Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Movie Reviews: Wall Street, Shrek 2, Edward Scissorshands, Big Fish, Day After Tomorrow

  • Wall Street
    [My Rating, 7] This was a decent and entertaining movie. It was nice to see Martin and Charlie Sheen together in a movie. Micael Douglas was excellent in his role.
  • Shrek 2
    [My Rating, 9] A very funny movie and one we likes a lot. Of course the Donkey steals the show. I still like him better than "Puss". My favorite scene was when the giant ginger bread man attacks a Starbucks, I mean a Farbucks, and the customers run out and across the street, to another Farbucks.
  • Edward Scissorshands
    [My Rating, 10] Yes, a ten! This is one of my favorite movies of all time. It is a wonderful story and a romantic movie. Last night was the first time Susie and I saw it together.
  • Big Fish
    [My Rating, 9] A really good story about love, families and a man whose stories are bigger than life. To me there is a lot about human nature and the unavoidable (and not dishonest) way we all tell stories and remember things in ways that embellish the facts and present events in ways that reflect our personalities as much as historic events.
  • Day After Tomorrow
    [My Rating, 8] We liked this movie a lot more than I thought we would. I know, there is a lot of scientifically inaccurate information here, but it makes for great entertainment and there is enough truth about global warming to give us pause.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Wine Review: Zinfandel: Castoro Cellars, 2001 Cobble Creek, Estate

Wine Review: Zinfandel: 2001 Castoro Cellars Cobble Creek, Estate, Paso Robles, CA. [My Rating, 9] Yes, I like it that much! Two gold medals Very nice. A bit fruity but not odjectionably so. I like this. This, in my opinion, is the best Zin from a place that grows very good Zins! Their Cobble Creek Vineyard is right outside their Paso Robles tasting room. Notes for the 2002 Vintage:

This wine is from vineyards that surround Niels and Bimmer Udsen's home and the tasting room. All the grapes are grown in the traditional head pruned style with limited production. These grapes are grown to produce wines of distinction with deep color and flavor extraction. We are noticing that this vineyard tends to exhibit great raspberry fruit notes. As you enjoy the bouquet take notice of the elegant fruit and ripe plum aromas coupled with the spiciness characteristic of rich Zinfandels. Enjoy this limited bottling now or hold some to compare with future vintages.

This is the wine they served at their winemaker's dinner! Great wine!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Wine Reviews: 1999 Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, Estate, organically grown

1999 Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, Estate, organically grown, Gold Medal Winner and Highest Point Score of all entries Santa Cruz Mountains 2002 Commercial Wine Competition Wine Club. From a little boutique winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains located near Summit Road, this winery has a tasting room in Monterey on Cannery Row. We bought a case of this wine during Passport Days in the Fall of 2004. One bottle had to be thrown away due to taint.

[My Rating, 7] Nice, and a pleasant wine to drink. I liked it a lot when we got it. But, the more I drink it the less I like it. It has that flavor that Chards have when they are still good and drinkable, but to me past their prime. Maybe in 2002 it was in its prime, but in my opinion, not now.

Book Review: Air Battle Force

Brown, Dale (2003). Air Battle Force. New York: Harper Collins. (ISBN 0-06-009409-5)

[My Rating, 7] I am sure Brown is a nice guy and this is a decent read if you like this kind of stuff. The characters are kind of one dimensional and, in my opinion lack depth. The plot is pretty predictable and a stretch to make believable. Reading this is kind of like watching an old cowboy movie where the bad guys are all lousy shots. However, it is a good way to escape without having to think very much!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Wine Reviews: Burrell Chardonnay and Castoro Syrah

Syrah, Castoro Cellars, 2001 Reserve, Paso Robles
[My Rating, 8] Nice nose and a pleasant wine to drink on a relaxing evening. It is a delicate subtle wine with a hint of vanilla and finishes well.

Chardonnay, Burrell School, 2001, Estate Reserve, Santa Cruz Mountains
[My Rating, 8] Really nice mellow wine. Easy to drink, pleasant, not too oaky or sweet. Grapes were grown right off Summit Road. A good wine! Purchased during passport days 2004.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Movie Review: Bridget Jones, The Edge of Reason (2004)

Susie and I really enjoyed this movie. It was fun, light hearted and romantic. The movie was panned by most critics. However, we do not often agree with most critics. For example, a lot of critics like the Kill Bill movies, we do not! If you like fun and lightly romantic movies, you should like Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. We did.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Pixel with hair up

This season is just too crazy, too intense, too much to do, too busy, too stressful and too much work!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Congress to hear case regarding wine sale

Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution empowers the United States Congress "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes".
No matter what you say about states rights, no matter what your concerns about local businesses being impacted by either on-line, catalog or phone sales, states do not have the right to regulate interstate commerce.
Why are boutique wineries being punished because states want to control interstate commerce? Because, in my opinion, they can get away with it!
I have got a feeling that there is more of a threat to local tax bases and local businesses from Amazon and other e-tailers (not to mention catalog sales) than there is from wineries.
To me the laws, as they exist now, are about interstate commerce and not about controlling the sale of alcohol.
I live in CA and my desire to be able to have wine shipped from my NY brother-in-law to his CA sister (no sale involved) is due to a CA “reciprocity” law not a NY law. I am a CA constituent, not a NY one. CA may be trying to pressure other states to allow CA wines to shipped to other states by banning wineries in states that ban CA wine shipments from shipping to CA, but again that is a trade policy and that, I believe, violates the commerce clause.
If states want to ban any and all alcohol shipments, including same state shipments, I think they arguably have the right to do so under the 21st amendment, but as soon as they discriminate, as soon as they start to favor and allow their own in state wineries to ship and not out of state wineries, as soon as they change the playing field to favor their own alcohol shippers (and that includes laws of reciprocity,) as soon as they allow some shipments and not others; I believe they are interfering with interstate commerce and I believe only the feds can do that.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Letter about awful cab ride

Patricia Dando
District 10 Council Member
City Hall
801 North First St.
San Jose, CA 95110

Councilwoman Dando:
This is Thanksgiving Day and my wife, son and I are waiting at San Jose International Airport waiting for our flight. The reason I am writing is to ask for your help. This morning we had the scariest car ride I have ever had. It was in Taxi 2231 of Rainbow Cab Company. The driver was an older man named Vladimir, he picked us up at 7am, his cab was a van. I would give you more information but the name printed on the cab licenses issued by the City of San Jose are so small that older cab passengers, such as myself, could not read it without holding it very close and using reading glasses. Vladimere's taxi license was dangling from his review mirror and try as I did, I could not read his name.

I was seated directly behind and slightly to the right of the driver. I could clearly see the speedometer registering 85 mph, he was tailgating other drivers and he was cutting off other cars. My wife had to grab onto a hand rail, she had her eyes closed, I complained to the driver and he would not slow down.

After the ride I called the Rainbow Cab Company and their dispatcher would not release the driver's name. So, all I know is his name and the number of the cab (2231.) Can you help me get the information I need to file a complaint with the appropriate city licensing agency? Also, can you try to have the city either put a big number on the license that can be read at a distance or print the driver's name very large on the licenses so we can report unsafe drivers?

Vladimere is unsafe and I believe he is going to kill somebody driving the way he does. In my opinion this is not the kind of driver, or company, San Jose should be licensing to drive cabs in San Jose.

~Steve Sloan

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

We saw F911 (Finally)

About F911
Last night we saw Fahrenheit 9/11, a very scary movie that compared what happened during the first Bush administration to the Ray Bradbury book. His analogy went to great depth on the deception of American people an the apparent inaccurate linkage by the administration of Bin Laden and Saddam. It is utterly amazing to me that our country has chosen to re-elect this fool. How can so many people be that stupid?

And now, Condi Rice
In their weblog, Backup Brain by Dori Smith and Tom Negrino, Negrino writes about the appointment of Condi Rice to Secretary of State. "Ah, it's another proud day to be an American."

Related Links

Friday, November 05, 2004

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

FUD wins big in national election

It is no accident that the national election went the way it did, in my opinion. In times of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) folks will often elect ignorant thugs or good old boys who seem to offer simple solutions to complex problems. It is like FDR said, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror…”

It was during a time of FUD that the Germans elected Hitler as their leader. He led them down a path of self destruction and they followed. Why?, in my opinion FUD.

It is also no accident that when oppressive leaders are elected one of the first things they do is to kill the intellectuals. Why?, because it is knowledge and reason that is the only force that can overcome FUD. In my opinion fear was a greater force in the last election than was courage and reason. In a sense the terrorists won, they caused us to elect a leader who may be leading us down a path of self destruction. We may have just sown the seeds of our own downfall.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Take me back to the ball game!

Okay, enough already with the "God Bless America" routine at the baseball games. I guess it was understandable that we would feel the need to be united after the angst surrounding 9/11. But we are no longer a country united. GW has seen to that by his invasion of Iraq that has left us as perhaps the world's most hated nation since the days of Stalin!
Plus, there is a fine line between patriotism and nationalism. We are getting dangerously close to the kind of paranoid nationalism seen in the McCarthy era, IMHO!
Maybe I am risking future deportation to a right wing gulag to suggest the following: Bring back Take Me Out to the Ballgame! To me this seems more American than feeling like you have to stand up for two nationalistic anthems at a ball game to be considered a loyal American! After all isn't what America is about more about freedom than flag saluting?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Hummer drivers are Ugly Americans!

Hummer taking 4 spots

I remember the early sixties movie The Ugly American it was about how American's, and our government, are self centered and only concerned about our own wealth, even if it causes the suffering of others. When I see a Hummer I think of the Ugly American. Here is a driver, squandering an obscene amount of resources driving a military vehicle that is an offensive weapon that is so big it is dangerous to drive and designed in such a way that it will likely kill anybody in any vehicle it hits. In my opinion these are vehicles for road pigs and are the embodiment of being an ugly American. When I saw this Hummer in 4 spots, I had to photograph it!

Friday, June 18, 2004

Sad Juxtaposition in sad times...

This ad appeared juxtaposed with this picture when I viewed it on the web today.

