IN THIS ISSUE: - The Four Seasons Biltmore/Santa Barabara Wine Country - Christmas 2007 John Ash and SF
We stayed at the Four Seasons in Montecito (Santa Barbara -- from the end of of February to March 1). We tasted wines from three distinct regions: Santa Rita Hills, Santa Ynez Valley, and the city of Santa Barbara wineries. We had dinner at the Hitching Post in Buellton and sampled from three brewpubs in Santa Barbara (all good!): Downtown Brewing Co. (Sportsbar & Grill, Santa Barbara Brewing Co. (on State St.), and The Brewhouse (a funky, cool place).Wineries visited: Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Winery, Lafond, Sanford, Rideau, Carina, the Los Olivos Wine Bar, and Andrew Murray. In city of Santa Barbara we tasted at these wineries: Jaffurs (with the surfboards), Carr, Whitcraft (pinots), and Oreana.
One month later and a slow moving blog here... bah!
Recapping the 31 days: Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay; Amgen Tour of California Bike Race; re-outfitted Trek road bike; the Super Bowl; "Cloverfield" movie; Loic and Z/video games + Wii; Blu Ray is the HD DVD winning format; recent books: Intern, The Surgeons/Heart Center/Columbia Presby, Korea/Halberstam; Cav wine bar; Venus & Jupiter early morning rising together in February; Survivor 16-Micronesia; Ralph's housewarming and Cipollini is back!
Grange Sonoma in the Cornerstone,and Mayo Family Reserve Room for a 7-course food/wine pairing with friends.
tasting room. We ended up loving the Eno Pinot Noir and the Tallulah GSM blend from Amador County. We've visited Grange Sonoma before, they call themselves a Tasting Room Collective as seen on that link to their website.
At the right, Food-Wine pairing at Mayo in Kenwood.
My mini review of the film JUNO: we saw this movie ths evening at Smith Ranch Road theater (our favorite, primarily because it's so nearby and also is not in a mall and overrun with kids). Ok, the movie, it was pretty fun and a nice, light comedy. June gets pregnant and is only a junior in highs chool. She likes to rock pretty hard and thinks no one can match the Raw Power of Detroit's 1972 Stooges (I happen to agree). She learns about Sonic Youth from the soon-to-be adoptive parents dad (played well by Jason Bateman) who was in a band that opened for the Melvins in 1992. He has never outgrown that and now is reduced to writing trite jingles for silly TV commercials about food. The Sonic Youth do the definitive cover of the Carpenter's Superstar in this film as well.
Pretty cool, an excerpt from Superstar (by Karen Carpenter):
...Loneliness, is such a sad affair And I can hardly wait
To be with you again
What to say
To make you come again
Come back to me again
And play your sad guitar
Don't you remember you told me you love me baby
You said you'd be coming back this way again baby
Baby baby baby baby oh baby
I love you, I really do
San Francisco City Hall -- I visited here during my lunch hour, the other day (Monday). I had just my Canon P&S camera with me to get these shots.
It sure is an impreesive building and extremely ornate interior.
I was able to get a nice shot outside of the mayor's (Gavin Newsom) office.
Interior -- A couple getting married?
At the right, another interior shot, above the stairs, from the balcony. At some point, several years ago, the SF City Hall had a huge makeover and reopened to the public, so to speak. The only official I saw as I was walking around, was one of the supervisors, the invective-filled Chris Daly, doing some business outside his office. Walking around on the 2nd floor, balcony level, it was relatively quiet and strangely rather empty of people -- because it was lunchtime?
First predictions for this weekend's NFL Playoffs: Seattle at the G.B. Packers -- the Pack win by 4.
Then Jacksonville Jags lose by 17 at New England Patriots.
Tomorrow, San Diego Bolts lose by 14 at the Indianapolis Colts, and the NY Giants at Dallas Cowboys -- the 'Boys by 3.
