Bob

13th January
2019
written by bob

Hello Friends!

Our apologies.  It has been WAY TOO LONG.  4+ years too long!

I’m going to keep this post short.  Suffice to say, a decision was made back in May 2014 and we did not end up moving to Singapore (a future blog post) and, instead, ended up moving back to the US and the great state of Colorado!

Denver, CO

Denver, Colorado skyline with the beautiful Rocky Mountains in the background.

Life is pretty busy at the moment with full-time work, part-time contract work, Miss G’s schedule of hockey & swimming, and making time for our love of skiing/riding in the nearby mountain resorts.

I will attempt to make a better habit of writing more blogs in the future.  It kind of fell off our radar once we moved back to the US as all of our friends and family were back here.  However with all of our NEW found “European” friends and followers may made while abroad, I (we) need to blog more so they can keep up with our new adventures.

That was the original intent of our blog; to keep friends & family abreast on what we were up to and how our lives were going while living abroad.  Our travel has not ceased since moving back and I will detail that in future blogs for you all to enjoy!  Please feel free to comment and let us know what you all have been up to as well.  We’d love to hear from you!

Bye for now, my friends.

8th March
2014
written by bob

Who in their right mind would turn down an opportunity to visit the Italian wine region of Piedmont? Well, certainly not us! Especially when you have three great, long-time Canadian friends coming over to visit and partake!

This past June saw Katherine’s birthday and what better way to celebrate than with great friends enjoying incredible wine and the unbelievable tastes of the Piedmont region.

Great friends & great wine in Piedmoint Italy.

Great friends & great wine in Piedmoint Italy.

This trip also marked the first time that Katherine and I got away on a “Mommy-Daddy only” getaway since we had Miss G. It was long overdue! Mind you, it was only for three days BUT…a “kid-less” three days.

Mike, Lisa, and Sue arrived on a late Saturday afternoon to a pool party we were having with a bunch of our close “France” friends. BBQ’d food with some cold beer and rose wine along with a nice dip in the pool, makes for a fine afternoon in sunny Cannes! Mid-Monday morning we were off, driving to the town of Alba, Italy in the heart of Barolo country. Following an easy 3-hour drive, we arrived at Villa La Favorita, an amazing (and reasonably priced) Bed & Breakfast in Alba, Italy. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the friendly staff and Roberta, the owner. Roberta was fabulous for us during our stay. Very knowledgeable of the area, she had no problems recommending restaurants for great food and booking wine tours for fine tastings. Roberta even produces her own wine with the grapes from the property!

Alba, Italy - Barolo country!

Alba, Italy – Barolo country!

In nearby Barbaresco, we took in the sights of this small, quaint town with the discovery of a tasty winery. An elderly woman offered samples of the wine she was selling. It was decent. We tasted vintages of 1998, 2003, 2007, and 2010. The best was the 2003 whereas the 2010 needs a couple more years to age before it is ready for sipping. We nicknamed this winery, “Two dogs & an Old Lady”. (To this day, I would still have to look on the labels in “la cave” to tell you the actual name of the winery!) On the way back to the car, a L’Enoteca fancied our tastebuds and we entered to taste a few more varieties from this local area.

Did I mention how well Roberta knows Alba and the Piedmont region? Like the back of her hand. She grew up here and she is very well connected in the area. When we informed her that we had a couple of wineries on our list that we wanted to tour, she took care of setting up the reservations for us. First, we toured the Pio Cesare Winery. Pio Cesare was one of the oldest wineries in the area and was located near the center of town right along the river. It was an old school winery that was started in 1881 with the cobwebs to prove it. We toured the under-city wine cellar, tunnels and rooms that age this fine wine. There were bottles that were soooooo old that I have a hard time thinking the wine in them would be any good. It wouldn’t be but the fact that they still have them was pretty cool! Large, old school casks were preparing the next batches of wine soon and one cask, in particular, had to be at least 4+ meters tall! (Decanter, please!) Our tour ended with a tasting of 2 of the Pio Cesare wines. This was a little disappointing considering they have some great wines to showcase to people. Pio Cesare came up short on this tour. We felt like we never really got a chance to know and taste their wines which was pretty unfortunate. I mean, come on, hook me with some wine and I would have wandered to the local sommelier for a few bottles just tasted. Overall, I would say the wines were pretty good but nothing to write home about.

