|Here are the previous journal entries from my home page
Read the previous archive.
It seems that these days I spend more time here apologizing to my faithful surfers than I do writing. After a long distracting effort I can now report: Done, Done, Done, Done! Never again will that pretender to a floor man enter my house. The floor isn't perfect, but I don't want him back to fix it for fear he'll start another eight-week round of sanding and staining. I can live with it and I don't think anyone else will really see too many of the imperfections.
My "V" dinner was a success. Starting with a varm velcome we moved on to Velveeta on crackers, a savory roast chicken breast with fresh herbs and Dijon, and mixed vegetables. We finished up with VSOP and Vantage cigarettes. None of us smoke, so we spent the after dinner evening posing and stroking the cigarettes as if we were 16 years old. Vance did the best, able to lean over the table, crimp the cig in his fist and look through the haze like Kerouac reborn. (Don't tell his mother - Vance actually smoked one!)
The troop was saved from heart disease because Angela and I tried one potential recipe the week before. I was copying the CIA with a salt encrusted chicken. Five pounds of rock salt and six egg whites are used to encrust a roaster stuffed with fresh herbs. Out of the oven the crust is broken open at the table (rock salt goes everywhere) and the most heavenly aromatic aroma emerges. It is a beautiful brown skin and one of the saltiest dishes you can have. Perhaps I missed some step on the CIA show, but this was like having stuffed the chicken with potato chips.
I had better luck with the fillo dough fruit tart for Christmas. The defrosted fillo is cut into strips and tossed with melted butter, sugar and honey. Lightly pushed into a metal ring on a buttered parchment sheet, it cooks at 325 for 40 minutes. Right out of the oven a cool fruit mix is spooned on top. Delicious. Everyone who came down for Christmas day seemed to enjoy it. We ate most of the Honey Baked ham, most of the vegetables, and all of the dessert.
Next week we're off work and my plan is to empty or store all of the boxes I moved from Runnymede. I'd like to feel all moved in by the new year. Angela is heading to a spa weekend for the first and I'm going down to LA. Tom's going to host me and I'm going to get him onto the internet. We'll see how that goes.
Happy holidays to all. (Especially to Mr. Ravizza's class and Rene McClain - regular readers I understand.)
Another fantastic SLO weekend. Angela and I took an early leave of absence and were out of the valley by 5 on Thursday. We got to SLO too late for the downtown Farmer's Market but not too late to have a beer at SLO Brewing. The cover was $2 and the lead trombone player looked like he was 15. Great sounds though. And we had a table overlooking Garden street. There's a local Java house hang out below and we spent an enjoyable hour listening to tunes and watching the local color come and go. Our table was a short walk to the Garden Street Inn - cheapest bed and breakfast in California.
Friday we shopped until we dropped and were joined by Tom, Ron, Dave / Stephanie / Alison, and Diane. Rick stayed home with Sheila; an errant softball broke her ankle on a slide into third. (We don't know if she was safe or out.) We moved to Quality Suites and had a great time just spending the weekend relaxing. Bocci ball in the park, dinner at This Ole' House, and a trip down memory lane at Pepi Delgado's. I think we left our memories there in the bottom of those three margarita pitchers.
While everyone else played golf Angela and I met Bob and Katie. We drove around Pismo on a little house hunt. Grover Beach was cool and beautiful. It offers small two bedroom houses a mile from the beach. It's small town atmosphere. Good living, but not enough for a vacation home. Then there's Shell Beach. Fine place, cliff living, houses cost over half a million. Pismo downtown? Nice place, just too tourist for me right now. The search is still on.
Two weeks, two parties. Halloween found us wandering the streets of SF from Civic Center to the Cadillac BnG. Our mermaid/man costumes were a hit. Angela whipped them up in a couple of nights and we swished our tails over much of Market. Angela is a marvel with the iron-on hemming tape and Singer. Pictures will be here shortly.
Now there aren't any pictures here of the party the week before - I couldn't afford the ISP download charges. We spent Saturday night wandering the halls of the Cow Palace with the rest of the Erotic-Exotic Ball. Oh, more than worth the price of admission. Thanks to Carl for the comp tickets, but we would have paid double for the night. Again, Angela stitched together a couple of more revealing costumes, but still in good taste. I felt that we were pretty wild until we got there. Nothing like a few naked, fully painted people wandering around to make me feel fully dressed in pants. We were in very original looking costumes, but while I felt like a five sigma guy that night I more like median man. The Palace was full with 12,000 revelers, mostly packed into the main room. We never went on to the floor. It was much more comfortable in the room with the second stage and in the corridor around the arena. Next year we have to go again.
Floors? Floors you ask? Yes, it is true, I'm still living out of boxes with my couch and cabinets sitting in the entry hall. The white wash isn't dry enough to sand yet; it's been over a week. God, I hope this works out. It will be terrible to have waited this long just to fire this contractor and start all over again. This next step is his last chance. It either looks good or he's out. Stay tuned sports fans.
