Thursday, December 30, 2010

The King's Speech [New Year's Eve 2010]

Sharon, Jack and I went to see The King's Speech. I recommend the movie, but have to admit that both Sharon and I walked away just a little disappointed. The story and the acting is solid, but not as compelling as it was hyped.

We finished the evening with a late dinner. As I have often said New Year's Eve is one of my least favorite holidays. It seems anti-climatic.

Royal Gorge

Sharon, Jack and I spent the day snowshoeing at Royal Gorge. We covered slightly more than four miles. We took the Emigrant Trail to the Wilderness Warming Hut. After stopping for lunch, we took the Palisades trail to Sleigh Ride.

It was a nice day. The downside was the traffic. On the way up and the way back, we encountered very slow traffic. It was 7 p.m. by the time we got back to house and we finished the day with a late dinner at Mikuni's.

Snowshoeing at Royal Gorge

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Waymarking in Amador and El Dorado Counties

With my company spread around Northern California and my job taking me to most of the sites, I started more than five and a half years ago visiting, photographing and mapping California Historical Landmarks across Northern California. As we have traveled on vacation over the last few years, I have expanded that to other parts of California and other states [Arizona, Idaho, New York, Nevada and Pennsylvania] and to include National Register of Historic Places and some E Clampus Vitus historical markers.

Wednesday morning, I started in Plymouth.  I stopped at thirteen California Historical Landmarks.  These included:  Plymouth Trading Post [#470]; Oleta (Old Fiddletown) [#35]; D'Agostini Winery [#762]; Old Dry Diggins-Old Hangtown-Placerville [475]; Methodist Episcopal Church [#767]; Site of Studebaker's Shope [#142]; Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony [#815]; Gold Discovery Site [#530]; Coloma Road-Coloma [#748]; Marshall Monument [#143]; Marshall's Blackshop Shop [#319]; and Georgetown [#484].

Working my way north to Georgetown, I stopped in the early afternoon and had a couple of beers with Larkin at the Georgetown Hotel before heading home.

definition: Waymarking

California Historical Landmark #484

California State Historical Landmark #484

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This landmark is mounted on the wall in front of fire station on Main Street, Georgetown, California in El Dorado County. There are 29 other California State Historical Landmarks in El Dorado County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 38° 54.398 W 120° 50.333.

You can log your visit to this landmark at

California Historical Landmark #484

Founded August 7, 1849, by George Phipps and party, Georgetown was nicknamed Growlersburg because of the heavy nuggets that 'growled' in the miners' pans. After the disastrous fire of 1852 the old town was moved from the canyon in lower Main Street to its present site, and, unique in early-day planning, Main Street was laid out 100 feet wide, with side streets 60 feet. The hub of an immensely rich gold mining area, Georgetown had a population of about three thousand in 1854-56.

California Historical Landmark #484

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 San Jose Day 2

Sleeping late, we eventually had breakfast in the La Pastaia restaurant which is located in the Hotel De Anza. After breakfast, I wandered around the downtown looking for a couple of waymarks. In particular, the site of the City Gardens Nursery where Louis Pellier, founder of California's prune industry, introduced the French prune-la petite prune d'Agen-into California. The farm that I grew up on included more than 600 acres of prunes.

Checking out of the hotel, we stopped at a Relax the Back store that Sharon had seen on the previous day and then headed to the NASA Ames Exploration Center. This turned out to a smaller venue than I expected, but had a couple of interesting exhibits, including a moon rock.

From there, we headed to downtown Sunnyvale and had a late lunch with my sister Lee Ann and her husband Dean at Thai Basil.

Lee Ann got a Brussels Griffin a couple of months ago. So after lunch, we headed over to their home to play with the puppy.

We started for home and wound our way back to Elk Grove by the early evening.

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Glasser - Home

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!
Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Glasser - Home

Code Expiration: March 25, 2011

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 San Jose Day 1

Taking off in the late morning, Sharon, Jack and I headed to the South Bay for a couple of days. The first stop was the Winchester House. For years, Sharon and I have talked about touring the house. It was not quite what I expected. When they talk about craftsmen working on the house for 38 years, I was thinking more Hearst Castle. The house is more of a curiosity than a masterpiece. The Grand Mansion Tour that we took covered 110 of the 160 rooms in the house.

From there we headed to the Hotel De Anza. We got settled into a very comfortable junior suite. Significant for its architectural style, the Hotel De Anza is one of San Jose's few Art Deco buildings. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More importantly, it is less than three blocks from HP Pavilion where the San Jose Sharks play.

