Thursday, May 13, 2021

Basic Instinct

Sharon and I watched Basic Instinct. Earlier this year, Sharon had read Sharon Stone's biography (The Beauty of Living Twice). After reading the book, she wanted to watch the movie.

Basic Instinct is a 1992 erotic thriller film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Joe Eszterhas. The film follows San Francisco police detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas), who is investigating the brutal murder of a wealthy rock star. During the investigation Curran becomes involved in a torrid and intense relationship with the prime suspect, Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), an enigmatic writer.

I think that I saw the movie in the 90s, but frankly didn't remember any of the details of the plot. It is definitely rewatchable!

Four other related notes:

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

393 Day Streak

I use five different applications as part of my ongoing fitness routines. These include Apple Activity, Peloton, RunKeeper, Pedometer++ and Withings.

Just before we left for our trip to Washington DC in April, with my Move Goal set at 910 calories in the Apple Activity app on my AppleWatch, I reached the goal 393 days in a row. That is my longest streak ever. I smashed my record of 155 days that I set just before I went to the Army/Navy game in December of 2019.

This streak was largely possible due to the fact that we weren't traveling during the pandemic. I doubt that I will ever be able to break this record.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Third Degree: The Triple Murder That Shook Washington and Changed American Criminal Justice

My book for May was The Third Degree: The Triple Murder That Shook Washington and Changed American Criminal Justice by Scott D. Seligman. Holly mentioned the book while we were having dinner after playing golf in February. One of the people murdered (T.P. Wong) was her Great Grandfather.

The book is part murder mystery, part courtroom drama and part landmark legal case. It is the true story of a young man’s abuse by the Washington DC police and a seven-year journey through the legal system. The ordeal culminated in a sweeping Supreme Court ruling penned by Justice Louis Brandeis that set the stage for the Miranda warning many years later.

The author argues that the importance of the case hinges not on the defendant’s guilt or innocence but on the imperative that a system that presumes one is innocent until proven guilty provides protections against coerced confessions.

This is an interesting little book; I give it a "B" or B-". Frankly, it was more of a curiosity given that one of the victims was Holly's great grandfather. Talking to her at Sea Ranch, I got the impression that she started it, but hadn't finished it yet. Part of the book is set in the Kalorama area near where Jack lives in DC.

Monday, May 10, 2021

2021 Sea Ranch - Day 5

Up early, Van and I rode the bikes south inside Sea Ranch. There is a marked trail so that you can ride your bike from one end to the other without going out on Highway 1. We rode just under eleven miles in an hour and eleven minutes. I would still like to ride from one end to the other.

Back at the house, we packed up the cars. Sitting and enjoying the deck for a while, we finally rolled towards home about 10:50 am.

We planned to have lunch at Cornerstone Sonoma where we stopped last August. Unfortunately, it was closed.

We ended up backtracking and getting sandwiches at the Carneros Deli. We stopped there with the Sanborns on the way back from Sea Ranch in 2018. Waze routed us down to Highway 37 and across to Highway 80. I don't think that I have ever driven this section of Highway 121.

Picking up Tiber from the kennel as we came into Carmichael, we were home about 4 pm. This is fourth trip we have made to Sea Ranch in the last eighteen months [January 2020, August 2020 and October 2020]!

Sunday, May 09, 2021

2021 Sea Ranch - Day 4

On the San Andreas Intrepetive Trail
Everyone was moving very slow on Sunday morning. I eventually made a late breakfast of blueberry pancakes and bacon.

After breakfast, Sharon, Holly and I walked south along the bluffs to the Walk On Beach. We walked across the beach before looping back to the house.

Holly, Van and Sharon decided to head to the driving range to hit a couple of buckets of balls. Afterwards, they went to the Surf Market to get steaks and oysters for dinner. I went out for a run. I covered 4.75 miles in just over an hour. Staying away from the bluffs to get out of the wind, I ran through the meadows and up to Deerfield. Looping back, I ran through the Monarch Glenn Intrepetive Trail.

We spent the afternoon exploring Sea Ranch. We stopped at the Chapel. From there, we drove by the house that we are renting for Father's Day and the house that Holly and Van are renting in September. Our last stop was the San Andreas Fault Intrepetive Trail. I really enjoy this short hike; it is the third time we have walked the trail in the last year. After the short hike, we swung by lodge and the condominiums.