Ten days since the last update. So much has gone right - and wrong. I'm in and there's no denying it. All my stuff is out of the old place and into the new. I hired Lamont and Charles two local guys from SJ and they did an excellent job of hustling most of my miscellany into the Oak Street digs. It took us (them) 8 hours and two trips in the 15 footer from Budget. Budget, wow, that was a trip. After all my hassles with U-Haul Budget seemed like a dream. Then I show up Sunday at 8am to find: headquarters power outage has the West coast computers entirely down for the day. "Not sure how to rent you a truck..." Oh my. A little sweet talkin' from yours truly and he's writing up the rental agreement by hand. I tell him I'm willing to put a bloody thumb print on it, but I need a truck. Turns out to be no problem at all. Go Budget!
Of course Sunday's adventure did not end my move, it just got the big stuff going. I had to spend all Monday afternoon and evening and then Tuesday night. It wasn't until 10:30PM that I could close the garage door on Runnymede one last time and call it a day. (Of course I still have the big ladder at Bert and Karin's place.) Now I am happily ensconced in the new condo and slowly moving things out of boxes and into place.
Unless of course you count the living room. My floor guy is a bit incompetent. Is that even possible? He's resanded the floor and this time he filled in all the cracks. Just plain negligence on his part to not do that the first time. A try at two different stains failed to hide the red/white oak combo that causes me such angst so now we're back to an opal white wash. Problem is he can't get the white wash even. I'm not trying to be too picky, but the floor needs to be evenly covered within plus or minus 10 percent. He's asking me to approve it with big stripes down the middle. Here it is 15 days later and he's just put another coat on much heavier. I hope that in the sun light it's even. Then it would only be two days to get the top coats on. Dare I even think . . .
On a happier note, last weekend was spent under the tutelage of bass master Jon at PML. This time he pulled in two 4.8 pound monsters, two 2.7 pounders, and a little one. I brought up to the boat two small 2 pound babies. Vance and Steve showed the big white stripe down their backs. All the fish were caught on Saturday; we all had empty larders on Sunday. Ah, the worst day fishing - still beats . . . Stay tuned for pictures.
BP 140/95 HR 90
BP 145/99 HR 100
BP 165/105 HR 120
What's going on? Pneumonia? Typhoid Fever? Stroke? Could it be that I'M MOVING TOMORROW AND THE HARDWOOD FLOORS IN THE NEW HOUSE LOOK LIKE CRAP? Oh yeah, that must be it.
Once again I should have followed my instincts. The painting has gone fine. All the necessary spaces are done. The carpet looks good, except on the stairs and I can live around that for now. The hardwood floors however... I went over this morning to find that they are two different colored patches in the floor. I'm sure the floor guy will blame it on the wood but damn, he should have advised me to use a stain so they would blend together. Then there's the little matter of the roller marks in the floor finish, the places he missed with finish, and the places where he left big blobs of finish. Let's not even discuses the places between floor boards that he didn't fill in. Jesus, I want to have furniture on that floor tomorrow. He's coming over at 4PM today and we'll see what he can do. He can probably touch up everything except the color and the cracks. I think I'm just screwed on those. I had a bad feeling about this guy from the way they scheduled the work, but I know that most contractors are flakes yet they can still do good work. We shall see.
I'm mostly boxed up and the rest of today is a packing day. The termite tent came off on schedule and I think the rest of the move will go well. More on that later. Stay tuned.
Greg and Suzanne had a super wedding at a manor house in Healdsburg. We sat in chairs on the lawn with hedgerows of impatiens (however you spell them) ahead of us. The weather was misting, turning into a drop here and there as the bridesmaids took the long walk down the hill. I thought to myself, it's bad form to run from the rain before the bride does - but once the bride turns to leave it's every man for himself! The trio was bravely sawing across the strings hoping the wood wouldn't warp. Then Suzanne came down the aisle. Beautiful in her white gown. Radiant as only a bride can be. I'm sure that by sheer will she held off the rain. The ceremony went without a hitch (well, they did get hitched) unless you count the part, halfway through the vows, when Greg turned to the minister and said, "could you repeat that?"
After the ceremony the weather turned ugly and we all moved inside. The dinner tables were under a sun shade, but the water just poured off the edges. At one point Laura pointed to a stream of water running right into the middle of one chair and said, "I wonder what poor sap is sitting there?" Oops, that was Angela's chair. The coordinator did a great job and moved the entire feast indoors. The buffet stayed as planned but we all had to find our own seats in the different sitting rooms of the manor house. While it wasn't planned, I think it was a real treat. We got to eat among some beautiful pieces of furniture and nicely decorated walls.
Ellen came down here on Tuesday before heading back. We walked through Saratoga and had a dinner at La Fondue. The waiter treated us like poor white trash, I guess I should learn to dress up, but the food was good. Before she left Ellen blessed the new place.
Speaking of the new place, it's getting close to move-in day. Dave's got all but the bathrooms painted and the place looks fantastic. The carpet is down and I'm really happy with the way it looks against the paint. Next week the hardwood floors get done - I hope. Thursday the termite police take over my old place to tent it. I was hoping to be into the new place with most of my stuff, but then I found out that rental trucks are hard to get on the first weekend of the month. It was a bit of luck that I found this out because it also alerted me to the total disregard for customers that U-Haul corporation exhibits.
