2012 in review: 2013 can’t get here fast enough

31 12 2012

2012. It’s over. Thank goodness.

I’d rather forget a lot of what happened this year. Lots of dead ends and roadblocks as far as the career. Still dealing with high cholesterol. Working too hard for too little money and missing quality time with loved ones.

But no living in regret. Only moving forward and trying to be positive. It really wasn’t all bad.

This was the year that my first child was conceived. The baby will be here at the end of February or early March, if it goes to term!

This was the year I saw my first Las Vegas superfight(s) in person. It was also the year I watched my Oregon Ducks finally win a Rose Bowl, standing in one end zone on the moist grass of the stadium in Pasadena watching the clock run out on Wisconsin. I lost my great aunt Agnes Romero earlier that New Years Day. It was bittersweet.

I taught/advised for two classes at Arizona State in 2012. Enjoyed both. Working with students was very rewarding. And I always make it a good time.

I traveled to El Paso, Texas, for the first time ever. I could have thrown a rock into Mexico in two places where I was.

2012 took me back to Washington D.C. for work, but also allowed for the chance to see friends and family.

In September I rode a hot air balloon for the first time. Probably the last, too, but I can say I did it and what majestic views I had from the air over the Valley of the Sun.

Over the Valley of the Sun in a balloon.

Over the Valley of the Sun in a balloon.

In the basket up high in the sky.

In the basket up high in the sky.

The view from above Cave Creek, AZ.

The view from above Cave Creek, AZ.


I went to a NASCAR race for the first time. It was actually more entertaining in person than on TV.

My wife really did a lot for us this year. All that and carrying a baby for months.

The year ended, strangely, so similar to how it began. With the Oregon football team. From Pasadena on Jan. 1 to Scottsdale for Fiesta Bowl media day.

2013 will bring major changes thanks to Baby Romero. But they will be welcome changes. It’s definitely time for something different. For my own family being my biggest reason for living.

Wishing a Happy New Year to everyone, and God bless. PS Thanks Mayans for… well whatever. The world didn’t end so I get to see my child grow up!


Basketball (and a little baseball) in the nation’s capital

20 07 2012

This past weekend, I traveled to Washington D.C. for the Nike World Basketball Festival, with Nike inviting myself and a number of other writers of different areas of expertise to cover the event and see and experience some of the new hoops product the company is unveiling.

I’m no sneakers expert. I just wear what feels good, and I hadn’t ran (as in played basketball) for some time. But truth be told, playing on the same court as the FIBA U-19 and U-18 teams from the USA and five other countries was a lot of fun, as was posing for a photo of me flying through the air (sort of) for a dunk and doing the demo stations wearing the Nike Plus Hyperdunk shoes.

Another highlight of the event was watching both USA Olympic basketball teams (mens and womens) practice and play for the last time before they went off to Europe for the Olympic Games. I saw the USA practice Saturday, along with a few thousand military personnel and their families, and I attended the tuneup games against Brazil at the Verizon Center at the Verizon Center. Even shared a building with President Obama and his family.

I also on Monday (July 16) took a tour of Nationals Park, home of baseball’s Washington Nationals.

Here are some photos from three full days in D.C.:

Big crowd inside the DC Armory near RFK Stadium.

USA Women’s BB player Candace Parker during a clinic.

Team USA at practice.

Puerto Rico vs. China, FIBA U-19 pregame greeting.

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Book review: “This Love Is Not For Cowards”

12 06 2012

I don’t buy a lot of books. I do once in a while, or I’ll trade books with my parents.

Until a few days ago, every book I’d ever read or bought was the actual book. A hard copy or paperback. Then I located an Itunes gift card I was given, and after reading excerpts from one book in particular, I went online and purchased “This Love is Not for Cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juarez” by Robert Andrew Powell.

I couldn’t put down my phone. Every chance I got, I read the words on the screen, trying to form a mental picture of the places the author mentioned and described in the book, places I know I must have seen from high viewpoints across the border from Juarez in El Paso, Texas. Safe and sound on the American side.

To have read this book — a personal account about the now-defunct Indios de Juarez Mexican professional soccer team and its players, personalities and the incredibly difficult things the Indios and their supporters had to deal with living in Juarez on a daily basis — and been in El Paso just a few weeks ago looking right at Juarez every day was almost unexplainable.

Visiting El Paso and being within a few steps of Juarez and the border made quite an impact on me, and I felt that impact again as I read this book.

I’d heard of Powell’s book before I went to West Texas, and I think there was a part of me that really wanted to walk over one of the bridges and set foot in Juarez just to say I did.

Pedestrian tunnel-like walkway between Mexico and the USA, from American side.

Probably better that I didn’t. I didn’t bring my passport, one, and everyone in El Paso that I talked about Juarez with told me to avoid it. I didn’t question their reasoning.

Vancouver Whitecaps forward Omar Salgado, before he was drafted into Major League Soccer, is a proud borderland native from El Paso who would cross the border to see every Indios match, he told me recently.

“My dad had season tickets and my best friend is the owner of S-Mart, which (was) their biggest sponsor,” Salgado said. S-Mart is mentioned in the book as both a place of business and a team kit  sponsor.

