Monday, December 26, 2005

Wine Review: Zinfandel, Montevina 2003, Terra d'Oro, Amador County

Our Comments
This Montevina Winery [Link] wine came to us in a gift exchange at Peggy and Georges, 2005, Drank 12/24/2005. Very Good, spicy, held up very well with the other wines of the same or a better price point that we tasted and drank on Christmas Eve 2005. [My Rating [Link], 8.5] I like this a lot and would buy again, even if I had to pay for it.

Mystery wine reviewers notes:

This classic foothill zinfandel showcases jammy berry fruit aromas accented by red spice scents and hints of truffles and oak vanillin. Its rich, focused, brambly flavors are supported by firm but supple tannins and persist into a long, fruit-filled finish. This Zinfandel beautifully complements grilled and barbecued meats, rack of lamb, and pasta in red sauce.

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Wine Review: Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder Winery, Napa Valley, 2002

Our Comments
I bought this Mount Veeder Winery [Link] wine at Trader Joe's Dec 2005, Drank 12/25/2005. Well balanced and a treat. We had this at Christmas dinner 2005 and it was a hit. Not a big oak cab, this will not knock your socks off, but consistent from the first sip to the nice finish. If slow and steady wins the race this is a real winner. [My Rating [Link], 9] We like this a lot.

Mystery wine reviewers notes:

The 2002 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon is solid and well-made, with a trim band of cedar, currant, herb and fresh earth flavors that are well-proportioned, if lacking extra flavor dimensions. Drink now through 2012..."

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Family matters

I hope you are having a great family holiday. I am taking a posting break from this blog, to spend time with my family. I will be posting some of these holiday activities and you are invited to follow along at the Sloan family blog [Link].

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Wine Review: Zinfadel, Cline, Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley 2002

Our Comments
Bought During Sonora Trip 2004, Drank 12/7/2005, Susie said "This one is a winner." A real pleasant Zin, This is all about balance! Not a monster zin, very mellow, well balanced and easy to drink, finishes nice. Well balanced. [My Rating [Link], 9] We like this a lot.

Wine makers notes: The 2002 Sonoma Dry Creek Zinfandel is derived from five separate Dry Creek appellation vineyards. Combining fruit from both hillside and valley floor has produced a wine of excellent depth and flavor with the characteristic Dry Creek spiciness.
Fermentation and Aging
Individual lots of fruit for this Zinfandel were harvested separately according to ripeness and balance of acidity. The grapes underwent near total destemming and a very gentle crushing to ensure a large proportion of whole berries in the must — contributing to the explosive fruit character of the wine. Fermentation was carried out in stainless steel with select cultured yeasts. The grape juice, skins and seeds (called “Must”) was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks at the optimum temperature to extract rich flavors and provide excellent color. The wines were pressed off their skins at dryness and racked gently before being laid down to a complement of small French and American oak cooperage for 14 months — approximately 40% of the barrels are new American Oak.
Winemaker’s Comments
The 2002 Sonoma Dry Creek Zinfandel shows concentrated dark berry, firm tannin structure and great acid. Prolonged aging in new and used wood has lent this wine a subtle vanilla quality that nicely complements the explosive fruit notes. Enjoy this wine presently for its effusive black fruit, or cellar for 5 to 7 years. An excellent accompaniment to grilled Tri-tip or Porcini Risotto.

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Wine Review: Columbia Valley 2001 Syrah

This is a very nice Syrah for a deal of a price. At less than ten bucks a bottle at the Wine Club this is a great value. It is not a huge Syrah, not like the inky black Paso and Santa Barbara Syrahs. It is from Washington, it is more subtle, very much like the Columbia-Crest Syrah, another Washington favorite of mine. It is velvety smooth with hints of chocolate and vanilla. I like it. [My Rating [Link], 8] Winemakers Notes:

Columbia pioneered Syrah in Washington State, and still leads the pack at this price point. Smooth and varietal, it mixes ripe (not raisiny) fruit in a sleek, muscular wine laced with vanilla, smoked meat and tar."
-Wine Enthusiast

Deep Ruby Red with a bright purple edge. Black cherry and smoky dark fruitiness. Full and sweet in the mouth with a touch of vanilla and good underlying acidity and chalky, ripe tannins. Lingering finish.

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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Premiere Credit Sucks

I am being harassed by Premiere Credit [Link] to collect a debt somebody with the same name owes. They have called me about 20 times and despite my numerous calls to get them to stop, they will not. They call in the morning and on the weekends and refuse to stop. Their website features sharks, they are proud of it. I think it should feature thugs and bullies because that is what they are. Premiere Credit Sucks big time, in my opinion!

