Category Archives: Travel

Report from NBA Summer League

Here’s my report on Lonzo Ball after seeing him get a triple-double in person in a 94-83 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. His shot is really bad and they are going to have to reconstruct it to make him a shooter in the league. But he’s a really smart player.  He get’s it done on offense and defense, and in all statistical categories.  He’s a team player, and the comparisons to Jason Kidd are spot on. He’s going to be the next Jason Kidd and a good one. As long as he’s more of a distributor than a shooter. Even Jason Kidd made himself into a decent shooter and Ball is ahead of Kidd there, in my opinion.

Also, in the MavericksKings game before, Dennis Smith Jr. had a missed dunk that would have brought the house down, and still basically did.  Should be a stud for the Mavericks in his rookie year.

 

Brian Laesch is an “independent” Chicago Bulls beat writer waiting out the rebuilding process.

A history of U.S. Presidential drinking habits

Here’s an interesting article I came across while sitting in a Malibu home in the hills, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  (This detail has nothing to do with the story.  I just wanted to document it because this place is awesome.)  It’s a history of the drink of choice for every single U.S. President.   Some of the historical records used to validate this are a bit of a stretch, but either way, it’s an interesting historical account of the drinking habits of the leader of the free world. (A term that first came into play during the Cold War, by the way.)

History: Every U.S. President’s Favorite Drink

Happy Labor Day, everybody.

2016 Summer Olympics in Rio were a success

rings

By all accounts, and my perspective, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil were a big success–especially given all the negative media coverage leading up to the games. (Now, we can get into a more in-depth socioeconomic conversation, but I’m speaking to the event and experience of Rio, in particular.)  I had an incredible time in Rio de Janeiro.  Sure, I was concerned about my safety and the Zika virus heading into the trip, but overall, I found that using common sense and staying out of places I shouldn’t be was enough to have a successful trip. I was able to go to my first Olympics and visit Rio/Brazil/South America for the first time.  My lack of Portuguese didn’t help, but it wasn’t a major impediment.  Also, a seasoned Olympic traveler shared an important point: When you visit a country for the Olympics, you are typically getting the best treatment possible.  Security is way up and the country wants to put on a good face, or, a “show,” if you will, so it’s a great time to visit.  I found that to be true in Rio.  It is too bad, that Lochte had to get weird and make up that story, I digress.

Here are some quick highlights of my trip:

  1. On one of my first days, got to witness Usain Bolt coast to a victory in his first round 100m heat.  Had a good view of the finish and his walk through the maze of worldwide media after the race.
14054131_10157305727540058_4969465980170250337_n
Usain Bolt after winning his first round 100m heat.

2. Olympic Beach Volleyball in Rio was incredible.  Not just the setting, overlooking Copacabana Beach and the South Atlantic Ocean, but even the music (DJ or live band) in between points and the general spirit/energy of the Brazilian people and crowd.  It was definitely a unique experience.  I’m pretty sure it’s one of the greatest things that has ever been invented.

2016 Summer Olympic Beach Volleyball
2016 Summer Olympic Beach Volleyball at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

3. Visiting Christ the Redeemer.  Incredible experience.  Also was able to spend a moment in the chapel nestled inside the base of the statue.  On the walk back down from visiting, I will admit, internally, I became a little overwhelmed.  Of course, in typical B. Laesch fashion,  I did not really display this emotion, so nobody in my group really know.  But what will stick with me, is that after that personal moment, I heard a voice in my head say, “Can you hear me, now?”  I will always remember this.  It was clear and concise.

13934854_10157254473765058_2493134207669115427_n

4. Favela tour.  We were able to take a tour of Rio’s Favela Rocinha–which is one of the biggest. It was an eye-opening experience.  A bus took us to the top of the hill and we literally walked through the favela, all the way down.  To see how these people live, in crowded conditions, poverty, poor construction and in gangland, was something I will never forget.  I think I’m still processing it.  At a certain point in the tour, it was truly overwhelming and I needed to get through that walk and back into the city just to clear my head. Just imagine living there everyday.  I did see some hope there…but it was rough… We think we have it bad in the U.S. sometimes…  This was life changing.  I’m not sure how, yet.

14117909_10157296198100058_745257946847527172_n

14068133_10157296196555058_3722855442837895453_n

14021575_10157296195565058_6793958613095465097_n
I was told on the tour that the shape of this bridge does represent something.

5. Track and Field (Athletics) was incredible.

14079806_10157296100075058_1056326548557092327_n

13939322_10157305388955058_7831347952604173864_n

14064254_10157296099035058_8996841235259361446_n

14067681_10157296100305058_2048249401932864296_n

6. I met Kim Jung Un. (Surprisingly, with no security detail… Weird… Oh well.)  Apparently, according to theChive, others did, too: Kim Jong Un had a great time at the Olympics … sort of (10 Photos)

14102233_10157296199255058_3220126068213113246_n

7. Despite some games in pool play that were way too close, USA Basketball got it done in a definitive way.

DeAndre Jordan puts one down against France.
DeAndre Jordan puts one down against France.

14141798_10157305714980058_2855393420964157086_n

8. The Closing Ceremonies were one big international party.  The closing of the Olympics in Rio and the handoff to Tokyo were both a lot of fun. (Including an appearance by Super Mario.)  It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Nobody wanted to leave.  Or, at least, nobody in our group wanted to.

2016 Rio Olympic Closing Ceremonies
2016 Rio Olympic Closing Ceremonies

There is lot more that I could post but I have to get back to work.  May post a “Part 2” in the future.