After checking into the room, we had a drink in the Hedley Club Lounge. Back to the room to fresh up, we headed to the arena about 6:45 p.m. We had three tickets to see the San Jose Sharks versus Los Angeles Kings NHL game.

We had a great time. This was the first hockey game that Jack had seen; he really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, with the game tied 0 to 0 in the third period, the Kings scored four goals in the third period to win by the score of 4 to 0.

We wandered back down the street to the hotel. The hotel offers a feature called "Raid Our Pantry." They have a stocked pantry that you can open with your room key from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Jack wanted to head there and we loaded up on some late night snacks. Jack talked about this the rest of the trip; he said that he was going to patent the idea and sell it to other hotels.

We crashed in the room about 11:30 p.m.

California Historical Landmark #868

Sharon, Jack and I stopped here and took the Mansion tour.

Winchester House
California State Historical Landmark #868

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This landmark is located at 525 South Winchester Boulevard, San Jose, California. There are 42 other California State Historical Landmarks in Santa Clara County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 37° 19.115 W 121° 57.052.

You can log your visit to this landmark at

California Historical Landmark #868

Built by Sarah Winchester, widow of rifle manufacturer William Winchester, this unique structure includes many outstanding elements of Victorian architecture and fine craftsmanship. Construction began in 1884 and continued without interruption until Mrs. Winchester's death in 1922. The continual building and remodeling created a 160-room house covering an area of six acres.

California Historical Landmark #868

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cast Away

Cast Away [Blu-ray]After a great prime rib dinner, Sharon, Jack and I watched Cast Away as a HD rental on the Apple TV.

Sharon wanted to watch Cast Away with Jack after watching Forrest Gump a couple of weeks ago.

Sharon was disappointed with the film; she said that she remembered the movie differently...

At the new bigger Bat Cave

Jack spent about two hours working out at the new, bigger Bat Cave. Nine of the Elk Grove tournament baseball teams have joined together and rented a 30,000 square foot space.  It is enormous compared to the old space.  A panorama view of the space is here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day 2010

Jack is definitely becoming a teenager. After a couple of late nights, he slept until almost 8:30 a.m. on Christmas morning rather than bouncing out of bed and down the stairs before dawn. Sharon made a nice breakfast of waffles and we enjoyed a wonderful Christmas morning.

For the second year in a row, we met Tommy, Becky, Eric and Kevin for a movie on Christmas Day. I had bought tickets for True Grit from Fandango in the morning. When we got to the theater, True Grit was sold out and Sharon's brother's family couldn't get tickets. Making a quick decision, we sent the boys to see True Grit, while the Adults went to Black Swan.

Working the phone to try and find somewhere open in Elk Grove for dinner on Christmas, we ended up at Chevy's.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010

After going to the Children's Mass at Good Shepherd, we headed to Tom's to celebrate Christmas Eve.

This year's group included 12 people: Sharon's brother Tom's family [Tom, Becky, Kevin and Eric], her brother Tim's family [Tim, Kathy, Erin and Eileen], a friend of the family [Jim Dunn] and us. Tom and Becky made chicken, stuffing, salad and bread for dinner. After dinner, we had a gift exchange. Jack really enjoys being with his cousins.

Christmas Eve with the Frames

Christmas Eve with the Frames, originally uploaded by heringermr.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Small Holiday Gathering

With the house decorated for Christmas, we decided to have a small holiday gathering. The group included the Wongs, Gainsleys, Larkins, Sanborns and Deborah Cunningham.

The four twelve year old boys disappeared into the bonus room and had a great time.

California Historical Landmark #937

Site of Invention of
the Three-Reel Bell Slot Machine

California State Historical Landmark #937

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This landmark is located on the traffic island on north side of Market Street between Bush and Battery, San Francisco, California. There are 48 other California State Historical Landmarks in San Francisco County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 37° 47.468 W 122° 23.966.

You can log your visit to this landmark at

California Historical Landmark #937

Charles August Fey invented the first coin-operated, three-reel slot machine in San Francisco in 1895. Fey continued to manufacture the popular 'Liberty Bell' gaming devices in a workshop located at 406 Market Street from 1897 to 1906, until the workshop was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire. The international popularity of the bell slot machines attested to Fey's ingenuity as an enterprising inventor whose basic design continues to be used in mechanical gaming devices today.

California Historical Landmark #937

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 Christmas Tree

NBA Power Rankings 2010-2011 Week 8 (30th)

The Sacramento Kings are 30th and last in Marc Stein's weekly power rankings of the thirty NBA teams.

