I apologize to my blog fans out there, all four of you! Mom and dad and my in-laws... just kidding. Friends and sibs too. And my darling wife.
Cindy has been to Switzerland and back for Autodesk; and then she's been to Singapore and back, all in the blank space of my nearly daily blog entries. Mom is still in England and France with Aunt Mary Ann and my research gene-seeking, protein shape determining, scientist cousins Karen and Pat Fleming. I went on a fun flying photo shoot with Denise and Tim on Easter Sunday, with a bizarre dinner in Boonville that day. I scored some great great photos to post. Early this month I did a full tune up on my Trek road bike (new chain, cogs, front rings, cables) and it's my main machine for commuting to the office--helps reduce my so-called carbon footprint on this planet. Speaking of planets, an earthlike planet was discovered yesterday (or at least, its news hit the press) that's only 20 light years distant from us earthlings and it's orbiting a red dwarf named Gliese 581. How cool is that?
Photo.net Redwood Trees photos, 'No Words' project -- I have four photos there.
The Sopranos are now into episode three of their final 9 episodes ever on HBO. Let me tell you -- that show and its new mini season is beyond good.
The SF Giants are winning lots of baseball games and Barry Bonds is still an awesome offensive force.
The Golden State Warriors actually made the NBA playoffs as a west conference #8 seed and knocked off Dallas in game one!
The San Jose Sharks won their first round playoff series against Nashville (deja vu to 2006) and await their opponent in 2nd round tonight or tomorrow, well rested I must say.
Stuart O'Grady won the Paris-Roubaix Hell of the North one day bike race last week and Floyd Landis is still in trouble with the international cycling vampires.
VIDEOS: AC/DC from 1977... (I saw 'em in April '76)
Nirvana video collage:
We visited four winery operations today: Nickel & Nickel (their open house and classic Napa Valley winery), Napa Wine Company (winemakers collective/cult wine central), Darioush (Persian), and Luna (Italian). The five of us were Cindy, myself, Yann (from Switzerland), David, and Heather. I don't recall drinking any bad wine this day! The tastings ran from $15 apiece up to $30 each--Napa really soaks the greenbacks out of your wallet with ease.
A run down of the wineries: this time at Nickel & Nickel they were tasting everything BUT their famous single vineyard Cabs.
We started out with a couple chardonnays outside then progressed to reds with two pinot noirs inside the barn, followed by merlots, and zinfandels.
Nickel is so impressive with their food setups and mostly French cheeses. They also had all sorts of meats along with bread, olives, and crackers.
I ended up liking the '04 Harris merlot, the '05 Spring Hill pinot, and the '05 Bonfire zin the best of the 8 wines we tasted.
At Napa Wine Co., we went for the "Red Red Wine" tasting: a Pavi dolcetto, Madrigal zinfandel, a Showket red blend, and the Joel Gott Syrah (Pelkan Ranch).
At Darioush we all universally loved the four wines they were pouring; none of them was cheap however. This winery will knock your socks off -- both by the quality of their wine and the astounding architecture of the building. Beautiful stone is everywhere and first class touches on everything surrounds you. Persian New Year kicks off March 20 (vernal equinox).
A little bit more down the road to Luna winery we really enjoyed all they wine they were pouring. Cindy and I have been here once before (over a year ago) and it seems their prices had a significant increase. What's new ehh?
Chop chop! at the hibachi table (teppanyaki cooking)--we'll meet up with Zhanara and Loic in SF's Japantown for dinner. I had a couple beers at the Boom Boom Room while waiting for everyone to show up. I wish I had my camera with me at the moment. After dinner Z and Loic showed us their hilltop tennis court -- and at night gives you one of the most astounding downtown SF views I've seen. I'll get a photo soon of that. After that we walked down the Vallejo Street hill and played pool at the Savoy-Tivoli bar (on Grant near Green) until dark o'clock.
Finally started this up for the year as there is plenty of morning and evening light now. My current staging point is at the rowing club in Greenbrae so that makes it a 40 mile round trip commute. Next week it'll have to stop -- too dark in the morning with the early switchover to Daylight Saving Time. I suspect I can resume in two weeks (Mar. 26) when the sun rises at 7:05 a.m. Oh well, at least I got in a sneak peak today! It sure beats taking the ferry or even driving all the way in. Going home it was pretty breezy, gusts in your face over 20 mph and sort of chilly. A nice first effort at least.
OK, another Nickel & Nickel Open House is planned for this Saturday. Here it was a month ago on my blog during their excellent Cabernet event.
There's a cool event going on April 29 in Paso Robles at Linne Calodo winery we may attend. (Or, rather, maybe this was at Denner? I need to check up on it, since Denner is having their gig:
April 29 Spring Comus Wine Club Pick-Up Party
"Comus Club members only! Join us for a Tri-Tip BBQ lunch, pick up your spring wine club shipment and be the first to taste the new releases!")
Today's weather isn't bad at all, maybe a little rain in the afternoon, but Friday through Sunday look excellent; so Benihana here we come! (Friday, and I plan to bring along the camera) and of course look out Nickel! We'll meet up with David and Heather there, and perhaps Denise and Tim to fly in and join us?
The new film ZODIAC is playing nationwide. It's a nonfiction movie based on the Zodiac killing spree in the SF Bay area in
the late '60s. He killed five and badly wounded two. The first DIRTY HARRY film is a highly fictionalized account of the Zodiac killings and
named the killer "Scorpio" whom Clint happily shot in the end at the old quarry in Larkspur (not far from the ferry landing).
To quote from the film:
[Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) has to explain why he shot a man]
Harry Callahan: Well, when an adult male is chasing a female with intent to commit rape, I shoot the bastard. That's my policy.