Getting ready for Rio

Against all media warnings of a disastrous 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Zika, thieves targeting tourists, infrastructure not being ready, general corruption, general crime, general safety issues and half the PGA Tour dropping out of the games), I’ve decided to attend the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Despite all of the media reports, I booked my trip back in May and have, hesitantly, continued to plan for the trip.  My motivation for going is simple.  I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics, I’ve never been to Brazil (let alone South America), and I need an extended, international vacation.  I haven’t really taken a vacation in over 2.5 years in my current role.

I can’t really tell you why I’ve ignored all the media reports, but I have.  And, of course, I’ve been doing some research.  If you happen to be heading to Rio this month as well, here are a few resources I’ve found useful:

  1. Remember that Visa requirements have been suspended for this summer for U.S. Residents, so you do not need to obtain a Visa prior to travel.
  2. I found National Geographic’s “Rio de Janeiro Travel Basics,” simple but useful.
  3. TripAdvisor’s Rio de Janeiro Travel Guide
  4. CNN’s recent segment, Rio Olympic transportation slowly coming together
  5. Amazon Prime
    1. Mosquito Repellent Wipes
    2. Insect Repellent
    3. Power Adapter for Brazil
    4. Bug pants (Yup.)
  6. Common sense
  7. Prayer

Looking forward to the trip.  If you have any more advice for me, I’ll take it.

Now, here’s an incredible photo of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue:

Chris the Redeemer

Heading to Chicago in the morning

Well, as a sit here on the heels of a Team Boom loss in a tough battle in the Tempe Rec League championship game, I am completely wired.  Which works to my advantage, at the moment, as I am packing for a trip to Chicago in the morning.  This will be my third year in a row heading to the Windy City for Lollapalooza weekend and a reunion with the friends I grew up with, and my second trip to Chicago this summer.  We aren’t actually going to the festival this weekend, but I’d recommend it, if you haven’t been.  We are getting a boat on Lake Michigan Saturday which should pretty sweet.

It was tough to lose in the championship tonight but things are good. Always excited about getting back to Chicago, when I can.  Still my favorite city in the world.  If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it (especially in the summer). There’s a reason Kanye West calls out “summertime Chi,” in particular, in the song “Good Life from his 2007 album, Graduation. (Kanye, I miss that soulful stuff, by the way, man.)

In fact, let’s close this post out with the video.   (Also, Chicago did not commission me to write this somewhat generic endorsement.  It’s just a great place, and felt like mentioning it.)

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thoughts after Dallas police killings

After the killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and 5 Dallas police officers this week, an African-American friend of mine posted on Facebook that, essentially, white people can never fully understand the plight of the African-American and what it’s like to live in the U.S.  Naturally, a series of comments followed.  A lot had been bubbling up inside me, as I’m sure it had for a lot of American citizens. I ultimately responded with the below comment.  These are just some of my thoughts on the current situation.  It sickens me, but I believe we as American, truly are better than this.

As a white man in America, I wholeheartedly agree that I will never completely understand the African-American struggle. It is impossible for me to have the same perspective. But what I very much do understand is human struggle. And while I can never totally understand, I do empathize and I do deeply care about it. The killings of innocent black people by police officers disturbs me, deeply. The killings of innocent police officers in Dallas disturbs me just as much. The whole situation right now sickens me. I wish I had a magic solution but there is none. But the killing of innocent people, of any color, is completely wrong. So in my opinion, there needs to be major systemic change in police departments across the country to weed out bad or racist officers, and stop the unnecessary use of excessive/lethal force. And, in my opinion, the way these stories are portrayed by the media and by politicians needs to change. As long as it’s “us versus them,” “blacks versus whites,” black versus police,” there will continue to be tension. There will always be that misguided, frustrated person who will hold onto that, easily find a gun and take action. Killing innocent, unrelated officers in Dallas does not bring back the innocent who have been killed by officers elsewhere. And it does nothing to unite the people against the real problem officers out there. All the focus in the world should go towards the individual police officers who abuse their power, and in seeing that they are removed from the force, and ensuring that their precinct takes responsibility and action. We have to, have to, have to come together as a people, have a real conversation, and focus on removing those who do wrong from power, instead of blaming an entire group. The killing of innocent people is wrong. The stereotyping and profiling of an entire people (Black, white, police officers, Jews, Muslims, Christians, etc.), it’s just wrong. It’s not honest. It’s an excuse. We need to find a way to unite, fix these issues, recognize the progress that has been made in this country, and be honest about how far we still have to go. It may be 2 steps forward, 10 steps backwards, but progress continues to be made. As long as we have checks and balances in this country, we should have the means to continue to root out those who do wrong. The good things happening in this country do seem to get drowned out by the 24-hour news cycle, but progress can’t really be stopped. I still believe that most of us in this world want to see justice. And by justice, I don’t mean revenge. My post here is more of a response to the entire comment section, not necessarily your post. I still think there is more good in the world than bad. And I know the United States is better than this.

San Diego to celebrate America

I’ll be heading to San Diego in the morning to celebrate American Independence Day (the 4th of July).  I’ll be staying in the Pacific Beach area.  This is an incredible place to celebrate the 4th of July.  Beautiful beach. Incredible summer weather.  Laid back, oceanside bars/restaurants.  San Diego is a great American city. Blessed to be able to make the trip.  Looking forward to an early morning drive over to “America’s Finest City,” and an extended weekend by the beach.  Happy Independence Day, everybody.  America!

Greetings from Formby, England

Greetings from Formby Golf Club in Formby, England.  I’ve been here this week, helping my Dad and his company, Golfstat, work the 2016 Arnold Palmer Cup.  It’s been a great event and week of golf, despite the U.S. being dominated by Europe through the first three rounds.  Europe currently leads the U.S., 13-7, overall. Europe needs 2 1/2 points to secure the victory here at Formby.

Mostly, though, it’s been great to be here helping my Dad and spending a week with him.  It’s been a rough couple years, and a rough couple months for the family.  Always good to get away and see family.