Having seen the Kings play in person several times in the last couple of weeks, I can attest to the fact that they are an astonishingly bad team.

NBA Basketball Power Rankings - National Basketball Association - ESPN
The Kings always will be relevant to the committee (of one) as long as they employ that Casspi kid. But it's got to be torture for the Maloofs for their team, given its early 2000s glory, to matter so little in the grand scheme.

Roger Lee Lown

Sharon and I worked with Roger at the Western Farm Credit Bank. Private family funeral services will be held at a later date at the funeral home in North English. Burial will be in the North English Cemetery. The obituary posted by the funeral home is here.

Roger Lee Lown was born on July 19, 1953, in Sigourney, Iowa, a son of Stanley Lee and Bevaline M. Stewart Lown. He grew up near North English and graduated from English Vallleys High School in North English in 1971. He later graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. On June 4, 1971, Roger married Catherine Ann Conner in North English. They made their home in Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, Ottumwa, and Iowa City before moving to California. Roger worked for the Farm Credit System in agricultural banking for over 32 years, retiring in July, 2007. His favorite pastimes included watching movies, playing with his grandchildren, whom he adored, boating, and taking care of his yard. Roger was also an avid reader. Roger died on Thursday, December 16, 2010, in Folsom, California at the age of 57 years. He is survived by his wife, Cathi Lown, of Folsom, CA; a son Brian (Natasha) Lown of Alparetta, GA; a daughter Jaime (Jerome) Young of Folsom, CA; four grandchildren: Gregory and Julia Lown, and Reece and Riley Young; his parents, Stanley and Bevaline Lown of South English, IA; brothers Randy Lown of Racine, WI; Ron (Kendra) Lown of Walford, IA; and Rick Lown of Iowa City, IA.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2010 Kings versus Rockets

Jack and I went to the Sacramento Kings versus Houston Rockets NBA basketball game. After leading most of the game, the Kings were outscored 23 to 12 in the fourth quarter and lost by the score of 102 to 93.

Kevin Martin was the high scorer for either team. Martin had 22 points on 6 for 15 from the field, 3 for 6 from three and 7 for 7 from the free throw line.

DeMarcus Cousins was the high scorer for the Kings. In 29 minutes, Cousins scored 19 points on 8 for 15 from the field and 3 for 5 from the three throw line. He added 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. Beno Udrih and Tyreke Evans were terrible. Udrih went 0 for 6 from the field, while Evans went 6 for 21. Overall, the Kings shot 38%.

I spent most of the game watching Cousins, rather than following the ball. Cousins is a force around the basket, but he has a tendency to walk up the court in transition. Except for a rare fast break, he just does not hustle in transition.

The box score shows the attendance at 13,599. This is 1,200 people more than the Wizards game that Larkin and I attended. This is a complete fantasy. I am willing to bet that there were less than 10,000 people in the arena. It may have been the smallest crowd that I have ever seen. I think that there were fewer people than the Wizards game.

The Kings lost their fifth straight and the 19th of their last 21 games. With 30% of the season gone, the Kings are on a pace to win 16 games. This is fewer than the franchise low of 17 wins two years ago. The Kings now have 2 wins and 4 losses in games that I have seen in person this season.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Party

After dropping Jack at St. Mary's for a basketball scrimmage on Friday night, Sharon and I went to a Christmas Party at the home of my boss. The group seemed a little smaller than last year and included IS leaders from across the organization, their spouses and significant others. Donna and Kevin were there.

At the end of the evening, they held a white elephant gift exchange. We took a copy of Drew's Under California Skies CD.

Friday, December 17, 2010

2011 PAL Varsity Comp Basketball SEAS versus St. Mary's Scrimmage

Friday night, the SEAS Eagles scrimmaged against St. Mary's. On our way to a Christmas party, Sharon and I only stayed long enough to see Jack play a couple minutes of the first period. With St. Mary's immediately doubling the ball, Jack struggled initially. On a positive note, he said that he eventually shot 2 for 3 from the field.

I continue to puzzle at how the team is going to sort out. At best, Jack will probably be the second player off the bench. With 15 boys on the team, I have a hard time figuring out how they are going to run the rotation. I believe that the league rules require everyone to play in a game.

Additionally, Jack is the youngest player on the team. There are eighth graders on the team that are two years older than him. Some of his own seventh grade classmates are almost a year older than he is. Sharon and I were laughing because one of the players on the St. Mary's team had a mustache and a five o'clock shadow.