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Wine Review: Columbia-Crest 2002 Reserve Syrah

After all the big Paso and Santa Barbara Syrahs we have had this Columbia Valley, Washington Syrah seems so light, but oh is it smooth! Nice nose, great color, subtle mellow flavor and a wonderful light finish. Rated 91 by both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, this is a real treat. [My Rating [Link], 9] Winemakers Notes:

The wine is a deep purple color with aromatics of white pepper, rose petal, cocoa and raspberries. A perfect balance of subtle earth, coffee and chocolate are joined by raspberry-blueberry lushness on the palate. This Cote Rotie-style Syrah features a small amount of Viognier which contributes an interesting apple-pear character to the long, lingering finish.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Babcock Winery and Vineyards

On September 25, 2005 we tasted at Babcock Winery and Vineyards [Link]. Man, their wine is great! They have some great Chardonnays with less than 30% MLF, killer Syrahs, a yummy Super-Tuscan and surprisingly good Bordeauxs. They make an out-of-this-world Meritage blend. I know this is not Bordeaux country, but they grow grapes in a vineyard called "Hidden Valley." Reportedly this area has been getting quite a bit of acclaim from folks like Robert Parker and Wine Enthusiast has name them one of the top 100 wineries of the year. There Pinots are on par with Sanford. Plus, the Sanford family has sold their interest in Sanford. So we did the naughty, we joined the Babcock wine club.

2004 Pinot Grigio, Santa Barbara County, $16
[Our Rating [Link], 7]  Not that impressed with this. Sue liked it I thought it was just okay. They started this tasting with their weakest wine.

2004 Chardonnay, Rita's Earth Cuvée, $20
[Our Rating [Link], 8+]   This was quite nice with 25% MLF. A Euro style Chardonnay, very pleasant and light. This would be a nice light summer wine.

2004 Pinot Noir, Tri-counties Cuvée, $20
[Our Rating [Link], 8++]   This was very nice, a good quaff. 8 months in French Oak. We liked this enough to buy it.

2001 La Moda Toscana, $25
[Our Rating [Link], 9]   I am kicking myself, why didn't I buy this? A Super Tuscan, 70% Sangiovese and 30% (Happy Canyon) Cab. Sav. I really liked this!

2002 Cabernet Sav, Central Coast, $18
[Our Rating [Link], 9]   A good deal on a very good Paso Robles Cab. These Paso Cabs keep getting better and this is a good example. According to the pourer the fruit was going unpicked and they got a great deal on it. They sent their crews down to the vineyard, picked it themselves and turned out a fine cab.

2001 Fathom, Santa Barbara, (Meritage Blend), $35
[Our Rating [Link], 9]   This great Bordeaux blend is proof that great bordeauxs can come from this region, if the fruit comes from a hot and fogless place like "Happy Canyon."

2002 Syrah, black label, $22
[Our Rating [Link], 9]   This was excellent, we liked it better than the Mellville. Fruit from seven vineyards. Why didn't I buy it?

2004 Pinot Gris, "Naughty Little Hillsides," $25
[Our Rating [Link], 8+]   Despite a butter taste from natural yeast this wine had 0% MLF. It was very nice.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

SJ Bike Shop Wants to Buy Votes?

It appears STBikes, a San Jose, California bike shop, wants my vote bad enough that they may be willing to bribe me for it.

ST Bikes Ad

This came in my E-mail today (September 6, 2005.)

If I am reading this right, if you vote for them in Metro Magazine's [Link] "Best of Silicon Valley Contest" you will receive a discount. Plus, if I am reading this right, the more times you vote for them, the more times you will get the discount. If they win this "contest" they get "free" publicity in Metro magazine.

Am I reading this right? Is this is really as this appears to me? If so, how can this possibly be ethical?

Monday, August 29, 2005

Is there a dirty little secret at SJSU?

Dirty Windows

San Jose State University is a great university. It has beautiful grounds and talented faculty, students and staff. The view of Tower Hall seldom fails to inspire. But, there is something dark and dirty here. Sometimes it seems to me to be a bit of a facade when you can step a few feet away from the lovely lawns and see sights like this that just scream neglect. These dark and dirty places at SJSU that just seem to get darker and dirtier. Some messes here just never seem to get cleaned up. I don't understand why our great university tolerates such malaise and mediocrity. Is it that the folks who make decisions are so mesmerized by what they want people to see that they are blind to details that so plain and out in the open? How can our institution tolerate and fail to see the malaise that has so long been in the open and begging to be cleaned up here? That, in my opinion, is a huge mystery.

Monday, August 22, 2005

No shortage of rude motorists

Big car, small space
The university has an abundant supply of small spaces and drivers who drive huge cars. Even when other spaces are available, drivers of land yachts will cram into the small spaces to save themselves from having to walk an extra 100 feet a day. I wonder if they are ticketed by University Police? Since they seem to do it day after day, I doubt it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Cindy Sheehan, a real American hero!

