Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The 2019 Year Ending Post

Friday, December 28 -
Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The last five days of the decade were busy ones full of lots of joy and a bit of sadness.

On Saturday, our venerable mentor
Rosey Nolan, was laid to rest

Rosey was 94 years old when he passed away and was one of the most dedicated people you could ever meet. He was a true American hero who parachuted into both France on D-Day and Belgium in Operation Market Garden during WWII as part of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles.

I first met Rosey in the Fall of 1970 at Thousand Oaks H.S. when he was our Varsity's Defensive Coordinator and I was starting my first season of coaching, serving as T.O.'s Junior Varsity Defensive Coordinator.

Needless to say, I sought Rosey out constantly for guidance and he never once refused to take the time to help a young coach just starting out in the business.

His ability to tell stories was legendary and he was much loved by all who knew him.

I'll always be grateful for what he meant to me in those formative years of my career.

Mike and Jacob were ready
for the two College Semi-Finals
games on Saturday afternoon

While we were watching the games we had visitors.

Meredith and Anthony Perez

Anthony and his wife Meredith stopped by Casa Contreras for a visit that I enjoyed thoroughly.

They are recently married and met while both were working in Sri Lanka on a humanitarian mission.

Anthony was our outstanding WR on our 11-1, 2004 Pacific View League Champion Rio Mesa Spartans football team.

Any time a former player drops by the house to say hello is the highest honor that I can receive as it tells me that we must have done something right for a young man when we coached him.

It was great to see Anthony and his bride and to share what was going on in all of our lives.

Good Times!

As for Saturday's two big games . . .

LSU's #1 ranked Tigers (14-0, SEC Champions) destroyed the #4 ranked Oklahoma Sooners (12-2, Big XII Champions) by a final tally of 63-28.

In the exciting nightcap contest, the #3 ranked and defending National Champion Clemson Tigers (14-0, ACC Champions) edged out the #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (13-1, Big Ten Champions) by a score of 29-23.

The National Championship game between #1 LSU and #3 Clemson should be a dandy!

Kickoff is scheduled for 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, Milan, Italy time.

I'll be up early that day to watch it in the Villa Skorpion II.

On Sunday, I joined Mike and Jacob for another trip to the Los Angeles Coliseum for the Rams final NFL game in that venerable old stadium before moving into their new sports palace in Inglewood in 2020. Our Rams (8-7) were hosting the Arizona Cardinals (5-9-1) in an otherwise meaningless game.

We invited family friend Dylan Moore to join us as our guest, his first NFL game experience, as his Christmas present.

The fact that Dylan is a die hard New England Patriots fan was indeed problematic.

Jacob, Dylan and I at the
Expo/Sepulveda Metro station
on the way to the Coliseum

We made it to the Rams
Fanfest area

Dylan will be Brandin Cooks
size in about two more years

Dylan, Mike and Jacob
by the artwork celebrating
today's last NFL game in
the Coliseum

Tailgating outside of the Fanfest

Jacob about to catch a pass

The fun and games were now in full swing.


Dylan made a fine sideline catch

Dylan's funky Tom Brady
passing technique

We're going in!

The view from our end zone seats
were perfect if you are a coach

Son and Grandson were both
happy to be alive today!


We were ready for one last
2019 Rams victory

Cool end zones done in the
Rams 1950s style

These BBQ chickens looked
good but the food prices were
shall we say . . . EXCESSIVE!

Dylan enjoying some cotton candy

Jacob enjoying being Jacob

Father-Son bonding

Jacob became fast friends with
the funny guys sitting behind us

All Second Half Rams' scores were celebrated in this same fashion.

We were joined by Mike's fellow
Newbury Park teacher Rich Bradley
and his son Jake

The Good Times just got better as we all got along famously.

The end of an era at our historic
Los Angeles Coliseum . . .

. . . was a GOOD one!

The playoffs this year without our
beloved 9-7 Los Angeles Rams

After the game, the fans were allowed
on the field for a fireworks show

Dylan plucking some Coliseum turf

Jacob plopping down on the field

Dancing on the Coliseum turf

The Four Amigos with the
Coliseum's iconic peristyle end
in the background

Apparently the Rams paint
the turf green before games

Dylan avoiding a fierce Rams
pass rusher to get off a bomb

Jake and Jacob 0ne-on-one

Jacob trying to find Dylan
for a critical first down

Jacob, Dylan and Jake after
their game was finished

The funky end zone pattern

The Rams Farewell Fireworks Show

On the whole, I thought it was a bit weak. The typical Ventura County high school's Homecoming fireworks displays were a cut above this effort.

