Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve 2011

Sharon, Jack and I celebrated New Year's Eve at Sharon's brother Tim's house. The group included Tim, Kathy, Tom, Becky and Kevin plus the three of us. We had salad and pizza for dinner with cheesecake for dessert.

After watching the end of Jaws, Kevin put on the DVD of Big Trouble in Little China. I did not enjoy this much. Starring Kurt Russell and Kim Cattral, about the best I would say was that the movie was absurd.

While I count New Year's Eve as my least favorite holiday, we had a nice evening.

2012 is going to be an extraordinary year of change...

Friday, December 30, 2011

California Historical Landmark #86

California Theatre
California State Historical Landmark #86

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This landmark is located at 430 Bush Street between Kearny and Grant, San Francisco, California. There are 48 other California State Historical Landmarks in San Francisco County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 37° 47.445 W 122° 24.287.

You can log your visit to this landmark at

California Historical Landmark #86

On this site on January 18, 1869, the California Theatre, built by William C. Ralston, opened with the following stock company: John McCullough, Lawrence Barrett, Harry Edwards, Willie Edouin, E. B. Holmes, William Mastayer, John T. Raymond, W. F. Burroughs, W. H. Sadley Smith, John Wilson, Edward J. Buckley, Mrs. Judah Emelie Melville, Elizabeth Saunders, Annette Ince, Marie E. Gordon, Sophie Edwin, Minnie Walton, and Julia Buckley. Among artists who played here were Charles W. Couldock, Edwin Adams, John Broughan, Edwin Booth, Barton Hill, Walter Montgomery, Mrs. D. P. Bowers, Adelaide Neilson, and Lotta Crabtree. This theater remained a brilliant center of drama until August 11, 1888.

California Historical Landmark #86

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

San Jose - Carmel - Elk Grove

After spending the night at the De Anza Hotel in San Jose, Sharon and I got up and hit the fitness center. I ran on the treadmill, while Sharon worked out on the elliptical. While Sharon got ready to go, I wandered down the street to a Starbucks to get everyone a bit to eat.

The plan for the day was to have lunch with Drew and Morgan in Carmel. Sharon made reservations at Casanova Restaurant. We had a very nice early lunch and exchanged Christmas presents.

We drove down to Carmel Bench after lunch. The five of us walked from one length of the beach to the other. Somewhere along the way, we found a tennis ball. Drew, Jack and I played soccer with the tennis ball as we wandered along.

I have been trying for several years to get Sharon to consider Carmel as a possibility for our anniversary trip. I think that our day there with the kids cemented the idea for 2012.

Sharon, Jack and I headed back to Elk Grove about 4:00 p.m. It was about 6:30 p.m. by the time we got home. We finished the day putting away more Christmas decorations and getting ready for next year.

On Carmel Beach

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Scrabble [app]

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Code Expiration: March 20, 2012

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Vacationer - Gone

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Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Digital Download - 12/27/2011 - Vacationer - Gone

Code Expiration: March 20, 2012

Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 San Jose Sharks versus Anaheim Ducks

Getting ready for January, we spent the morning taking down Christmas decorations. Next month is going to mark the start of a year filled with a number of major changes in our lives...

We took off in the early afternoon for San Jose. Like last year, the plan is spend the night at the De Anza Hotel and see a San Jose Sharks hockey game.

With some heavy traffic through Tracy and over the Altamont Pass, it was a little before 4:00 p.m. before we got the hotel. After getting settled in the junior suite, Sharon and I had a quick drink in The Hedley Club. We had an early dinner at La Pastaia, the restaurant in the hotel. The food was not very good; Jack's pizza was burnt, my risotto was bland and Sharon's pasta special was just plain bad. I would not recommend the restaurant.

One of the advantages of the De Anza is that it is very close to HP Pavilion. Ducking back to the room to get our jackets, we walked to the arena. Last year, I had got some seats down close to the glass at one end. I felt like it was hard to watch the game from that angle. This year, I got some seats right at center ice about 2/3's up the lower deck. It was a great spot to watch the game.

Unfortunately, the Sharks lost by the score of 3 to 2. Joe Thornton, the Shark's captain, played horrible. He had five giveaways in the game, including one for a breakaway by Bobby Ryan giving the Ducks a 2-1 edge early in the second period.

After the game, we walked back to the hotel and finished the evening raiding the pantry. 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.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day 2011

Although Jack is getting to be a little too much of a teenager, the three of us had a nice Christmas morning opening presents around the tree. We had a nice lazy breakfast of waffles.