For all the things that have been said negative about Cindy by the forces of evil, she proved them wrong. She left Texas to care for her ailing mother and left her detractors in the Texas dust. She proved the love she has for her family, the same love she has for her son who died in Iraq, by showing that actions speak louder than words. Especially when they're her actions. God bless you Cindy Sheehan. Like your son, you are a real American hero!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sheehan split typical of grieving parents

The loss of a child is a major stress on any marriage. According to Judy HuHaven [Link] of Emily's Foundation [Link] (Emily’s Foundation is the only national organization formed for the exclusive purpose of preserving and strengthening the marriages and families of bereaved parents who have lost a child) the divorce rate among grieving parents may be as high as 75 to 90%. About the Sheehan split, Nancy Goebner, of San Jose Vetrans for peace in San Jose California, sent this comment in an E-mail:

Agreed! It's difficult under the best of circumstances for a couple to stay together. For couples to split due to a tragedy concerning a child is textbook usual. It's miraculous if a couple can stay together through such need and sorrow. Both need nurturing and are usually too numb to nurture each other.

BTW, Veterans for Peace 101, under my name, is hosting a MoveOn Vigil for Cindy this Wednesday. Here's the link if you'd like to show up or if you'd be willing to pass on the info:

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Monday, August 15, 2005

Cindy Sheehan is fighting hate and evil

I find the amount of energy being put into trying to defame and ridicule the courage that Cindy Sheehan is showing as being typical of what we are up against. In my opinion what we are fighting is evil. I do not see how the opinions of either Cindy's in-laws or her apparently estranged husband have any relevancy here. Yes, they are entitled to their opinions. But to use this as a smoke screen to hide her true anguish and to mask the veil of lies that we have all been told is just an attempt to cover up what we all are up against here and that, I believe, is hate and evil.

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

A friend's son joined the Army

Last night we had dinner with friends here in San Jose. My friend's son has enlisted in the Army. I also have an 18-year-old son. While I respect my friend, and his son's enlistment in the Army, I would strongly discourage my own son Kenneth from joining the military. We are being lied to by the government and, in my opinion, the government is making decisions that are not only contributing to global terrorism but are encouraging the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

If it were my son joining the Army I would be doing all I could to discourage enlistment. I would see it as a matter of ethics to keep him from becoming an instrument of oppression and the lies that I believe Bush is spreading.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

President Bush, Meet with Cindy

Cindy Sheehan

I found this thanks to Joe Trippi's blog [Link]. It struck a resonance with me as a father of three sons. On the way home from work I saw these folks on a corner in Willow Glen. Joe Trippi is an amazing guy who wrote an amazing book [Link], and he is leading a charge to evangelize the cause of Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq [Link.] This is the letter they are gathering signatures to. When I checked over 12,000 patriots had signed. It is a real Internet movement:

Dear Mr. Bush,

On August 3 you said the soldiers who were killed in Iraq, "died in a noble cause." Cindy Sheehan's son Casey died in Iraq, but she takes no comfort in your words. She wants to meet with you to ask you directly: Why did my son die? What was the noble cause that he died for? We, the American people, urge you to meet with Cindy Sheehan to answer her questions.

Please consider signing the petition here [Link]

Monday, July 25, 2005

Great wedding day

My eldest son Steve and new daughter-in-law Luci had a great wedding in North Bend, Washington. I am blogging about this on my family blog.

Steve and Luci Sloan

Friday, July 22, 2005

On vacation again

I am in Seattle with family for my oldest son's wedding. I will be back in August. I am covering the trip on my family blog.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Back from the journey

Me on the golden gate bridge

I have returned from my bike tour!
Sierra to the Sea 2005 was a great bike tour. It was a bit cooler than past years and that was to the better. I had some great ride and saw many old friends and made new ones. I just returned yesterday so I have not yet processed a lot of the memories. On the last day many of the riders talked about their journeys. It impressed me that the experiences everybody shared were so different that at times they could have been talking about different trips. I guess life, and bicycle tours, is like that.

Kenneth has moved to his new home
Today I helped youngest son Ken move his bed and some of his belongings to his new place. Tonight is his first night in his own place. For me, for the first time since 1976, the nest is empty.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I am going off the grids

I am a one week drop out
For the next nine days I will be off the Internet grid and off the power grid. I will be on a bicycle touring the middle of California. If you want more information I will be on a bicycle tour called the Sierra to the Sea. I am really looking forward to the adventure and will blog about it after I return. There will be other big adventures starting next week too. My son Kenneth is getting his own place. He is moving into a rental trailer owned by one of my other son's, Jeff and his wife Nicole. Ken will be their tenant.

Ken with Shadow

Blog full disclosure statement
Every now and then I like to post a link to each of my six blogs. This link gives a more honest view of my Internet identity than does reading one or two of the blogs alone.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Free Wine, as in free speech

Special Interests Attempting to Limit Your Selection and Pocket Your Money
SB 118 (Chesbro) is a bill in reaction to the US Supreme Court direct wine shipping decision that prohibited discriminatory legislation. The bill originally would have created a permit that could be applied for by anyone licensed to sell wine to consumers (wineries and wine retailers) in any state. The permit would require registration with the California ABC, payment of California taxes, the same protections against delivery to minors that currently exist for CA wineries and retailers, limitations on shipment volume and would give the ABC the authority to regulate the shipments.