The base fact is that U-Haul lies about truck availability. No other way to say it, they lie like dogs. In fact, I had a "good" reservation for this Sunday according to the Phoenix U-Haul reservation center, "someone will call you 24 hours ahead to give you a final pickup place and time. If you don't hear from us by noon the day before your pickup, call this number . . ." Hmmm. "What do you mean 'final pickup place and time'? I thought you just rented me a truck in Campbell for 9am Sunday?" "Oh, don't worry sir, this is how it always works. The truck will be near by when you need it. You can count on U-Haul." Being a bit uncomfortable with this set up I waited one hour and then called the number they gave me to call 24 hours ahead of the pickup.
This number rings the regional coordination center - I think they schedule all the trucks in Northern California. Well, the regional coordinator out here told me there is no chance I'd get a truck on Sunday: she was still getting trucks for people who had reservations for one last Wednesday! She was aghast that I was rented a truck. "Those people in Phoenix just don't listen. We don't have any trucks. We keep telling them and they still keep taking reservations." She was clearly upset about the position she was in. She was very nice and found a smaller size than I wanted in Hayward, but that's 30 miles away and would add $50 in mileage charges to my rental.
Just for grins, I called back the 1-800 reservation line and tried to rent again. Believe it or not, they were willing to give me yet another "good" reservation for Sunday!!! What schmucks. I guess they were planning to drop the bomb on me when they felt it was too late for me to do anything about it.
After I got a reservation for the second non-existent truck I told the guy on the phone, "Why are you renting me a truck when you don't have any trucks available?" He said, "Oh, we have trucks in your area, I have a note from the local area telling me what's available." I told him the story from the local area scheduler and he politely asked to transfer me to customer service. Sure. I tell the next guy who picks up the phone that I'm looking for customer service to complain. He passes me on again. The next guy hears a bit of my story and says, "If you have a reservation I'll transfer you to the rescheduling desk." "No, I want customer service." "Certainly sir, I'll transfer you. You should know that the current wait is 15 minutes." I hung up.
I now have a reservation with Budget for the 11th (408) 971-0808. They were much nicer, more in control. I told him a little bit of my story and he sighed, "Well sir, we do not overbook. You will have a truck from us at this location next Sunday."
I've told this story to a friend of mine and she just laughed. "U-Haul did the same thing to us last year when we moved," she said. "At the last minute they made us go to another location to get the truck. What choice did we have? We were all set to move the next day."
Jesus! Don't ever use U-Haul. You've been warned. (Anyone else have stories to share?)
Whew, a long time since the last installment; things have been jumpin' around here. Runnymede is now under contract. Inspections are going pretty well. As always, those termite guys find tons of stuff for them to do. Oh - What a Surprise - they found several thousands of dollars of work for them to do at my expense. That work is now underway.
The new place is coming along fine. Edie has been helping me pick colors and carpet. The carpet went easy: brown Berber. The wall paint took forever. I kept going back to Kelly Moore and then splashing big two foot squares all over the place. In the end it took nine quarts and ten days to pick the following: Caprice Cream, Cathedral City, Kestrel, Bleached Wood. Read that as Off White, Gray, Darker Gray, Light Brown. Dave has finished one coat and it looks super. Still have to pick colors for the kitchen and black bathrooms.
SJ Giants playoff game 1 was, as always, a fun time. Hard to believe that it started raining in the eighth inning. What kind of a summer is this?
Jennifer had us over to a fantastic party at her place in SF. Wild food bbq'd on skewers and a seafood boil that fed 50. There was an awesome apple pie and someone cooked a tomato onion pie too. Jennifer and her roomies have fun friends and I really enjoyed talking away the night. (And Angela looked just incredible.) Then Angela, Leonard, and I hacked a modified French drain into Angela's backyard to stave off the coming El Nino follow on. I hadn't used a jack hammer before, but it's a lot of fun. We got a recoilless gas powered jobbie that tore into the ground. It did so well under Leonard's control that we took up 20 feet of concrete pathway too. Good thing we ran out of gas or we might have attacked the foundation of the house. We finished up the weekend with Bob and Carolyn and Co. under the tree in their backyard. So good to reflect under the stars with close friends.
Michelle and I saw David Benoit and David Kaz at Montalvo. They did an excellent job. Somehow we ended up in the far back. I guess it's where they newbies because the clods around us couldn't stop taking the whole time. "Wow, look at that." "Hey, remember when we went to Los Angeles?" "Hey, pass the cookies." I guess these gomos don't got no class. Note to myself: never sit in the back.
Lastly, last weekend. Angela was in South Carolina whooping it up on the beach. I was with Ray at the cabin playing pool and installing insulation. The cabin now has power via a generator, the joists for a big, huge, gigantic deck, and 200' short of running water. Instead of spending the night drinking ourselves to sleep sitting in the candlelight, we did it while playing pool.