The Mayor: Intent? How did you establish that?
Harry Callahan: When a naked man is chasing a woman through an alley with a butcher's knife and a hard-on, I figure he isn't out collecting for the Red Cross! [and walks out of the room]
The Mayor: He's got a point.
It was great, crisp weather on the Bay this morning. Overnight it became very chilly for the area and plenty of snow fell on the hills above 2,100 feet. Mt. Diablo and Mt. Hamilton received a lot of snow and highway 29 crossing Mt. St. Helena had to be closed overnight due to snow and ice. It will all melt by tomorrow so no chance of any scenics soon.
I snapped these four photos from the ferry boat commuting into the office this morning.
Technical data: Canon EOS 10D, 24-70 2.8L lens, 1/180. I tried my best to keep a level image horizon on the rolling and pitching boat. All these photos were taken just 10-15 minutes after sunrise -- some pretty nice light.
Alcatraz Island, or "The Rock", was a federal prison until 1963 when the last prisoner was shipped out and the gates were closed. From 1859 to 1934 it was a military prison. Now it's one of the most popular tourist destinations of San Francisco. It was a very expensive prison to operate and maintain and the decision was made to close it. Supposedly it was a cruel place (if the many movies made about it are to believed). The National Park Service runs and operates the island. My parents are visiting this summer so I'll be visting The Rock with them in June -- I am really looking forward to it -- I've been there three times in the past and it's always interesting.
Two more of Alcatraz, with Mt. Tam in the background: Image One and Image Two. Up above in the cloud layer, blanketing the Tam summit, you can see a V-line of birds that I accidentally caught in the frame.
The morning of Feb. 27 Telegraph Hill (upon which Coit Tower is built) suffered a rockslide causing closing to several apartment buildings and businesses above and below the slide. In this picture the slide (you really cannot see it here) is on the left side (south) of the hill and stopped at Broadway Ave. near Montogmery next to one of the red light' districts in SF. The theory is that the heavy recent rains lossened up some of the cracks in the hill and part of it gave way. Over 100 years ago a good portion of the hill was blasted away while being used as a rock quarry.
[img Cranes] - Construction Derricks
There are many tall building construction projects going on in the city. It seems Webcor has a monopoly on these as far as the general contractor. Most of these projects involves pricey condominiums with killer views; people who buy into these will be pretty close to their downtown work office. The building I work out of is at the extreme far right edge of this shot.
We had a fun small stir-fry dinner party Saturday night: wines were a Goldeneye Migration Pinot Noir (2004) from Anderson Valley; a red Bourdeaux style blend 1999 RSV Vineyard Reserve/Napa Valley from Robert Sinskey Vineyards (Merlot, Cab Franc and Sauv.); and a N.V. Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut champagne during dinner.
Cooking photo--chicken breast filet and lots of vegetables, lemon grass, garlic, and two types of mushrooms.
Mountain Biking Nirvana and technical challenges mapped on super steep fire roads heading up to Mt. Tamalpais:
Google Trail Map on slopes of Mt. Tam... (shows overhead image of Blithedale Ridge fire road roller coastering its way to the junction at Hoo-Koo-E-Koo F.R. and Indian F.R. (up to to Eldridge Grade])
Also: Baltimore Canyon & Blithedale Summit, Marin County open space official preserve PDF map.
Nice GIF version I made of the trail map, loads quickly!
Bay Area Hiker Web page has a nice article on the Baltimore Cyn area and its trails with photos.
"Located along the Northridge (the spur of Mt.Tamalpais which separates Mill Valley from Corte Madera and Larkspur), Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserve is home to a mixed conifer forest which includes Coast redwood and Douglas fir. In winter and spring, runoff from Mt. Tamalpais creates Dawn Falls, a popular destination for open space visitors [hikers and esp. mtn bikers]. Later, the cool and shaded canyon offers respite from the heat of a summer afternoon."
Overhead photo image I made of the Blithedale Ridge trails with labels I added.
Happy Birthday Cindy!
Today's the day to check out the wet scenery in and around Russian River and Dry Creek in Sonoma, then check into the Vintners Inn (pictured at left) and later with a nice dinner at John Ash restaurant on the inn property (an extension of the Ferrari-Carano empire). Cindy's birthday coincides with Valentine's Day so this is the weekend we have fun together after the viewing "pressure" of the NFL playoffs has ended and we can do whatever we want where ever!
After a super and extraordinarily dry January today's out third day of rain with 2-3 more wet days forecasted. In the Midwest it's been very cold and lots of snow. Dad sent me the photo of him shoveling/snow-blowing the deep stuff from South Bend...see below. He still has the sling on his arm rehabbing from his rotator cuff surgery just four weeks ago! Back to the present and local -- for the statistically minded, so far we've had 2.9 inches of rain in San Rafael since Wednesday. I see that amount growing a couple inches by Monday (a court holiday so a three day weekend for me, celebrating Lincoln's birthday).
This huge luxury liner passenger ship sailed into the San Francisco Bay yesterday at 4 PM under the Golden Gate Bridge. Had the Super Bowl not been on I would've been there to watch this and get some spectacular photos. The QM2 departs this evening at 8 p.m. It's the largest ship ever to sail under the bridge -- that's saying a lot when you consider battleships such as USS Iowa and carriers like USS Lincoln have gone back and forth under the bridge in years past.
Photo from the SF Chronicle as the ship passes under the bridge heading into the Bay.
Previous Entries: [Jan. 26 - Feb. 4, 2007] [Days of Jan. 13-25, 2007] [Days of Jan. 1-12, 2007]
page updated 5/17/2007 12:45 p.m. pdt Blog and most images Copyright (c) 2007 by Ken Papai