Our next wine venture was held on-site at the Paolo Scavino Winery. This modern winery used more modern technological processes for creating their wine.

La Cave a la Paolo Scavino winery.

La Cave a la Paolo Scavino winery.

While the winery was started in 1921, they had recently finished a new building addition. We toured the new and old parts of the winery and our guide was extremely well versed in the winery’s historical roots, the processes for making each and every varietal they sell, as well as the tasting notes on each. Our tour guide took his time to explain everything and answer all our questions unlike the rushed feeling we got while at Pio Cesare. In the caves, the Paolo Scavino winery keeps samples of every wine they bottle – forever. The number of bottles kept depends in the harvest and bottles are kept in a very dimly lit cave with only a tag label to define it. And, most impressive, the caves were kept very clean! Following our tour, our guide brought us back to the tasting room where we sampled six or seven wines, including the only white wine they produce. Each wine was fantastic in it’s own way. Our favourite was the Barolo Monvigliero; so much so that we purchased 2 of these before we left. In addition we did not leave without adding a bottle (or two) of Barolo Cannubi, Barolo Bric del Fiasc, and Langhe Nebbiolo. Buying direct from the winery saved us more than a few euros. :)

Writing about visiting Italy wouldn’t be complete without mentioning how incredible the food was. Every single time we visit Italy, we NEVER come home disappointed with the food.

The L'Enoteca in Barbaresco.

The L’Enoteca in Barbaresco.

Seriously, the food is absolutely incredible! Be sure to dine at La Bovio Restaurant when in the area! From Katherine’s favourite dish of Asparsgus Black Truffle Risoto to my amazing Veal Tartare, it was all unforgettable and simply delicious! I normally wouldn’t venture to eat raw meat but I now live in Europe where this is perfectly acceptable. The tartare was out if this world! I would eat it again in a heartbeat. Though, being the animal lover that Lisa is, my dinner choice did NOT score any brownie points with her.

Italy and the region of Piedmont, we love you! A HUGE thanks goes out to Villa La Favorita – Roberta and her staff. Thank you for you incredible hospitality!

And, last but not least, thank you to our good friends – Mike, Lisa, & Sue for organizing the trip and inviting us along for the experience. We were so glad you all could come and hang with us this past summer! Let’s do it again, SOON!

Au revoir, mes amis!

25th December
2013
written by bob

This is a blog I have been meaning to write for quite a while now.  Today’s the day.

In the wave of security and privacy concerns over the past 2-3 years, I have become more and more disturbed by the number of tracking scripts, beacons, etc. that websites have employed to watch our every click on the Internet. From Facebook to Google to your favourite news site and online shopping site (ahem…Amazon), they’re all watching everything we do.

BEFORE blocking update(s).

BEFORE blocking update(s).

AFTER updating blocking on JumpTime.

AFTER updating blocking on JumpTime.

Do I have anything to hide online? No. BUT, that is not the point. Personally, I believe everyone should be able to surf the Internet without worry that everything click or mouse movement is being tracked/recorded by who-knows-what-site. It’s not exactly anonymous but at least it would be “some” privacy. While there are several great services that you can pay for such as numerous VPN sites which will help you surf the net anonymously, most people do not necessarily want to shell out $6-12 (USD) per month just to do so. (Incidentally, I also use a VPN especially when I’m force to use public wifi however, that is another blog for another day.)

Enter Ghostery.