Peggy was married this last Sunday in a great ceremony in the Faculty Club at U.C. Berkeley. It was warm in the sun as we watched Peggy walk down the grass aisle in her white gown. Gene was beaming as he stood waiting for her. I thought I could see a slight tremor in his leg, but then it passed as the ceremony went on without a hitch... well the ring almost didn't fit, but we won't mention that here.
Ed, Trisha, and Dennis were down from Seattle. Nadine was there with her granddaughter. Lots of college buddies from both sides. We had a fantastic dinner of chicken breast stuffed with spinach. Beer and wine helped loosen us all up for a night of dancing.
Saturday Angela and I helped Carson celebrate yet another birthday. Hard to believe that he's getting older. Fish as Jumbo's was as incredible as ever. A lot of the old gang showed up: Jessy, Mark, Rick. We laughed a lot about the good times we used to have running CSY. We wrapped up the evening with a crank call to Vance's answering machine welcoming him home from his three months on the road in Central Asia. Too bad he wasn't home for us to disturb.
Family reunion time! Mom and Dad and I flew in to Grand Junction on Wednesday and headed for Moab, Utah. Moab is in some of the most spectacular geology I have ever seen. However, it is not the short drive that the map makes it look; we spent three hours on the road getting there. And this jewel is set in the middle of a lot of dross. Wide highways, flat desert, not much to see getting there. Moab itself is on the edge of red rock country. This is a layer of 3000' of intense red Navajo sandstone. We visited Arches National Park. Essentially big holes (up to 200') that have eroded out leaving a delicate arch above. Dad had bruised his foot so we didn't get more than a few feet from the car, but these are still amazing to see from a distance.
Then I took them to Canyonlands National Park (another one you haven't heard of?). The park itself is as large as the Grand Canyon and mostly accessible only on 4 wheel drive. There are a couple of lookout points and we turned off the main road to one. Oh, did I mention that the lookout is 35 miles from the highway? Jesus, things are very far away out here. The vistas we saw were fantastic. We spent time just staring out over this ditch in the Earth that is 3000' deep and 10 miles across. Inside the Canyon is a myriad of different erosion patterns. Shelfs, little canyons, hoo doos, balanced rocks. The views are so incredible that they just take away your thoughts. At times I just stood dumbfounded looking into the distance... and wishing that the tourists to my right would just shut up for a minute or two. This immense space absorbs all sounds, but not the ones that were coming from my right.
Thursday we set off for Breckenridge. We took some side highways, looked at things that passed the car, and overall spent seven hours on the road. Another miscalculation on my part. We passed some really neat towns to come back to. Silverton is a restored victorian silver mining town nestled in an Alpine valley. We ate lunch in a neat little town (name to follow later). All these towns are packed with restored hotels and cute bed and breakfasts. By the time we checked in to Beaver Run I just threw my things on the bed and jumped into my room's jacuzzi tub.
Friday was the family meeting. We drove to Fairplay for lunch. You might be wondering, "haven't I heard of Fairplay before...?" Yes, you have. It is right next door to South Park Colorado! Official birthplace of the SouthPark Kids. Man, it was heaven. SouthPark is about two blocks long, a few neat shops, several places to buy SPK paraphernalia, and many boarded up, burned out, wretched little places to live. I bought a hat.
We drove back to Breckenridge via Leadville, also an interesting place to return to.
Yet another week of good times and good news. I'm writing this at 30,000 feet while enroute to the Engelhorn (paternal grandmother) family reunion in Beaver Run ski resort, Colorado. We'll spend a few days in Moab and then have dinner with about 75 relatives. And speaking of the old gal, Aunt Fran hosted her 90th birthday this last weekend. Had a nice visit with the Orput clan in Concord.
Last week the Doobie Brothers did an excellent show at Paul Mason. Angela was in class, so I took advantage of Carson being out of town to wine and dine his significant other. Edie actually brought the food and we rocked out to all the Doobie's old tunes in the moonlight above the Silicon Valley.
Sunday we did another hike, this time in Muir Woods. Storm damage closed the trail we wanted, but somehow we still ended up doing some radical downhill cross country hiking on what appeared to be a legal trail. Man, my knees were killing me at the end. Love that Advil!
Good news on the home front, the renters are out 9/1 so I'll be able to be in by 10/1. Runnymede is on sale this week, with the first open house this Sunday. Here's hoping for the market to hold and the house to sell fast.
If anyone sees Jim Moffett, ask him about his recent car fire. On the phone with AAA for a tow, mid-sentence Jim sees the paint on his hood begin to crinkle. "Make that a fire truck," he tells the guy while getting his two kids out of their car seats and whisked away to safety. Jim's now the proud owner of a nifty new truck.
Another hike last weekend. Once again off of Skyline road and down into the lower reaches of the hills. We only hiked about 6 miles, but the last part was all up hill.