On Monday we were off to Las Vegas to celebrate the New Year and our son Andrew's birthday on Thursday.

At our usual breakfast stop in
Victorville, we saw the General Lee
in Emma Jean's parking lot

Emma Jean's offers the best in
desert hole-in-the-wall dining

In Las Vegas at last,
with grandson Kevin!

Our trips to Las Vegas do not feature time on the famed Vegas Strip. We are more the home-body types dedicated to watching every college bowl game that we can.

Of course, we need sustenance
during these bowl game broadcasts

John Mull's Road Kill Grill
is the perfect spot for BBQ in Vegas

Between bowl games we squeeze in a
game or two of CLUE to while away the time


Friday, December 27, 2019

My Wondrous Yearly Experience at the Italian Consulate in Century City, California

Thursday, December 27, 2019

The Varese Skorpions like to do things the right and legal way.

Thus, today marked my third consecutive yearly trip to the Italian Consulate in Century City, California to file the necessary paperwork and pay the required fees in order to obtain my Work Visa for my upcoming six months stay in northern Italy to coach our beloved Skorpions.

Without this Work Visa, I can only legally stay in the European Union countries for a maximum of 90 days.

 As always, the organization
at the Italian Consulate is,
shall we say . . . interesting

The Consulate's hours are a bit quirky and one must get an appointment with the Consulate to get a Work Visa about three months in advance.

I arrived for my 10:00 a.m. appointment about forty minutes early armed with all of my paperwork, a cashier's check and a good book to read while I waited.

I found three ladies in line at the reception desk when I got off of the elevator. The first one had an appointment but the next two didn't.

The man at the reception desk informed these two ladies in perfect Italian that they could not possibly enter the Consulate without an appointment. The ladies pleaded their case also in La Bella Lingua and magically they were admitted to the Consulate without the needed three month in advance appointment to a different part of the Consulate from where I needed to go.

Ah, Italia, how I love you.

The first lady who did have a Visa appointment was done in about five minutes.

I was next up and finished in about five minutes too which was about 20 minutes before my scheduled appointment.

The only hitch was when the lady I was meeting with asked for my code number from the Italian Olympic Committee in order to get a Sports Work Visa. I told her that I did not have it because it was not mentioned in the six part set of directions of what to bring to my appointment. She nicely offered to look my name up on the Italian Olympic Committee's website and, wouldn't you know it, I did indeed have the now required code number.

I sensed the all-powerful hand of the Skorpions' Santa Barbara Zanella pulling strings somewhere in the halls of power of Rome.

The annual Consulate ordeal easily behind me, I was in the mood for more Italian culture and/or cuisine.

 There was an Eataly in the Westfield
Mall just across the street from
the Italian Consulate

I love the Eataly in Milano and was a OK with the one in Las Vegas. Let's see how this one stacks up to those two.

Panettone is a Christmas treat
in Italia 

We even enjoyed one as one of our dessert choices at Laurie's amazing Christmas Day dinner. 

is one of Italy's best coffees

Our coffee machine in Varese is made by LAVAZZA and has made us, goodness only knows, how many delicious cups of espresso over the last two campaigns in Varese.

I purchased a cappuccino
and a cream filled brioche

They were both MUCH larger than there counterparts in Lombardia and considerably MUCH more expensive too.

See, I told you that it was GOOD coffee!

 Oh the aroma of fresh baked bread . . .

I bought a loaf of Rustico Classico for myself and a loaf of Rustico Olivo for Laurie.

The bread is delicious but the price was somewhat outrageous by Varese standards.

 Interesting looking squash

Eataly's good looking butcher shop

Eataly has a HUGE
variety of Italian wines

These looked good but instead I bought
a bottle of white wine from Sicily for Laurie
and a bottle of red Barbera D'Alba for myself

I absolutely LOVE arancini
but the kitchen wasn't open yet

 Cheese and hams . . .

They had desserts . . .

. . . LOTS of rich, delicious looking
desserts but I was strong and
avoided temptation somehow

No, I can definitely NOT explain my resolve.

Lots of bread sticks

Those fabulous desserts were
still enticing me as I started my
trek back to Camarillo

A good day indeed for Italian bureaucracy, coffee, a pastry and checking out all sorts of Italian cuisine that beckons me from both near and afar.

Maybe we should go out for an Italian meal tonight at our new favorite dining spot, Made in Italy in Thousand Oaks . . .

A new EuroBall Adventure is now only a few weeks away.