Ghostery is a browser plugin that allows you to view all site tracking scripts. It’s really an eye opener to see how many there actually are. I had always know of a few mainstream ones BUT you would be surprised by the number of other smaller trackers. Ever heard of Gravatar, New Relic, or Quigo AdSonar? Exactly, me either. As Ghostery states, “it sees the invisible web” – all the things you do not see visible to your eye. Ghostery is quite easy to install in any of your favourite browsers (Chrome, FireFox, IE, etc). Just follow the install instructions on their site. You can control blocking of EVERYTHING and you also have the option of “whitelisting” sites. Whitelisting allows you to specify a site or tracker is okay to be enabled and you allow the beacon to run. Inadvertently, blocking some trackers could possibly interfere with some site features (pictures, videos, etc) however whitelisting trackers will alleviate such issue. Ghostery really gives you the control you want and not the control the site “tells” you, you want. Here is an example of the number of trackers/beacons from just 1 site (I don’t remember which one):

This is one website.  Looks how many trackers there are here.  I have blocked almost all of them!

This is one website. Looks how many trackers there are here. I have blocked almost all of them!

I have been using Ghostery for the better part of 2 years and I have no issues with it. It works as promoted. And…it’s SIMPLE! Did I mentioned Ghostery is anonymous? It is. This is probably one of the best features they provide. No information is exchanged unless the user opts in to enable GhostRank. You can read more about GhostRank on their site. Regarding privacy for Ghostery (taken right from their site):

PROTECT YOUR PRIVACY:
Ghostery is built and maintained for users that care about their online privacy, and is engineered with privacy as a primary goal. Ghostery use is anonymous. No registrations or sign-ups are required. The Ghostery plug-in does not place session cookies into your browser. Neither the Ghostery application nor Evidon receives any data from Ghostery users unless the user opts-in to participate in GhostRank. GhostRank data is anonymous, it is NEVER used for advertising targeting purposes, and is only shared in an aggregated, non-personal, statistical form.

Finally! A company that understands privacy from the customer’s point of view and not their “self-imposed, you-do-privacy-our-way” bullshit. Thank you Ghostery. You actually “get it” and you are looking out for people and not the corporation.

Au revoir, mes amis!

6th October
2011
written by bob

It truly is a sad day. Now living in France, I went to sleep last night and woke up this “grand” French morning to learn of Steve Job’s passing. Today did not starting out so “grand”.

Today’s, or yesterday’s, news reminds me of a conversation Katherine and I had in the not-so-distant past. Recently, a leader of the Canadian NDP political party, Jack Layton, resigned abruptly. Sadly within a month, he lost his battle with cancer. When Steve Jobs resigned from Apple, it felt eerily the same, like déjà vu. I remember saying to Katherine that this sounds all too familiar of Jack Layton’s story. I prayed the outcome would be different despite knowing Mr. Jobs past battling his health issues.

Image courtesy of Jonathan Mak (http://jmak.tumblr.com/post/9377189056)

When Steve Jobs resigned from Apple, a few things really started to hit home although one in particular really stuck out. You see, Katherine and I now have a beautiful, one & a half year old daughter. She is the light of our lives and we love her to death! We hope that she will always have both of us around her for the majority of her life and, as long as we can control that, we will be.

I guess what I’m really getting at is the fact that when you really think about it, money isn’t everything in the world. Steve Jobs was incredibly successful to the point money wasn’t an issue. Sure, it can buy a person a few more years however, in the end, money cannot buy health. So if you are fortunate enough to live a long & healthy life, you are already rich beyond your imagination! Good health is the wealthiest thing you can be blessed with.

To Mr. Steve Jobs – thank you for being the visionary you were. You changed our world as we know it and have inspired many others to “think differently”. You were one of a kind. And…in classic Steve Jobs’ fashion, “Oh, and one more thing…”

Au revoir, mes amis.

2nd October
2011
written by bob

We have been meaning to write a post on this for quite some time now. Back in March, we configured our site to use Google Analytics and we have watched the site’s metrics/statistics very closely since then. Eight months later, we’re fascinated by the information we are seeing from the regular/first time visitors.

Thank you

Our personal "Thank you" to all our visitors!

Almost 40% of visitors find us directly and read our site with some sort of regularity. Judging from the search engines: Google, Bing, and Facebook, about 47% of site visitors find us through these channels. However, more interesting that the actual numbers here are the specific “search” terms that lead people to our site. We can understand some of them and why our site gets listed in the result set but others, we never would have guessed!