Karen sent out email for a beach party just off the Miramar Inn. Angela brought her friend Chris. We showed up about an hour late and no one was there. Hmmm, maybe we goofed on the day. It was an overcast, but not too chilly, late afternoon. I love the beach in te cold light of the day. We were about to go home when we spy Karen, bbq in hand, walking down the stairs. We grab our stuff and stake our a spot. By 7PM fifteen people have food on the bar-b, we're drinking spiked lemonade and beer, some people are playing some very cool home made stringed instruments. We stayed until midnight singing songs, eating marshmallows and watching the fire burn.
Work is going great! We've put our new user interface into production and users say they love it. The Electronic Support Center release exposed our filters for customers to use, and the feedback from them is excellent; even our most strident critic from the last year has put his stamp of approval on it. Then top it all off with 90% of the employees marking "I would recommend this as a good place to work" on this year's survey, and I'm flying high right now.
I'm baaaack. Sailing in the West Indies was fantastic! We left on 7/3 from St. Lucia and spent the next ten days reaching Grenada. We spent three nights anchored on Tobago Cays with some excellent snorkeling. Also visited Mayreau Island. A small sand island 50'x100' by 5 feet high. Standing in the middle of the island, in the middle of nowhere, with nothing around for miles is a once in a lifetime event.
Greg and Suzanne did a great job skippering the Wind Seeker through the whole week. At 50' it could take whatever the sea through at it. We only tested it in six foot swells and light wind. Doug and Dana were the scuba dogs with Raymond an eager student. Casey led the shopping contingent and Ellen provided constant comic relief. Me? I was head of the sleeping department.
I left work behind even before the limo got to SFO. Now I'm back, tanned despite the SPF30 I wore constantly, and still working to remove the last of the mosquito bites. Rather than rush into work, Angela and I spent Sunday in the malls' a/c soaking up the ice cold air.
Keep watching here for sailing photos to show up soon. (Soon as I dig through the 250 email messages I have at work!)
[This large gap in the journal allowed me to put Vance's trek through Asia on the front page of my site.]
My email to the Stop DHMO Committee:
Having read your page I immediately called for a thorough search of our own neighborhood. I started with my next door neighbor's garage. While I personally use only organic gardening methods, I have seen Thomas spraying things in his yard. When I confronted him with your message on DHMO he was unwilling to allow me to inspect the products he keeps. Last Saturday night, while his family was asleep, I carefully removed the lock from their side door and took all the cans from his garage. Hiding behind his white death machine (he drives a Suburban, but that's another matter), wearing a rubber apron, acid gloves, and chemical splash glasses, I meticulously read and re-read the side panel of each can. While I did not find DHMO listed as a specific component of any pesticides or herbicides I feel that it may be an unlisted component of some of them. I can imagine that given the severe dangers you detail for DHMO many companies in the military-industrial complex will be reluctant to specifically list DHMO as an ingredient. (I wonder if it could be a component of guar gum?)
You will be pleased to know that using similar means I have now personally inspected the garages of all twenty houses on my block. I have amassed a huge stockpile of pesticide and herbicide cans in my kitchen. Don't worry, I've blacked out the windows so no one can see inside. Many of the cans are leaking, but none seems to contain DHMO; I have not found DHMO listed in any pesticide, but that doesn't mean anything. In one house I encountered a spill of some liquid emanating from under a washing machine. The spill appeared fresh. I tried to avoid it, but unfortunately I stepped in it. The liquid was of relatively low viscosity and small amounts evaporated within 30 minutes. Could this have been DHMO?
My exposure to DHMO occurred last Wednesday. Since then I have had dizzy spells and headaches while sitting in my small kitchen. Sometimes I see lizards on the walls, or snakes in my coffee cup. A rash covers my torso and my hair has started coming out in clumps. I'm a bit scared. Tell me, is there an antidote to DHMO poisoning? I will come to your next meeting and, with my identity suitably protected, bear witness to the ravages of this incredible menace. We must stop it's use no matter what the cost
See what DHMO is all about.
Other news . . .
Tap Dogs was fantastic, thanks to Sandra for all the planning. Also hiked to the Big Basin waterfalls. They are really fantastic. We took the 12 mile roundtrip, ignoring the signs warning "Strenuous Hike", and literally crawled back to my hot tub. I think I'm getting older.
Boy, I'm more sore than a two-dollar . . . Well, I'm pretty sore. Saturday was spent with Community Impact removing non-native species from the Baylands Nature Preserve. There must have been thirty of us out there wielding tools of mass destruction. Angela had a wicked tool with an axe head on both sides, one turned 90 degrees from the other. I had a big hoe with a twelve inch blade on one side and two inch fingers on the other. We'd find a six foot clump of fennel and we'd jump into the center of it yelling, "die you stinking weed!" Then we'd swing at it until it fell. There was fennel blood everywhere. We also pulled thistles by hand until our forearms burned. It felt odd being careful not to pull up the milkweed and dandelions.
Later that night I was introduced to Blues on B Street in Burlingame. It's a great basement blues club. Plenty of room and a cool brick atmosphere. I will definitely be back there in the future. The restaurant above it looked good too. Next time.