However, the mega-wholesale distributor interests in CA (Southern Wine and Spirits and Young's Market Company) have called in their political muscle in order to remove out-of-state retailers from the permit system. Under the version of the bill approved on June 14th, only a select few retailers outside of the state of California may even apply for a permit.

This is WRONG. The proposed permit system MUST provide for the ability of all retail licensees (wherever located) to participate freely. If retailers outside of CA are excluded from the CA market system, other states would retaliate by excluding California retailers from their markets. The goal of the bill was to encourage the creation of a national system of permits and licenses that provides the opportunity for every licensed merchant to participate, no matter where that merchant is located. This would be in the interest of all consumers, whether in CA or elsewhere.

Retailers in all states invest significant sums of money in inventory from multiple winery and importer sources. Retailers hold that inventory (often for years) and make it available in a convenient way to consumers who know and trust the merchant. Those customers could be across the street or across the country. That is the reality of the current market, especially for the expensive, limited production and usually allocated, collectible wines from California and the rest of the world. Requiring these wines to go back up through the three-tier system after they have already traversed it once (if they even could, currently they would just be unavailable outside of California, or unavailable to California if they are located in another state) would give the wholesalers a double profit margin; certainly good for the wholesalers, but not very good for the retailer or for the consumer. Who pays? You bet that the consumer pays.

The Supreme Court in the Granholm case condemned state laws that discriminated against out-of-state interests in favor of identically situated in-state interests. This statute would perpetuate discrimination WITHIN the California market by attempting to keep retailers from outside of California OUT of the market. While we think that any such effort would be unconstitutional as to retailers outside of California under Granholm, we do not want to fight the statute after it is written. Our goal is to make sure that the statute doesn't get passed with that flaw in the first place!

The interests of the wholesale tier, by proposing to take retail licensees out of the statute, is NOT to benefit California retailers by keeping them safe from competition from outside of the state. It is aimed at PREVENTING California retailers from servicing customers outside of California unless the transaction is run through the wholesale tier at a significant cost. Their goal is to have this bill emulated throughout the US. If California creates a discriminatory licensing or permit scheme, the wholesalers will use that example as a bludgeon in every other legislature in the US to keep those markets closed to California retailers.

The proposed bill can be found online at:

There is a link on that page for you to take action and contact legislators about the bill, or you can go directly to:

Most importantly - spread the word about this proposed bill. For a wine lover or wine retailer this is special interest politics at its worst.

K&L Wine Merchants
Phone: 877-KLWines (toll free 877-559-4637)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Wine Reviews: Januik 2002 Red Wine, Castoro 2001 Syrah

Januik 2002 Red Wine, Columbia Valley [Our Rating, 8] Very nice, wonderful nose. A pleasant Meritage blend, a very easy wine to drink. A very nice wine that is dry and finishes well. This wine gets little notice in the wine press.

Castoro 2001 Syrah, Paso Robles Reserve [Our Rating, 7.5] Nice nose and a pleasant wine to drink on a relaxing evening. A nice Syrah. Good nose. Pleasant, concentrated but not explosive to me, a little constrained, a bit tart not jammy. A nice finish. It has strong oak and tart berries with a hint of vanilla and finishes well. According to Castoro, "The 2001 grapes for this wine were sourced from the same well-tended vineyards in the Estrella area of the Paso Robles appellation. In the aroma you will find a high intensity and balance of berry fruits, violets and oak. The mouthfeel has characteristically moderate levels of tannin, yet is lush. The bright fruit and oak flavors linger on the palate. The moderate acidity and appealing level of astringency make for a versatile wine that pairs well with anything from appetizers to heavy meat dishes."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Wine Review: Burrell School 2003 Estate Pichon Syrah

Burrell School 2003 Estate Pichon Syrah, Santa Cruz Mountains [Our Rating, 7.5+] A nice Syrah. Good nose, a little tannic. Pleasant, not too fruit forward. Taste of black berries, smoke and cedar, a lingering finish that leaves a little hint of oak and cherries on the tongue.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Winery Reviews: Paso Robles

Over the last weekend we went to a number of wineries in the Paso Robles Area and tasted some fantastic wine.

Norman Winery

Here are the places we went:

  • Wild Coyote Winery
    We had a great time. We went to this and the next two wineries with Jeff, Pam and Harold. We got a personal tour of the new B&B they are building. Their wine is fantastic. We were especially impressed with the 2002 Zinfandel, which is a huge complex Zinfandel that just dances on the palatte. It is big without being too jammy, a wonderful wine.
  • Carmody McKnight
    A very pretty winery with very good wines and excellent facilities. This winery is way out in the far west of the Paso Robles appelation. It is almost over the hill from Hearst Castle. The wines were pretty good and the Cabernet Savignon was much better than I expected.
  • Norman Vineyards
    This is one of my favorites. You can skip over most of the rest of their wines and go right to the reds. Like Carmody McKnight they make a pretty decent cab. They make some great Bordeaux blends and some wonderful Zinfandels. We had had their monster Zinfandel the night before so we knew this was going to be great. To me the monster is the arctypical Paso Zinfandel. It is big and fruity but not too jammy. It has rich layers that sing a song of the oak trees and rolling hills and hot days and cool evening breezes. We love it. What we didn't know is they have an even better Zinfandel. They have one named Mephistopheles that is nicknamed "the panty dropper." It is huge and explosive on the pallatte. Their blends include the wonderful Bordeaux blend, No Nonsence Red and their even more wonderful blend named Crescendo.
  • Castoro
    Harold, Jeff, Sue and I went there after lunch and maybe our taste buds were fried. They were consistently good, as usual, but nothing here tempted us to buy. We tasted the last of their Giubbini wines. This vineyard is going to be releasing its fruit in wines produced under a different label in the future. This Zinfandel was still good but not as jammy as I remember previous vintages to be.
  • Tobin James
    Sue and I went there and the next winery on Monday. I wanted to go to Tobin James because Elaine had gone there and I knew they have signed copies of the book, Sideways for sale. I tasted Zinfandels and Syrahs their and was generally happy with them. I met a student at CalPoly SLO their and we discussed how working in winerys was the perfect student job.
  • Garretson
    We saved the best for last here. This winery is in a very industrial area. Despite the fact that it is right off highway 46 it is off the beaten path and does not look like a winery at all. They only do Rhones, but they do that very well. Their Syrahs are the best I have ever had. They make a Syrah they call “The Bulladóir” that is absolutely amazing, it is the best Syrah I have ever had in my life, and is unlike anything I have ever tasted. The color is almost black and the nose is so unique that I can't describe it. This is a deep wine that has soul.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Where did all these pigs come from?

Parking space hog
Never mind the environmental impact of driving these gas hogs! This driver had the nerves to hog two space in this crowded parking lot at SJSU. There are a lot of pigs out there.

I have this theory. My theory is if you want to get to work on time, leave early! I drive to work down Almaden Expressway in San Jose. I drive an economy car and drive the speed limit in the far right lane. There is no reason to drive like an idiot. It has a 45 mph speed limit. Most traffic goes 60 mph in the morning. Even though I have two lanes to my left I often have an idiot, usually driving big either a big pickup or a SUV (often a Lexus) getting right on my back bumper trying to bully me into speeding or pulling off the road. I just lock my cruise control at 45mph. I have had them honk at me! This is nuts.

We cannot become part of the problem. I say don't give in to these bullys!

Here is a little story. Today we were on a club bike ride. We were stopped in the left turn. A car pulls up in the lane to our right. The driver stops at the light, opens the door and dumps a pile of trash in the street. Then the light turns green and she drives away. She did not seem to care that we were standing right next to her or that we were yelling at her. She forgot to throw away the trash behind the wheel.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Wine Review: Cinnabar, Mercury Rising, 2002 Bordeaux Blend, Meritage

Cinnabar, Mercury Rising, 2002 Bordeaux Blend, Meritage [Our Rating, 7],  Purchased at Wine Club, $13.99, Decent but not great. a decent Meritage Blend

Wine Review: Waterbrook Winery 2002 Melange, Columbia Valley

Waterbrook Winery 2002 Melange, Columbia Valley [Our Rating, 8+ ],  Very Nice Meritage, a solid 8. Nice nose, opens up well. Easy to drink, well balanced, just like the review says, fabulous and affordable! Wine Club $11, List $16

Wine Spectator
90, Ripe and plump, generous with its spicy, mocha-scented cherry and blackberry flavors, persisting smoothly through the long, harmonious finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2010. 19,000 cases made. (HS)

Wine Press Northwest
 Outstanding! Waterbrook Winery 2002 Melange, Columbia Valley. Year after year, Waterbrook astounds us with this intense and inexpensive blend, which this year contains Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese. It's a fabulous and affordable red that reveals aromas and flavors of milk chocolate, ripe berries and exotic spices. Sweet tannins and terrific acidity yield perfect balance and a lingering finish. Priced to enjoy regularly with grilled meats. Wine Press Northwest- Summer 2004

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Wine Review: Burrell School 2000 Estate Merlot, Santa Cruz Mountains

Burrell School 2000 Estate Merlot, Santa Cruz Mountains [Our Rating, 7 ], This was a decent wine, but not great. This wines seems light, lacking body or structure. My mother-in-law likes it a lot but to Sue and I it seemed weak, and lacking of boldness or character. Kinda flat, almost watered down. We liked the 2001 a lot, what a difference a year makes. Perhaps this is past its peak.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Movie Review: Van Hellsing

Van Hellsing [Our Rating, 7.5 ], Fantasy and old fashioned scary movies combined. There is Dracula, Wierwolves, Frankenstien, Jekyl/Hyde and everything in this movie. Not a bad movie, we rented it on Netflix and it was entertaining. This, Susie and a nice bottle of Shiraz is a good way to spend a Friday night.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Wine Review: Ross Estate 2002 Shiraz, Barossa Valley

Ross Estate 2002 (Shiraz/Syrah) Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Austrailia, Estate [Our Rating, 8.5 ], We both like this a lot great nose and color, pleasant and smooth with a light peppery finish. Purchased at Wine Club, $19.99 Retail $37, Wine Spectator 86:

Dark and tarry, not a heavyweight but dense with cherry and licorice flavors, finishing with a bite of tannins. Best from 2005 through 2008. 500 cases made. (HS)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Wine Review: Cline Red Truck 2003 [Revisit!]

