Monday, July 24, 2006

Pig with a Lexus

Camera Phone Post: Pig with a Lexus
I went to Kaiser this morning. It is always hard to park there. The lot was jammed packed and this pig took two spaces! It took me a long time to get a space. What an arrogant jerk! It was two compact spaces too. This is another example of an ugly American.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Wine Review: Londer 2004 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Londer Vineyards, 2004 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
I have tasted great Anderson Valley Pinots before from Williams Selyem and Arista, but this is the first I bought. This wine was rated 91 by Wine Spectator and at $30 it is a good value. I found it big, but not jammy. I am definitely checking out Londer Vineyards more. It started with layers of Vanilla spice, strawberry and light cedar. It lingered on the palate finishing with hints of cola, cranberries and blue berries. We have been drinking a lot of Russian River and Santa Barbara County Pinots. This is a very different expression of the grape with the different cool climate clones and terroir of this appellation. We enjoyed it a lot. My "new scale" rating [Link] 90.

Wine makers Notes:

2004 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir: Moderately dark in color with typical Anderson Valley spice and red fruit in the nose. Cherry and strawberry follow with vanilla in the mouth. After opened for a few minutes, black cherry, plum, and blackberry start to predominate. A very long balanced berry finish follows. 1949 cases bottled Alcohol—14.2% pH—3.59 RS—0.08%

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sierra-to-the-Sea Epilogue

I am done with my ride and I am recovering today. I slept until about mid-day and my body is still in recovery.

The Good
It was a lovely ride through some of the best the state has to offer. I saw some incredible scenery I have never seen before and met some really nice people. The staff was fantastic and worked hard to make the ride pleasant. We had fun and people were generally very happy.

The Bad
The ride has tried historically to offer something for all levels of riders. Cyclists on the Sierra-to-the-Sea range from bike riding Grandparents (like myself) to hard core, very driven and competitive cyclists. The folks who plan the event have historically tried to make everybody happy, which is simply not possible. The hard core "racer" type riders have historically not been happy and some have complained in the past that the ride is too easy. This year the ride management seemed to want to make the ride more of a challenge, they seemed to me to be more aggressive in route selection.

In my opinion, on the first day they ran into a perfect storm of too much heat, too many climbs and very bad roads that, in (again) my opinion, threatened rider safety and the ability of both riders and support staff to cope with riding conditions on the first day. We were lucky to have gotten through that day without serious injury (again in my opinion.)

The Ugly
Arguing between and amongst event staff and clients was too public to be ignored. There were more incidents of conflict this year than I ever remember.

My rating of this ride
My "new scale" rating [Link] 85.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wine Review: Andrew Rich 2004 Pinot Noir Cuvee B

Andrew Rich 2004 Pinot Noir Cuvee B Willamette Valley
Wow, an excellent value. Not as big as the 03, more nuanced. I like it better. Pleasant nose, light fruit elegant on the palatte. Gentle with a long lingering finish. This is a wine that evolves over an evening but does not empty your checkbook. It is comfortable. A pleasure for when you have the time to sit, sip and enjoy with a good friend or a good book. My "new scale" rating [Link] 91.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Relationships: Feelings

Some people seem to be able to control and turn their feelings on and off like a light switch. In my opinion, what they are doing might be repression. I know, whom am I to know how they are able to manage to just shut off their feelings? I just know I can't. In my experience feelings are feelings. Speaking for myself: you can try to control them, or you can let go and let God, but there is no point in denying them because you really do feel them. It is our choice in how we respond to feelings. Of course, we are responsible, and accountable for our actions.

Feelings, speaking for myself I can not will them. But, they do not control me. Like all of us I may not always be free to act on my feelings, like anger for example. I take responsibility for my actions, but I am, we all are, entitled to have whatever feelings I/we have about whomever/whatever we have them about. In my opinion we are entitled to love, hate, like, dislike, be attracted to, be not attracted to or feel angry or sad over the loss of whomever/whatever we feel those feelings for. Some folks think it is a sign of weakness to cry over the loss of a pet for example. But, we are accountable for how we react, or fail to react sometimes, to feelings, or even the lack of feelings.

