Handsome Lot

2014-06-28 151704 287I spent the better part of the evening post processing photos from the family reunion and uploading them to the web.  This one, of the older cousins, is among my favorites.  Nico and I leave for Brazil tomorrow where we will be the guests of the Coca-Cola company who have invited us to attend the World Cup quarter-finals in Rio de Janeiro.  I will likely not post again until we return next Monday.

Levitation Photos

2014-06-29 112845 730Levitation photos have become derigueur for family gatherings of Calabria cousins. Pictured above is my nephew Rory, demonstrating the speed and strength that won him this year’s Minnesota State Tennis Doubles Championship. None of these photos have been edited.2014-06-29 113951 748 2014-06-29 113901 747

Family Reunion

2014-06-28 185926 456Activities today included an ad hoc breakfast at the lodge, swimming and sliding at the massive waterpark contained within, World Cup viewing at a Lake Geneva bar, continuation of the multi-year croquet tournament between the older cousins, and dinner at the Grand Geneva Resort, formerly the Playboy Club of Lake Geneva.  I have been taking photographs throughout the weekend which can be viewed by following the link to Reunion Photos. To the great amusement of those gathered, I ruined this attempt at a full family portrait when I assumed I arrived too late for the delayed shutter release. Subsequent attempts proved more fruitful and included what will likely be our Christmas card image for 2014.2014-06-28 190547 463

Chicago Flyover

2014-06-27 160759 011Jeanine, Nicolai, Maya and I flew to Chicago’s Midway Airport this afternoon.  We rented a car and then collected Kyle from O’Hare Airport en route to Lake Geneva Wisconsin where my side of the family will be celebrating a family reunion this weekend at the Timber Ridge Lodge. In total 34 out of a possible 36 of my relatives traveled from California, North Carolina, New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland for the event which kicked off this evening with dinner in town.2014-06-27 200403 015

Kyle Revisited

01496This weekend the Calabria side of the family is gathering for a family reunion in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  We are all very excited about seeing the extended family and especially about seeing Kyle who is working as an intern at Palo Alto Networks this summer. Our little boy is all grown up and we miss him.

Nicolai slept in the Atlanta airport after his flight was cancelled last night. He caught the first flight out this morning so he could join his friends at the house for the USA-Germany soccer match up.

Maya looked entirely relaxed after completing her last set of finals. She has a busy summer planned with ballet camp in Montreal, Apogee biking in Montana, a trip to California to visit with Kyle, and a local soccer camp.

Stranded in Atlanta

2014-03-05 180316 111Nicolai was scheduled to return from Atlanta this evening after completing a full day speaking engagement at Camp Coleman, an hour outside of the city. Inclement weather on the eastern seaboard forced cancelation of his flight and he will not return until tomorrow. To his great disappointment, he will not be able to watch the US World Cup match with his friends.  On a positive note, the Camp Director was very pleased with the event and shared the following comment with me. “Totally amazing. Many veteran staff and campers told me that it was the most inspirational day of their camp life.  He related  incredibly well with the campers and staff. He has a wonderful message and he is sharp and insightful beyond his years.”

Ice Cream

2014-06-24 125823 012This afternoon iRobot employees were treated to ice cream from a pair of trucks that pulled up to our courtyard. Beautiful weather, ice cream in the middle of the afternoon, a very nice treat indeed.

On the home front we were visited by a Japanese video production company that is interested in doing a segment about Nicolai for their show called “Unbelievable.”  The preliminary interview is to gauge interest back in Japan.  We will have to see if this leads anywhere.

Moments after his interview, Nico was picked up by a car service to Logan airport for his flight to Atlanta. He has an all day speaking engagement tomorrow at a Jewish summer camp with some 400 campers and 150 counselors. Hopefully he will return with a few photos for the blog.

Memory Lane

01068As another soccer season has come to an end, I reflected back on the first team I ever played for.  I was a “walk-on” at Union College. I had never played in high school but impressed the coach during tryouts.  My field skills were not on par with the seasoned players but he liked my tenacity and gave me a turn in goal.  It turns out that quick reflexes and a total lack of regard for injury to ones body are all that is required to play the position. I was the starting JV goalie for three years giving up an average of 0.76 goals per game. I would never have imagined then that I would still be playing competitively some 35 years later.  With any luck, I think I can manage another 10.

Lens Lust

timthumb.phpThe minute it was announced, I preordered this Canon 16-35mm f/4 wide angle zoom lens, said to be the new standard for sharpness in this focal range. It will replace my trusty 17-40mm f/4 (already sold) as my go-to landscape lens. Reported to start shipping this week, I am hoping to receive it in time for our Wisconsin family reunion next weekend and if not before I leave with Nico for Brazil the following week.

