Saturday, January 28, 2012

Flying First Class: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

Nevdogg Note: This is the first of a two-part series about my wife Ramona's amazing Christmas for me, in which myself and a friend flew first class from Los Angeles to Chicago and then saw the Green Bay Packers play at Lambeau Field on New Year's Day. Part 1 is about flying first class.

So it's 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2011. A little early to be up on New Year's Eve. Normally, yes. However, when you're on your way to Los Angeles International Airport to fly FIRST CLASS to Chicago and then catch the Green Bay Packers play at iconic LAMBEAU FIELD the next day, you don't mind getting up when the sun does. :-)

Here's how it went down:

For Christmas, my wife Ramona and her friend Jessica surprised myself and Jess' husband Adam with first-class airfare to Chicago on New Year's Eve, along with tickets to the Packers game the following day. For me, this was the gift to end all gifts. For one thing, while a diehard Raiders fan, I've always liked the Packers and if there's one place I've always wanted to go to watch a sporting event, it was the Packers' home stadium -- Lambeau Field -- which is essentially the sporting mecca of America. But more on the game next blog. :-)

As an amazing bonus, our airplane ride was going to take place in first-class comfort. For me, this was a dream come true. I've flown first class exactly once in my life, when I was 6 years old and going with my parents and sister to see relatives in New York. And all I remembers is that we flew through a hurricane and they served me hot dogs.

So needless to say, I've always wanted to have a first-class airplane experience that I'd actually remember so my amazing wife made it happen!

How was the experience? Let me tell you, as we play a game called:

Except If You're In First Class

When we arrived at the airport and when to check in our bags, there was a huge line to wait in...

...except if you're in first class. :-)

In first class, you have your own special line, complete with red carpet, with no one in front of you and people quickly and easily checking in your bags free of charge.

When we went to board the plane, it took a while to get on because it was an extremely full flight...

...except if you're in first class.

Priority boarding. Hell's to the yes.

Once on the plane, every nook and cranny was filled up, from the seats to the overhead compartment...

...except if you're in first class.

Including myself and Adam, there were exactly three people in first class, with plenty of overhead compartment space and our very own rows.

Like any flight, no drinks are served before takeoff...

...except if you're in first class.

"Sir, would you like anything to drink before we take off?" the stewardess asked me.

I had a Diet Pepsi and a Bailey's Irish Cream. Free, of course. :-)

As you know, these days airlines charge anything from $5 to $10 for packaged food boxes...

...except if you're in first class.

I got food that was actually cooked. Cooked, people! I had a potato-and-leek omelet (I had to ask what a leek was) with mozzarella sausage and vegetable hash. Plus, they gave you real silverware!

"What do you think so far?" Adam asked me.

"Dude!" I replied. They put this Diet Pepsi in a glass!"

It's the little things. :-)

Airlines always charge for movies, when you have a choice of a couple of films...

...except if you're in first class.

I had my choice of 25 on-demand movies. Twenty-five! I was officially happier than a hog in slop.

"Excuse me?" I asked the stewardess. "One more Bailey's please."

I like a fresh beverage during movie time. :-)

Other first-class highlights:

Leg room. OMG.

Easy bathroom access.

Foot rests.

Unlimited snacks.

Mouthwash (all you have to do is ask).

Blankets and pillows that don't itch.

And, most importantly:

A screen to separate you from the rest of the plane.



And now for this week's:


A man was recently arrested for disorderly conduct while covered in white powder.

Here's his mugshot.


Some SOTAs just write themselves.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Adopting A 23-Pound Cat: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

OK, so I know I promised that this week I would begin my two-part series about my amazing Christmas gift from my wife Ramona, which involved both first-class travel to Chicago and TICKETS TO SEE THE GREEN BAY PACKERS AT LAMBEAU FIELD!!!! And I promise that such blogs will be coming very, very soon.

However, this week has found Ramona and I to make a big decision regarding our household. It's something we've talked about for a while now, having been married for nearly 2 1/2 years. Having a household all to ourselves has been nice, but we both agreed that at times the house seems a bit empty and that maybe the time is right to add a new member to our family.

So this week, we took the leap...

...and adopted a cat.


But not just any cat. As I write this blog, the newest member of the Barich household, Beans, is currently hiding in the back of my closet, a little timid of her new parents and surroundings. We expected this, and we expect her to leave the closet at some point.

But when she does, it may take her a while...

...because Beans weighs 23 pounds.

Twenty-three pounds. Yep, our new cat is fat. A fat cat. She don't move very fast, and in truth she hasn't moved much since we met her this morning. And if I'm being totally honest, hearing about how big she was initially raised my eyebrows. But then I found out more about Beans: About how her previous owner has passed away. About she's been at the shelter for six months, longer than any other cat. About how other potential owners -- maybe of them elderly -- decided not to adopt her because...well, they just couldn't lift her!

All of this made me and Ramona sad. So while there were other cats out there -- younger, thinner felines -- we decide to adopt the 5-year-old fat one.