If you feel sorrow over the loss of a friend, pet, relationship, (or a potential relationship) you might of had, that is your right. You have a right to grieve. But, it is to great credit if you see when the outcome of acting on your feelings toward the object of your feelings is not what you want. So, despite our feelings we sometimes need to let go. In my opinion that is an act of strength, not weakness.

In my opinion we are entitled to our feelings and responsible for our actions.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Restaurant Review: Taco Del Mar

Taco Del Mar
5353 Almaden Expwy, H-50, San Jose, CA 95118

Great burritos, good value, wonderful attitude. Posan Yang is the manager and this guy always makes you feel happy you are doing business here. You get your ticket punched for every burrito you buy there. Ten punches is a free burrito! Double punches on Monday. Great stuff! This place is becoming a favorite of Susie and mine.  My "new scale" rating [Link] 89.

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Restaurant Review: Tony Soprano's again

Tony Soprano's Pizza

Tony Soprano's (Revisited)
87 E. San Fernando St., San Jose, CA 95113

I previously reviewed this restaurant [Link]. Since then I have gone there and been twice disappointed. I met one of the co-owner's, Terry Thompson, and he is a really nice guy. Today, though, Thompson was nowhere to be found and the service stank. The food was not nearly as good as the first times.

Revised Rating
Tony Soprano's is one new place that showed a lot of promise. But, it is not living up to that promise. My "new scale" rating [Link] 64.

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Restaurant Review: Palo Alto Creamery, Palo Alto, CA

Palo Alto Creamery
Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, CA

Yesterday my wife, her mother Fran and our dear friend Diane went to this place and ordered tea, cake and ice cream. This was an order that demanded no cooking yet they waited, and waited and complained and waited more. Finally they had to go as the time for our friends babysitter had run out. They cancelled the order, paid for the tea and, according to my wife, as they were leaving the order came. According to my wife the waiter got indignant  Poor Customer service abounds! My wife said the food looked good. If you decide to try this place be sure to bring a book, a long book.  My "new scale" rating [Link] 10.

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Wine Review: Taz Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, Fiddlestix Vineyard 2003

Taz Vineyards 2003 Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir
This is a real fruit bomb, a very big Pinot! But, it does not blow up on the palatte, it holds together well. This is yummy. My "new scale" rating [Link] 92..

Winemakers Comments
In blending this 2003 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, we pulled together fruit from Santa Maria Valley and the Santa Rita Hills-two very different sites with contrasting signatures. The Fiddlestix Vineyard in Santa Rita gives dark fruits and brooding flavors, a concentrated and rich expression of Pinot Noir. The North CanyonVineyard in Santa Maria Valley delivers more delicate accents, with soft, pretty cinnamon and strawberry notes. When blended, you get a blackberry burst in the wine with cola spice and juicy jammy berry notes supported by a balancing act of tannins and structure. The resulting wine has breadth and an evenness we strive for with this tricky variety. -Natasha Boffman, Winemaker

Harvested September 2-18, 2003 Harvest Brix: 24.4-25.8 pH: 3.52 TA: 0.64g/100ml Alcohol 14.5% 100% Pinot Noir Clonal Selection: 115, 113, 667, 777, Pommard 4, Pommard 5.

Other Comments
A rich, intense burst of black cherry and juicy blackberry in the nose and mouth, this fleshy, intensely flavorful Pinot Noir is at once both lively and smooth as silk on the palate. This is a powerfully complex Pinot Noir that shows great structure and texture in its youth, and reflects why the Santa Rita Hills are so special for Pinot Noir.

Ripe red cherries, hints of raspberry jam and a wee bit of herbs are washed over by a considerable wave of very sweet, vanilla-tinged oak in the nose. Not surprisingly, oak figures prominently in this wine's expressive flavors as well, but there are loads of sweet cherries at work once again, and the two themes of fruit and spice meld nicely together. There is just enough tannin to notice, but no more than the wine needs for a couple of years of comfortable keeping.(Connoisseurs Guide to California Wines)

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Restaurant Review: Tony Soprano's

Tony Soprano's Pizza

Tony Soprano's
87 E. San Fernando St., San Jose, CA 95113

This is new downtown pizzeria has a website [Link.] The Downtown San Jose, San Jose State area has been exploding since both City Hall and the new King Library are at the corner of San Fernando and Fourth Street. Local eateries are not so dependent on student and faculty customers who go away Summers and this has allowed more places to open and greater gastronomical variety to be available. Some of the places that cut back their hours after the dot com bubble burst are back and others have opened. Even new shopping venues have emerged. This is fun!

