|Here are the previous journal entries from my home page|
I have to open this Journal on a sad note. Three weeks ago Carl Boles lost his long battle with cancer. Carl was a giant of a man. Vicky and I are close friends and I had the good fortune to know Carl. He was always good for a hearty laugh, another beer, and helping out if someone was in need. He was a great father to his three kids and we had many good times. His memorial service was the biggest I've ever been to - a testament to how many lives he touched. A lot of old friends were at the service; it's unfortunate that it takes something so sad to bring people back together. I'm going to try to get some of us together again. We used to have great times and we've all drifted to other places. I think we need a few more poker parties. Carl will be missed.
In October I made the switch - now hosted at BlueDomino. I left APlus internet hosting for two reasons: they didn't offer a web based email and they didn't provide raw web logs. I have bugs on all these pages that report to my home PC, but I'd like to get to the raw web logs instead. One thing I want to look for is people linking directly to images on my site and using up my bandwidth instead of theirs. I plan to do a little substitution on my side. When I do I'll document it here for you to enjoy as well.
October was also our annual Cal Poly reunion camping trip. This year we hung out at Lopez Lake outside Arroyo Grande. Everyone but Diane made it this year, and families came as well. This was the first year in many that all the kids came. Neal and Kevin are tall young men now - I don't know how Rick convinced them to both come. Alison and Lucas are young enough to run wild around the camp sites. It was fun to watch them explore the world. Bob and Carolyn first set up in the wrong site and had to retent when we all showed up; they were not too happy about that! And Dana came with Tom. Her first trip with the gang and she fit in perfectly. I tried my hand at some fishing, but came up wanting. Others managed to catch little 3 inch bass on trout lures, but there were no keepers that weekend.
Then it was off to a real fishing trip at PML with Jon and Carson. Fishing was slow, as I've come to expect it in these last few years. One bright spot came as we motored away from some weeds. Carson took a huge hit and brought up a 4.7 pound bass. WOW. I forgot my camera, but the weight was verified on my new digital scale. A monster bass! We also pulled up a number of 22 inch trout. We kept a couple of them, but several had odd little parasites on their skin. We were told that "you just scrape them off and eat the fish", but there's no way I'm going to do that. Yuck.
Our first Halloween party in the new house was a blast. Almost 100 people, and most were in costume. You have to see it to believe it. The new house held up beautifully. That same weekend we said goodbye to the HP3000 - it went off the price list October 31, 2003. Some fellows coordinated a world wide celebration in different bars all over and I met some pals at the Duke of Edenborough in Cupertino. A nice, quiet, civilized celebration.
Last week we were in the UK to visit her family. Cambridge, Oxford, and Birmingham. (Complete story here.) The weather was cold, but mostly clear. We got out on a couple of hikes and Sue and Curt took us to a play about Van Gogh. Curt and Susan are working on knowing all the species of bees and moths in England. They are capturing specimens and pinning them into a collection. Very impressive stuff. Susan's orchid collection is also a lovely addition to her sun room and Curt's rare cactus collection is even more stunning than I expected. He's working to understand the conditions that lead rare cactus to grow from seed. It takes years of painstaking work. And he loves it. Alan and Jen hosted us in their beautiful old house. It was a joy to have Katie draw pictures for us and Tim to do his magic. I also learned a bit about fencing from Tim.
The workaholic in me has been getting the better of my social life these days. Seems like an old story. We did get over to Sam's to help with this year's grape pick. Bob and Carolyn were there and Dave, Stephanie and the kids came. The process was well documented here last year, so I won't go into the whole story again. Sam admits that this hobby has gotten out of control. His bomb shelter is filled with bottles from two and three years ago. He still has 2 five gallon bottles from two years ago to decant and his stainless tank has about 30 gallons from last year in it. This year the crush was about 60 gallons. He gave us all a case of two year old brew. We've opened a bottle and found it quite tasty.
Stephanie pulled us aside at the grape pick to remind us of Dave's pending birthday. We showed up for an impromptu gathering at their place Tuesday night. Dave was certainly surprised. I was too as more and more people kept showing up. Their kids are fun and neighbors came over with even more little ones.
