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
 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pony Express Duroc House Station

From June of 1982 to March of 2000, I lived in Shingle Springs. I would guess that I drove up and down Duroc Road hundreds of times. This Pony Express station marker was placed here on July 1, 2000 about three months after we moved to Elk Grove.

Pony Express
Duroc House

See this location on Yahoo Maps in Flickr
See this location on Google Maps

This marker is located Located at 3430 Duroc Road, Shingle Springs, California. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 38° 39.190 W 120° 57.800.

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

Pony Express Duroc House
Pony Express Duroc House

The "Duroc House" was only 175 feet due south from this monument on the road from Sacramento to Placerville. Starting on April 3, 1860 the Pony Express used this route between San Francisco and St. Joseph, Missouri. The stations used by the westbound Pony Express were Sportsman's Hall, El Dorado (via Placerville & Diamond Springs) and Mormon Tavern.

The U.S. Post Office, due to the Civil War, took over the prior private operation of the Pony Express and on July 1, 1861 made Placerville the western terminus of their Pony Express. To continue to San Francisco, Wells Fargo & Co. operated their own Pony Express via Folsom from Placerville and then used the railroad to Sacramento.

The "Duroc House" became the new Pony Express station from Placerville to Folsom.


Pony Express Duroc House

NBA Power Rankings 2010-2011 Week 5 (30th)

The Sacramento Kings have fallen to 30th out of 30 teams in Marc Stein's weekly power rankings of NBA teams. I have watched parts of several Kings games over the last week; as Bill Walton would say, they look horrible.

NBA Basketball Power Rankings - National Basketball Association - ESPN
Cousins, like the Knicks' Fields, is also on the four-man short list of rookies scoring in double figures along with Griffin and Wall. The defenseless Kings, though, can't enjoy it amid all the losing and Tyreke's soph slump.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

2010 Christmas Tree

For the second year in a row, we got a Christmas Tree at Lamb's Christmas Trees on West Stockton Boulevard off of Sheldon. We stopped at lunch time on Saturday and picked out a flocked tree, but it was still wet. After spending all afternoon putting lights on the outside of the house, I went back late on Sunday and picked up the tree.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Notre Dame 20, USC 16

I am not a college football fan, but Sharon and her brothers are huge Notre Dame fans. Sharon's dad was Irish-Catholic and raised in Indiana.

Sharon, Jack and I went to her brother's Tom house to watch the Notre Dame versus USC football game. The group included Tom, Becky, Kevin, Tim, Kathy, Eileen, Jim Dunn, Jack, Sharon and I.

Leading 13 to 3 at half-time, Notre Dame fell behind 16 to 13 on turn-overs and then scored a touchdown in the last two minutes to win the game by the score of 20 to 13. This was the first time that Notre Dame has beaten USC since 2001.

After the game, Tom served champagne and burned a USC jersey!

Burning a USC Jersey after the Notre Dame Win

Sharon's brother Tom burned a USC jersey after the Notre Dame victory on Saturday night.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Robin Hood

With Sharon out with the girls [Laura, Liz, Sandy and Laurie] again on the night after Thanksgiving [2008 and 2009] to the Old Spaghetti Factory, Jack and I rented Robin Hood in HD on the Apple TV. 

Starring Russell Crowe as Robin Hood, the movie has an odd and nontraditional plot; it almost seems like they are setting up a sequel.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

After the Run to Feed the Hungry, we raced home to put the turducken in the oven. We hosted Thanksgiving at our house; the group included Tom, Becky, Kevin, Jim Dunn, Jack, Sharon and I.

After a great dinner, Sharon served pumpkin flan and pumpkin pie. Tommy brought some cupcakes shaped like turkeys that he had made.

A group of us took a nice after dinner walk through the neighborhood with some Cuban cigars.

2010 Run to Feed the Hungry

For the sixth time in the last seven years [2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005 and 2004], Sharon, Jack and I ran the Run to Feed the Hungry. We entered in 2007, but I was feeling under the weather and we decided not to run before heading to San Francisco for Thanksgiving.

Jack and I ran the course in 1:06:39 for an average pace of 10:37 per mile. Jack ran steadily, but his left foot was bothering him for the last mile or two.  Sharon cut off one of the corners and finished about 45 seconds in front of us...