Bought during Sonora Trip December 2004 [My Rating, 8], There are so many variables in tasting wine. Mood, taste buds, pairings, any residue of soap in the glass, not to mention storage and even the quality of the cork, can change the way a wine tastes, or tastes to us, at any given time! This time we liked it better, it wasn't great, but not bad either. It is a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cab Franc with a bit of Merlot. It was fine for an evening of paying bills and watching Survivor.

According to Cline: Medium-bodied and complex, flavors of chocolate, berries, cherries and licorice abound. The black pepper finish settles with smooth tannins. You can drink red truck anywhere, anytime (it pairs well with pizza and tomato based dishes). And for you die-hard Cline fans, take it for a spin and floor it baby, metaphorically speaking of course!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Wine Review: Castoro 2000 Diciannove

Castoro 2000 Diciannove, a blend [Our Rating, 9 ], Red Wine: Our rating 9 - Great nose, color and taste. This is really good. It needed to lay down a bit. A very pleasant wine, mostly Cab Franc. Mix of Cab Franc-Cab Sauv-Zin-Petit Verdot-Petit Sirah --Steve

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Wine Review: 2001 Private Reserve, Columbia Valley (Meritage), Walter Clore

Bought from wine club, $16.95 [My Rating, 9 ], Red Wine: 2001 Private Reserve, Columbia Valley (Meritage), Walter Clore

Very nice, wonderful nose. A very pleasant Meritage blend, deep color a very easy wine to drink. List $35

Wine Spectator 92 - Firm, with a lovely bead of ripe currant, blueberry and sweet spice flavor coursing through a long, lively finish. Tannins are nicely polished and the fruit prevails against oaky character on the finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2006 through 2012. 5,000 cases made. (HS)

We went to get more and they were sold out!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Wine Review: Cline Red Truck 2003

Bought during Sonora Trip 2004 [My Rating, 7], What were we thinking? I liked it when we were at the winery. When I opened the second bottle it was not nearly as good.

According to Cline: Medium-bodied and complex, flavors of chocolate, berries, cherries and licorice abound. The black pepper finish settles with smooth tannins. You can drink red truck anywhere, anytime (it pairs well with pizza and tomato based dishes). And for you die-hard Cline fans, take it for a spin and floor it baby, metaphorically speakingof course!

Friday, April 22, 2005

My family blog is now on Blogger!

I have left Radio Userland and moved my last blog to Blogger. I did this for a number of reasons:

  1. Radio has too much complexity for what I do with a blog.
  2. Why buy the cow when the milk is so cheap? Blogger is free, Radio Userland is $80 a year. It is kind of the same reason I quit paying Netscape $35 for a browser when IE was free!
  3. I would rather blog than have to figure out how to run a Blogging Suite. 
  4. Now when I figure out how to do something in Blogger I don't have to waste energy trying to figure out how to accomplish the same task in Radio Userland.
  5. This was my personal blog, so I don't care about loosing Google Juice.
  6. Now when somebody looks at my profile in one of my Blogger blogs, they see all my blogs.
  7. My Radio Userland quit working after my last computer broke. I was able to move my Radio Userland to another computer, but that only worked for a couple of postings. Blogger is web-based so that is simply not an issue.
  8. Now Google worries about backing up my blog, I don't!

My old family blog will be on the Internet as long as Radio Userland lets it be. But, they are not getting any more of my money! Please feel invited to visit my new family blog!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Three Wine Reviews

Wine Review: Castoro Cellars Zinfandel: Paso Robles 2002 [My Rating, 8] Solid 8 - A very nice and easy to drink Zin. This pared well with food and was not a real monster Zin, as folks expect from Paso Robles.

Wine Review: Zinfandel: Burrell School, 2002 Ryan Oaks Vineyard, Amador County [My Rating, 8] 8 - Surprisingly good, not a monster Zin as in the Paso Zins. A nice wine to drink.

Wine Review: Terrabianca 2001 [My Rating, 8.5] Campaccio, a Super Tuscan Blend, 70% Sangiovese 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. According to Wine Spectator:

Spectator 91 Pts:  "Wonderful aromas of plums, berries and vanilla. Medium- to full-bodied, with velvety tannins and a pretty toasted oak and vanilla aftertaste. Very smoky finish. Always outstanding. Best after 2006. 14,330 cases made."
- James Suckling, Wine Spectator, 10/15/04

Almost too smoky for our tastes. It was good, and different, but not one of our favorites. All of what Suckling said is true. It was a great tasting experience.