I'm wimping out because I am picking all four top seeds to advance; if I had to pick an upset it would be Seattle over Green Bay. (picks posted Sat. 1/12/2008 11:40 a.m. pst, 2 hrs. before the first game kicks off)
New Articles of mine:
Shout outs: Congratulations Denise and Tim on your recent engagement! (I've already congratulated Sarah and Mark on their Hawaiian wedding)
Also, congratulations to David Martin on accepting a new job with Wells Fargo (asp.net/C#/SQL hyper geek) and working back in downtown SF -- you'll LOVE the nice weather road cycling commutes!
Blah #1 -- The big storm ended yesterday afternoon; it was the biggest here in the area since 1995 (when Golden Gate park had hundreds of downed trees).
However, as of 11 a.m. a noisy thunderstorm! is moving through San Rafael (very rare to hear thunder here) with high winds -- wave #3 of this storm. Enough already!
Blah #2 -- A recent old friend, whom I met at the office, finally emailed and said she got married in Maui recently, so congratulations Sarah Nagy! She married Mark. The last time we partied together was a business trip in Monterey, 2006. There were Nagys all over my dad's neighborhood on Indiana Ave. in South Bend, Ind.
Blah #3 -- Two NFL playoff games today, I predict Seattle beats Washington (it's gonna rain in the Northwest) and Jacksonville beats Pittsburgh on that ultra messy Heinz (ketchup) field turf. For tomorrow's two games I'm going with Tampa Bay over the Giants, and San Diego over Tennessee Titans. [UPDATE -- I only missed one of these four games as the NY Giants beat a listless Tampa Bay Bucs team]
Blah #4 -- photo information for image at left - "Dragging the Shutter"... image 1045 what's up with it, i.e., "How To."
A large and powerful rain storm is rolling through the Bay Area today -- very gusty, high winds this morning.
Short gusts of over 60 mph easily blowing down my street this morning; it's really nasty! Here in San Rafael, the past 16 hours (10 a.m.) now,
we've received 3 inches of rain--we'll probably double that by Sunday, two days from now.
The Richmond-San Rafael I-580 bridge SHUT DOWN this morning; there is no Golden Gate Transit bus & ferry service either:
"11 am, 1/4/07, The Golden Gate Highway, Bridge and Transportation District suspended all bus service just after 9 a.m. because of flooding in central San Rafael and on Highway 101, where many of the lines operate. An hour later the district also suspended ferry service because of winds on the bay gusting over 70 mph, and other ferry lines said their boats would remain in port as well.
Five days ago they forecasted this would be our biggest storm of the past two years and it sure is turning out that way -- so far over 200,000 customers have lost power in the Bay Area and PG&E is scrambling to restore service (and I'm sure they will all through tomorrow). As long as Comcast stays up and we have power locally, I don't want to miss tomorrow's NFL Playoffs! UPDATE, 1PM - over 500,000 customers have lost power.
[At left: Broom photo - fill flash and dragged the shutter for 8/10ths of a second]
THE WIRE is starting its 5th and final
season on HBO this Sunday.
I've written about this show before and will say it again,
it is the best show on the tube and doesn't pander to any lower or even lowest common denominator (of the viewer).
The Chronicle's Tim Goodman writes
an excellent preview review of the new season and a
seasons 1-4 wrap-up so you can get caught up.
"Season Five premiere. Jan. 6, 2008 -- MORE WITH LESS -- As McNulty and the detail continue staking out Marlo's crew, recently promoted Sergeant Carver is welcomed by a cauldron of discontent from officers coping with unpaid overtime. Though he wants to keep his campaign promise to lower crime, Mayor Carcetti is strapped by his commitment to schools, and faces some tough choices. Col Cedric Daniels is forced to reallocate his resources, retaining Freamon and Sydnor for the Clay Davis probe. Meanwhile, City Editor Haynes and the staff of a local newspaper are reeling from corporate cutbacks, losing key personnel from both the metro and international divisions. Still, with the help of reporters Gutierrez, Price and Templeton, Haynes is able to break a front-page story that links a politician to a co-op drug dealer. Proposition Joe, Marlo, Fatface Rick others meet in a hotel conference room to discuss divvying up drug frontiers across East Baltimore's county line.