2010 SEAS Christmas Program

We went to the twelfth annual SEAS Christmas program in the morning. Jack told us that there would be a surprise; it turned out he was narrator for a piece of the Christmas story. His class sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

ESPN 30 for 30 - Pony Exce$$

Over the last several nights, I watched Pony Exce$$. This is the thirtieth and last installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 film series. The series was commissioned by ESPN to celebrate its 30 year anniversary. I have posted an episode guide for the entire 30 for 30 series here.

Pony Excess is the story of the SMU football program from the late 1970's to the present. In part, it is also the story of Dallas, Texas football and the now defunct Southwestern Conference.

In four seasons from 1981 through 1984, the SMU Mustangs had a record 41 wins, 5 losses and 1 tie. From 1979 to 1982, the backfield featured Eric Dickerson and Craig James. Nicknamed the Pony Express, the backfield of Dickerson and James led SMU to National Championships in 1981 and 1982.

To attract the top prospects in Texas and the nation, a group of SMU boosters aggressively doled out cash payments to players and their families. Many of the players were essentially under contract to play football for SMU and received regular monthly payments.

The program flirted with NCAA violations. Eventually, a disgruntled former player and his family cooperated with a local television station as part of an investigative report. This triggered further investigations which culminated in the NCAA handing down the so-called "death penalty" by canceling SMU's entire 1987 schedule. This is the first and only time that the NCAA has imposed this sanction on a major college football program.

Like a number of the 30 for 30 documentaries, I was not familiar with story. This usually increases my enjoyment; I enjoyed it in part because I literally knew nothing about the topic. As I have said before, my passions do not include college football. I did find the director's style of using quick cuts between interviews more than a little distracting. Pony Excess was one of the few 30 for 30's that was two hours in length. Overall, I would rate it about tenth to fifteenth of the thirty films.

I am sorry to see the series end. Now that I have watched all 30 of the films, I am going to put together a list ranking them.

The film is available on Amazon.

Pony Exce$$ is also available on iTunes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tropic Thunder

Running on the treadmill, I watched Tropic Thunder as a HD rental on the Apple TV. This DreamWorks film is directed by Ben Stiller. It was written by Justin Theroux, Etan Cohen and Stiller.

Two random odds things about this movie.

First, Tom Crews appears in the film in heavy make-up. I did not even realize that it was Crews until very late in the film. To portray his character, Cruise used a fatsuit, fake large hands, and a bald cap.

Second, Robert Downey Jr.'s character is an Australian actor who has won five Oscars and has surgically dyed his skin to transform himself into a black man. The scene towards the end of the movie where Downey transforms himself from a black man back to an Australian actor in front of our eyes is fairly remarkable.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

California Historical Landmark #487

Diamond Springs
California State Historical Landmark #487
Pony Express Marker

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This landmark is located at the northwest corner of Highway 49 at China Garden Road, Diamond Springs, California in El Dorado County. There are 29 other California State Historical Landmarks in El Dorado County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 38° 41.644 W 120° 49.033.

A list of Pony Express Waymarks that I have visited can be found here. You can log your visit to this landmark at

California Historical Landmark #487

This town, settled in 1848, derived its name from its crystal clear springs. Among the richest spots in this vicinity, its diggings produced a 25-pound nugget, one of the largest ever found in El Dorado County. Its most thriving period was in 1851 and, through its lumber, lime production, and agriculture, Diamond Springs has retained some of its early importance.

California Historical Landmark #487

Diamond Springs Pony Express Monument

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Josh Groban - Hidden Away

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!
Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Josh Groban - Hidden Away