Bob and Carolyn had us over for the second Survivor installment this year. We're not addicts, but we are hooked. Of course, we could quit at any time. Over dinner we opened another bottle of Sam's Reserve and this one had an odd aftertaste to it. We discarded that one and opened another. Ahhh, back to the nice wine we expected.
Last night Dave Milne had us over to his SF digs for a party. He has a great, two bedroom condo on Nob hill. Very spacious with high ceilings and dark wood appointments. Quite a nice place to live. While there I found that Dave's brother has worked in the past with Musclefish. I also ran into the identical twin of a woman I used to work with at HP - what a shocker that was. We also met two very fun women that live in the city and workout in the same gym as Dave. They were a hoot.
One of the guests had brought several upscale chocolate bars to arrange on a platter. Over a few nibbles I told the story of the rumored "single bean chocolates" that has so piqued my interest since Rivers Of Chocolate. An hour later Dave's upstairs neighbor came over with a big bowl sampling Guittard dark chocolate. At our insistence she told the Guittard story; turns out she works for the company. I asked about the single bean rumor and she started to explain about varietals when suddenly she looked at us and said, "ok, wait a minute." In a flash she was back with bags of little gold wrapped chocolate bars. Each containing a sample of a single bean chocolate. I had found the reality behind the urban legend!! She regaled us with tales of the Guittard search for specific, high quality cacao farms that could stand up to the challenge of becoming a varietal chocolate. The stuff was unbelievable. In particular, we tasted two chocolates that are made from the same variety of bean - trinitario - in the same cocoa mass, but grown in two different countries: Columbia and Ecuador. You will not believe how different the two taste. The Colombian chocolate is mildly astringent, but with a smooth, intense chocolate flavor. The Ecuador chocolate reminds me strongly of black walnuts with a long astringent finish. We also got to taste Sur del Lago, which is smooth and fruity. I love the stuff. Probably the best part of the evening is that she pointed us to Chocosphere as a place to buy the stuff. Today I have purchased a 2kg block of each. It is expected to arrive in two days. I expect to enter heaven the day after that.
Now running at Blue Domino web hosting service
Last night we were at the Metreon for Confessions of a Burning Man. This full length feature documentary of the celebration in Nevada was excellent. We went because my friend Curt is in the credits several times. Well... and the fact that I've always wanted to go to Burning Man.
The crowd itself was dressed to party. One lot of them had been to Burning Man, and I think another lot wanted to think that they had been there. The movie itself was fantastic. I can't say enough good things about it. It tells a nice story of growing self awareness and provides a cool overview of the whole shebang. I highly recommend the movie to everyone.
Since I first read about Burning Man, years ago, I've wanted to go. It sounded like a great experience. Now that I've seen the movie, I'm not so sure. I was expecting a gathering of artists in the desert that celebrate life and culminate in a pyre of release. The artists are there. The works are large and fire plays a central theme in many; either cleansing or invigorating. From the movie's perspective it seems that overall the event is less artistic and more of a mix of new age psychology and self absorbed extroversion. The artistic expression (which, by definition, is self absorbed) is just fantastic. And, it is BIG. I didn't realize how big the thing has become. 30,000 people. Yikes. I hope this doesn't sound like I'm anti- Burning Man. On the contrary, I think it is a wonderful event for those who like to party in the style. It just isn't for me today.
The film gave me the feeling that the vision of one man and a small group of followers has kept Burning Man from evolving into just a mud flat tractor pull like the party the 4-wheeling off road dopes have made of Pismo Beach. The founder has a vision of a transitory city of love and self sufficiency - kind of a modern day Brigadoon. People escape to build this place and then it disappears with them back into society at large. He's enlisted the help of a dedicated bunch to keep that vision alive. I wish I'd been involved in Burning Man years ago, before it grew to such epic proportions.
On the more mundane side, I also wish I could report that last weekend was fun. However I spent a significant part of my life at the local Lens Crafters. Ugh. This weekend the battle continues. Pray for me.