Here's how I would sum up "The Wire". It's a novelistic approach to TV. The show is aimed at adults and doesn't pander with crap like special effects or superhero type story structure. The dialogue and slang sounds awfully real and no punches are pulled--whether what is being shown is the poor inner city, black culture drug dealing ghetto, the police, the politicians, the bullshit between the lowest ranking and the highest ranking management, struggles for power, and public school teachers--none of them catch a break EXCEPT for those with some good in their hearts--and even some of them get screwed over (by their overly micromanaging, and power hungry, threatening bosses, as you'll see, and likely as many of you experience in real life on the job by know-it-all assholes near the top).
Cover art, at the right, is from the 1967 Analog science fiction magazine. I've subscribed to this magazine without a break since 1982. At the same time I've maintained a subscription to Asimov's SF Magazine. Both are excellent and top of their class and cheap mind expansion fiction with usually pretty good, and often far-out (and hard) science articles (e.g., particle physics, propulsion systems, advanced energy generation) along with speculation on the evolution of technology.
The two surviving brothers of the fatal tiger mauling at the SF Zoo from last week have hired famous attorney Mark Garagos. Despite the boys' having an empty vodka bottle in their car and likely used a slingshot (flinging pine cones at the tiger) for taunting, they claim innocence.
Well-deserved rookie of the year and runner-up, Adrian Peterson (Vikings) and Joe Thomas (Browns) were lauded by the NFL today in the Offensive category. Patrick Willis (49ers) is a lock to win the Defense ROY honor tomorrow.
Currently reading: Halberstam's "The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War" (2007) and Rich Eisen's "NFL - Total Access" (2007) (about the origins, first 3.5 years of the NFL Network, which debuted Nov. 2003). Also Mick LaSalle's book "Complicated Women - Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood" (2001) is a VERY interesting and fun read (and also get the TCM classic DVDs of the pre-code dangerous woman movies, such as Stanwyck in "Baby Face" (1933) -- wow! Read the review by LaSalle.)
Back to the topic de jour, namely science fiction. Once or twice a year Analog (formerly named Astounding since 1934 or so) will do an original run of a new novel in serial fashion. Frank Herbert's masterpiece DUNE was serialized in Analog and one of my favorites, Space Viking by H. Beam Piper (1962) was also published originally as a serial that spanned 4 issues. What is amazing is that you can read the whole short novel here.
"Well, isn't that who they are?" Gorram asked.
"Nifflheim, no! There aren't a dozen and a half planets in the Old Federation that still have hyperdrive, and they're all civilized.
That's if 'civilized' is what Gilgamesh is," he added. "These are homemade barbarians. Workers and peasants who revolted to seize and
divide the wealth and then found they'd smashed the means of production and killed off all the technical brains. Survivors on
planets hit during the Interstellar Wars, from the Eleventh to the Thirteenth Centuries, who lost the machinery of civilization.
Followers of political leaders on local-dictatorship planets. Companies of mercenaries thrown out of employment and living by
pillage. Religious fanatics following self-anointed prophets."
[excerpt from Space Viking, by H. Beam Piper]
The book is basically an interstellar revenge "space opera" theme, played across multiple planets 1,200 years in the future. It's one of the rare novels I've read more than once.
...Malverton grew in the telescopic screens as they came down. The Navy Spaceport, where Trask had landed almost two years before, was in wreckage, sprinkled with damaged ships that had been blasted on the ground, and slagged by thermonuclear fires. There was fighting in the air all over the city proper, on building-tops, on the ground, and in the air. That would be the Damnthing-Harpy-Curse of Cagn Space Vikings. The Royal Palace was the center of one of half a dozen swirls of battle that had condensed out of the general skirmishing.
Paytrik Morland started for it with the first wave of ground-fighters from the Nemesis. The Gilgamesh freighter, like most of her ilk, had huge cargo ports all around; these began opening and disgorging a swarm of everything from landing-craft and hundred-foot airboats to one man air-cavalry single-mounts. The top landing-stages and terraces of the palace were almost obscured by the flashes of auto-cannon shells and the smoke and dust of projectiles. Then the first vehicles landed, the firing from the air stopped, and men fanned out as skirmishers, occasionally firing with small arms.
Trask and Bentrik were in the armory off the vehicle-bay, putting on combat equipment, when the twelve-year-old Count of Ravary joined them and began rummaging for weapons and a helmet.