Wierd Juxtaposition

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Confrontation is okay, being confrontational is not

In a work situation I like having a manager who lets me know if he/she has a problem with me or something I do. How else will I know when something is wrong or if I am making a mistake? Too often, in my opinion, rather than being "confrontational" managers let things slide. Then things fester and if the problem recurrs an employee is dinged out of the blue in a performance evaluation or worse, a bad situation explodes. Problems, in my opinion, should be dealt with as they arise when they are small and managable and not be allowed to fester and grow.

When a manager does present an issue to an employee it needs to be done confidentially and with an open mind. As well as speak the manager needs to listen. As well as listen the employee needs to speak. So many problems are misunderstandings that can be resolved, I believe, through good communication.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Is Rivendell Bicycleworks a cult?

I am a Rivendell bicycle owner and have had my long-low since 2000. But, I am concerned that the rush to reject the racing-centric culture (that Grant Petersen seems to accuse of dominating the cycling industry culture and spoiling cycling for average cyclists) that he, in my opinion, has developed a counter-culture that is as close minded as the one he seems to be rejecting.

I believe this counter culture is beyond retro and is becoming stubborn, close minded and not good for cycling. In my experience some of the things that Petersen expouses just don't work for me. An example is friction shifting. When somebody posts to the Rivendell Email list and complains that something hasn't worked for them, I have not seen enough support for a rider friendly philosophy that abmits what works for one cyclist may not be the best approach for another. In my opinion the Rivendell way is not the best way for everybody. For me, I have found some of it works for me and some does not.

Even worse, in my opinion, is the implicit rejection among those who post to the same list and those print such publications as the Rivendell Reader of basic safety devices such as helmets or raised edges on fork dropouts. (These are often derided as "lawyer lips.") Cyclists without helmets are often prominently placed in both the cataloge and the reader. I love my Rivendell long-low bicycle, but I am afraid this change cult-like emergence may hurt cyclists, Rivendell and cycling in the long run.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Reagan died, and the band played on

I wonder if the families of all the people who died as a result of the Reagan administration's ignoring of the AIDS epidemic would support the proposal to put Ronnie on Mount Rushmore. In addition to "Bedtime for Bonzo" I wonder how many people remember Ronnie's role in "And the Band Played On."

If someone wonders why this state worker tried to treat as much of the "National Day of Mourning" as a holiday as possible, I suggest they rent "And the Band Played On." Last comment, I would not wish the horrible lingering death Ronnie and his family endured on anybody. But, I was struck by this. I remember during the early days of the AIDS epidemic how some conservatives regarded AIDS as God's vengeance on the ungodly gay and sexually promiscuous in our society (ignoring the fact that many got it through blood transfusions.) Yet, I have yet to hear of a liberal say that Reagans sad end was an act of God.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Thanks Ronnie Baby, thanks Arnie

Wow, just when I thought it was a real bummer that the Republican's took the statehouse, and was all sad because the state was so low on money and bummed that we had so much to do at work and so little time to do it; a Republican ex-president (whom I didn't like very much) dies and the new Republican govenor (whom I don't like much) gives us a paid day off to celebrate, I mean morn, on the taxpayers dime.

I slept in. I had a cool bike ride this morning. It was a great day!

So much for fiscal conservativism, and hey; Thanks Guys!


Thursday, June 10, 2004

Okay, time to slow down and drive 55 again!


The state of drivers these days is atrocious. People seem to be crazier and crazier in their driving habits. Last April I was involved in a hit and run accident involving a driver whom I am convinced was in too much of a hurry. Last year, around November, Sue was hurt in an accident involving an idiot whom we believe was doing about eighty in a forty zone. Folks are killed in road rage cases more and more, usually involving people unwilling to yield, or slow down. Why this kind of hurry (and anger) exists in our society, and is being expressed behind the wheel in our society is for someone else to contemplate (for now.) The fact is it does...


The price of oil shows no sign of going down and the available supply of petroleum shows no sign of going up. It is just supply and demand.


We do not seem willing to use fuel efficient vehicles for everyday driving. While at the same time global warming is threatening our environment.

Therefore I say!

Nixon was right! We need to embrace Nixon's old program, return us to 55 m.p.h. speed limits. We need to slow down. Speed kills, hurts our environment, and it wastes gas!

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The worst union is a weak union and I believe we have a weak union

Sticking your neck out is dangerous, even if you have a strong union.  But, if you have a weak union it is very dangerous.  I have learned this lesson the hard way.  I expected my union, the CSU Division of the California State Employees Association (CSEA), a union I have fought for and been an activist in for years, to be there for me after I filed three grievances and wrote an editorial for our union newsletter.

In my opinion they have not been and they have let my case languish for years.

Of course if we had had no union I would not have opened my mouth.  I would of kept my mouth shut and played the political game.  That is why, in my opinion, a weak union is so dangerous.  It makes you think you are safe and protected and free to fight for rights and fairness, but you are not, you are hanging out there, exposed and unprotected.  In my opinion, my career will always be affected by my unwise decision to stand up for what I felt was right. In my opinion, my career will always be adversely affected by my unwise decision to engage in what I still believe was legally protected union activity.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

This is my first Post

This is a test, more to come!