On the good side, we had a fantastic time at Twain Harte - our own Burning Man. The DLP projector came along and we created a fantastic outdoor theater. I have photos to share, but Paul did such a great job, I'll let him tell the story instead.
Yeow! The big screen projection TV is a winner! After borrowing the LCD from work for a quick test flight, I had to buy one of those new DLP units. It works great. you can read the whole story here. The new screen has just arrived. The story continues once the screen is installed.
Simon and Maria stayed with us. They're out from Ohio and visiting from San Diego to here. We had a couple of nice dinners and laughed a bit. Of course the race for governor is big news in Ohio too. They were disappointed to hear I would not be running, but otherwise sanguine. We managed to get in a dinner at Bombay Palace and Bangkok Palace two nights in a row. Then we sat in comfortable chairs and did the Scotch tasting.
The time we put up 5 bottles: Laphroaig, Oban, Balvinie, Scapa, and Glen Morangie. Tasting together is definitely the was to go. While Laphroaig tastes good by itself, when sipped next to the others the phenol and tar notes come out so clearly that I almost choked on it. Balvinie and Glen Morangie are finished in sweetened wood so they have nice smooth tastes. Scapa has a bit of the peat to it. While Oban was the hands down favorite. I need to add a Lagavulin to the mix and try again.
We left mid week for the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach again. Bob and Carolyn and Paul were there and Bob's cousin Cathy came with hubbie Chuck too. The show was, again, fantastic. This year they left the set up lights on several times to allow us to see the assembly work. I like to see the actors and staging come together then, Flash, the stage lights are up and the whole thing looks two dimensional. We did a bit of this ourselves in something we call, "Pageant of the Morons".
We barely made it back when this episode of the Antiques Roadshow came to SF. We were up and out in just a few hours. What a great time. Read all about it.
Well, the waiting is over - I won't run for governor of California. After reading that it took only 65 signatures to get on the ballot, I thought I'd give it a go. Of course I wanted all my friends to vote for someone else. No way I want to be governor. However, I thought the ballots would be quite a keepsake. I guess if the recall succeeds I'll try to get on the next recall - you know how it is once first blood is spilled.
We got some good fishing in at PML in June. John was again teaching us how to fish, this time for trout, when we discovered the secret to his success. We all ended up with good size trout and a desire to get up there again. Of course Jon still leads in the bass derby.
Ray's roadhouse cabin is coming along nicely. In June we made a trip up to build a hot tub deck. Not really a hot tub, this is a galvanized steel cattle watering tub that is big enough to hold three. The deck is really a deck. Ray had put in the six cement post holders and we helped get the super structure in place. There is one tremendous view from the deck. It was hard work to get it up, but as we added more bracing it got more solid. Saturday dinner introduced us to some new friends as one guy flew his radio controlled airplane over the fields.
A week later found me in Twain Harte for the 4th at the Coulter-Gunn cabin. What a great time. The Ravizza's were up with Stephanie's folks over from Hawaii. Brent also came over as well as Mr. Lyons and Claire from next door. With the kids running around all night, it was a hootenanny for sure. The weather was comfortable so we made several treks to the pond. Ray and others golfed while I read my book in a comfortable little coffee shop. A fantastic time.
Last week I attended my first fixed media music performance. Thom was one of the artists and that got me to go. What a trip! The show was at the SOMA center. The seating surrounded by 16 speakers. The lights went down and then it was, as they say, a movie for the ears. Sometime cacophonic, rarely melodic, most often an interesting assemblage of sounds that move through acoustic space. I enjoyed the show tremendously. You have to be tolerant of the off-beat, but I highly recommend these shows. I'll be at the next one for sure.
Lastly, we went to see A Midsummer Night's Dream performed by the San Carlos Youth Group. We went to see Madeline and Michael perform and were surprised to find Kelly on stage too with Megan working behind the scenes. The setting was 1950's and the staging was fun.
Overall, life is good.
Work, work, work, work, work, work, work.