After the 2010 Run to Feed the Hungry

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Confession by John Grisham

I finished reading The Confession by John Grisham. Since June of 1993, I have read 23 books by Grisham; As I have said before, I am not sure that this is something that I should be proud of.

Set mostly in a small town in Texas, the book focuses on a young black man who is on death row for murder. As part of the story, the book examines how death row inmates are treated and the legal processes that goes on around them.

It paints a very unflattering picture of the Texas legal system and process. Reflecting after finishing it, the book seems very much like a political statement.

In more than 25 years, I have never set down a book once I have started it. About 1/3 into this book, I was bored with the storyline. I seriously considered setting it down. I gutted my way through and was pleasantly surprised that the last third of the book moved along at a much more engaging pace. I got much more invested in the book in the last 150 pages. Nevertheless, at best, I would give the book a "B-" grade. With so many great books in the world, this is not one that I would suggest people add to their reading list.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

ESPN 30 For 30: The Best That Never Was

Running on the treadmill, I watched The Best That Never Was over a couple of different nights. This is the twenty-ninth and next to last installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 film series. The Best That Never Was is the story of football star Marcus Dupree.

Marcus Dupree was raised in Philadelphia, Mississippi. This town is notorious for the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964. The movie Mississippi Burning was based on these murders. About the town, Martin Luther King actually said "This is a terrible town, the worst I've seen." Before starting to examine Dupree's career, the film explores the history of the city.

Marcus Dupree was one of the most highly recruited high school athletes ever. Willie Morris wrote a novel about the process called The Courting of Marcus Dupree. I have brought an electronic copy of the book for Kindle on my iPad that I have started to read.

The never before seen footage of Dupree playing high school football in Philadelphia is amazing. It literally looks like a man playing amongst boys. They claim that he returned every kick-off for a touchdown. The footage from his first year at Oklahoma is equally amazing.

From there, things start to go wrong. Dupree drops out in his sophomore year at Oklahoma, plays the 1984 and part of the 1985 season with the USFL New Orleans and Portland Breakers and then after 5 years away from football played the 1990 and 1991 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams.

This is one of the few films in the 30 for 30 series that is two hours in length. Nevertheless, it does not drag; there is a lot of ground to cover in the game footage and the interviews with the key people. I was particularly intrigued by the interviews with Barry Switzer; he was coach at Oklahoma when Dupree was there. I am not sure that I would buy a used car from Switzer.

Like a number of the 30 for 30 films, this was a story that I really did not know very much about. I enjoyed it and would place it in the top half of the 30 for 30 films.

Bill Simmons did a podcast with the Jonathan Hock, the film's producer, that is a nice supplement to the documentary.

The film is available on Amazon.

The Best That Never Was is also available on iTunes.
 

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - The Head and The Heart - Down In The Valley

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!
Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - The Head and The Heart - Down In The Valley

Code Expiration: February 18, 2011
 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Off the Diamond and on to the Court [2011 PAL Varsity Comp Basketball]

With baseball wrapping up for the year on Saturday, Jack went to try-outs for the SEAS PAL Varsity Comp Basketball team. There were 9 boys: 3 eighth graders [Kellen, Jack and Zack] and 6 seventh graders [Jack, Joe, Jake, Malcolm, Craig and Anthony]. The coaches indicated that 15 boys signed up for the team.

There has been some discussion that there would be two teams: a varsity rec and a varsity comp team. They told the boys last night that there will be only one team. With 15 boys, it is going to be interesting to see how this works out. Kevin told the boys that they are going to have to work hard in practice to fight for playing time.

The coaches ran the boys hard. In the car on the way home, Jack turned to me and said "I am out of shape."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2010 Outlaws Baseball Tournament #12 Day #2, NOT!

After getting rained out of the second game on Saturday night, the tournament officials posted an update on the website at 9:20 p.m. saying that an update for Sunday was coming that night. At 10:50 p.m., they posted a note saying that they were going to cancel the rest of the tournament at Mather; just too much rain in the forecast. Ironically, Sunday turned out to a pretty nice day with no rain!

Given how well the Outlaws have played this fall, it was a stomach punch to end the season with the lopsided loss to Hard 90, although not as much as the stomach punch from the Oakland loss in the Northern California Cal Ripken tournament...