For instance, the “Top 5″ search terms (in order) that bring people to our site are:

1. interdean shipping
2. the little nell wedding deck
3. bobandkatherine.com
4. cathy kaveka hotel
5. getting married on top of aspen mountain

Some other interesting searches that have lead visitors to our site include:

1. dinner on “a sandbar” honeymoon
2. living abroad wth a job transfer
3. countries where you can get hulu
4. french law apartment uninhabitable
5. get married on top of aspen mountain
6. tempe town lake and running
7. juice box with a monkey on it
8. where to find prostitutes in antibes ( <- our personal fav)

Another intriguing facet that leads visitors to our site is the locations from which they come. As of October 2011, we now see people have come from 197 cities comprised from 28 different countries! That is amazing! Most of our visitors are friends and family keeping up with us from our home countries of the United States & Canada. It also now looks like we have picked up quite the following from France! However, we now have new regular visitors from Brazil, Australia, Singapore, Netherlands, Ireland, Malta, Sweden, Taiwan, and so many more. As each month passes, we are starting to see more and more regular visitors and we welcome you all. We hope you enjoy what you read and that we can at least entertain you for a small portion of your day. Also remember…regardless of the reason you find our site, feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding our experiences that you may benefit from should find yourself on a similar path.

Lastly, as of this weekend, we have made a new commitment to you all and that is…to write at least one blog per week. Feel free to hold us to it if we don’t hold up our end of the bargain. ;)

To everyone that visits, whether you follow our adventure regularly or you are looking for information from our experiences, we say “Thank you”!

Au revoir, mes amis!

31st May
2011
written by bob

A couple of weeks ago I had to fly to Los Angeles, CA to apply for and pick up my French visa! Long trip you say? It definitely was – 15hrs of flying on the way there and 24hrs traveling back (with 8hr time change included)! Yep…LOOOOONG trip although British Airways definitely made it a lot more confortable in Economy Plus class! Ooooh…I wracked up some serious air miles on this trip too! Cha-CHING! Thanks BA!

A view from the sky.

Seems a bit odd that I would have to fly from Nice to LA when I’m already in France, right? Well…like a lot of the long, paper processing routines here in France in order to obtain a French visa, you have to go to the nearest Consulate to your home address. Yep…since we don’t legally “live” in France yet, my home is still Arizona and the closest French Consulate is in LA. And, thus, explains the trip.

Before anyone gets all “bent” on the fact that I had my iPhone “on” during take-off & landing in the plane, let me first say that this isn’t something that I normally do when flying. Ever! I abide by the rule of the air always and turn my phone completely off when the Captain requests that passengers do so. However, this time I decided that I was going to photo document my trip and made sure I put my phone in “Airplane Mode” so as not to receive any form of communication (text, calls, whatever).

As always…enjoy the slideshow and I will see you soon!

Au revoir, mon ami!



Full-sized pics (with captions) can be found here. Trip pics

7th April
2010
written by bob

For the first time in my life I have actually experienced an earthquake. Mind you it was the tremors of an earthquake since the epicenter was 500+ miles away but the fact that the house and contents were shaking was enough. The experience was pretty cool yet very alarming at the same time!

I was just sitting down on the couch to video conference with my family back in Canada and wish them ‘Happy Easter’. As our Skype call connected I yelled for Katherine to come out to the living room as my family sat patiently watching me. At first I thought the cats were fighting under the couch but quickly realized that is impossible since they can’t fit under it. I looked up and noticed the TV and the DVD rack was swaying a large amount. My thought then turned to “I think we are experiencing an earthquake”. Strange to think that though since Arizona doesn’t experience that kind of thing. The worst bit of weather that we see here is August monsoons which are usually pretty mild. As things shook, I could only wonder if the movements were going to get stronger (worse). After a couple of minutes the shaking was over.