Code Expiration: March 11, 2011

Monday, December 13, 2010

ESPN 30 for 30 Volume I Episode Guide

1. King's Ransom by Peter Berg - aired October 6, 2009
The 1988 trade of Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings and the effect it had on both Gretzky and Edmonton.
2. The Band that Wouldn't Die by Barry Levinson - aired October 13, 2009
A profile of Baltimore's love affair with football and the Colts, focusing on the Colts Marching Band. After the team decamped for Indianapolis in 1984, the band remained in Baltimore and helped promote the eventual return of the NFL to the city.
3. Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL? by Mike Tollin - aired October 20, 2009
Fresh interviews and archival footage track the life and demise of the United States Football League in the mid 1980s. One interview, conducted by Tollin, is with Donald Trump, the former New Jersey Generals owner whose post-interview comments on the league give this documentary its title.
4. Muhammad and Larry by Albert Maysles - aired October 27, 2009
A look at the October 1980 Muhammad Ali-Larry Holmes fight and its impact, featuring fresh interviews with participants and previously unseen lead-up footage from both fighters' camps.
5. Without Bias by Kirk Fraser - aired November 3, 2009
The death of Len Bias, from a cocaine overdose, two days after Boston selected him in the 1986 NBA Draft.
6. The Legend of Jimmy the Greek by Fritz Mitchell - aired November 10, 2009
The life of Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder, from his career as a Las Vegas bookmaker to his tenure on The NFL Today, from which he was fired in 1988.
7. The "U" by Billy Corben - aired December 12, 2009
The racial and cultural evolution of Miami during the 1980s as represented by the University of Miami football team. (2 hours)
8. Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks by Dan Klores - aired March 14, 2010
The impact of Reggie Miller on the New York Knicks in the 1990s, specifically focusing on the 1995 NBA Playoffs and Miller's interaction with Knicks fan Spike Lee.
9. Guru of Go by Bill Couturié - aired April 3, 2010
Paul Westhead's coaching tenure at Loyola Marymount University (1985-1990) features his high-scoring run-and-gun offense and players such as Bo Kimble and Hank Gathers.
10. No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson by Steve James - aired April 13, 2010
The 1993 trial of Hampton, Virginia, high-school athlete Allen Iverson, convicted for his role in a racially-tinged melee, and its impact on both the community and on Iverson's life. (90 minutes)
11. Silly Little Game by Adam Kurland and Lucas Jansen - aired April 20, 2010
Meeting at New York City's La Rotisserie Francaise, a group of writers and academics develop Rotisserie Fantasy baseball, only to see it take off and leave them behind.
12. Run Ricky Run by Sean Pamphilon and Royce Toni - aired April 27, 2010
Facing media criticism and fresh rumors of marijuana use, Ricky Williams steps back from the NFL, in 2004, in an effort toward self-redemption.
13. The 16th Man by Clifford Bestall, Lori McCreary, and Morgan Freeman - aired May 4, 2010
How hosting (and winning) the 1995 Rugby World Cup and Nelson Mandela's support of the Springboks national team affected post-apartheid South Africa.
14. Straight Outta L.A. by Ice Cube - aired May 11, 2010
The relationship between the Raiders and the gangsta rap culture in Los Angeles during the team's 13 seasons in L.A. (1982-1994).
15. June 17, 1994 by Brett Morgen - aired June 16, 2010
Quick-cut archival montages capture the various sporting events on the day in question and the emotions they generated, with O. J. Simpson's run from the police overshadowing all else.
16. The Two Escobars by Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist - aired June 22, 2010
The lives of soccer player Andrés Escobar and drug lord Pablo Escobar; the intertwining of crime and soccer in their native Colombia; and the connections between the murders of both men. Most of the film is in Spanish with English subtitles.  (2 hours)
17. The Birth of Big Air by Jeff Tremaine, Johnny Knoxville, and Spike Jonze - aired July 29, 2010
The life of Mat Hoffman and his career, since 1985, of advancing, both creatively and promotionally, BMX riding.
18. Jordan Rides the Bus by Ron Shelton - aired August 24, 2010
Michael Jordan retires from basketball on October 6, 1993, and has a brief career in minor league baseball.
19. Little Big Men by Al Szymanski - aired August 31, 2010
The Kirkland National Little League team from Kirkland, Washington wins the 1982 Little League World Series, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in the event's history.
20. One Night in Vegas by Reggie Rock Bythewood - aired September 7, 2010
The friendship of boxer Mike Tyson and rapper Tupac Shakur and the night of September 7, 1996, when Shakur was murdered after attending the Tyson-Bruce Seldon fight in Las Vegas.
21. Unmatched by Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern with Hannah Storm - aired September 14, 2010
The friendship and rivalry of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.
22. The House of Steinbrenner by Barbara Kopple - aired September 21, 2010
The tenure of George Steinbrenner as owner of the New York Yankees.
23. Into the Wind by Steve Nash and Ezra Holland - aired September 28, 2010
How Terry Fox's attempt to run across Canada in support of fundraising for cancer research captured the attention of his fellow Canadians and the world.