With the tournament cancelled, Sharon, Jack and I went to the American River Trail. Sharon and I ran while Jack rode his bike.


View Larger Map


Afterwards, we went to REI and picked up our packages for the Run to Feed the Hungry on Thursday. From there, we headed downtown and had lunch at an Irish Pub called de Vere's.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Soggy Mess... [2010 Outlaws Baseball Tournament #12 Day #1]

For the first time in three years of playing tournament baseball, the coaches booked tournaments in back to back weekends. Trying to squeeze in one last tournament before shutting down until next year, the Outlaws played in the Northern California Travel Ball Turkey Bowl at the Mather Sports Complex.

The Outlaws were scheduled to play two games late Saturday: Hard 90 Pastime Premier at 5 p.m. and Foothill Athletics at 7:15 p.m. The Outlaws had not faced either team this fall. When the first game started against Hard 90, it was raining lightly.

At the plate, Jack was 0 for 1. In the top of the second, he lined the first pitch up the middle. When it came off the bat, I was sure that it was a hit. The ball died and the second baseman (Dusty's son Darren Baker) made a nice running catch for the out. Jack said that he hit the ball off the handle rather than the barrel.

In the field, Jack played 1 2/3's innings at third base and 1 1/3 innings at first base. He had two errors and an assist. Given the wet windy conditions, I don't feel very good about charging him with the two errors. In the top of the first, a one hopper was hit to his left, Jack got his glove on the ball, but it squirted out. In the top of the second, a ball was grounded hard down the line. Jack got in front of it, but it went under his glove. Two batters later, a soft grounder was hit in front of him. Jack charged the ball. With a runner going from second to third, Jack looked at the runner and then rushed his throw; Breyton did a great job of digging out the short hop for the out.

Hard 90 scored 6 runs in the top of the first on a hit batter, three walks, Jack's error and four hits. Hard 90 added 4 more runs in the top of the second on a hit batter, Jack's error, Greyson's error and three hits. The bottom fell out in the top of the third. The two Outlaws pitchers walked nine batters and Hard 90 scored 6 more runs.

By the bottom of the second inning, it was raining hard. When the Outlaws came into bat in the bottom of the third, their left fielder was so wet and cold that he was not able to go to the plate and bat.

In an hour and thirty minute game, the Outlaws lost the game by the score of 16 to 0 in three innings. It was pouring when the game ended.

With the Outlaws scheduled to play their second game at 7:15 p.m., the tournament officials announced a thirty minute rain delay. As it continued to rain harder and harder, they eventually gave up and sent everyone home for the night.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

California Historical Landmark #334

I stopped here Thursday afternoon on the way back from an executive briefing at Cisco.

Mission San Jose
California State Historical Landmark #334

See this location on Yahoo Maps in Flickr
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This landmark is located at the corner of Mission Boulevard and Washington Boulevard, Fremont, California. There are 35 other California State Historical Landmarks in Alameda County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 37° 32.036 W 121° 55.203.

A list of California missions is here. The missions that I have visited are highlighted in red.

You can log your visit to this landmark at waymark.com.

California Historical Landmark #334

At the Ohlone Indian village of Oroysom, Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuen founded this fourteenth of twenty-one Franciscan missions June 11, 1797. Taught by Padre Narciso Duran, the Ohlone orchestra and choir became famous. By 1830 almost 2,000 Indians were living at the mission. The 1868 earthquake destroyed the adobe church and most other mission buildings. The church was rebuilt in 1985.

California Historical Landmark #334

Cisco Data Center Virtualization EBC

I spent the day at a Cisco Data Center Vitalization Executive Briefing in San Jose. The agenda included: Private Clouds (UCS and VCE); Next Generation Data Center; Operational Effiencies; CIUS Demo; next Generation Storage; and Cisco IT Data Center Tour. Unfortunately, I was more than a little distracted by a range of customers and personnel issues back at the office. I am still trying to wrap my brain around the value of the UCS solution compared to our current strategies. We are going to have some follow-up meetings internally to explore this topic.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Die Another Day

While Sharon was with Janie in Napa in August, Jack and I watched Die Another Day. Released in 2002, this is the twentieth spy film in the James Bond film series and the fourth and last to star Pierce Brosnan as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond.