This morning my soccer team played Stoneham F.C. in the Division 1 championship playoffs. We expected the all Brazilian club, including three former professional players, to be more than we could handle. Had we had more than 2 subs to their 8, I believe we might have enjoyed a different outcome. They took an early 2-0 lead with admittedly nice goals.  I scored my first goal of the season, a powerful strike from distance, to open the second half.  We had several good chances for an equalizer but could not find the back of the net and gave up another goal in the final minute.  Overall it was a great season and I was happy to finish it uninjured and with a nice goal.


2014-06-21 121557 002Maya turned 15 on Thursday while I was away in Rhode Island.  We therefore postponed our family celebration until today. She requested brunch at Nancy’s Airfield Cafe in Stow.  We were joined by her friend Maddie who is spending the weekend with us and Koruna, Nico’s girlfriend.  Maya was very happy to receive a ukulele from her parents, an instrument which she is intent on mastering and has wanted for some time.

Parting Shot

2014-06-20 120439 268The 3-day, iRobot team building offsite I have been attending this week came to a close today at noon.  I was asked to create a team photo which is always a challenge with a group of this size.  I like shooting from a high angle so that it is possible to see everyone’s face.  The trick is to find a location where I can trigger the shutter and still manage to get in the photo myself before the ten second timer expires. A quick Where’s Waldo search will confirm that I made the sprint in time (just).

Team Events

2014-06-19 105242 030On today’s agenda is a sailing event, geo-trekking competition and clam bake dinner.  Half the group does sailing in the morning while the remainder does geo-tracking and then we switch activities for the afternoon after a combined lunch. I was in the morning sailing group which had to contend with rain and very light winds.  Our team of four worked together well by optimizing role assignments, communicating, and working collaboratively. The results after 3 races was a first place finish among the ten teams competing. What do all of the boats in the picture below have in common? 2014-06-19 110056 034They are all in our rear view mirror 🙂

By noon the weather cleared and conditions could not have been more enjoyable. The geo-trekking competition could be described as a high-tech scavenger hunt. Teams guided by GPS devices walk to dozens of locations throughout Newport and earn points by answering questions that can only be answered once you have arrived at the correct location. It is impossible to reach all targets within the three hour time frame and teams must stay together as they cover an average of 6-8 miles.  Our team included a member with an ambulatory challenge so we placed a high premium on advanced planning so that we could maximize points while minimizing walking distance.  I would not be surprised if we outscored more than half the teams.

We ended the day with an outdoor clam bake including lobsters, corn on the cob, clams, and potatoes, all cooked by heated rocks under a bed of seaweed.  A perfect end to a rewarding but exhausting day.2014-06-19 192440 224

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Charting our Course

2014-06-18 133248 104Today begins a 3-day offsite in Newport, Rhode Island for iRobot’s Home Business Unit to invest in the health of our organization.  Our CEO reviewed the 24 year history of the company, the full extent of which most in the room were unaware, myself among them. We then talked about the importance of organizational health and agreed on core values, aspirational values, and areas for improvement.  We dined as a group at the famous Clarke Cooke House Restaurant, defined by its wharf side location, exceptional service and delicious seafood.2014-06-18 191512 145


Water Cannons

2014-06-17 133706 228The Nashoba Ski Area was the site of this year’s iRobot Mechanical Engineering Department team building event. Fashioned after an Avid event I did almost a decade ago this challenge involved building a water cannon. Teams then competed for top honors by seeing which could fill multiple distant containers with the most water.  Aiming the cannons had to be done by multiple control lines from several feet away (focus on collaboration).2014-06-17 114040 0322014-06-17 134147 2522014-06-17 135652 262
Unbeknownst to the head of the department, I changed first prize from bragging rights to 2 minutes of target practice on the management team with him at the head of the line. I tagged him out after 30 seconds which seemed about the average time needed to totally soak an executive.  Fortunately, I was also tagged out after full saturation.  It never ceases to amaze me how much fun employees seem to have when allowed to drench their management team with a water cannon.2014-06-17 151812 485

USA:2 Ghana:1

2014-06-16 194038 003Nicolai invited several friends to the house this evening to watch the USA vs. Ghana World Cup match. The improbable outcome can only be attributed to the level of fan support in the room.  It was fun seeing so many of Nico’s high school friends all gathered together and cheering wildly for the US.  There is hope for the future of American soccer.

Concord United

2014-06-15 094956 002The Concord United Over 50 team I play for finished our spring season this morning in second place with a strong 7-0 victory.  This result qualifies us for the Division 1 playoffs (top two teams from the North and South regions compete tournament style for top honors) which begin next weekend.  I suffered a slight groin muscle strain 15 minutes into the match and was forced to sit out the remainder of the game.  Nearly one third of the team is currently injured and our chances against Stoneham next week do not look good. Their team includes  three former professional players from Brazil and they finished their season with a +33 goal differential compared to our +11.  It is doubtful that I will have recovered sufficiently in time to play but I am not without hope.

Jeanine prepared a wonderful Father’s Day dinner which the family plus Karuna enjoyed while watching the Argentina versus Bosnia and Herzegovina World Cup Match.