Made my first trip to the SF MOMA today. It's a super setting for some great art. They had a Bill Keller show. A few too many penises for my taste. Others will no doubt disagree. They had a nice display of Picasso and Klee too. We ate lunch in the museum cafe. A very nice place to relax and watch the people come by. The captivating menu was offset by finding a slug in my chicken salad.
Then across to the Yerba Buena Center to see The Blue Angel by the Smuin Ballet/SF. It was great. Better than the last SF Ballet I saw. Michelle, you have to check out the Smuin! It was just a fabulous time. There were several pieces and each was unusual, artful, and entertaining. At one point five guys are laying on the floor next to each other like pencils on a desk. A ballerina is stiffly laying across them. As they all roll over once, she "swims" over them to the left. The free guy now gets up and runs over to lay in front of the ballerina so the whole movement can be done again. She swam right off the stage.
It's been a while since my last missive; the knockout Easter flu has only now passed, almost. The damn stuff is still kickin' around in odd parts of my body.
Thanks to Vance for an excellent Christmas in April event. We must have had 40 people show up to renovate the outside of this East Menlo Park house. There were so many of us that a group of ex-CSYers headed down the street to help out a house being run by a group from Sun. They had taken on more than they could handle and when we showed up it was like adding booster rockets to the project. I think we managed to get into several pictures they took for the Sun employee newsletter. I wonder if my HP ball cap will show up clearly? Our project house had been neglected for years and when we left it was bright and cheery. You could see the happiness in the homeowner's face.
This weekend was our camping trip to Henry Cowell park. I headed over the hill at 6PM only to be met by dead stopped traffic. Instead of a BBQ that night I got off at Lark around 7PM and ate at the Los Gatos Diner. Worst meal I've had in a long, long time. The roasted chicken was reclining on very tired, salt laden stuffing. The entire mess entombed in some pure mushroom gravy, again flavored with salt, that must have come out of a very small can. It was gross. Back on the road at 8 it was stop and go the whole way. One stop treated me with lightening-like strobe blasts from a tree top falling into power lines. It was intense and only 50 feet from my car. Then I find out that HW9 from the coast is closed (blame it on El Niņo). I had given up and headed home when I found the back way in. Three hours after leaving my home, I'm sitting around a fire pit less than 15 miles from my home. In the rain. In the dark. I slept in the back of my truck. At least Saturday was dry. Mostly. Ray, Dean, Margaret showed up. So did Hal, Carolyn, and the boys. We had a very nice hike to the observation deck. On the way back I kept dropping quarters and nickels on the trail for William and Ben to find. They were so cute to have their little hands filled with change. It really kept them motivated to finish the hike. Bob and Paul took off for the Sharks game, so I packed it up and spent a quiet Saturday night in my own warm bed.
Just got back from a week in St. Helena. Had an absolutely super dinner at The French Laundry. One course was one lightly poached oyster in tapioca, covered in sabayone sauce. Another was a small sweet cone filled with salmon tartare. Ymmmm. I remember the rack of rabbit on top of a roasted rabbit breast. Quarter size potato pancakes. It went on and on. Must have been 15 different courses. This is a great place.
Also ate at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) continuing education school. A fun tour of the teaching facilities was a lead in to the excellent dinner. I had pepper crusted tuna. The CIA offers two week courses for chefs who are already working in the industry. They also introduced us to the Digital Chef. (Now Tavolo.com go to "recipes".) Check it out.
Being in Napa gave me a two hour jump on the Roadhouse run so I joined Dean, Ray, and Margaret for a weekend romp. We opened the cabin by washing windows and finishing the electrical work. Also stabilized the working deck so that we can use it to relax on. It's not too stable, but will give us a few months of service. What a great place to sit on a Sunday morning. Winter has been harsh up there. 70 mph winds knocked down lots of trees, their remains can be seen laying off Middle road. One 24 inch oak would have crashed through the Roadhouse if a nearby madrone had not caught it. Charlie, Bob, and Michael told stories of other hill people who had been trapped in their beds by falling giants. No deaths this winter, but several severe injuries. The highlight of the weekend was a big bonfire of dead wood that was piled in the middle of the meadow.
Last weekend was a blast at Moe's Alley in Aptos. Kim from the Fabulous Thunderbirds was blowing away on the harmonica. The club is small, but so is the crowd. Even at 11PM there were tables available in the back. Thank God for California's no smoking policy, it makes bars livable again.
Nancy and Jim took me up to their place at Pine Mountain Lake this Easter weekend. They have a nice place that borders on the lake. Between raindrops we managed to walk down there once or twice. Saturday morning was the local Rotary egg hunt. Unfortunately rain pushed that inside too. I don't think the kids cared; they still got a lot of loot. That afternoon we filled the empty plastic egg shells with small toys from the Barbie collection of Michaela and Marissa. Sunday morning they squealed with glee as they found the eggs hidden all over the living room. It was just a gas. We searched for Jon's place but I just couldn't remember where he lives.