Die Another Day marked the franchise's 40th anniversary. The series began in 1962 with Sean Connery starring as Bond in Dr. No. Die Another Day includes references to each of the preceding films and also alludes to several Bond novels.

In the film, Bond leads a mission to North Korea. He is exposed, captured and imprisoned. After spending a year being tortured in prison, Bond is released as part of a prisoner exchange.  Surmising that someone within the British government betrayed him, Bond follows a trail of clues from Cuba to an ice hotel in Iceland and back to North Korea in an effort to earn redemption by finding his betrayer. Along the way, he stops an invasion of South Korea by North Korea.

In addition to Pierce Brosnan as James Bond 007 and Judi Dench as M, the film stars Halle Berry as Giacinta 'Jinx' Johnson (an NSA agent), Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost (a double agent who initially poses as Bond's ally), Toby Stephens as Gustav Graves (a British entrepreneur, the main antagonist and a North Korean General) and John Cleese as Q (MI6's quartermaster).

In early 2007, I started an effort to watch all of the James Bond movies in order. Watching Die Another Day completes that project. I am going to go back and watch Casino Royale again in the near future.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Marion Jones on Jon Stewart

After watching the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Marion Jones, I was surprised to see her on Jon Stewart. She was promoting her new book: On the Right Track: From Olympic Downfall to Finding Forgiveness and the Strength to Overcome and Succeed.

In response to a direct question from Stewart about how she rationalized taking steroids, Jones claimed that she did not know that she was taking performance enhancing drugs. She blamed members of her "inner circle" for giving her the drugs without her knowledge. Jones suggests that she did not know until 2003 that she was taking performance enhancing drugs. This was more than three years after the Sidney Olympics.

This is impossible for me to believe. After watching the ESPN documentary and seeing her on Jon Stewart, I just do not find her credible. For a world class athlete to be oblivious to the changes that were taking place in her body due to performance enhancing drugs seems impossible.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Marion Jones
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

 

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Elton John & Leon Russell - If It Wasn't For Bad

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!
Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Elton John and Leon Russell - If It Wasn't For Bad

Code Expiration: February 11, 2011
 

Monday, November 15, 2010

ESPN 30 for 30 - Marion Jones: Press Pause

I watched Marion Jones: Press Pause. This is the twenty-eighth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 film series.

After a very brief look at Marion Jones' career and accomplishments, the documentary focuses on the period starting with her confession to lying to federal agents. It replays her public statement on the courthouse steps, looks at her life in prison, touches on her getting reacquainted with her family after prison and examines her efforts to get in shape and play in the WNBA.

Jones talks more about having lied to federal agents than acknowledging that she used steroids. She and others makes vague references to the “bad men” who corrupted her life, but the subject is danced around. It’s not clear whether access was conditional or the film maker was merely disinclined to question Jones’ past actions and relationships.

It is interesting that Jones actually served time. I am not personally aware of any other athlete who has been accused of using steroids or lying about using steroids that has gone to prison.

This is one of my least favorite 30 for 30 films. When I eventually rank all of the documentaries, it will fall in the bottom ten. Several times, I checked the DVR to see how much was left because the documentary was dragging; I was getting bored.

The film is available on Amazon.

Marion Jones: Press Pause is also available on iTunes.
 

NBA Power Rankings 2010-2011 Week 3 (29th)

After three weeks, the Sacramento Kings have fallen to 29th in Marc Stein's weekly power rankings of NBA teams, ahead of only the Wizards. I have watched the Kings play the last couple games in person and on television; they look very bad...

NBA Basketball Power Rankings - National Basketball Association - ESPN
Tension/frustration has mounted so quickly in the wake of that 3-1 start -- with the help of a hugely favorable schedule, it must be said -- that Tyreke's bid for another 20/5/5 season has barely been mentioned lately.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

2010 Outlaws Baseball Tournament #11 Day #2

The Outlaws were back at Mather for the second day of the Super Series Veterans Tournament. They played the Athletic Edge, a 11U team from Petaluma.

Scott and I were talking before the game about how the Outlaws can't seem to get the timely hit. Unfortunately, this trend continued.