First broadcast on TSN2 in Canada on September 19, 2010.
24. Four Days In October by Major League Baseball Productions - aired October 5, 2010
The story of the Boston Red Sox coming back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the New York Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.
25. Once Brothers by NBA Entertainment - aired October 12, 2010
The story of Croatian Dražen Petrović and Serbian Vlade Divac, NBA players and Yugoslavian national teammates, and how the civil war in their homeland adversely affected their friendship.
26. Tim Richmond: To the Limit by NASCAR Media Group and Rory Karpf - aired October 19, 2010
The life of NASCAR driver Tim Richmond and his 1989 death from AIDS.
27. Fernando Nation by Cruz Angeles - aired October 26, 2010
The euphoria created by Fernando Valenzuela's 1981 arrival with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
28. Marion Jones: Press Pause by John Singleton - aired November 2, 2010
The successful track and field career of Marion Jones, her 2007 admission of performance-enhancing drug use, and subsequent prison sentence.
29. The Best That Never Was by Jonathan Hock - aired November 9, 2010
The 1981 recruiting of high school football player Marcus Dupree by multiple big-time college programs, his resulting career, and how his recruitment changed the recruiting process. (2 hours)
30. Pony Excess by Thaddeus D. Matula - aired December 11, 2010
Chronicles the Southern Methodist University football scandal and the rise, fall, and rebirth of the Southern Methodist University Mustangs.
Three other documentaries were originally announced as part of the 30 for 30 schedule, but did not appear.

A. Charismatic by Steven Michaels, Joel Surnow, and Jonathan Koch
The run of Charismatic and its jockey, Chris Antley, at the 1999 Triple Crown.
B. Right To Play by Frank Marshall
The life of Johann Olav Koss, Olympic gold medal-winning speed skater and founder of the international youth sports organization Right To Play.
C. Steve Bartman: Catching Hell by Alex Gibney
The relationship between Chicago Cubs fans and Steve Bartman following Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series.

NBA Power Rankings 2010-2011 Week 7 (28th)

The Sacramento Kings crawled to 28th in Marc Stein's weekly power rankings of NBA teams, up from 30th last week and ahead of the Cavs and the Wizards.

NBA Basketball Power Rankings - National Basketball Association - ESPN
The Kings' pain is bound to continue with Tuesday's visit to Houston, where they'll find Kev Martin fresh off his first 40-point game as a Rocket and scoring with All-Star-ish efficiency ... while Landry sits on the trade block.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gainsley's Christmas Party

With Sharon under the weather, I made an appearance at the Gainsley's Christmas Party. Donna and I have worked together since the fall of 1998; Donna actually started work at Sutter the day after Jack was born. Every year, she and Kevin have a holiday party. Due to conflicts and comedy of error (we actually got a babysitter for the wrong night once), this is only the second time that we have attended.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Second 7th & 8th Grade Dance

As part of the St. Anthony's Middle School Club, Jack went to his second 7th and 8th grade dance [first]. St. Anthony's hosts five dances over the course of the year.

Sharon and I took the opportunity to have dinner downtown at Ella's Dining Room and Bar. This is one of Sharon's favorite Sacramento restaurants. The two of us have not been there since we had dinner with Pat and Bernard last March. Sharon had an entree of pappardelle and poached egg, while I had seared bay scallops and buckwheat gnocchi.

[WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Noir Pierre Leon]

Thursday, December 09, 2010

On the Right Track by Marion Jones

About a month ago, I watched the ESPN 30 for 30 film on Marion Jones. Shortly after that, I saw Marion Jones on the Jon Stewart show talking about her book titled On the Right Track: From Olympic Downfall to Finding Forgiveness and the Strength to Overcome and Succeed. In both cases, elements of her story did not seem to fit. Looking for something short to read before the new Clancy book came out, I ended up buying an electronic copy of book from Amazon and reading it in the Kindle application on my iPad and iPhone.

There are some interesting things in the book. Marion's experiences in prison are eye opening. She ended up serving part of her sentence in solitary confinement after getting into a fight with another inmate. Jones was transported across the country in the government's "Conair" system to testify at a trial for her former boyfriend. When she left prison, Marion spent time in a halfway house. There is a solid story in all of these experiences.

Unfortunately, Jones does not spend enough time on these story lines. Instead, the book tends to be very repetitive on couple different themes around how she is learning from her mistakes and coping with adversity. I did not find these passages well written. Marion has a tendency to prattle on and on at certain points of the book.

Jones says in the book that "I surrounded myself with the wrong people, especially men, and I blame myself for not being more discerning about those with whom I've associated over the years." She essentially says that she ended up using steroids "because I allowed the men in my life to do everything for me." I am still uncomfortable with this as an explanation of how she claims she was using steriods without knowing it.