I managed to get away for a weekend to Lake Lopez, down by San Luis Obispo. Paul was up from PS (and did a nice write up on the weekend for his web site) , Bob and Carolyn were there, and Ray, Margaret, and Amanda arrived. We didn't drink Wild Turkey, but we saw several run through the camp. Bob and I did a little shore fishing and managed to land two big ones in just a few hours. Friday Bob brought in a 2+ pound crappie, and on Saturday I think my large mouth bass was close to 4 pounds - I need to get a fish scale into my kit. We caught our fish from the lake shore just across from the park entrance. Bob and I hiked along the shore line to the nearest point, not too far. I caught the bass on a light blue rattle trap casting from one side of the point to 12 o'clock and reeling it back in. That lure is now on some snag, marking the spot.
We just came back from a nice get away to San Juan Bautista. It's only a 40 minute drive South of Saratoga. We stayed at the Posada de San Juan hotel - a very nice place - and ate at The Basque Restaurant nearby. We finished up the evening in a bar watching a full set of locals playing shuffleboard. It's a great place to go for a quick night away.
I also spent a few days in Ames, Iowa with Erling and Doug. The weather was only so-so and we didn't get to see much of the town. One night we ate fried dill pickles, which were better tasting than they sound. We chatted for a time with a woman who was in town to get her dog repaired. Ames apparently has some of the best veterinarians in the country. She gave me an earful about eCommerce and eventually I found that she's part of a web based multilevel marketing deal. The company supplies you with a web site of products to sell and you get your friends to buy them from your web site. You get a cut of the action. Also, you get your friends to set up web sites at this place and get a slice of what they bring in too. Interesting approach to bring Amway to the web.
May 3rd was a busy weekend. Jen got married in Brentwood, a place near the Sacramento delta. It was an all-organic wedding - starting with the bride in a hemp wedding dress! Cool. Dinner was family style, Tuscan influenced. We had designer cheeses that were terrific. Something called Humbolt Blue was just great. Everyone was talking about "slow food" and thinking of where the food came from. Being me, I stood at the cheese table and mumbled something about the soft white goat udder, teats covered with long gray hair, wet with the remnants of the last milk pulled from the... you get the idea. Suddenly I was alone at the cheese table. Oh well. We also ate some fantastic beef, from a ranch that kills only one cattle a week. Hmm. I openly speculated that the olives were allowed to drop naturally from the trees and roll to a stop on the open ground before being lovingly picked up with hand made birch tongs. It was good to see everyone and Jen and John seem very happy. Yahoo!
On the way back we stopped in Oakland where brother Bob was setting up his HO gauge train modules with some other guys he didn't know. These modules are about 24x36 inches with very specific rail interconnects at the edges; they stand about five feet off the floor. People make the modules and detail them in the ways HO modelers do, then get together to hook them up and run trains. This particular set up was in a warehouse adjacent to the SP tracks in Oakland. (Every time a train went by they all rushed out to watch it.) The assembled modules followed three 40 foot sides of the warehouse and then came up the middle of the floor to an eight foot double loop. I was very impressed with the whole set up. Next time I get the chance, I'm stopping in to another meet.
Uncle Dave retired in April and Marian surprised him with a big party at a Hayward restaurant. I managed to get there early and did a few hours of reading about Linux kernel performance at the local Starbucks. I also listened in to an advice session on medical insurance that jived well with my own experience. Basically, if you miss even one payment to your insurance company, you are screwed. Period. End of story. There ought to be a law... but I digress. The whole family made it to Dave's party and I think he was truly surprised. In good family tradition, he gave back as well as he got to the singing telegram woman.