Tony Soprano's is one new place that shows a lot of promise. Today we got one of their New York style (thin crust) pizza's for lunch. It was really good. This is a great new place to checkout. My "new scale" rating [Link] 89.

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Book Review: Smart Mobs

Smart Mobs Cover

Smart Mobs, The Next Social Revolution
Howard Rheingold, 2002, ISBN 0-7382-0861-2

This is an important book, especially for anybody interested in the future of mass communications, politics and/or our society. Rheingold talks about how portable devices, pervasive connectivity and increasingly powerful hand-held computing is leading to the creation of virtual communities tied together by their devices and not by their physical proximity. Remember Moore's Law applies to hand-held phone/computers [Wikipedia Link.] Most of his examples are not in the US. Rheingold makes the point that we are far behind in this country in having the kind of infra-structure that supports pervasive portable computing.

Despite being printed in 2002, Rheingold's book is timely today as we look at what is happening to print journalism. Why subscribe to a paper newspaper when the technology to get information in your portable device is here, is improving, is more timely and is more compelling than print?

One of the things that really is apparent to me as I read this book, and do things like text message my friends, is that there is a mobile generational digital divide based not on incomes, but on age. Many of my older (my age) friends who consider themselves very tech literate just do not seem to get this technology and the social implications of it. Could this be because our socialization skills were developed in a pre-silicon era? We have already seen pedagogical implications of mobile technology in students using the collaboration capabilities of portable picture capable devices to cheat on exams. Rheingold over and over makes the point that we need to not think of portable devices as cell phones, he says we need to think of them as remote controls for life. In my opinion when you mix portable devices with RSS enabled software as a way to deliver podcasts, you have a killer way to deliver instruction. Here is a related Blogsite [Link].

In my opinion we hold the future of journalism, the future of education, the future of social interaction in our society; in the palm of our hands.

This is a geek must read book. It rambles a bit, but worth the effort. My "new scale" rating [Link] 93.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Book Review: Winslow in Love

Winslow in Love

Winslow In Love, by Kevin Canty, Nan A. Talese
February 2005

This is a great book. It is captivating and very well written. My "new scale" rating [Link] 95. This 2005 Book, [Link] was an absolute joy to read. Sometimes it takes awhile for a book to grab me. This one had me at the first sentence. This is an intellegent book about a subject that is almost a cliche, an older, spiritually lost alcoholic professor and a younger, equally lost, student. But, it is no cliche and has unexpected twists and turns right up to the last pages. In this book, it is the writing. Here is an example of what I mean:

"The one thing I finally figured out," says Erika, "is that you'll never ever understand what goes on between two people when they're in a relationship. Easier to see what's happening on the dark side of the moon."

This book has had mixed reviews, like this: [Link] and [Link] and [Link]. I loved it!

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Movie Review: Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003)

Great foriegn film for everyone
It's a love story, it's a musical, it's a tragedy, it's a foriegn film filmed in America. My "new scale" rating [Link] 90. This 2003 Movie, [Link] Kal Ho Naa Ho (tomorrow may not be) is an Indian movie filmed in New York City. Most of the dialect is in Hindi, with some spurts of English. It is about an Indian family and their Indian neighbors making a go of it in New York. The DVD has English sub-titles. It involves a love triangle and a hidden secret, or two, that once revealed changes the lives of those involved. Time well spent!

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Movie Review: Crash

One Grim Movie
This 2004 Movie [Link] was one depressing film. My "new scale" rating [Link] 60. I was gritting my teeth through this film and it gave me nightmares. It had a surrealistic feel kind of like the 1999 movie Magnolia [Link]. I kept expecting frogs to start dropping out of the sky. It was too raw in how it portrayed people. Yes, I know the capacity for ugliness is in us all and we are all an interweaving tapestry of good and evil. I didn't need this movie to tell me that. Best movie of 2005? Well, it must have been one grim year for movies!