Overall, this book is NOT worth reading.

This is the first electronic book that I have read in the Kindle application on my iPad. I was very pleased with the overall process. Except when I am flying, I tend to read in short stretches, rather than for hours at time. Under these conditions, I did not have a problem with my eyes getting tired of the screen. I really liked the fact that the kindle application syncs between my iPad and my iPhone. There were several times when I was sitting somewhere waiting that I read a few pages on the iPhone. The Kindle app would open right to the spot where I was reading and then when I went back to the iPad it would open to the new location. While I love the visceral quality of real books, I will definitely end up reading some more books on the iPad in the coming year.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

2010 Kings versus Wizards

Larkin and I went to the Sacramento Kings versus Washington Wizards NBA basketball game. Leading by 14 at half-time, the Kings cruised to a rare lopsided win by the score of 116 to 91.

Beno Udrih led the Kings with 23 points on 6 for 9 from the field, 3 for 4 from three and 8 for 10 from the free throw line. Jason Thompson added 22 points and 15 rebounds. 27-year-old rookie Pooh Jeter had career highs of 13 points and nine assists. Overall, the Kings shot 54 percent from the field, including 8 for 17 from three point range.

Al Thornton had 22 points for the Wizards. Gilbert Arenas actually played 41 minutes and added 19 points.

I was disappointed that the first overall pick in the NBA draft, John Wall, did not play. Announced in the starting line-up for the Wizards, Wall never left the bench due to a sore foot. Wall played last year at Kentucky with Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

Kings radio man Gary Gerould was honored at halftime for announcing his 2,000th game.

The box score shows the attendance at 12,308. I am willing to bet that there were less than 10,000 people in the arena. It may have been the smallest crowd that I have ever seen.

The Kings snapped an eight game losing streak. The Kings now have 2 wins and 3 losses in games that I have seen in person this season.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

California Historical Landmark #486

El Dorado
California State Historical Landmark #486

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This landmark is located at the north side of intersection of Pleasant Valley Road and Church Street, El Dorado, California in El Dorado County. There are 29 other California State Historical Landmarks in El Dorado County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 38° 40.956 W 120° 50.909.

You can log your visit to this landmark at

California Historical Landmark #486

El Dorado, 'The Gilded One,' was first known as Mud Springs from the boggy quagmire the cattle and horses made of a nearby watering place.

Originally an important camp on the old Carson Emigrant Trail, by 1849-50 it had become the center of a mining district and the crossroads for freight and stage lines. At the height of the rush its large gold production supported a population of several thousand.

California Historical Landmark #486

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Annie Lennox - The First Noel

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!
Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Annie Lennox - The First Noel

Code Expiration: March 4, 2011

Monday, December 06, 2010

Forrest Gump

After the hike on Saturday, Sharon, Jack and I watched Forrest Gump as a HD rental on the Apple TV.

Released in 1994, the film was nominated for 13 Academy Awards. It won six, including: Best Picture; Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role [Tom Hanks]; Best Director; Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Film Editing, and; Best Visual Effects.

Watching the film was Sharon's idea and I have to admit that I was not initially enthused about the suggestion. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the movie. I have probably not seen it in 15 years.

Jack did not want to watch the movie, but was hooked from the first scene.

NBA Power Rankings 2010-2011 Week 6 (30th)

With an eight game losing streak, the Sacramento Kings are ranked 30th out of 30 teams in Marc Stein's weekly power rankings of NBA teams. Larkin and I are going to the game on Wednesday against the Wizards.

NBA Basketball Power Rankings - National Basketball Association - ESPN
Remember how fun and scrappy they were with last season's 13-14 start? Now chew on this: The Kings are 15-55 since Geoff Petrie's contract extension was announced in December 2009 when they were at 14-16.
Last December, I commented how much I enjoyed watching the young Kings. I don't know what happened to the team that started last season so well...

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Tom, Kevin, Sharon, Jack and I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 at the Regal 16 theater in Natomas. It is an interesting movie because it relies so much on all of the things that happened previously. Even if you had seen all of the films, it seems that it would be hard to follow the plot if you had not read all of the books. Sharon leaned over to me several times and asked who is that or where are they? Sharon has seen the films, but only read the first book.

Watching the film, I kept wondering where they were going to break the story between part 1 and part 2 of the movie. When the final credits started to roll, my response was oh! I think that how it ends is the weakest part of the film.