At the plate, Jack was 0 for 3 with a strike-out looking. In his first at-bat, he drove a 2 and 2 pitch up the middle. The shortstop made a nice play behind second base and threw Jack out at first. Jack lined a 0 and 1 pitch in right center in his second plate appearance. When the ball came off the bat, I was sure that it was going to be a single. The ball hung and the right fielder made a nice running catch for the out. Jack struck out looking on 1 and 2 pitch in his last at-bat. It was a horrible call; the pitch was literally under his nose.

In the field, Jack played seven innings at third base. I feel like he is playing extremely well at third base. Jack had two assists and one put-out. He made nice plays on two soft grounders hit in front of him. Jack charged the ball and threw the runners out at first. He had a put-out on a soft pop-up in front of him that he was just able to get his glove under.

In the bottom of the third with two outs and runners on second and third, the Athletic Edge batter hit a line drive into short right. The batter was a slow runner. The Outlaws right fielder did not make the throw to first which would have gotten the runner, ended the inning and prevented a run from scoring. This was particularly frustrating to me because Jack got thrown out on the same play on Saturday.

The Outlaws tied the score in the top of the sixth at 1 to 1. In extra innings, this tournament uses tiebreaker rules where the last out starts the inning at second base. The Outlaws runner promptly got picked off second. One out later, Josh doubled into centerfield. The Outlaws were unable to advance him.

In the bottom of the seventh, Athletic Edge was able to advance their tiebreaker runner home on two bunts and win the game by the score of 2 to 1. Four of the last five Outlaws' losses have been by one run.

Athletic Edge went on to beat the Hitmen to win the tournament.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

2010 Outlaws Baseball Tournament #11 Day #1

The Outlaws played at Mather in the Super Series Veterans Tournament. Once again, the Outlaws had the 8 a.m. game. This means that Jack and have to leave the house at 6:30 a.m. Just for once I would like to be able to sleep in on Saturday morning.

The Outlaws played the Folsom Flames in the first game. The Outlaws had beaten the Flames by the score of 5 to 1 in an elimination game in the tournament two weeks ago.

At the plate, Jack was 1 for 1 with two walks and two runs scored. In his first at-bat in the top of the first with one out and runners on first and second, Jack hit a 1 and 1 pitch through the left side of the infield for a single. He went to second on Josh's single and to third on Breyton's ground out. Jack ended the inning at third. Jack walked on four pitches in his second plate appearance. He stole second and then scored on Josh's single to left center. Jack walked on five pitches in his third at-bat. He stole second and third. Jack scored on Jordan's ground out.

In the field, Jack played third base. He had one of the busiest games that I can remember. Jack had four assists. He fielded grounders hit to the left side in the first, second, fourth and fifth innings and threw the runners out at first. Jack ranged far to his left in front of Jeremy at shortstop on a slow roller for the out. In the fourth inning, he made a nice leaping attempt on a line drive hit to his left; the ball just did not quite stay in his glove. There were also a couple of very soft grounders hit to the left side for singles: one that Josh handled and one that Jack handled.

The Outlaws put runs on the board in four of the five innings and won the game by the score of 7 to 3. Jullian pitched four solid innings.

The Outlaws turned right around and played Bret's Muckdogs in the second game of the day. This is a team from Sparks, Nevada that we have not played before.

At the plate, Jack was 0 for 2. He continues to hit the ball hard. In his first at-bat, Jack lined a 2 and 1 pitch into right field. The Muckdogs outfielders played extremely shallow all day. The ball bounced right to the right fielder on one hop and he threw Jack out at first by a step. The kind of play makes me more than a little crazy; Jack had hit the ball very hard. Jack hit a 0 and 1 pitch hard on the ground to the right side of the infield and was thrown out at first in his second plate appearance.

In the field, Jack played four innings at third, one inning in centerfield and one inning at first base. He had two put-outs at first: one on a throw from pitcher and one on a line drive to end the top of the sixth.

The Muckdogs had a big left-handed who threw a one hitter and walked only one batter. Greysen got the only hit on a triple over the head of the centerfielder who was playing very shallow. Greysen was out at the plate on a suicide squeeze where the batter did not get the bat on the ball. With one out in the top of the sixth, Anthony walked a batter and the Muckdogs created a run on one hit and won the game by the score of 1 to 0.

The Outlaws ended the day seeded third out of the seven teams in the tournament. They will play on Sunday at 12 p.m. against the Athletic Edge in the semi-final game of the tournament.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pony Express Monument Carson City

When Larkin and I were in Carson City for Rod's golf tournament, I wandered around the downtown one morning after breakfast looking for waymarks, including a pony express stop, the state capitol and the United States Mint.