(... in Spanish)
Another year gone by, another hash mark on the butt. Yes, another birthday has gone by for the Schrempp boys. We managed to pull off a major surprise for Mike. Mom, Dad, Bob, Katie, and I arrived last Friday night in Tacoma. For Bob and Katie it was the end of their first big vacation, a week cruise in the Caribbean! Friday night they told lots of stories: food galore, sight seeing at every port. Biggest event was a personal swim with the dolphins in Jamaica. They tell of a magnificent adventure with 500 pound beasts gently rolling in front of them to be petted and played with.
Saturday was a leisurely breakfast at the Denny's next door to our Motel8. Then we took over a table at a waterfront restaurant in Gig Harbor. When Mike walked in and saw us there his jaw dropped. He was truly stunned. The best response he could manage was to look at Gwen and say, "Does this mean we're not going away for the weekend?" The rest of the time we meandered around GH and spent the afternoon at their new house. Set atop a 30 foot cliff, the wide front room windows look South West to Fox island across the sound. It is an incredibly peaceful and relaxing setting. The remodeling will be done in August, then we all have to go back up for an extended stay in their guest room-with-a-view.
On the home front: SJ Rep's production of Old Wicked Songs is a delight. Michelle left Bob at home (I'm sure he was crying over this) to go with me and we were both stunned by the strength of their production. Thursday the gang took home plate seats at the SJ Giants opener. Who do I find behind us in the stands? Roommate Tom! We stayed through 9.5 innings of drizzle, then rain, then drizzle, then rain. We left when the opposition brought two runs home in the top of the ninth. We almost blew it; I hear the Giants had three on base when they took their third out to end the game.
Yesterday was a wasted traffic school day. My recommendation? Stay away from the Bermuda Triangle of 237 - 101 - Moffett field. Bad lane markings bring bad karma. Two others in my class had been popped in the same place.
Got a chance to see the Sharks lose this week. I guess that isn't the standard for the team anymore. Good thing, they were starting to lose a few fans. The ice was cold, the beer lukewarm, the nachos covered in some synthetic petroleum derivative. Love those Sharks! Thanks Vance.
Jon was up at Pine Mountain
Lake last weekend. His claim is 29 pounds of bass over three days. The
biggest a monster of almost six point five pounds. I would hesitate to believe
it, but while docking his boat he struck up a conversation with a guy and his
daughter. They asked if the fish were for dinner and Jon told them, "No, I'm
putting them in the bathtub until I go home."
"Is that the custom up here?"
"No, just what I do to keep them alive."
"Oh, then you must be Jon G, I'm Jim M."
Jim had heard the story of the bathtub aquarium from me after my last trip with Jon and a chance meeting dockside closed the circle. Small world.
Just got an email from a guy in Washington who found the pictures of my grandfather on this site and wrote to say that his grandfather is standing next to mine in the picture! He grew up in SF and remembers stories about my grandfather. Wow, what an amazing connector this web is. How did he find my site? I don't know. Stand by for more info as it comes in.
I've been a busy guy this last week. Bob found a good excuse to stay home so Michelle took me to the anorexic ballet, program III. We took Cal Train, which is the first time in my 40+ years living within its reach that I stepped into one. What a great ride! It almost makes SF accessible. The ballet itself was interesting. It ended with all the dancers dressed as cowboys and saloon girls.
Saturday we helped Steve celebrate the big five-oh-oh at Gervais Restaurant Francais in San Jose. It was a small affair. Donna and Pete were down from Reno; I haven't seen her in years. Danny, Suzanne, Rob, and Julie were also around. We had a fine meal and talked about the old days in CSSO. Ten years of working together puts more than a couple of stories on the shelf.
Sunday Dana had tickets to Cyrus Chestnut at Montalvo. We didn't know squat about him, except that he plays jazz piano. Turned out to be a great show. The carriage house theater sets up an intimate show and Cyrus didn't disappoint us. He's a soft spoken guy who really pounds the keyboard.
Well, the Game of Love and Chance was just excellent. Once again the SJ Rep finds a fun production. See it if you can.
If you've seen the hidden Belushi and Chamberlain in the photos on my web site then you'll know that I'm having a good time with PaintShopPro. It's a $69, much simpler, clone of PhotoShop. My next purchase is a flat bed scanner. Vance bought a 1200dpi one with 24 bit color for only $250. It is much better than the little EZPhoto Reader I have (which I also paid about $250 dollars for a year ago). He scanned in my Vail photos for me from prints. I need about 400 horizontal pixels for the web. The photos were 6 inches wide, so we scanned them in at about 75dpi. Then for grins we scanned the index page of thumbnails that Wolf photo printed for me. It's also 6 inches wide, but we scanned it in at 1200 dpi. Shit, the resolution of the index print was good enough that I could probably have just scanned it and cut the one scan up into pics for the web. I *need* one of these scanners.
Vance and I joined the Eastside high school basketball team at their league playoff. They were leading for the first three periods and that drove the opposing coach nuts. He was yelling, screaming, and in general being an ass. We got some great shots of the action. Unfortunately Eastside has a bench depth of one and by the fourth period they were so tired that they started fouling all over the place. They lost by four points.