Monday, March 28, 2005

My sister Lura's memorial is tomorrow

Lura and Floyd at their wedding in 1960
On September 16, 1942, my sister Lura was born in Parsons, Kansas.  She died on March 7th of this year. I don't know what I can say about my wonderful and all of the good things she has done for so many people. I made this movie [ 45 MB, Quicktime Movie ] about her life. It only touches the surface of the love she had for so many, and the love we have for her.

If you do not already have it, this movie requires Apple's Quicktime Player.

Monday, March 07, 2005

My sister died today

My sister died today and I will be off line for awhile. For more information see this post.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Two Wine Reviews

Wine Review: Valley of the Moon Winery Pinot Noir, Carneros 2001, (Bargain Bin) [My Rating, 3] Bought During Sonora Trip 2004 My rating 3. This was not very good at all. It is easy to see why this was in the bargain bin. Maybe it was corked?

Wine Review: Wild Coyote Coyote Creek Paso Robles, West-Side Merlot 1999, 450 Cases Produced, [My Rating, 10] Very nice! One of my favorite wines. Very mellow for a Merlot. We had a bottle at Sue's birthday, 12-02-02, Bought another case March 2003, Gave one to Tyler and Mary French.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Wine Review: Pinot Noir: Lorca Wines, 2001, Gary's Vineyard

Lorca Pinot NoirWine Review: 2001 Lorca Wines Pinot Noir: Monterey County, Santa Lucia Highlands, Gary's Vineyard [My Rating, 9] Wow, this is excellent. We enjoyed it a lot. It was very pleasant. Bought during our Feb. 05 getaway. Really good. "Richly spiced raspberry, roundly ripened edges." This was a real treat at a good price. A nice nose and a pleasant wine to drink. A great Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot at a great under $30 price.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A personal grassroots journalism project

I guess I have started a grassroots journalism project. Years ago I served several terms as union president in the staff employees union at San Jose State. Lately I have seen some developments in the union I am very disturbed about. So, I have started this blog to voice those concerns, and to start a conversation on the subject.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Union leadership, a delicate balance

Man balancing stuffIt is not easy being a union officer. There is a lot to balance. You have a lot to do with almost no resources. You have a lot of people who make a lot of demands, but only a handful offer to help out. It seems you have an impossible mission and you do not get paid for all the work you do. It often is a thankless job and it is a source of a lot of heartache. Is it any wonder that union leaders can be very tempted to take short cuts? If nobody is paying any attention, it may seem, who would notice?

But, there are some places where you can never cut corners. You can't cut corners when it comes to democratic principles. If you don't adhere to strict compliance to fair election procedures, honest reporting of union funds, and communication to your constituents of what the union is doing, how can you claim to have a constituency?

In my opinion you cannot cut corners on organizing. If you are not recruiting new members and not seeking to include folks from all over your workplace in the functions of your union, how can you claim to be an organization that bargains collectively and represents equally?

I believe you cannot cut corners on communication. If you can E-mail 70% of your employees but 30% of the employees are in jobs that don't have E-mail and you just write those folks off, these are lower paid mostly minority workers without computers, how can you possibly claim any legitimacy?

I believe you cannot cut corners on representation. It is the union's responsibility to represent employees, to defend the contract through aggressive grievance handling and professional bargaining that includes work site organizing to win better rights as well as improvements in wages, hours and working conditions. Otherwise, why even have a union?

A union is not a monarchy or a secret society. Sometimes, when faced with a lot of work and an apathetic constituency it is easy to cut corners. It is hard being a union leader. But, I believe, if you cut corners on what it means to be a union then you have cut out too much. If you cut corners too deep, you will cut out the union's soul. Then, I believe, you are no good for anybody!

It's too late to die young

Too Late to Die Young, by Harriet McBride; this book is coming out in April and it is already a must read. I just read a story by her in the AARP magazine. I think this is the first time I have ever read anything in an AARP magazine, especially one delivered to our front door!
My first wife, Candy’s death at 33 was such a shock because I was the one expected to die young. The women in Candy’s family all seem to live very long lives and I was morbidly obese. Candy always used to talk about what she was going to do after I died. The idea that I would out live her was as alien as the concept of what happened on 9/11 was before 9/11. Candy died almost 14 years ago. I will soon be 50.
McBride has Muscular Dystrophy. She was told over and over she was going to die young. She is 47 now. Her story is a wonderful testament to the importance of living life fully. The truth is we do not ever really know when we are going to die, or not die. We need to never give up and need to keep living life like each moment is our last, or not.
Today could be my last, or I could live another 50 years.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

We are thinking of logos for the union

We need a new logo for our new union? Here is my idea!

Friday, February 11, 2005

We can't fix everything

I once thought and believed with all my heart, "if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem." I got active in my union, I attended community meetings, I went to city council meetings. I was a steward. I walked picket lines and nobody cared. I chanted through a bull horn. This made people mad. I have had a gun aimed at me, more than once.
It almost ruined my life and still I was frustrated. It was not enough. More had to be done. Most people did not care. I was angry. I was unhappy. I was working as hard as I could and I was always tired. Still, some people who I was trying to help didn't think I was doing enough work to fix their problems, other people I leaned on for support didn't show so I tried to do their work, but most people either still did not care or they considered me a nuisance.
Apathy, lethargy and momentum are huge forces. I learned I cannot move a herd of elephants. I have had to back off. Less is more than nothing. Well, maybe, I can move just one elephant?