Pony Express Monument
Carson City

See this location on Yahoo Maps in Flickr
See this location on Google Maps

This landmark is located in front of the old Carson City Mint which is now the Nevada State Museum, 600 North Carson Street, Carson City. Nevada. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 39° 10.043 W 119° 46.027.

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

Pony Express - Carson City

Pony Express - Carson City

Pony Express - Carson City

Pony Express - Carson City

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Bridge of Sighs by Olen Steinhauer

My book for November is The Bridge of Sighs by Olen Steinhauer. Sharon's brother Tom recommended the book to me last year while we were at a crab feed.

The novel is set in 1948 in a small, unnamed Eastern European country. It is a country devastated by World War II and still occupied by Russian troops. The main character, Emil Brod, is a 22-year-old homicide inspector in the People's Militia.

The book's trail of murder, blackmail and wartime secrets eventually leads Brod to a divided Berlin. During a key section of the book, he observes firsthand the non-stop activity at Tempelhof Airport during the Allied airlift. The Berlin Blockade from June 24, 1948 to May 12, 1949 was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War.

The Bridge of Sighs is the first in a five-book series of thrillers chronicling the evolution of the fictional Eastern European country during the Cold War. Each book is set in a different decade.

About 100 pages into the book, I was starting to feel like I wasn't going to enjoy the book. Just at that point, the plot spun around and raced off in a very different direction. I ended up being drawn through the rest of the novel. Overall, I would give it a strong 'B' grade. I enjoyed the book enough that I have already the second book in the series.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2010 Kings versus Timberwolves

With Sharon holding a jewelry party, Jack and I escaped the house and went to the Sacramento Kings versus Minnesota Timberwolves game. Trailing for most of the game, the Kings could not get on track or stop Michael Beasley. The Kings lost the game by the score of 98 to 89.

Michael Beasley single-handedly beat the Kings. He had 42 points on 17 for 31 from the field, 1 for 2 from three point range and 7 for 10 from the free throw line. Beasley added 9 rebounds. Beasley had 28 points in the first quarter and tied an Arco Arena record for most field goals in a half.

Conversely, Tyreke Evans' performance killed any chance the Kings had of staying close. In 28 minutes, Evans scored 5 points on 1 for 5 from the field, 0 for 2 from the three point range and 3 for 5 from the free throw line. He fouled out of the game with 9:32 left in the fourth quarter.

Westphal is clearly still trying to sort out the rotation. He played all 12 of the Kings players. There just does not seem to be any pattern to his substitutions.

I was disappointed that Cousins only played 15 minutes. In limited minutes Cousins had 7 points and 6 rebounds. It seemed like he was having his way with Darko Milicic.

Jack and I were sitting in section 114, Row A, seat 1 and 2 behind the Timberwolves bench. It felt very odd to see Kurt Rambis, Bill Laimbeer and Reggie Theus coaching the T-Wolves; it just seems like an odd assortment of coaches.

The Kings have 1 win and 2 losses in games that I have seen in person this season.

Monday, November 08, 2010

ESPN 30 for 30: Fernando Nation

At spring training this year, I got my signals crossed and ended up getting Jack, Drew and I to Camelback Ranch about an hour earlier than we normally would have. We sat in the outfield watching batting practice and then wandered the stadium. At the foot of the stairs to the broadcast booths was a large crowd. In the middle of the crowd signing autographs was Fernando Valenzuela. The twenty-seventh film in ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary series is Fernando Nation. It looks at the cultural phenomenon of Fernando Valenzuela.

Jack, Morgan, Sharon and I saw the Dodgers play at Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine in 2005. The first part of the film looks at Chavez Ravine's history as a cohesive Mexican-American community. The documentary then shifts to look at Fernando's career and his connection with Los Angeles' large Latino community.

In 1981, Fernando Valenzuela became the only pitcher to win Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Award honors in the same year. He also won the 1981 Silver Slugger award given to the best hitting pitcher. In the 1981 post-season, Valenzuela became the youngest pitcher to start the first game of a series. He went 3-1 in the post-season and helped the Dodgers to their first World Series since 1965. Fernando went on to pitch for the Dodgers for ten seasons and sixteen seasons in the major league.