Brian Kolm, cousin of mine, has printed his first comic book! Atomic Bear Press was represented at the San Francisco Wondercon at Moscone center. I went to support Brian, and to see a "show". I found that most of the attendees were a pretty normal crowd - I routinely have more weirdness at my home than I found at Wondercon. Brian had a nice table set up. He was next to the woman who played Sissy on that old Brian Keith TV show with Mr. French. And he was next to JG Hertzler who has played several Klingons in various movies. He also played with Holly Hunter in the San Jose Rep. Boy, when Hertzler was at his table, the area was packed; when he left for a bite to eat everything went dark. I was in a position to chat with him a bit and watch him work the crowd - what a professional, and a really nice guy to his fans. Even when we were talking, as soon as a fan tentatively looked his way, he'd drop me and give them his full attention. He'd smile, hold out his hand, and welcome them closer to his table. One time a gal walking down the other side of the aisle let out a "Grok Nak!". John pleasantly smiled wide and asked, "Do you speak much Klingon?" Sheepishly she admitted, "Only when I'm mad." John encouraged her over to his table and said, "Well I don't really speak it much anymore," and they went on to an engaged conversation. One wild eyed guy in ripped pants acted surprised to see JG there and said, "I've just finished a screenplay that is perfect for you!" JG went on to a pleasant conversation with him. Star Trek fans can be a bit geeky - to say the least - and oftentimes painfully shy in public, especially around their idols. JG reached out to them all and I saw several of them light up with awe that he was talking to them as a normal person. I had a chance to ask him about this. "Everyone has a story," he said, "and I like to hear people's stories." So true. I have to say that I feel that same way. Watching him work the crowd was a bit like watching myself work a booth at Interex. I hope I made people feel as comfortable as he did.
I've been back to Le Yeung's Fusion on Winchester again. Wow, it is hard to stay away from that place. On my last visit Le Yeung came out from the kitchen and spent quite a while talking with our table. Go on a weekday and you're sure to get some nice conversation with the owner and brilliant chef. Try the cake for dessert.
Not much traveling going on these days. The move to the new San Carlos digs went well. It was rushed at the end when the old house sold with a three week close. We had to pack fast. Plus all the coordination to be done. In the end the housewarming party went fantastic. The Zeh is now in good hands again.
La Honda Volunteer Fire Fighters had the ciopinno night this year. Another good time. There must have been 300 people there. Marty had us over for warm up drinks in her beautiful home. Then it was down to the firehouse for stuffing our bellies with good grub. Personally, I prefer the ciopinno at the end of the night when the crab hasn't been stewing for hours. The taste is brighter and less watery. We won the bird house this year. It's a nice twelve banger from the San Carlos Wild Bird shop. We went in to say hello and made another friend that day. The owner is a supporter of Matt Grocott, so we immediately had things to talk about.
Erling's done it again with another opera, Sub Pontio Pilato. This one also played at the ODC Theater in San Francisco to a sold out house. We also followed Erling's advice to Ti Couz on Valencia. I had the scallops with Chipolte. It was ok, but the cheese with mushroom sauce was a superior delight. Michelle and Bob joined us and Dave managed to stop in as well. He didn't make the opera, but we did find Doug hanging out in the lobby, libretto in hand. I always enjoy Erling's music and this opera was great. The story moves in and out of time too much for me to follow (it doesn't help that the libretto is in five languages) but the staging and actors were wonderful. Add in the projection screen visuals and I found myself going into a trance. An excellent night at the opera. I can't say enough good things about it.
We made last weekend a double header by also taking in Rivers of Chocolate, a benefit for Advocates for Children. This event was a gathering of 50 purveyors of chocolates and another 20 of fine wines. A few restaurants threw in booths of food too. Sue and David got us going on this one, and I'm so glad they did. You should know about Confections by Hsing; her Earl Gray tea infused chocolate truffles were a sensation! I also had long discussions with the people at the Cabaret Foods booth. They tell stories of pure cacao strains used to make chocolates that preserve the unique taste of the varietal. Imagine chocolate developing into boutique offerings like single malt scotches or regional coffees. I can't wait to try a blind vertical tasting of chocolates made from criollo cacaos from different sides of a particular hill in Venezuela. Oh my. [ed. More Chocolate information here]
Two wines to check out from the chocolate binge and purge: Zinfandel from Guglielmo Winery and Cooper Garrod Cabernet Franc. Both had me back for a second taste - not that it's too hard to do that!
Sam and Carolyn also had us over to their new house as a thank you for letting Carolyn make her office in my living room last year. It wasn't a bother to me, I'm not home during the day anyway. I'm afraid she had to see my living room in various states of disarray, but she never mentioned it to me. Their new home is very nice. It doesn't have the grapes of the Saratoga place, but it does have a nice big field as part of the homestead. Carolyn cooked and we laughed a lot.