I've been a cat owner for approximately 87 minutes. But so far, so good. I have all of her essentials set up -- food, water, litter box, toys -- I didn't drop her while she was in the carrying case, and I even didn't freak out when she got cat hair all over my pants!

Yep, I think this is gonna work out OK. :-)

Ramona, meanwhile, is ecstatic. She's the cat lover in the relationship. She's wanted a cat for a while now and for some reason fell in love with the idea of adopting a big old fatty (not sure why, but to each their own). So for me, it's win-win. I have a happy wife and a cat that I rescued from the glue factory (do they send cats to the glue factory?).

Now technically, we're not Beans' official parents yet. We're just "foster parents" until we decide officially that we want to keep her. But in our minds, there's no debate. Beans is a keeper. And once she ventures out of the closet, I think she's going to like her new home.


...Beans' colors are silver and black.

Raiders colors.

That's a good omen.


And now for this week's:


Snooki is becoming a boxing promoter.

Perhaps the Mayans were right about 2012...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Playing Basketball With Teenagers...And Feeling Like An Old Man: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

I am not a good basketball player. In fact, I absolutely suck. I can't jump, I can't run, I can't shoot, I can't rebound, I can't dribble and move forward at the same time (never did get that down) and I'm not even a very good passer. Hoops just ain't my game.

Nonetheless, I'll hit the courts from time to time and feature my lack of skills. So when my neighbor John texted me last night and told me that him, his son, his nephew and another teenage boy were playing basketball across the street, I didn't hesitate.

"Honey," I said to my wife Ramona, "I'm gonna go outside and play."

I haven't said that since I was 10 years old. :-)

Once outside, a friendly game of Horse quickly turned into a Streetball game of 2-on-3, featuring the old guys (me and John) versus three teenage boys.

And although we held our own (we played two games to 11 and managed to win the first one despite the numbers disadvantage), I realized yesterday that the other team had a fourth player that I didn't expect:

Father Time.

Simply put, I felt like an old man out there. For the first time in my life, I found myself unable to hang with the younger boys athletically. I'm 32 years old, and last night was the first time that I really felt it.

Now, in my defense: I was not in game shape. I work out all the time, but it takes even professional basketball players time to get their wind. If I played more regularly, I surely would feel better out there than I did yesterday. So that was part of it.

But it was more than that. Usually when I play basketball, my body catches its wind after the first game. Not yesterday. Usually when I play basketball, I can will my legs to continue when they're burning. Not yesterday. Usually when I play basketball, I can guard even the fastest teenager (the unskilled-to-semi-skilled ones, anyway) with my lockdown defense when I feel the need to slow the game up. Not yesterday. John's damn nephew flew by me every time, and there was nothing I could do about it.

I even found myself wondering:

Was I ever that young?

And so for the first time in my life, I -- along with my teammate -- resorted to a long-standing tradition of what men do in these situations when we reach a certain age:

We cheated. :-)

It wasn't blatant cheating. Just a lot of little things. The pulling of the shirt when one of the kids when it for a layup. The "incidental" elbow on his back when going for a rebound. If we were down 8-5, the score somehow became 7-5. If the ball ever went out of bounds, the old guys never touched it. One time, one of the kids accidentally gave me the ball after I checked it to him, and I promptly turned around and shot it in. Any semblance of complaint from the young kids was instantly met with a look of incredulous disgust by one of the old guys, as if to say:

A real man doesn't bitch and moan. Only a boy would call that a foul.

That look works on teenagers every time. :-)

We trash-talked. That was a skill we still had. Every time one of the kids did a fancy dribble, we called him a showoff. We rolled our eyes at every one of their no-look passes. The kids heard about every shot they missed. Whenever one of them complained to the other, we called them a bad teammate. The young kids, according to the old guys, had no heart, no continuity, no concept of team. They were too young to know what it took to win, we said. We did and said anything and everything, because by the middle of game two, we had nothing else to fall back on.

Every time the old guys made a shot without the fancy moves -- which was every time -- we praised our lack of wasted motion, saying that only kids do all that useless running around. But the truth was: We didn't have the energy for wasted motion. All we had was gamesmanship.

When I came back into the house, my wife took one look at me and knew the story. For the first time in my life, I was an old man. She even said to me, "Would you rather not go out tonight? You can stay home and rest."

Stay home and rest. My God, where did the years go?

Luckily, within 20 minutes -- and after a hot shower -- this old man felt good enough to take his wife to dinner and a movie. And during The Adventures of Tin Tin, I took some time to reflect on what happened during the course of that evening. Every athlete has that first-ever moment when he's an old man out there. Some manage to make adjustments and last a few more years. Others refuse to change their ways and fall to a combination of bitterness and forgotten memories. I hope I'm the former, not the latter.

Next game, I think these young guys may trip over my feet.

Accidentally, of course.


And now for this week's:


They launched a Project Runway All-Stars?


I mean...



Next week begins my two-part blog series about my AWESOME Christmas gift from Ramona: First-class travel to Chicago and TICKETS TO SEE THE GREEN BAY PACKERS AT LAMBEAU FIELD!!!!

So much blog-worthy material.