“It was a team that I really loved and it was unfortunate the way it ended,” Salgado said.

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Back to the Oregon Coast

11 06 2012

The Oregon Coast was always a great place to go growing up. Astoria, Fort Stevens, Fort Clatsop, Neakahnie, Cannon Beach, Seaside, Tilliamook, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport… I saw pretty much the whole northern coast.

So going back there over Memorial Day weekend with my wife — the first time she’d ever seen the natural wonders of Oregon’s Pacific shoreline — was a lot of fun, even as an adult. And this trip was perhaps only the second one in which I drove so much. Happy to give my parents a break after all the driving they did for me.

It’s been developed a little bit here and there, but the coast was still pretty much unchanged from my younger days. It’s one of the reasons I love Oregon — change is steady, there’s population growth and development but it doesn’t always happen so fast.

Me, wife and mom at the Seaside turnaround. Wife is wearing a Fulham FC jacket, she’s a fan!

Bridge over the mouth of the Columbia River from Astoria Column.

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Ore.

View from Neakahnie Mountain. Wow.

My parents at the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

Like I said, this trip wasn’t so much for me as it was for my native Arizonan wife. She said she loved it. I think she liked Mo’s clam chowder, cheese samples and pepperoni sticks more than the scenery. Well maybe not.

Passing (time in) the Old El Paso

1 06 2012

Not sure if I have ever tried Old El Paso salsa but I remember those old TV commercials about “tasting the old Southwest.”  Guess that means I’m getting older.

Well, I finally went to the real El Paso earlier this month. The vast majority of my 5.5 days in the West Texas town were spent at the Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy, getting out of my comfort zone of writing and learning about other forms of storytelling — audio, video, slideshows. There was a lot to learn.

A very good experience and this was the final project I helped create. Had a good team to work with and everyone in the program was very nice. I was also able to get out and see a few things.

Day 1: The Sun Bowl and the Don Haskins Center on the University of Texas at El Paso campus.

Don Haskins coached Texas Western, now UTEP, to the NCAA title and made history in the process. Look it up.

At night I went to a baseball game in town.

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“The Avengers” was good, and seeing Las Vegas in a new light

12 05 2012

Let’s go with the most recent occurrence first. My wife and I went to see The Avengers Friday night – were we like the last people in America besides the people in the theater with us to see this? Oh well.

Good movie. A lot of action. Funny lines, especially from Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark’s Iron Man. Thor is kind of lame, I like Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk, especially when he slammed Loki back and forth like a rag doll.

The Captain America movie was really good, I thought, but his role was pretty secondary in The Avengers. And ScarJo > Pepper Potts any day.

Moving on to Vegas, it’s been a week since the big Mayweather-Cotto fight and I have to say, being in Vegas as a media member with a pass to go places the average person cannot is a much better way to roll. I didn’t see all of the celebrities that apparently attended the fight, nevertheless, it was a lot of work but a pretty good time.

Honestly, Vegas is fun, but it costs so much to go nowadays. You want to feel like you get what you pay for, and you’re really paying a lot for a four-star hotel. Especially during a fight weekend. Cab fares are tremendously expensive and they add up.

Three positive reviews from Sin City: The Trump Hotel just off the Strip near the Wynn is fantastic. Such a nice suite I had, unforgettable. Good cheap eats during happy hour (I was there around 5 p.m.) at Pink Taco at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. I ate very well for about $14.50 including a really good tip for my server. And the Japanese cuisine at Grand Wok and Sushi Bar inside the MGM Grand was a bit pricey but delicious.

Tempura shrimp sushi, beef rice noodles and these lettuce wrap type of things. Solid.

Photos from Vegas:

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It’s a familia thing

17 01 2012

And I know a lot of you understand.

Family. My dad stressed the importance of it so many times growing up, because ours was so far removed from our relatives in Southern California and other places. Sometimes it feels like it still is.

Which makes those times when you get to see a lot of tios and primos and second cousins and parents’ cousins and spouses and babies, etc., so rewarding.

R.I.P Tia

The paying of respects to Aunt Agnes, or as some called her Aunt Tita, brought us together this past weekend in the San Fernando Valley. It was sad to say goodbye to the matriarch of the Romero family, who lived to age 98 and was one of the most kind and giving women any of us ever knew. But in celebration of her life, the Romero/Paredes/Romo/Jiron families, plus folks from my mom’s side of the family who graciously took their time to be there for us, were able to come together.

First and second cousins, love my family!

It was just nice to see so many people again and catch up. I learned a lot. Talked to Uncle Smiley about his time in Eugene when he went up to Oregon to go to school. Got in a lot of photos. Caught up with Cousin Maggie and Paul and took my turn as being the butt of a few jokes.

It seems like no matter how long I go without seeing them, every time I do I feel like I just saw them last week. We’re good like that.

Family is precious. Make it a big part of your life and it will help you feel fulfilled.

Me with my sisters! We only get to see each other a few times a year. Love you both and I'm so proud of you! PS Thanks Maggie for posting the photo.