Monday, October 22, 2007

GTS Client Conference 2007

My company, GTS, hosted our annual Client Conference at the Benson Hotel in Portland this year. We had around 45 clients attend. Official highlights were the brewery tours and dinner at Bridgeport Brewing. Unofficially, we had some highlights of our own: Dinner at Saucebox, a trip (or two) to Mary's Club, drinks at Henry's Tavern, Vault Martini Bar and SoLo, and a night of dancing at Lux (SoLo's upstairs dance club). A group of us were out until the wee hours of the morning every night. Below is a list of the Top 10 things overheard from our clients that week:

  • Do you want to rub my Clint?
  • Pies?!?
  • This is not a GTS-sanctioned event!
  • I heard about that.
  • That guy's got junk!
  • That's a BIG clock.
  • Is damp okay?
  • Mary's Glue Factory. Where strippers come to die.
  • I ate the whole bush.
  • Is this legal in Portland?!?
It was a great conference, and many friendships were made or strengthened. I can't wait for Client Conference's in Las Vegas!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dave Gahan - Kingdom

Came across this video on YouTube. GREAT song from the upcoming "Hourglass" album from Dave Gahan. I love the use of light in the video...kinda creepy, yet really cool.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Grape Stomp!

Gathered a great group of friends together this past Saturday to participate in Willamette Valley Vineyards' annual Grape Stomp competition. What, you've never heard of the Grape Stomp?? It breaks down like this: 10 teams of 2 compete to see who can get the most grape juice out of a tub full of grapes using only their bare feet to squash. One person stomps while the other "swabs" (makes sure the drain tube remains unclogged). The stompers used white grapes so they didn't stain, but we drank almost exclusively red wine. I have new appreciation for Wine Away red wine stain remover. Wow. Just spray it on the stain and watch as it disappears. Yes, we needed a lot of it, if you can't tell from the photos...

While I didn't stomp, I did take a lot of pictures, which I posted on Flickr for your viewing pleasure. I also drank a LOT of great wine, drank a small amount of really bad wine (Lisa, shame on you), ate some good food, end ended the day with a couple shots of vodka. Can you say "lush"?? Yep, that's me. Here's two photos of our crazy group:

Grape Stompers

The Stomp!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Google Dance Karaoke...Oh The Horror!

Note to self: Never karaoke with a group of SEOs at Google Dance while drunk, wearing funky wigs and playing inflatable instruments. Ever. Watch the YouTube Video of us making idiots of ourselves...Enjoy my Photos on Flickr from the SES conference (well, the partying at least!). It was a great time, even if we were just a bunch of drunken idiots most of the time.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hood To Coast 2007

The Hood To Coast Relay was this past weekend. If you don't know about it, and haven't read my previous blog posts about it, here's a quickie (and I know you all love a quickie, now and again): A 12-runner relay race starting at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, down Highway 26 through Sandy and into Portland, then continuing up Highway 30 into St. Helens and over the Coast Range, finishing on the beach in Seaside. 197 miles total. 13-18 miles per runner, over 3 legs. And a kickass party on the beach afterwards! Was that a quick enough description for ya?

My team, Bunghole Liquors, finished in 26:24:30. Nike gave us some magnetic signs to keep track of our "roadkills" with (a roadkill is a runner you pass during your run). Our van of 6 runners had 119 total roadkills, of which 41 were mine. I think van 2 had 93 roadkills, bringing our team total to 212. My legs were Leg 6: 7.42 miles in 48:15 (6:30 pace, 15 roadkills). Leg 18: 4.15 miles in 28:41 (6:55 pace, 10 roadkills). And Leg 30: 5.35 miles in 34:55 (6:32 pace, 16 roadkills). My average over approx. 17 miles was 6:37. Not too bad, considering I hadn't trained much the month or so prior! Our team had a blast on the road. Of course nobody slept between legs. We were able to grab showers between our first and second legs, and shovel Olive Garden's nasty excuse for italian food down our necks, but sleep was next to impossible. I think one guy did grab an hour of sleep. Weak. It's not fun if you sleep! Here's a link to some Hood To Coast photos on Flickr, if you are so inclined. None of me, of course, since I had the camera...hopefully some of the others with cameras will kick down some more pics.

[EDIT]: I have to add a huge THANK YOU to the people at Red Bull for handing out so many cans of regular and sugar-free Red Bull to our team. I think every person in our van picked up at least 4 cans, and we drank them all (most of them with copious amounts of vodka!). My friend Kat was 100% correct when she said in her blog: "Red Bull = Liquid Crack".