"You're not going," his father told him. "I'll have enough to worry about taking care of myself...."
That was the wrong approach. Trask interrupted...
Happy New Year! Yesterday we cooked a nice turkey dinner, with a "commercial break" in the middle of the kitchen
work to visit Gloria Ferrer and drink some celebratory there with a mini (indoors) picnic spread. Photos here, hope you enjoy
and have a prosperous, safe, healthy, and FUN New Year.
I set the blending mode for the top layer was to Difference to check the alignment of the two layers. Once alignment was confirmed I switched the blending mode back to Normal..."
Read all about this by clicking the link above (the layers blending recipe is what is important, and new to me).
On Christmas evening a
tiger mauled and killed a 17-tear old kid and badly hurt two of his so-called friends at the San Francisco Zoo.
[SF Chronicle photo]
It seems pretty suspicious and the three guys who were mauled, of rather dubious character. It happened at closing time (5 PM) and
the 350 pound tiger "leaped" over the 12.5 foot retaining wall to escape and attack its likely taunters. Many narrow-minded people are
calling for this zoo and all similar zoos to close; that is a very bad idea because it is largely enlightened American zoos that keep
the endangered species alive. Of course zoos make mistakes (both in the visiting public that are allowed in to visit, as well as the way enclosures
for big cats are constructed). Personally, I need to visit the SF Zoo and grab some shots to post.
I've visited a couple wonderful outdoor large animal parks: outside of Dallas, Texas and in Christchurch, New Zealand (photos are below). Both were pretty fun and intense experiences--getting close to these large beasts is an eye opener. The good work they do in saving the world's species from near extinction is not lauded enough. Public awareness is raised by visiting these parks and zoos, and the zoos themselves work with other zoos in propagating the rare species along with research and education. This is just an informal blog so my grammar often lapses--I beg your pardon... LOL.
As usual it's been another fun year -- It started with the Colts winning the Super Bowl and they are still one of the top two
teams in the NFL along with the Patriots (now 15-0!).
This past long weekend Cindy and I went shopping in Union Square after breakfast at Sears Fine Food -- an S.F. institution. Union Sqr. was packed with last minute shoppers and the usual tourists.
On Sunday 12/23, we went to the Flatiron Saloon sports bar again to catch the Pats win over the hapless Dolphins. We left there to drive up Hwy 101 to the Vintner's Inn on River Road, our annual Christmastime visit for a couple nights stay.
On Xmas Eve we went to a few wineries, say a couple that had changed locations and names (adios Rabbit Ridge, it's replaced by Matrix winery just 4 weeks ago) and even visited two wineries new to us in the Dry Creek/Russian River AVA locales. We revisited a recent favorite -- Longboard in Healdsburg (mahalo!) -- and probably for the last time drove up the hill to sample at Gary Farrell (way too cold and austere, and probably going pretty corporate after selling for about the third time.
So... we visited these four wineries: Farrell, Twomey, Chistopher Creek, and Longboard. Twomey just moved in this year to the nicely architected original winery that Rosmabo had built about 7 years ago. The Duncan family own Twomey and also own the Silver Oak wineries. We love their wine.
Hoppy Holidaze is favorite, unoriginal saying of mine this time of year. "Hoppy" for happy, fun, beery times and "Holidaze" for the dazed, crazy, forced shopping (analog and digital/online) that must be performed in too few, cold days.
New, recommended books: Halberstam's The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War and Rick Atkinson's The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944. One expert writes, "I would not hesitate to nominate Atkinson as the best living author of books about World War II, if not of history in general."
Cindy and I are heading to Sonoma Wine Country Sunday for two full days away -- fun for us with photo ops, good food (John Ash), comfortable inn (Vintners Inn) with breakfast, easy & local wine tasting (many are closed, but so what!) out in the rural Dry Creek/Russian River locales.
Previous Blog Entries: [Oct./Nov. 2007] [Aug. 2007] [July 2007] [May 2007] [March - April, 2007] [Jan. 26 - Feb. 4, 2007] [Days of Jan. 13-25, 2007] [Days of Jan. 1-12, 2007]