Part 2 is scheduled for release in July 2011. It is going to be 3-D!?!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

South Fork American River Trail

Several years ago, we hiked on the Sweetwater Trail, west from the Salmon Falls Bridge. A new trail opened October 1 heading east from the Salmon Falls Bridge. The South Fork American River Trail runs 25 miles all the way from the Salmon Falls Bridge to Greenwood Creek.

With no baseball or basketball scheduled for the weekend, we took off early in the morning hoping to beat the rain forecast for later in the day. Much to Jack's chagrin, we hiked about 7.20 miles in just under three hours.

The first mile plus of the trail climbs about 400 feet through brush, but after that you travel through some nicer wooded areas.  Sharon and I will probably try to come back at some point and do a longer hike of 12 to 15 miles.

On the South Fork American River Trail

On the South Fork American River Trail

Friday, December 03, 2010

ESPN 30 for 30 - Steve Bartman: Catching Hell

10/05/2011 Update: I watched Catching Hell last week; my thoughts are here.

08/05/2011 Update: Catching Hell is now scheduled to air on ESPN on September 27, 2011.

04/16/2011 Update: Catching Hell is debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23.

12/17/2010 Update: I was pleasantly surprised to see a trailer for the Bartman documentary actually run at the end of the last 30 for 30, Pony Exce$$. It said that it was coming in 2011

One of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries that was originally on the schedule but disappeared was titled Steve Bartman: Catching Hell by Alex Gibney. The film was going to examine the relationship between Chicago Cubs fans and Steve Bartman. The Steve Bartman incident occurred during a Major League Baseball playoff game between the Chicago Cubs and the Florida Marlins on October 14, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

At the end of the podcast with Jonathon Hock talking about the Marcus Dupree documentary, Bill Simmons acknowledged that he had been getting a lot of questions about what happened to the Steve Bartman 30 for 30. He said that the producer had asked for a little more time; he wanted to finish two more interviews. Simmons went on to say that the rough cut contains ten of the most powerful minutes that he has seen in any film.

Simmons indicated that the Steve Bartman documentary would run in 2011, probably under the banner of 30 for 30 presents..

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

2011 PAL Varsity Comp Basketball Parent Meeting

I went to a parent meeting for the SEAS varsity basketball team. After some continuing debate over the last two weeks, the coaches have decided to field one team. Rather than field a varsity rec and a varsity comp team, they are just going to have one varsity comp team.

At this point, they have fifteen 7th and 8th grade boys on the team. It is going to interesting to see how this plays out. It seems like there are going to be at least 4 or 5 boys that don't get much playing time. It will also be interesting to see how many boys are on the team at the end of the season.

I have not seen the boys scrimmage yet so it is hard to tell who is going to play where. Based on what little I have seen, I would rank Jack about 8th on the team. There are a couple of 8th graders who are almost two years older than him. After logging the most minutes on the floor for a very successful team last year, I wonder how much playing time he will get this year and how he is going to react to being a bench player rather than a starter.

Unlike last year, the team did not get into the December tournament, but will be playing in three tournaments in January and February: Jesuit Jr. Classic (Jan. 2 to 17); Presentation (Jan 22 to 24) and CB Invitational (Feb 13 to 21). League games start the first week of January.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2010 Kings versus Pacers

Liz, Sharon, Jack and I went to the Sacramento Kings versus Indiana Pacers NBA basketball game. Sharon got four tickets from work in section 103, row AA. Across from the visitors bench, the seats were only four rows from the court. While it was fun to sit that close, I felt like I could not see the game. It was hard to see over the people in front of us or get any perspective on the court.

With the score tied 52 to 52 at half-time, the Kings fell behind 78 to 60 with 2:57 left in the third quarter. The Pacers won the game by the score of 107 to 98.

Danny Granger scored a season high 37 points for the Pacers. He made 12 of 19 shots, 10 of 11 free throws and added seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block in 40 minutes.

Beno Udrih was the high scorer for the Kings. He scored 24 points on 9 for 12 from the field, 2 for 3 from three point range and 4 for 5 from the free throw line.

DeMarus Cousins scored a career high 20 points in 23 minutes. He was 9 for 16 from the field, 0 for 1 from three point range and 2 for 4 from the free throw line.

The Kings have now dropped five straight and 10 of their last 11 games. They have 2 wins and 8 losses at home. The Kings have 1 win and 3 losses in games that I have seen in person this season.

The Kings offense looks horrible...

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Pink Martini - We Three Kings

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!
Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Pink Martini - We Three Kings

Code Expiration: February 25, 2011