Fernando was the youngest of twelve children from a very small town in rural Mexico. The old footage of his parents and the town where he grew up are pretty remarkable.

Fernando participated in the documentary and is interviewed throughout. This is a solid film; I would rank it in the top half of the 30 for 30's that I have watched so far.

The film is available on Amazon.

Fernando Nation is also available on iTunes.
 

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Wallen back to the Pacific Northwest

As I have said on numerous occasions, part of the reason that I train so hard is so I can run with Wallen half a dozen times a year. Saturday morning, he and I covered 6.6 miles. The splits were 8:46, 8:45, 8:36, 8:50, 8:43 and 8:46. We walked about 0.25 mile in the middle and stopped briefly to stretch. Given how much trouble I have had with my hip and knee over the last year, I felt pretty good about the times. If I hadn't worked out on Thursday and Friday, I would probably could have carried 10 to 15 second more per mile.

With it raining hard on Sunday morning, Sharon took Wallen and I to the Laguna Racquet Club for a spin class. Afterwards, we got cleaned up and went to the Riverside Clubhouse for brunch.

Wallen headed back to the Pacific Northwest in the afternoon. It was great to have an opportunity to spend a couple of days with him!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

At Hunter's


Wallen, Jack and I spent the afternoon and evening at Hunter's. Hunter and Chabrier organized a get together and a barbecue. The group included Bill Ralich and his wife, Hunter and Debbie, Robbie and Katie, Gary Lindsey, Chabrier, Wallen, Danny, Jack and I.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

48 hours: subtitled rode hard and put away wet

Starting last Friday at 4:30 p.m., Jack had a wild two days. He played in five baseball games and two flag football play-off games and went to a school dance!

Jack played in the first round of the PAL flag football play-offs on Friday night. The Eagles squeezed out a 14 to 12 victory over Sacramento Country Day.

After the play-off game, we raced home and got him cleaned up. Jack went to the 7th and 8th grade dance held by the Catholic schools at the St. Anthony's parish in the pocket area. This was his first dance! Sharon and I had dinner at Scott's on the River while Jack was at the dance. By the time, we picked him up from the dance and got him down for the night it was almost 11 p.m.

I got him up at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning to play baseball with the Outlaws. We were at Mather before 7 a.m. The Outlaws lost a close game to the Demons by the score of 4 to 3 and then beat Oorah Baseball by the score of 6 to 2.

By Saturday afternoon, Jack was beat. He crashed and we watched game three of the World Series.

I got him up again at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning for baseball. The Outlaws played an 8 a.m. elimination game against the Folsom Flames; they won by the score of 5 to 1.

They advanced to the semi-final game against the Sluggers; they won by the score of 4 to 3. Jack left this game in the fifth inning to go to Jesuit High School and play in the semi-final game of the PAL flag tournament play-offs. The Eagles got blown out in the second half and lost by the score of 38 to 12.

We then headed back to Mather for the championship game of the baseball tournament. Although Jack had a home run, the Outlaws lost by the score of 10 to 2 and placed second in the tournament. By the time we got home it was almost 7:30 p.m.

Jack was done... [urban dictionary: rode hard and put away wet]

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

2010 Kings versus Lakers

With Kevin taking Jack to his season ending flag football party, Sharon and I had dinner downtown at Mulvaney's B&L. While the meal was solid, Sharon was not overly impressed.

Afterwards, we headed to the Sacramento Kings versus Los Angeles Lakers NBA basketball game. Trailing by 20 points in the third quarter, the Kings got within 6 points in the fourth quarter. The Lakers promptly pulled away and won by the score of 112 to 100.

When they have their core group on the floor [Kobe, Gasol, Artest, Odom and Fisher], the Lakers look very good. They play together extremely well. Without even looking like he was working hard, Kobe had a triple double. He finished with 30 points on 9 for 22 from the field, 3 for 6 from three point range and 9 for 10 from the free throw line. Kobe added 10 rebounds and 12 assists.