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

SES San Jose, Day 3

Day 3 of SES San Jose is coming to an end. Guess I'd better touch on day 2 first, eh? The Expo started Tuesday, and the GTS team spent some time crawling through the booth areas. They definitely have the "A-Team" as far as booth staff goes at this show. Damn! Anyway, met some great people and heard about some amazing companies. Also picked up a good amount of swag, and tossed my business card in a whole bunch of lotteries for Apple iPhones, iPods, Sony PSPs, and even a 42" HDTV! Crazy. I doubt I'll win anything, especially with over 2000 attendees at SES. Of note, a couple of new friends, Monte and Lew from, showed off their new iPhones. What an amazing device! Scott and I tried to get Alan to commit to buying us each one, but Alan wasn't sold. "Make us some money first!" was his response. Bummer.

Sessions Tuesday were very interesting. Some good info on PPC ad writing and Social Media marketing. There is a good overview on CNET News. The big event yesterday was Google Dance 2007. Google invited all SES attendees out to it's huge campus in Mountain View, and treated us all to a huge picnic and dance party. "Club G" is their on-site dance club. Very cool. Free food, beer and wine, and even a couple of free 'candy bars', offering bulk candy like Hot Tamales and Lemonheads. The lines for those were longer than the lines for alcohol! Priorities, people! Googlers are all quite young. Most looked like they just graduated from high school. Had a great time, and got a group to sing "Love Shack" by the B52's karaoke. We all had wigs, crazy hats, and inflatible instruments, and Google filmed our performance, and burned it to a DVD. I hope I get a copy! Nothing like a bunch of drunk geeks trying to sing while wearing funky costumes!

Today, sessions were also quite good. I particularly enjoyed seeing Rebecca Kelley from SEOmoz in Seattle, talk about link baiting. Great presentation, Rebecca! Skipped the first afternoon session to get a workout and some swimming/sunbathing by the pool in. Great weather down here, so I had to take advantage of it! Getting ready to hit the Intuit reception in about 30 minutes, and then the SearchFest/Webmaster Radio party at Club Vivid later tonight. I leave tomorrow, so I'll probably give a final update after I get home.

I leave for the Hood To Coast Relay Friday at noon. We're running from Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood down through Portland, and on over the Coast Range to Seaside on the coast. 197 miles, and it should take our team of 12 about 25 hours. Giddyup!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2007

Good afternoon, this is Robert reporting to you live from SES San Jose! Day one so far has been great. I skipped the first afternoon session though, in order to get a workout in, since I couldn't drag my hungover ass out of bed this morning to git 'r done. Last night's meet & greet at Gordon Biersch was a blast. And there are a lot of very attractive women in Search these days. Wow. I can't wait for the rest of the parties! Stay tuned for more, live from SES San Jose!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Beach Weekend

Drove over to the beach this past weekend with Deb and her kids. She rented a house in Falcon Cove, 7 miles north of Manzanita. A friend of hers joined us on Saturday, with 3 additional kids (2 of them teens) and a dog. Quite the houseful! Had a great time though. The weather was beautiful early Sat AM (there's no such thing as sleeping in with children in the house) down on the beach in Manzanita. After a healthy dose of espresso, of course! We partied like rock stars that night, after a visit to the Falcon Cove beach. Was able to get this great sunset shot (cut off by the blog template):
R & D beach sunset
What a good lookin' couple! It rained all that night and the next morning, so after hitting Pig 'n Pancake in Cannon Beach (NOT recommended) for breakfast, we drove into Seaside to check out the Nike Factory Store, located at the Seaside Factory Outlet Center on US101. Bought some cool stuff (okay, I only picked up a running shirt, but Deb got some nice workout gear) and then went down to the Seaside boardwalk and beach. Lucked out with great weather again, although a bit on the windy side. Ran into friends Andreas and Trudie in a coffee shop (random!), and they joined us for a bit. It was a great weekend, and I had a blast hanging out with Deb and her kids. Our first "weekend away", and my first with children. Ever. I think I did okay...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Parents Come To Town

Once a year (usually), my parents hitch up the 5th wheel and drive up to Oregon from Phoenix, AZ to visit family. Well, they SAY it's to visit family, but I think it's all about getting away from the 110-degree heat in Arizona during the summer. Whatever the reason, they are here. Usually they will stay at my sister's place outside Redmond/Bend for a couple weeks before heading north to see their siblings in Washington. I'm typically the 3rd stop on their itinerary.