Opening day of those San Jose Giants just passed by. We made it with time to spare. Turkey Mike's BBQ did us a superb job once again. Bob and Carolyn were there; Ray went missing. Paul didn't make the long drive from Palm Springs and we missed him. More than once we looked at each other and sighed. I know he's having a good time, but we all miss his sharp wit. It's nice having the Coulters over for food, drink, and Survivor. Life is good.
The last update is a plug for the San Jose Repertory. We just saw Humpty Dumpty with Joan and Sandra. I am always amazed at the quality of the scenery. This stage jumped into the audience and kept us entertained just looking at it. The Rep does the best job in the South Bay of bringing us quality new theater. Go if you can.
Ahhh, another year. We brought in the new year at The Palms spa in Palm Springs. It's a great, casual spa. No make up, no designer work out clothes, no frufru stuff at all. We started with a few days at Chez Paul. Paul has a fantastic place for relaxing and watching the world turn. I don't know if our friends all pick similar places or if the feeling comes from hanging out with the gang, but I feel similar energy sitting in Ray's Roadhouse, Coulter's Cabin, or Chez Paul. A big quiet comes over everything. Ray and Margaret also showed up. This was her first drive with a learner's permit. As you can imagine, she was jazzed, but at 17 too cool to really show it. We managed one dinner with Alan and Dale. We hit The Outback steak house, which had much better food than I remember. Then Marie Calendar's for dessert, which was worse than I remember. Oh well, it was good company.
We started this holiday season with a nice family reunion in Santa Margarita. Everyone made it except the Haldemans; long trip for them. We ate some great food and made a day trip to the Monarch Butterfly wintering site in Pismo Beach. There were only 30 or 40 thousand butterflies there this year, but still a spectacular place to be. This year it was easy to see the little reflective tags on their wings. Won't it be cool when these insect tags are found thousands of miles away?
In time for Christmas Day I found and installed my SliMP3 player from SlimDevices. All I can say is "Hallelujah!" It plugged into my network and the server software installed with no trouble. The device found the server, and vice versa, and I was playing my MP3 files within 5 minutes. I was so impressed with the device that I repositioned my stereo components, drilled some holes in the floor so I could move the wireless bridge, and bought new speakers. If you rip your CDs to your PC, then you need this device yesterday. I hope the team at Slim Devices becomes millionaires.
Christmas was done up in Saratoga. This year my family was all with the in-laws. We managed to see Mike and ... in Pacifica on the eve, but Bob and Katie escaped us. Angela was too sick with the flu to do much but sleep. On The Day we had most of the rest over. About 17, counting friends and their families. Brian brought over a new game that involved half the gang for half the day. What a good time!
Marty had us over to her place in La Honda. We shared some shrimp appetizers with the cat - damn. She made some shrimp stuffed baked chili relleno that were just yummy. I'm going to get the recipe and add it to the archive here.
Then it was off to Palm Springs. Lindy and Devie couldn't make it and we missed them. However, Jean was there and Eileen and Eleanor were back. We recognized others as well. Cathy didn't teach any classes, but we did have a very nice time with Caroline and Jody. Sandra made for an excellent dealer and Angela did a super job at the auction. This year it seems like everyone got something. Except for some unpleasantness at the end between a guest and an outsider it would have been a perfect time. We're looking forward to next year with the whole gang.
Last week we got out to the Improv to see Lewis Black. God, funny guy. I can tell you though, the dinner was the crummiest I've had in a loooonngg time and given my habits, I have a lot of crummy meals. The potatoes were cold, the beef tough and cool to the touch. Angela's chicken was in the same sad shape. If you go to the Improv, stick with the nachos, they looked great. We'll go see Lewis the next time he's in town. Jim Short was the warm up act and he was also very funny. We liked them both.
Yesterday Kinch took us to a new place along Winchester blvd. Le Yeung's Fusion is just around the corner from my old house. Wow, what a great meal. If you go, you must try the Rainbow Rice and the Seafood Curry. All of the food was just outstanding. We'll be going back for sure.