... Helen is a THREE time cancer survivor. Can you imagine that - three times she has beaten the disease that sucks. She is an amazing woman and makes every moment count.

To meet Helen is to experience a breath of fresh air - someone who simply makes you feel better and happy just by being in her presence.

Cheers to you, Helen - and happy 40th birthday (spent in France, no less - how awesome is she)? And yes, John - Helen does deserve a diamond that big!!!!

Good Friends and Paris

This experience has been such an eye-opening reminder as to what life is really about - spending time with good friends, family and health.... And Paris, that ain't so bad either. I'm very lucky indeed. Oh, and Kathleen is the really pretty one....

PS - while I was in the streets with my friends (sweating and battling the crowds -in Paris, so I don't expect sympathy), Phil was in the private Grand Stand on the Champs Elysee, so that's why he is not in the photo. So, don't fret - poor Phil was having a rocking time (and arrived home from the Radio Shack Team party at 0400 hrs....).

The Tour - Final Stage

Well, Contidor won it again. Lucky Spaniard. But, Lance and Team Radio Shack took the team title and teamwork is what it is all about - lest Contador remeber that....

On the final day, I hung out with my pal John from Austin (a brilliant tech dude) and we walked the streets of Paris - up to L'Arc de Triomph and around the circle to cross the Champs and ramble about. Yes, we may have ordered a few beers along the way. In honor of Lance, of course, since it is his last Tour de France. John, however, would not let me go to the bathroom until I ordered his beer. The French language makes him a bit nervous.

We enjoyed the "entree" into Paris and then headed for a bistro. As cycling enthusiasts know, the last day of the Tour is really just ceremonial. The race is won on the preceding stages. But, the cyclists enter Paris and then do nine laps around the city in a spectacle that becomes a blur. So, we figured it was best to watch the final couple of laps on TV while enjoying a bottle of French water (aka, vin blanc). Lovely, indeed. Cavendish took the stage win and we were so happy - at least Contador didn't win the Paris stage....

For those who may want to come to the Tour, remember a few key pieces of advice: It is really hot in France and there is not much AC (or deoderant for that matter); dress in comfortable shoes (the French don't - they always wear Prada or high heels); expect huge crowds (refer back to my deoderant message); learn to love fanatics (they are way beyond Gator football fans, which includes me); and, above all, prepared to drink too much wine (it is literally cheaper than buying a 1.5 litre bottle of water).... Oh, and plan a 12-week detox when you return. This country really does like it's wine....

Paris and The Vendome

While in Paris for the final stage of the Tour (Go Lance and Team Radio Shack for finishing first in the Team GC!), we stayed at the Vendome - great neighborhood, as some might say. Really amazing place - close to the Seine, L'Ouvre, shopping (although I am probably one of only a few gay men who does not like to shop), Place de la Concorde and great food. Paris is a bit of a blur, thanks to our good friends John, Tim and Kathleen who forced me into a night with four bottles of wine. Peer pressure. Yes, fun time, if only for a few quick days before heading into the country. Paris is wonderful, but for the French who live there (and all have attitudes - I suppose because they are lucky enough to live in Paris)....

PS - you may notice on my baseball cap (which only Americans wear over here, BTW) that there is a "28" on the front. LIVESTRONG and NIKE made these limited edition hats to remind everyone that there are 28 million people in the world living with cancer - which is now the number one cause of death in the world. We are all affected by it and it SUCKS. So, thanks to LIVESTRONG, Lance and NIKE for continuing to fight for a cure and to help those survivors among us (including my brother Doug, my father Allen, and my hysterical and fun high school friend Liz. Doug is at home and resting/healing well, my father is feeling great, and Liz just hit her first anniversary as a cancer-free awesome women). You rock, Doug, Allen and Liz.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Seriously.... Have I mentioned the wine?

When the world gets crazy....

Remember who you love. And, why you love them. Phil, here's to 22 years together. How you put up with me, I will never know....

For those who know me....

They know that art is my passion. And, I snap photos of art everywhere. I saw these exceptional pieces in France and wanted to share them.

Paris - City of Dreams

The photos say it all....

Sex Fish?

Yes, in France they actually have a drink called Sex Fish Shot. I didn't order it. But, as a lawyer (fully recovered and non-practicing, thankfully), I had to document the proof. At this restaurant in Bordeaux we saw the proof painted on the wall!

Champs Elysee

After the Tour finish, I hung out with good friends in Paris -John, Tim and Kathleen - my Austin, Texas gang. Had too much fun. This photo was taken on the Champs Elysee - in back of us is the Arc de Triomph. Great day. Great friends. Very lucky, indeed.

Paris in Summer

The Tour arrived today! Team Radio Shack was number one in the general classification of all teams in the Tour! Excellent! Way to go Lance!


Met my friend John in Paris today. We ended up watching the Tour ride into Paris and hanging out at way too many cafes. Fun times - spending time with friends. He's holding the Livestrong banner to remind all of us to LIVE STRONG - every day. Cool, John!

Chalk Bot

Thank you, Nike, for creating a "chalk bot" that puts chalk messages on the road for cancer survivors across the globe. And, thank you Nike for handing out yellow chalk (the color of the Lance Armstrong Foundation) so that people along the Tour de France can write messages on the road for all to see.
I saw this message today and it resonated. "If not now, when?" How poignant. This chalk message resonated with me very much. It is similar to my motto: "Treat every day like it is your last, because one day you will be right." Make the most of life. It is short and should be vibrant and robust. Tell people you love them. Take risks. Do one thing every day that scares you....