It has been a number of years since I have been to a Kings and Lakers game at Arco Arena. I was dumbfounded at the number of Lakers fans. The cheers were literally louder for the Lakers during most of the game than for the Kings.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

2010 PAL Flag Football SEAs versus St. John Evangelist

After Jack played two baseball games on Sunday morning, we dashed to Jesuit High School for the PAL flag football play-offs on Sunday afternoon. The SEAs Eagles played their eighth game of the 2010 PAL Flag Football season against St. John Evangelist. This was the semi-final game of the play-offs.  Jack is #16 in the picture at the left.

On offense, Jack was the starting right wide receiver. He had two passes thrown to him. Jack dropped the first pass; he was looking to run before he had the ball. Jack caught the second pass in traffic on a crossing pattern over the middle.

Over the last two weeks, it finally dawned on me why they never threw to Jack much this season. Jack played the right wide receiver. The quarterback was left-handed. The quarterback would always set up scanning the left side of the field and often roll to his left. Almost all of Jack's catches were on crossing patterns with Jack coming across to the left side.

On defense, Jack was the starting linebacker.

The SJE team was very tall. They literally probably averaged 4 to 6 inches taller than the SEAs Eagles. As a result, I was not very optimistic that the Eagles would be able to stay with the SJE team. In spite of the size difference, the score was tied 12 to 12 at half-time. One of the SJE touchdowns came on a long interception return for a touchdown.

Unfortunately, the Eagles got blown out in the second half. SEAs' quarterback threw a second interception for a touchdown. Twice the Eagles got the ball deep in their end of the field, were unable to move the ball and had to punt. This gave SJE good field position and led to two more SJE touchdowns. Another interception set up the final SJE touchdown. SJE beat SEAs by the final score of 38 to 12. SJE advanced to the title game.

All and all, it was a successful season. In the 20 team PAL league, SEAs made it to the semi-final game! I think that it was only the second time in the school's eleven year history that the Eagles have made the play-offs.

Jack seemed very flat and a little dinged up.

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Dierks Bentley - Draw Me A Map

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!
Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Dorris Bentley - Draw Me A Map

Code Expiration: January 28, 2011

I Voted!

I Voted!

Monday, November 01, 2010

2010 Kings versus Raptors

Kurt and I went to the Sacramento Kings versus Toronto Raptors NBA basketball game. Trailing by 10 to 15 points for three quarters of the game, the Kings rallied at the beginning of the fourth quarter and won the game by the score of 111 to 108. We went to the Arco Arena early and watched game 6 of the Giants versus Rangers World Series game on the big screen.

Kings versus Raptors at Arco Arena

Raptors center Andrea Bargnani had 28 points on 10 for 17 from the field, 3 for 6 from three and 5 for 5 from the free throw line. The Kings did a terrible job covering Barganani away from the basket, leaving him open time after time. A Raptors player that I have never heard of, DeMar DeRozan, a rookie guard from USC, added 24 points on 7 for 12 from field. Addditionally, Reggie Evans had 19 rebounds for the Raptors!

Tyreke Evans had 23 points for the Kings on 9 for 16 from the field and 5 for 7 from the free throw line. I was very interested in seeing DeMarcus Cousins play. Unfortunately, he got two quick fouls in the first couple minutes of the game and ended up only playing 17 minutes. Cousins was very effective in the fourth quarter; he ended the game with 16 points on 6 for 10 from the field and 4 for 4 from the free throw line, but only 4 rebounds. If he can figure out how to stay out of foul trouble, Cousins looks like he could be a very effective big man for the Kings. At the end of the game, Kings coach Westphal was going offense with Cousins and defense with Dalembert.

Tyreke Evans got his rookie of the year award before the game. It was a nice crowd; the arena was essentially full. The crowd got loud in the fourth quarter as the Kings rallied.

Watching the Giants game on the big screen at Arco before the Kings Home Opener

Watching the Giants game on the big screen at Arco

NBA Power Rankings 2010-2011 Week 1 (20th)

After the first week of the season, the Sacramento Kings jumped from 28th to 20th in Marc Stein's weekly power rankings of NBA teams, ahead of the Nets, Cavs, Knicks, Wizards, T-Wolves, Raptors, Bobcats, 76ers, Pistons and Clippers.

NBA Basketball Power Rankings - National Basketball Association - ESPN
The Kings overturned a 16-point deficit Saturday night in Cleveland to move to 2-1. Casspi scored 20 and drained six triples in the win, four in the second half. Surely you weren't expecting an Omri-free comment.