I resumed my Skype call with my family while checking my Twitter messages. Sure enough, people in southern California were tweeting they felt a ‘strong’ earthquake. Not soon after, most media outlets began to report a 6.9-7.2 magnitude earthquake in northern Mexico about 100 miles south of Tijuana. While living in Vancouver, BC there were the tremors of 3 earthquakes felt although I personally never felt any of them; 2 of which I believe were during the night and I sleep like a log. Not much wakes me up – just ask Katherine! :)

Thus, it was an experience that had eluded me until this past Sunday…and if this is the only earthquake I experience for the rest of my life, it will be just fine with me.

17th November
2009
written by bob

I saw a news report this morning while getting ready for work in my daily morning routine.  Approximately six months ago Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services, stated that the US would be ready for the H1N1 (swine) flu pandemic that has now been declared.  She informed the US public that by the end of November this year the US would have 120 million H1N1 vaccines.  In the not too distant past, that 120 million turned into a revised 40 million.  Today, the news report I watched stated the US would be ‘lucky’ to have 30 million on hand by the end of this month, just 2 weeks away.

As I was commuting in on the light rail train today, I thought of this question to answer for yourself…if the US government cannot get this vaccine issue right, who the heck thinks they will be able to run your Healthcare?  Now the public will have to ‘wait’ for more vaccine.  Hmmm, sounds a lot like a socialist healthcare system, just like that in my native country of Canada where long lines, wait times, and rationed care are the norm.  The American public depended on the US Gov to execute this ‘BASIC’ of healthcare tasks and look what happened – they failed.  It doesn’t leave me with a ‘warm-fuzzy’ feeling.  You decide.

12th November
2009
written by bob

Since I have committed myself to running the Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon this year, my training has already begun. The first week was tough let me tell you! Considering I haven’t run my last half marathon since 2005 I’m was definitely not in my best shape…HA! It’s okay, you can laugh too..BUT only because I laughed first!

Anyways, you really can’t beat the weather at this time of year and the fact that I get to run around Tempe Town Lake located right outside our front door!

3-mile Loop – Tempe Town Lake

Until my next new route, enjoy your running!

7th October
2009
written by bob

Here is my latest letter that I have sent off to Congress and my local AZ Representatives:

Please oppose increased government involvement in health care. Please work to reduce government involvement in health care.

The Senate Finance Committee finalized a healthcare bill without knowing what it will cost. That’s irresponsible.

Even worse, you guys are hiding the true costs of your proposals by pushing their full implementation beyond the 10-year accounting window used by the Congressional Budget Office. That’s fraudulent.

If corporate CEOs behaved this way you’d use Sarbanes-Oxley to put them in jail.

Madoff defrauded in the billions. You guys commit fraud in the trillions. DO NOT PASS THE HEALTHCARE BILL!

There is so much fraud is other Government programs that should be corrected before we enact another such program that will be riddled with deficit. Tort Reform, need I say more? You should also seriously think about opening up Healthcare across State lines to increase competition. This is a no-brainer that DC apparently can’t get through their thick skulls. By the way, can you name one Government program that is a profitable one? Let me know when you figure it out – I’ll be waiting. And yes, this is the exact reason why a majority of people DO NOT want the Government in our healthcare; because it will be a disastrous FAILURE!

It has been reported that Harry Reid has apparently written in special treatment for his State of Nevada where they don’t have to pay as much (along with 3 other States) while some States (like CA) have to pay more than the norm? This is ludicrous!

Just know that ‘We the People’ are watching and if you pass this Bill without reading it, without giving the US public the chance to read it, or use the ‘nuclear’ option – we will give you a ‘pink-slip’. You represent ‘us’! Are we clear?

I cannot believe the sorry state of affairs that both Democrats & Republicans have gotten this great country into. Money has corrupted DC and every politician out there. Congress is out of control and out of touch with reality. You should all be fired! This is not how this country was founded nor was intended to be run.

You should all be ashamed of yourselves!

Anyone think they will get the message? Feel free to copy, re-use, alter/edit this letter for your own use to send onto Congress should you feel the same burning passion I do.

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