Dinner with Lance

After the entrance to Bordeaux for the Tour, Lance was kind enought to have dinner with us on a boat that sailed around the city for the evening (and the night before he had to get up for the final time trial of the Tour!).

It was a perfect evening -with Lance's mother (in the white dress), his son Luke and his step father Ed (all terrific people). We had a great cruise and viewed the new LAF global cancer video - which anyone can see on the website.

A memorable evening, for sure.... Yes, the "Shack" jacket is Lance - walking in front of me to the dinner.... Cool, eh?

Bordeaux and the Tour

We watched the Tour's final time trial from Bordeaux's chamber of commerce building. It has been the chamber for 200 years and is an exquisite building and location for viewing the Tour.
The Tour stopped and started again this year in Bordeaux - the second most visited city on the Tour path next to Paris. A terrific location to wathc the world's greatest athletes compete for a prize of a lifetime!

Friends make life better....

My friends Helen and Martha spent part of my sabbatical with me. Helen (on the right) is a "cut throat cancer" survivor. Martha is a force of nature -the voice of all that is good and positive in the world - Martha has never met a stranger and is amazing.
Cheers to all the amazing, powerful, stupendous women in this world who make the globe a better place. Cheers to Helen and Martha.

Pooh meets Cupcake

So, apparently Phil and I are not the only 40-somethings to carry around a stuffed animal for photos around the world. Meet Lee - who is from Dallas and is a courageous cancer survivor (Go Lee!) and travels with Cupcake - her stuffed puppy. Cupcake met Pooh and Lee (and her reluctant husband Steve, who is an amazing champion for cancer survivors). All is well now that we know we are not the only ones who do this kind of thing. Cheers, Lee, Steve and Cupcake!

Did I mention the wine?

So, good news - Doug (my brother) is home. He had the drain pulled out several days early and he was released way sooner than expected. I will see him in just a bit. He's a fighter. Cancer doesn't stand a chance against him. Rock it, Doug.

While in Bordeaux, we went to the Rothschild winery. Amazing. We had a private wine tasing. Then, we visited the Lynch and Bages vineyard and had lunch at it's restaurant (which has been awarded two Michelin stars - out of three possible). Incredible. Truly fantastic. We also received an official diploma for tasting the wine, which certified us as official grape pickers!

All in all, a great day in Bordeaux.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

True Colors

Sometimes, sabbaticals teach us how to put life into perspective and what is truly important. If the last two years of my life had failed to do that (which it did not), then the last 24 hours would have. For those reading this blog, call and email your family today - tell them you love them.
Yesterday, my big (and only) brother had to be rushed to the ICU to have a craniotomy in order to relieve fluid that has built up in his head and caused disorientation and confustion. Over two years ago, Doug was diagnosed with brain cancer and even though there is no tumor re-growth, the space in his brain where the tumor was plays havoc with fluids, which most of us never have to deal with....
Doug has been through so much and is fighting like a true gladiator. He's in the hospital now (but thanks to the air traffic controller's strike in France, I could not be there for the surgery) and recovering with his wife and twin sister....
When I saw this rose today, I thought of Doug. It represents beauty, strength, peace and life - all at the same time. Doug is all of those things.
Some lyrics from a song about "colors" (True Colors, by C. Lauper) came to mind, and also reminded me of Doug when I saw the rose, so I wanted to share the lyrics with whomever may be reading this blog....
You with the sad eyes
Don't be discouraged
Though I realize
It's hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
When the darkness inside you makes you feel so small
But, I see your true colors shining through...
And that's why I love you.
Show me a smile
Don't be unhappy
If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can, then
You call me - and you know I will be there....
Doug - you are loved. You are a rose. You will recover. Show your true colors and continue to fight like hell. People around the world are sending positive energy to you from every direction.
Cancer sucks. It will not win. You will win, my brother. You will win.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Bordeaux is pretty interesting. Like a smaller Paris but far less pretentious. And, they serve a special appertif here only found in Bordeaux called "Lillet." It tastes like someone poured summer, fun and good cheer into a glass. Very nice.

For those following the Tour de France, this week was not a good one for Mr. Contador, who grabbed the yellow jersey in an unethical maneuver against his prime opponent Mr. Schleck. I'm not surprised after the antics Contador pulled last year. But, it would be great if Schleck could make up 30 seconds in the next few days and blow Contador away....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cows in Bordeaux

Bordeaux - more than just wine....

The city of Bordeaux (close to the Atlantic coast) is a UNESCO heritage site, which essentially means that it is gorgeous and filled with amazing architecture. It has about 1 million residents, making it one of the larger cities in France. And, they have been producing wine here since - get this - the 8th century. I doubt they ever put their wine in boxes back then. They also have this special wine here that our friend Ken introduced us to last night called Littel - kind of like a sweet and bitter wine all in one gulp (sort of like taking a sip of Lady Gaga). The city was once inhabited by Neanderthals (yes, seriously) about 20,000-30,000 years ago and, in more modern times, was one of the sites of a Celtic tribe. Hmmm. Irish in France. Cool.

Anyway, the city is lovely and we were able to finally get on a couple of bikes and do a short ride around the city - always the best way to see anything.

We highly encourage a trip to Bordeaux. The weather is also a lot cooler than in southern France. More later. A bientot.