Van and I made a Mother's Day dinner. I barbecued oysters and baked potatoes. Van cooked the streaks sous vide. Sharon spent some time on the phone with both Drew and Jack, while Holly had calls from all three of her children.

We finished the day watching Saturday Night Live hosted by Elon Musk and then Bill Marr on the AppleTV. It was almost 11:30 pm by the time we crashed...

Saturday, May 08, 2021

2021 Sea Ranch - Day 3

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I have been hitting a golf ball for almost 50 years. I have always considered it a social activity more than a competiton. Get together with friends, have a cocktail or a beer and as Robin Williams would say knock a ball in a gopher hole with a fucked up stick.

With the plan for the day to play at the Sea Ranch Golf Links, I decided to try and take it more seriously. I wanted to see what I could do if I really tried to focus.

Unfortunately, I continue to struggle with Par 5s. The first hole at Sea Ranch is a damn Par 5. I got off to a horrible start. I was able to right the ship and actually parred the 4th hole. Hitting over the ravine on the Par 3 Eighth, I chipped up on to the green, but then three putted. On the ninth hole, I had trouble chipping. I felt like I gave away four strokes just on those two holes.

I was starting to get in a groove on the back nine. I had a par and five bogeys, but fell apart chipping on the fifteenth and the eighteenth. I gave away another four or five strokes on those two holes.

I ended up with a liberally scored 108. Given that I gave away more than eight strokes and had at least three putts lip out, I was pretty happy with the score.
Unfortunately, Sharon struggled. Using her new clubs, she had a rough outing.

After the golf, Sharon, Holly and I hit the hot tub. Over the course of the weekend, we ended using the hot tub only once.

Van and Holly made dinner: pork tenderloin, risotto and a kale salad. We finished the night playing a couple of games of Unstable Unicorns.

Friday, May 07, 2021

2021 Sea Ranch - Day 2

As I have said over the years, Sea Ranch is my favorite place in the world to run. I went out for an early morning run north along the bluffs. Running to the Gualala Point Regional Park and back, I covered 5.5 miles in an hour and six minutes.

After a leisurely breakfast, we got organized for a hike. Heading north from the house along the bluffs, we went up Salad Creek through the golf course. We hiked along the north edge of the golf course in the regional park. I have never hiked along this section before. We came across a large visitor's center that we didn't know existed. We looped back on the bluff trail. In total, we covered six miles in just over two hours and forty minutes. It was very windy on the way back to the house, but at least the wind was mostly at our back. I will post a map of the hike in the next couple of weeks.

After lunch, Van and I went to the driving range to hit some golf balls. Sharon and Holly went into to Gualala to explore.

Getting cleaned up, the four of us went to an early dinner at the Vue. For starters, Van had a beet salad, Sharon and Holly had a crab dim sum and I had calm chowder. All four of us had a sea bass special for the entrees. This is the fifth time that we have eaten at this restaurant in the last eighteen months!

We finished the night playing Codenames. I was after 11:30 pm whe we all crashed.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

2021 Sea Ranch - Day 1

After our planned Sea Ranch trip in January was cancelled due to Sonoma County Coronavirus restrictions, we booked a house for the Mother's Day weekend. Having dinner with Holly and Van after golf in February, we invited them to join us.

Rolling from Carmichael about 9:15 am, we met the Wongs at Donum for a wine tasting. We did the Explore tasting. We did this tasting with Jack in November of 2019. It is a fabulous experience that includes an ATV tour of the art collection and a tasting in a small building along a pond. We have talked about bringing some other couples like the Gainsleys and the Larkins for the same tasting.

From there we headed to the Tides Market in Bogeta Bay. We had sandwiches on the picnic tables. Sharon had made muffaletta sandwiches. It has become somewhat of a tradition for Sharon to make these sandwiches to eat on the way to Sea Ranch. After lunch, Sharon bought some smoked salmon.

We rolled into Gualala just after 4:30 pm to pick up the key. Meeting the Wongs at the house, we spent some time unloading the vehicles and getting settled. We are spending four nights at Sea Haven. While we have never stayed at this house before, Graham View is two properties to the North, while Crestview is three properties to the south.

After getting settled in to the house, the four of us walked south along the bluffs past the Sea Pine and Walk On Beaches. We ended up hiking 3.7 miles in just over an hour and a half.