They pulled into town Monday afternoon, after leaving Yakima, WA that morning. Got together out at the Fairview RV Park they like, and then went to dinner at McMenamins Edgefield. Met up with Deb and her kids, and introduced everyone. The kids were a hoot, especially the 3 year-old. He was hamming it up for my mom. They are both so cute, but quite a handful, as you can well imagine. As usual, service there was bad, but the food decent, and beer outstanding. We ate out on the Loading Dock patio, enjoying the beautiful weather. Walked over to the Little Red Shed grassy area so the kids could run around for awhile. It was a great night, and everyone had fun.

Tuesday, I took a half-day off work, and we went up to the Portland Japanese Garden in Washington Park. Very cool, relaxing and serene. If it hadn't been 100 degrees out, it would have been much more enjoyable, I think. The Koi pond was my favorite feature, followed by the Zen Garden. Afterwards we hiked down to the Portland International Rose Test Garden so Mom could ooh and ahh over all the roses. Unfortunately, they were getting cooked by the sun, so most were not looking so nice. I got some pretty good shots with my new Canon PowerShot SD1000 digital camera. 7.1 megapixels of picture-taking power in a tiny little package. Love it so far. Here's a good example:
Portland Rose Garden Specimen

After baking outside for several hours, we had to buy an air conditioner for my place, as it was just unbearable inside. After installing that, we went to dinner at the Marina Fish House (previously Newport Bay at Riverplace--same menu/staff/owners, but a different name) out on their floating dock in the Willamette River. I had the cedar plank salmon w/butternut squash risotto. Delicious! Some "cool" guy was tearing up and down the river in his $250,000+ Fountain sport boat. The twin Mercs on that thing sounded incredible, even as he whipped by at 70+ MPH out in the channel. I was a bit envious. His stripper (not hatin', but who else would wear 4" stilettos on a boat?) girlfriend was pretty hot too...

Tonight, we're headed up to Vancouver to visit my cousins, after stopping by to see my old roommates, Jim & Christine, and their new baby, Sienna. Should be a fun night as well. My parents will be leaving Thursday morning, headed back to Redmond to see my sister and her family for the weekend. Then it's off to Nevada and back to Arizona, just in time for the infamous Arizona Monsoon. Oh joy. So far, it's been a very nice visit. A bit on the warm side to really have much fun though. Wouldn't you know it, they drive up to Oregon to escape the 100+ degree heat of Arizona, and it's 100+ degrees in Oregon...they're just lucky I guess!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I've often wondered how Kenyans are always winning running races and setting records. I think maybe now I know why they are so fast: They fly instead of run. See the pic below for a better description. Must be nice to skim the surface of the road, instead of slapping your feet the whole way...

Skimming Kenyans...(Chris Relke photo.)

Of course, being so fast also means they missed most, if not all, of the downpour. That must have been nice. Kenyan Patrick Nthiwa had the winning time, with a 63:03 finish, a whole half-hour ahead of me. I'm told this is a new course record for the Vancouver Half Marathon. Congrats, Patrick! Mind if I borrow your winged shoes one of these days??

Monday, June 25, 2007

Vancouver and Race Results

What a weekend! Myself and a group of friends (see previous blog post) went to Vancouver BC for the half marathon. Vancouver is a really fun city to visit. It's quite expensive however, and with the American dollar being so weak at the moment, the exchange rate sucks. Lots of great restaurants and bars though. I discovered while leafing through one of the guidebooks we borrowed (thanks Jeff!) that Vancouver has a lesbian club named...wait for it..."Lick". Nice!

We checked out a tiny Japanese/sushi place for lunch on Friday, and went to a Thai restaurant for dinner that night (I forget the names). Both places were on the famed Robson Street strip, and quite good. Our rented condo was in Coal Harbor, 4 blocks north of Robson, and very handy to everything. I had to sleep on an inflatable mattress in an "office" that was about the size of a normal person's closet. It didn't even have a real door, just a sliding glass door with no curtains and NO privacy. I'm not kidding.

We walked to most places the entire weekend. Saturday was a driving day however, and we all went to Granville Island and Yaletown to check out the scenes and do some shopping. Had to swing past the University of British Columbia to see where the race started too. That night we went to Rangoli for dinner. It's a smaller, less fancy version of the highly recommended Vij's Indian restaurant, and located right next door. The food was incredible, but in hindsight, not the best thing to eat the night before a half marathon!
Note to Self: Do not eat a lot of spicy food prior to a race.

The Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon on Sunday started out nice, but about halfway through, I experienced the worst downpour I've ever ran in, and it continued through the end of the race (you can see how bad it was in the pic of me checking my watch at the finish below). I was soaked from head to toe, water running off the bill of my cap, barely able to see. I missed the kilometer markers for 19 and 20K (yeah, the 13.1 miles was marked in "K's") because I just couldn't see! Had to focus on the street surface in front of me, which resembled a raging river at the time. It was crazy. I missed my goal of 90 minutes. Official Chip Time: 93 minutes 4 seconds for 13.1 miles (21.1K). Kinda bummed about that, but I blame it on the rain, and maybe just a tad on the "kilometers-instead-of-miles" thing. I must have gained 5 lbs in just water soaked into my clothes!
Run, Robert, Run!
"Light" rain around 10K (Denise Relke photo).
Finish line!
Checking my watch in the deluge at the finish (Chris Relke photo).

Lots of food and alcohol soon followed the race from Hell...we went to Yaletown Brewing for their Sunday pizza special: all 12" pizzas were $7 and pints of beer were $3.75. They had a tasty brown ale called "Downtown Brown" that I loved. After 3 of those and a pile of pizza, I was feeling mighty fine! We did a tour through Gastown, and experienced the Gastown Jazz Festival. Very cool area. The rain came back, so we headed home and had some downtime at the condo before firing up the alcohol again. We had bought a liter of Ketel One vodka and a liter of Canadian Club whiskey at the duty free shop on the way up, and had to finish both bottles before we left (we did).

Dinner Sunday was supposed to be at Stepho's Soulvaki, but the wait was too long, and we were starving, so we ended up an another Greek/Cypriot place down the street. The name of this gem is Takis Taverna, and their food was delicious. On a side note, our server, a very attractive blond girl, had the lowest-riding pants I've ever seen that didn't show butt cleavage. Very impressive. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah...After dinner we headed back to the condo and resumed our alcohol comsumption with some group games. Pictionary and one I hadn't heard of called Celebrities that was particularly fun, especially given our non-sober states. A soak in the hot tub (drunk, which was even better) finished off the evening, and we were all in bed (or passed out) by 12.

The drive home from Vancouver to Portland today was HELL. The border crossing took an hour, and I about lost my mind on the way home. It was a great trip, but I'm definitely glad to be home!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Vancouver Half Marathon

Heading out today with my good friends Mark & Kerrie to Vancouver BC for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. We're driving to Seattle tonight, and will make our border crossing (and a stop at Duty Free for cheap alcohol, top shelf of course!) after the morning rush. 3 other friends, Vicky, Lisa, and Kelly, are driving up Friday afternoon, and will be staying with us in our rented condo just off the infamous Robson Street. We're going to party it up Friday night, take it easy on Saturday, and then the race is Sunday morning (7am-ouch). Partying and hot tubbing will commence soon after the race is finished, and then we will drive home Monday morning (probably make another Duty Free stop...)

My goal for the race is 90 minutes, which works out to a 6:50 per mile pace over the 13.1 miles. The course is fairly flat, so it's possible, but that's a long time to keep that pace, for me anyway. Some of our training runs I was able to knock out the last mile (on a 12 mile trail run) at 5:40 pace, so I am hopeful. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Job!

It's been a seriously strange couple of big news: I snagged a new position in my company, GTS Services (now called just "GTS"). GTS is a software company located in Tigard, OR. I used to manage the Customer Care team. Borrrrring! The company started a new department called SEM/SEO, which is Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization, and I'm employee #2! What is SEM/SEO? Why, I'm so glad you asked! SEM is marketing a company's website so that they get more traffic. This is usually via Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads, which are those "sponsored ads" you see when you search for something on Google, Yahoo!, MSN, etc. I manage our PPC campaigns at the moment. The SEO part is more challenging. This involves changes to a website so that it comes up on a Google/Yahoo!/MSN Live search naturally (what they call "organic"), based on the users search terms. For instance, one of our customers, ProStars Auto Care, does windshield replacements. We would 'optimize' their website so that when someone who needs their car's windshield replaced types "windshield replacement" into Google, ProStars comes up on page 1 of the search engine results pages (SERPs). It's pretty cool stuff. I love to learn new things and this has presented quite the learning opportunity. I had no idea there was so much behind getting your website to show up on a search engine! I'm now looking forward to going to work every day, instead of dreading it. Well, at least after I wake up some.