Blog Full Disclosure Statement

Dear Blogosphere:

One of the topics of conversation that came up in last night's great Geek Dinner with Robert Scoble is how a person presents his or herself and establishes a virtual identity with blogs. Should a person have one weblog where all thoughts, opinions, passions and ideas are presented? Or, should a person divide their blogs into categorys that can be viewed as a whole or by category? Or, should they have separate blogs for different parts of their lives?

I went the different blog route. I do not want folks to have to sift through what to them may seem like noise to get to the content (the signal) that they want. Also, I do not want folks to be turned off on what I present on one topic because they disagree with an unrelated opinion.

The down side is I may not be presenting an honest digital identity of who I am. So, for the sake of honesty and full disclosure, here it all is:

My Family Weblog
This where I chronicle my family and personal life. This is a digital journal of the folks who are nearest and dearest to me.
My Geek Blog
This is where I write about my work and passion for emerging technology in higher education.
The Edupodder Blog
This is where is host content specific to podcasting in higher education and content related to the sessions I teach in the Center for Faculty Development and Support at SJSU. This often crosses over with my Geek Blog. I am concerned that dual posting between this and my Geek Blog may happen too often and may dilute the topic conversations on each.
The Black and Blue Blog
This is where you can read bicycle news and information related to the bike club I am active in, the Almaden Cycle Touring Club. I am the publisher of their monthly newsletter and I use this blog as a club news source and a place to coordinate production of that newsletter.
My Opinion Blog
This is where I hide my opinions of everything from movies and wine to politics, religion and relationships. If you disagree, I respect your opinion.

So, there it is Blogosphere, that is who I am. For the sake of full disclosure, I am posting this to all my blogs!


My wish, a democratic CSUEU, formerly CSEA, CSU division

The California State University division of the California State Employees Association, CSEA, was the union that represented employees in four bargaining units of the California State University System. Now, that division of the union has broken away (to an extent) and formed the California State University Employees Union, CSUEU (which is still affiliated with CSEA.)

I believe in my heart in the concept of collective bargaining. I am a former president of the CSEA (now CSUEU) chapter at San Jose State University.

With that history in mind, I hope the new organization has an increased focus on democratic principles and practices. In my opinion labor unions cannot be secret societies that are not accountable to their constituencies, that do not report their budgets, expenditures and income to the constituency and that fail to communicate matters like policy and by-laws, union meeting times and locations, officer nominations, the status of bargaining and the distribution of union funds to the people they represent. In my opinion employees have a right to know what their union is doing and where their money is being spent.

In my opinion democracy is at the heart of unionism. The union has to have firm processes in place to address problems, complaints and issues not just between the employees and the employer, but between the employees and their union. I hope the new union makes democratic representation a core value as they move forward.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Wine Review: Castoro Sangiovese 2000

Wine Review: Sangiovese: 2000 Castoro Cellars Reserve, Paso Robles, CA. [My Rating, 8] This is very nice. We enjoyed it a lot. It was very pleasant. Their second release of Sangiovese, "the grapes of this vintage were perfectly ripend and produced a very rich wine. Reportedly, this is outstanding. Aromas of allspice, cinnamon and vanilla from the oak, coupled with rich, ripe fruit nuances of plums and dried apricots" Recommended with pasta with red sauce and cheese. Recieved 1/20/2003 in wine club.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

BART, Jan. 12, 2005

BART train

I think, with all of the talk about extending BART to San Jose International airport they are missing the easiest, most efficient and most important improvement they could make to BART. In my opinion that would be to improve accessibility of BART to south bay commuters by moving it closer to Interstate 680 and offerring adequate parking.

As it now it is frustratingly slow to drive to BART from San Jose with much of the commute over city streets.

Now, if you arrive at the station after 8:30am there is a good chance you will find the Fremont parking lot full.

This is what I did when I attended MacWorld yesterday. It was very frustrating. I was attending a user group meeting that evening so I could not take Caltrain. I think a big dig into and through San Jose would be a waste of taxpayers money. But, an extension into Warm Springs or, even better, near the great mall, with a light rail connection and a large parking structure would be a sound investment.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Book Review: Breaking the Limit

Larsen, Karen (2004). Breaking the Limit. New York: Hyperion. (ISBN 9-7868-6870-8)

[My Rating, 9] If you liked Robyn Davidson's book, Tracks, you will like this book. In my opinion this is a great adventure book, a great feminists book and a great travel book. It is about one woman's two-wheeled trip from New Jersey to California to Alaska and return on a motorcycle. One her journey she met fellow travelers (including bicyclists), local folks and her birth family. Larsen is an excellent writer and her trip, like all good journeys, led her to a lot of self-revelations. If you can't make the journey yourself you should at least read the book. It is a great trip!