We finished the day with a late dinner of lasagna and salad. Sharon making a lsasnga for the first night dinner at Sea Ranch has also become a tradition. We finished the day talking and visiting until almost midnight.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Birthday Dinner for Morgan

Sunday night, Sharon and I had Drew, Morgan and Lee for dinner to celebrate Morgan's birthday. Sharon made a great dinner of beet salad, snap beans, roasted potatoes and leg of lamb. We had a tiramisu cake for dessert.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Back from Chico

Up about 7 am, I had coffee and visited with the Tomasins in their room. With a birthday dinner planned for Morgan that evening, I rolled from the Doubletree Hotel before 830 am.

I made a stop at Ettore's Bakery to pick up a Tiramisu birthday cake for Morgan. I was home before 11 am.

Although it was too abbreviated, I enjoyed the weekend. As I have told a number of people, Tomasin is probably one of most unique people I have ever known in a my life: a blue collar orthopedic surgeon. He and I have had some amazing adventures in the last forty plus years.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Carol and Paul's Wedding

After grocery shopping and working out in the morning, I headed towards Chico just after 12:30 pm. Stopping at the Doubletree Hilton, I spent some time visiting in the Tomasin's room. David and Lo came up early on Saturday. The Snipes and Drew rolled up just before 3 pm. Drew checked into a room and then I threw my stuff in there.

About 3:30 pm, the group headed to the Ranchaero Airport for Carol and Paul's Wedding. I was kind of surprised at how many people were there. I think that someone said that they had 250 chairs set out.

It was an interesting wedding. Paul's mother's family is Scottish. There was a bagpiper, many of the men in the wedding wore kilts and there was a handfasting (cord?) ceremony.

Drew played the first dance. A video is here.

I enjoyed the evening. The table for dinner included the Tomasins, Snipes, David and Lo, Drew and I. Wallen wandered over to visit for a while.

Drew, David, Lo and I wandered back to the hotel about 10:45 pm. After a hectic couple of days, including a very late night on Thursday, I crashed hard.

Friday, April 30, 2021

To Carol and Paul's Rehearsal Dinner and back

I rolled from Carmichael just before 4 pm. Hitting some heavy traffic in Yuba City, I got to the Ranchaero Airport in Chico just before 6 pm. The event was Carol and Paul's rehearsal dinner.

I got a nice chance to visit with the Tomasins (John, Julie and Mikey) and the lots of Wallens (John, Jill, Nate et al). I spent some time talking to Jill about staying with them in Todos Santos at the end of the year. Dinner was a mexican buffet.

The event broke up about 8 pm. Not sure of my plans, I never made any hotel reservations for the weekend. I headed back home. Waze routed me through Oroville and Marysville, rather than Yuba City. [Note to self], I need to stop and see if the house that my parents built in the early 1960s is still there. With some drama surrounding my cell phone, I was home just before 10 pm.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Agency by William Gibson

My book for April was Agency by William Gibson. This is a second book is an eventual triology. I read the first book [The Peripheral] more than six years ago!?!

Like the first novel, the story bounces between two different timelines. The distance future is an environmental post-apocalyptic sparely populated world built and maintained by nanotechnology. The other timeline is a near future alternate history where Hillary Clinton bets Donald Trump for the Presidency. A third timeline from the first book plays a minor role. The characters use a vague technology (a server in China) which even they don't seem to understand to telepresence between the three timelines.

One of the main characters in the near future timeline is an artifical intelligence. I have read several interesting books about AIs including Origin by Dan Brown and Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie. Given the recent setbacks in self-driving cars, I am not optimistic that there will be a revolutionary breakthrough in AI in my lifetime...

As a rule, I am not fond of time travel stories. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book; it was an engaging story. I love science fiction that plays with technology in interesting ways. I grade the book an "A-". I can't give a time travel story an "A"... I am looking forward to seeing how Gibson ties of the storylines together into a third book.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Michael Patrick Comstock

Michael Patrick Comstock died unexpectedly of a heart attack on March 31, 2021. He was 72.

Born on July 27, 1948, in Oakland, to Louis Frederick and Melba Jean Comstock, Michael grew up in Lafayette with his younger sister, Mary. He went to Lafayette Elementary for kindergarten, and then Sacred Heart Grammar School in Oakland.

He attended St. Mary's High School in Berkeley, graduating in 1966. He went on to study at UC Davis and played defensive end on the football team. He graduated with an Economics degree in 1970, and later received his MBA from Golden Gate University. Michael was a career accountant, working for Bechtel, Kaiser, Polymer Technology Group, Frank & Grossman, and Exthera MedTech.

