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Old May 9th, 2002, 03:46 PM   #1
Howard Graff in London
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TBHL V Report (very long!)

Hi Gang

I have just returned from the US having spent about a week in total between Las Vegas and San Francisco. I had a great time. It was the third time I had been to TBHL and each year it gets better and better.

Of course, I have to leave my car in the UK each year. I have looked at the cost of shipping it and apparently it takes about 4 weeks by sea from start to finish including clearance, and would cost about £1,000. Someone told me that the big problem would be US emission certification and I haven’t looked into that. Who knows, one day perhaps.

Without a car, my visits are better I think and not worse. I get to meet with more people i.e. those that kindly drive me around or let me drive their cars, and this is what the event is about for me : being with nice people. This year as ever Kevin Christiansen kindly offered me his passenger seat as my primary transportation device. This is a nice base from which I can to plan my US visit. Without a reserved seat, I couldn’t make the trip.

By surprise this year I met Chris Kramer (CFG) in the departure lounge in Gatwick airport. British Airways had cancelled a flight and Chris swapped to Virgin Atlantic. He flew First Class and kindly sent a glass of champagne back to me in Sardine Class. Sadly he arrived in Vegas without his luggage. Virgin lost it for a few days. Not a good start for Chris, but he cheered up afterwards.

My favourite events this year were :-

The cocktail party at the Venetian.
This was a great unwind event and gave me a chance to catch up with people including Doug and Dina Shepherd from Seattle. I have chatted to them briefly in previous years but not really got to know them. This year we had a long chat or two. They are very nice people.

The Motorcycle museum.
The museum was full of interesting bikes including two that held great memories for me. Bikes, like cars, conjure up strong feelings of times in our lives rather than just being pieces of metal.

The TBHL dinner
The dinner was fun for me because I got a chance once more to do a little comedy act. I have sent a full report on this and the full text of my act to Joanne Fierro for distribution to those that bought raffle tickets. (No re-posting here please people! Only those that paid money to the charity ‘bought’ a copy. ) It’s not too late to give. Just contact Joanne. I was delighted that in total, with the raffle and what have you, we raised more than last year for the Cystic Fibrosis cause. Joanne and Jamey need the biggest praise, but Guy from Belmont was also very generous. His generosity gave me a chance too.

The off-piste events
The best events for me were the unplanned ones. The people at TBHL each year include some great friends of mine and each year I get to know more and more really nice people. It really is about the people.

We had one or two enjoyable group dinners and I got to know Joanne quite well over the course of the first. This woman has a heart of gold and is one of the reasons why TBHL has such a solid core of support. Although she won’t tell people, she has to go into hospital herself in a week or so’s time for a non-trivial operation, so please send her your best wishes.

At other meals I got chatting to Michael Law, Steve Huss and Ed Brakus and others. They are all interesting people who I was delighted to get to know, or know better. Ed is the man behind “Sharkworks” the maker of the TouchTop, who failed to award me the prize in his competition for naming his new garage opener device despite my excellent suggestion of “Howard’s Graff Patent Garage Opener”. He’s a real meanie ( ) and very witty despite being an American. Steve Huss is an ex-US Olympic standard swimmer and the man behind AM986 and Michael is just a nice man with a truly great outlook on life following a nasty motorbike accident a few years back.

This year Jamey Rawlings (from Paris Audio) convinced me that I ought to join the party crowd for an evening or two. In previous years to protect my sanity I have declined. This year, after consulting with my doctor and insurance company I agreed. I now bear the scars – most noticeably one that resembles a spray-on permagrin across my face. We agreed a pact that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Just as well really . I can however report that I got a taste for Kamikaze cocktails (which were presumably the inspiration for Douglas Adams’ Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters) and that our group included some great dancers including Susan Wesley, Joanne Fierro, and Miss Pink Boxster Babe herself, Robyn Charal. A picture at one outing appears below. From left to right the people are Susan, me, Ed, Joanne, Jamey, Guy, Kevin, Robyn, Tony and Michael. Not sure of the name of the very tall girl with red hair and funny ears standing at the back, but she and I had a fun time later.

One evening a few saner people and me headed off to see Penn & Teller. A reasonable show, which I am glad I have seen, but not as sparkly as other Las Vegas shows that I have seen in years past. Blueman Group and “O” are much better.

Most nights in Vegas were closed with some gaming on the tables. The attendees each year include some serious blackjack players including myself and Kevin and we both left ahead – me with some small change and Kevin with some of that paper stuff. I hear that Fish also won. Hell, if we carry on like this Vegas will be disappearing soon

After the end of TBHL each year Nick Kennedy and I tend to hang around and do something a little more cultural. This year we headed off to see Death Valley. It was fun and quite cold that day. Only 105 degrees. It’s about 100 miles outside Vegas and well worth a visit. I know that some people drive in a caravan through there on the way to Vegas. It was my first time.

I also tagged on a one-day visit to San Francisco this year. Bruce “Petguy” and his wife Chris took me on one of their tours and we did too much drinking and eating. It was very nice of them to give me the tour of some of their favourite bars and restaurants and sights. Thanks you two.

And, all through this my pal Bill Snider did his Thang! Bill organises TBHL like clockwork each year, working quietly behind the scenes. In return for this he suffers occasional loud abuse from people who don’t know what he does. For those that quietly ask, he performs little miracles, or even big ones. I have seen this man work. He is great. As just one example this year I happened to see him stand to the side of a breakfast table one day and use his cell phone to convince a surly Monte Carlo hotel person that one of our party should be allowed a 3pm checkout without charge. The hotel had screwed up a little and the guest had suffered a lot as a result. Bill sorted it like a pro without raising his voice.…and today I notice some idiot on the 996 board saying that he has photographic proof that the attendance at TBHL was only 25 cars. Bill must have the patience of Job to cope with such people. Bill is a good friend.

So there you have it. Another fun trip for me. I have probably left out the most pivotal event and the most sparkling people that I met, for which I apologise now and will blame on the jetlag. These include Chris from the UK and Janelle, and also seeing and talking to Tom Morris again.

Take care all,


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Old May 9th, 2002, 05:13 PM   #2
Larry Nakamura (In SJ)
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Joanne, I just wanted you to know the

blonde wig was working for me. How about a phone number
baby? (or wasn't I supposed to let that info out?).
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Old May 9th, 2002, 09:28 PM   #3
Joanne in OC
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Howard didn't even mention it, thought that might have been forgotten *NM*

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Old May 10th, 2002, 03:31 PM   #4
Howard Graff in London
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Not forgotten. It will live in my memory for ever *NM*

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Old May 10th, 2002, 06:54 PM   #5
Tom M (Sunol, CA)
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Re: Not forgotten. It will live in my memory for ever

Could this be a picture of the elusive Misty?

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Old May 11th, 2002, 08:38 AM   #6
Howard Graff in London
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No point me thinking about running for Prime Minister then...

..everyone seems to have a version of that picture!

Nice memory. Thanks Joanne, and Tom for posting.

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