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Wine Review: Lake Sonoma Winery, Barbera, 2002

A decent wine
Nice, gentle palatte, nice nose & easy to drink. Not bad, not exciting, a good wine. My "new scale" rating [Link] 79.

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Wine Review: Hook&Ladder, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2004


An all-time favorite of mine
At twenty dollars retail this is a steal. This is a wonderful Pinot. It starts well and finishes wonderfully. On your first nose you know this is something special. It has layers of delightful flavor complexity, an incredible smooth palate and a long, long, long lingering finish. Cecil DeLoach owner and winemaker at Hook and Ladder [Link] really did a great job on this wine and I love it. It is very case worthy. My "new scale" rating [Link] 95.

Winemakers Note:
The grapes provided us with a wine which is at once extraordinarily complex in its flavors and aromas while also filled with black and blue fruit flavors and aromas: Black Cherry, Blackberry and blueberry. The aroma is seared with barrel spices, cinnamon and a mellow smoky components. It is classic Pinot Noir in structure with a smooth entry yet mouthfilling. This is classic Russian River Pinot Noir produced by one of the region’s pioneering Pinot winemakers.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Wine Review: Coro Mendocino, Blend, Graziano Vineyard, 2002

Coro Mendocino, Blend, Graziano Vineyard, 2002, Mendocino County
What is a Coro? Click on this great story to find out [Link]. We shared a bottle of 2002 Coro from Graziano Winery [Link] with my brother-in-law John Graziano, who is the winemaker at Millbrook Vineyards in New York State [Link]. My rating (See New Scale Link) = 87. Very nice blend, very big, very fruit forward. This really reminds me of a Paso Monster Zin. The Zin really dominates this wine.

Winemakers Notes for 2001 vintage:
For the first time in U.S. history, a collaboration of 8 Mendocino vintners has set blending and aging parameters for wines distinctive to a region (ie. like the appellation controllee wines of Europe). Each winery created its individual blend based on the protocol and a panel of experts reviews it. Each winery personalizes the common label, which will be recognizable as Coro Mendocino, and bottles the wine in a uniform bottle.

This unique blend of old vine Zinfandel and three classic Italian grape varieties, Sangiovese, Barbera & Dolcetto, have come together to create a wine that has great structure and elegance. Aromas of violet, spices, and cedar weave through the vibrant raspberry fruit character, culminating in a harmonious finish laced with vanilla and toasty oak. The wine’s complexity and depth of flavor will continue to evolve with further bottle aging.

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Wine Review: Syrah, Babcock, 2003 Frying Pan

Syrah, Babcock [link], 2003 Frying Pan [My Rating [Link], 9] Very good. An excellent Syrah. Rich and elegant. Big and bold with a strong taste of black cherries and cinders, finishing long with a lingering oakey and smoky taste that makes me think of the sun and the hard earth this wine came from.

Retail $50, Terrior Exclusive, Received Nov 05 Wine Club. Winemaker's notes:

Alisos Vineyard, Los Alamos Valley. At this point, the Alisos Vineyard is considered one of Santa Barbara County’s preeminent sources of fine Syrah. Being fairly close to the ocean in the Los Alamos Valley, it is slightly cooler as Syrah climates go. But within the property there is a small north-south running canyon, the direction and depth of which hides it from any prevailing breeze. It is one of my least favorite places to take cluster samples because anytime after 9:00 AM on a warm day, you get cooked as you traverse the canyon. Because of the way the vine rows are laid out, it makes no sense to walk all the way to the ends of the rows to turn into other sections of the vineyard. You have to poke your body and your bucket of grapes through the vine row. The sweat on your body always insures that you wear home a layer of dust. The soil is said by grower Loren Colahan to be a “shattered hardpan”, a marly looking chert hardpan to be precise. Our side of the canyon, where this wine comes from, faces west, drenching the perfectly stressed vines in sunshine all day. Its wines are epic. For its name I condensed the concepts of the canyon’s heat and its hardpan soil; FRYING PAN.