While at Davis, Michael first encountered what would become the two loves of his life: Kathleen Teresa Rooney and rugby. The couple dated for their remaining years at Davis, marrying in 1972.

Michael and Kathleen have three amazing sons - Christopher, Brian, and Kevin - two wonderful daughters-in-law Bree and Sarah, and five fantastic grandchildren: Haley, Keegan, Will, Andrew, and Finn. Always a loving parent and grandparent, Michael could always be counted on for words of wisdom or a silly joke.

Michael was asked if he wanted to play rugby during his junior year at Davis, and once he said yes, he began a journey that would profoundly affect his life and the lives of so many others. Over the next fifty plus years, he played for the Contra Costa Cowboys, San Francisco/Golden Gate, the Marin Reds, and any other club that needed a Prop.

Michael's rugby home away from home was the Polo Fields in San Francisco, and he would often arrive hours before kickoff to "tape up," but really to talk with teammates, opponents, and anyone else hanging around. As much as he loved playing the game, he loved the people even more. Whether he'd known you for twenty years or twenty seconds, Michael would be able to socialize and feel at ease, especially in a rugby setting. He formed friendships that lasted a lifetime, touring the world with Kathleen and dear friends on the Bald Eagles and Paclantic.

Because of the way Michael played on the pitch, and the great friend, husband, father and grandfather he was off it, he is and always will be a legend.

A celebration of the incredible life of Michael Patrick Comstock will be held when it is safe for all to gather and toast the man. In lieu of flowers, please send a donation in his name to the charity of your choice.

Monday, April 26, 2021

New Clubs plus Driving range at Ancil Hoffman

Over the weekend, Sharon got a new set of golf clubs. She went to Hagen Oaks for a fitting and got a set of Cobra T-Rail Irons and Hybrids. Sharon replaced a set that she got just over seven years ago.

Before dinner, Sharon and I went to the driving range at Ancil Hoffman. We both hit a big bucket of balls. I worked a lot on my chipping. Overall, I was pretty happy with how I was striking the ball. I can't remember the last time that I went to the range and worked on my game! We will probably try to hit the range once more before we go to Sea Ranch for the Mother's Day Weekend.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

93th Academy Awards

Over the last few years, Sharon and I have enjoyed working our way through the Oscar nominated films and then watching the Academy Awards show. Hopefully, we will be able to host an Academy Awards party again some day!

This year, I ended up picking three of five major categories correctly, including Best Picture (Nomadland), Actor in a Supporting Role (Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah) and Actress in a Supporting Role (Yuh-jung Youn, Minari). I incorrectly bet on Chadwick Bosemen for Actor in a Leading Role and Andra Day for Actress in a Leading Role. Frankly, I thought that both Hopkins and Ahmed had stronger performances than Boseman, but I thought that they would award Boseman the trophy posthumously. Given that the shows producers moved the Best Actor category to the end, I think they also thought that Boseman was going to win! I knew the Best Actress category was a toss up, but thought that Day had a very strong performance.

Sharon was very unhappy with Frances McDormand's Best Actress win. When we watched the Nomadland, Sharon was very vocal about not liking the movie. She was apoplectic when McDormand won. As McDormand said during the show, I think that Sharon would have liked the movie more if we had seen it on a big screen.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

More Adventures with Lee

Sharon and I spent the loin's share of the day with Lee. While he was napping in the afternoon, we packed up the Easter decorations. I took a load of storage boxes to the shed. We now have about 4 1/2 months of ordinary time until we started to decorate the house in the fall!

Friday, April 23, 2021

Sound of Metal

Continuing our quest to watch all of the Oscar nominated films, Sharon and I watched The Sound of Metal on Friday night on the AppleTV. The film earned six nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor. The Sound of Metal was namend one of the American Film Institute's top ten movies of 2020.

The film is directed and co-written by Darius Marder. It stars Riz Ahmed as a metal drummer who loses his hearing. The film also features Olivia Cooke and Paul Raci.

Riz Ahmed is nominated for the Actor in a Leading Role Oscar. This is a very good performance. If it wasn't for Boseman's death, I think that Ahmed would have a chance at winning Best Actor. Paul Raci plays a deafened Vietnam veteran and recovering alcoholic who runs a shelter for deaf recovering addicts. He is nominated for an Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar.

I was pleasantly surprised by this movie; it exceeded my expectations. Sharon and I have kind of avoided it thinking that it would be depressing. We have now seen all eight of the movies nominated for best picture.