Back home now from a great trip with the Crash and Burn Ski Club. Motto: Live to Ski, Ski to Die, Live to Tell. Vail was a good mountain, not great, but good enough to keep me busy for a week. Karl and Jackie invited me along and as a group we ate good food every night. Gore Creek Cafe was a real delight. Fresh, open atmosphere without being barn-like and a stimulating menu of choices. Our first night there brought up peel and eat shrimp, two fantastic wines, seared ahi, and a pork loin over bread pudding. We went back later for lunch.
One wild night at Garfinkels we dressed up to bring Hollywood to Vail. Pictures don't do it justice, but here they are anyway.
Next week is The Game of Love and Chance at the SJ Rep, then off to SLO for the weekend. I hope to get my Kilimanjaro video in the can at last. Then I can boor you all with it one more time, but this time with a bit higher quality editing!
Been a busy boy lately. Started last Thursday with Follies at the SJ AMT. A bit of a bomb I'm afraid. Not sure how it ends, we left at the intermission. On our way to the car I hear a guy behind us say to his wife, "Well, I can't take another half of that!"
Went to Tahoe last weekend thanks to the excellent planning and leadership of Bob-the-unworking. We found a great restaurant in old Truckee; I think it's called the UpStairs. In any case it's a small town and this is the only upstairs restaurant! I had a super pork tenderloin in an delicious sauce. Desert was an odd bread pudding with chunks of semi-sweet chocolate. Made my head spin.
We skied at Sugar Bowl. Large, flat runs down a moderately steep mountain kept me happy until my legs were on fire. The knee held up well too. Nothing like 12 Advil a day to keep water off the knee. Of course I was a dope and tried to rent skis at the lift. Man, what a wait. Then they only have those new highly sculpted skis. And then only in 177cm. I'm used to 210s and these babies were like standing on tongue depressors. I spent the day doing turns when I least expected it. Bob had video along and we made some fun shots of us running around.
Sunday was superbowl time. We dined on a very good chili Bob cooked up and then drank into the night. Taking the extra day allowed Paul and I to make a smooth ride home on Monday without a bit of traffic. Except for a bathroom stop I don't think I hit the brakes the whole way home.
I had a great time at the Team USA Woman's Hockey game last night. A bit more civilized form of hockey since they don't allow body checking, just a refined shove off the puck. I'm glad I decided on Florentine's for dinner last week. I walked into Carl and Cathy out for dinner and we had fun times catching up on friends and work.
Disturbing discovery and my rant: CellularOne and Voicemail
I got up my nerve today to install the new counter in the master bath. What an adventure. The new sink is molded into the gray marblette and of course the drain is two inches off the old center. A couple of trips to OSH for connectors, adapters, widgets, and warlocks. The last guy to work on this house put in some kind of non-standard drain and I can't get things to work. Eventually I find some flexible drain pipe and with a little sweat, a few tears, and incantation and it's in. What should have been a two hour job took me six!
On one of those long trips I stopped by Carl's Junior. Having been psychologically battered by the sink my guard was down and I ordered their new steak sandwich. In all fairness it did seem to be a piece of meat. On the other hand, it had been tenderized to the point that it was mushy. Remember when you were first cooking for yourself and decided to marinade a steak? If an hour gave it flavor, what about two days? All your friends are over and you serve them a steak that has the relaxed consistency of a stick of butter. It's almost as if the meat just got out of two hours in a 104 degree hot tub.
Tomorrow is dim sum with Danny and family, Vance, Michelle and Bob.
So the niners are no longer on the superbowl track and I'm almost out of ham and bean soup from Christmas. Good stuff, but I still have one container still left in the freezer. Note to myself: don't buy two bags of pinto beans, no matter how good they look.
Another Bogart movie at the Palo Alto. This time it was Suspense in the North Atlantic. Ended with the phrase, as the last ship of the convoy un-expectedly shows up in Murmansk, "That's not a miracle, that's American seamanship!" Left unanswered was the question of just why they were delivering arms to the Rooskies.
What a great vacation it's been. I took the days around the holidays off and have been gone from work for 16 days! I've been working around the house and visiting a few friends. But basically I've been a bum. The local Starbucks has taken all my change, and for once I've been able to read the newspaper every day. It took me a while to adjust. The first few days I thought, "better drive over there" and then remembered I had time to walk. Still, I walked fast. "Why?," I'd ask myself halfway there, "You have nothing to do all day." "Oh yea." So I would slow down to a saunter and take my time. On the way home I'd even walk a few blocks out of my way just to remember other parts of the neighborhood. For two weeks I haven't read any work email or even listened to work voice mail. I painted the livingroom, went for a few walks, drove to the coast, played volleyball on the beach. I have got to get back to living this way. Of course it all started coming apart last night as I woke up thinking, "I've got to get back to that guy about the computer room management charges" and later, "I wonder if we found those customer names to visit." Back to work on Monday. Sigh.
Yesterday was fun watching the 49ers from the very last row above the 30 yard line. Thanks Jim and Nancy for the ticket!
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