Technical Notes: VARIETAL COMPOSITION: 100% varietal VINEYARDS: Alisos Vineyard, Los Alamos Valley, Santa Barbara County FINISHED WINE: Residual Sugar: Dry, pH: 3.69, TA: 7.5 gm/L Alcohol: 14.8% TIME IN BARRELS: 18 months, 33% new French oak BOTTLING DATE: December 2004 TOTAL PRODUCTION: 132 cases 12/750 ML RELEASE DATE: November, 2005 SUGGESTED CA RETAIL PRICE: $50.00 per 750 ML

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Wine Review: Syrah, Babcock, 2003 Nook and Cranny

Syrah, Babcock [link], 2003 Nook and Cranny, Estate Grown, Santa Rita Hills.[My Rating [Link], 8.5] Good. An excellent syrah but not as rich and elegant as the frying pan. Bold with a tart taste of black cherries and smoke. It starts out big and ripe. It is high in alcohol and it tasted it right away. Still, nice with a lingering oakey and smoky finish. Retail $50, Terrior Exclusive, Received Nov 05 Wine Club. Drank 1/7/06. Perhaps more time in the bottle would have taken off some of it's edge? Winemaker’s Notes:

Syrah grown west of Highway 101 in the Santa Ynez Valley can be extraordinary. The trick is in getting it thoroughly ripe. Our vineyard is under a heavy influence from the ocean, and like the rest of the Santa Rita Hills, it’s very cool and breezy through out the growing season. In fact, most of our ranch is too cool to consistently ripen Syrah. But, as luck would have it, we have a couple of small sites that do accommodate this noble Rhone varietal.

With the exception of Burgundy, the prevailing wisdom says that great vineyards in the northern hemisphere ideally face west or south, so as to insure that their vines get plenty of sun. But with Syrah we have found it necessary to plant on east facing hillsides, out of the wind, where it is actually a couple of degrees warmer through out the day. With 95% of our vineyards facing the wrong way, we are only talking about a couple of tiny adjacent hillsides. Making it even more extraordinary is the fact that their soils are a matrix of gravelly loam and shattered sandstone, the kind of stuff that intimately governs the vigorous nature of Syrah, while still allowing it to ripen. What we have are two little viticultural sweet spots, indeed on our ranch, the NOOK & CRANNY for the growing of world class Syrah.

The downside is that we can’t make very much of this stuff. The upside is that 95% of our ranch is Mecca for growing Pinot.

Technical Notes: VARIETAL COMPOSITION: 100% Sryah VINEYARDS: Babcock Estate FINISHED WINE: Residual Sugar:Dry, pH: 3.57, TA: 7.3 gm/L, Alcohol: 15.0% TIME IN BARRELS: 18 months, 33% new French oak BOTTLING DATE: December 2004 TOTAL PRODUCTION: 169 cases 12/750 ML RELEASE DATE: November, 2005 SUGGESTED CA RETAIL PRICE: $50.00 per 750 ML

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Wine Review: Zinfandel Russian River Valley, Lake Sonoma, 2002

Our Comments:
This Lake Sonoma Winery [Link] wine came to us in our wine club in Dec. 2004, Drank 12/24/2005.

[My Rating [Link], 9] I like this a lot and would buy again without hesitation. Just a bit Jammy, but not too raisiney. In a family tasting at Christmas Eve 2005 this was our favorite among three good ones, including Coyote Creek. A bit bigger than the Paso zin, but not as smooth. this was fun. Bought one During Sonora Trip 2004, received the other 12/04

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Restaurant Review: Gilley's Coffee Shoppe, Los Gatos, CA

My opinion of Gilley's Coffee Shoppe

Gilley's Coffee Shoppe
(408) 395-3318
47 N Santa Cruz Ave
Los Gatos, CA 95030

[My Rating [Link], 6.5]
Susie and I went to Gilley's this morning and I am still suffering from the heartburn. We went there on Monday, January 02, 2006. The food was mediocre in my opinion. The menu raved about the coffee. The menu writer must not have tasted it. I have had better coffee at truck stops. Before breakfast I asked the waitress about the hash browns and she said people raved about them. They turned out to be typical undercooked mushy glop with a little brown crust on the outside. I ordered the Italian Scramble, that was marginally okay, a little overcooked with globs of goopy cheese. Next time, if there is one, I will stay away from anything fried there. There are a lot better places to have breakfast in the same area, in my opinion.

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