After breakfast, Sharon's nephew Kevin came over. With Tommy, Becky and Eric in Arizona spending Christmas with Becky's dad, Kevin spent the day with us. For the third year in a row, we went out for a movie on Christmas Day. The four of us went to Sherlock Holmes - Game of Shadows. Both Sharon and I enjoyed the movie.

The four of us finished the day with a Christmas dinner of Chicken Cordon Bleu. On the first Christmas that I celebrated with Sharon, she made chicken cordon bleu for her parents and I. We opened the bottle of pinot noir that I brought back from New Ze@land.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

Sharon, Jack, Tim and I went to the 4:00 p.m. Mass at Good Shepherd. Rushing home afterwards, we scrambled to get hors d'oeuvres ready as everyone showed up. We have a slightly different group this year. With Sharon's brother Tom in Arizona, the group included my sister Sharon and her friend Michael, my sister Lee Ann and her husband Dean, Sharon's brother Tim and his family (Kathy, Erin and Eileen) and Jim Dunn. Donna Gainsley stopped by for a drink on the way to her parents.

Sharon made a great dinner of individual Beef Wellingtons, mashed potatoes and green beans. The starter was a shrimp salad. My sister Sharon and Tim brought cakes for desert. Kevin had to work and showed up after dinner.

After dinner, we exchanged a few gifts. The highlight of the evening was a 4 1/2 foot sword that Sharon's brother Tom gave to Jack. Really, who would give a 13 year old a sword almost as big as he is?

Table set for Christmas Eve Dinner

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

I finished reading The Quantum Thief in early December. I stumbled across this book in a list of science fiction books that NPR published: Mind-Bending Sci-Fi Books For A Fantastical Summer.

I enjoyed the book as much as any science fiction book I have read in years, but it is a little disorienting. The book introduces a lot of ideas and words without any context; one review suggested that it needed a glossary. As you read, you slowly fill the details behind many of the words. The ideas include: a city that marches across the Martian desert; a cloud of universally accessible data called "exomemory" that floats in the air around people, places and things; a quantum-jail; interpersonal communication re-imagined as a dense network of negotiable privacy settings; the individual minutes of a person's life used as legal tender.

The main character is actually based on a fictional thief from a series of french books written in the 19th century. This character was literally a french version of Sherlock Holmes.

I was intrigued by the description of the author. Thirty-one year-odd Hannnu Rajanieumi is from Finland and holds a Ph.D. in string theory. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he is a director a think tank providing business services based on advanced math and artificial intelligence.

The Quantum Thief is the first book in an intended trilogy. The second book--The Fractal Prince--will be out in April of 2012. Alhthough I am still trying to wrap my brain around the last 40 pages of the first book, I have already pre-ordered second book from Amazon.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

California Historical Landmark #46

I stopped here briefly on my way back from working in Santa Cruz for a couple of days.

Vallejo Flour Mill
California State Historical Landmark #46

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This landmark is located in the Vallejo Mill Historical Park at the northeast corner of Niles Canyon Road and Mission Boulevard, Fremont, California. There are 35 other California State Historical Landmarks in Alameda County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 37° 34.646 W 121° 58.346.

You can log your visit to this landmark at

California Historical Landmark #46

In 1856, José de Jesús Vallejo, brother of General M. G. Vallejo, built a flour mill here, on his Rancho Arroyo de la Alameda. Niles was once called 'Vallejo Mills.' The stone aqueduct built to carry water for the mill parallels Niles Canyon Road.

California Historical Landmark #46

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Carole King - Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday

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Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Carole King - Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday

The legendary songwriter and performer delves into the soul songbook to uncover an off-the-beaten-track seasonal selection.

Code Expiration: March 13, 2012

Monday, December 19, 2011

Harvard Beats Yale 29 to 29

Running on the treadmill, I watched Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 on the ESPN Classic channel. This is a 2008 documentary about the 1968 meeting between the football teams of Yale and Harvard. The game has been called "the most famous football game in Ivy League history."

For the first time since 1909, the Harvard and Yale football teams were each undefeated with 6-0 records in their conference (8-0 overall) when they met for their season's final game on November 23, 1968 at Harvard Stadium. Ranked nationally, Yale was heavily favored to win and they quickly led the game 22–0. With two minutes remaining on the clock they still led 29–13. As the last seconds ticked down, Harvard tied the game, scoring 16 points in the final 42 seconds. The Harvard Crimson declared victory with a famous headline, "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29."

There is an amazing array of people associated with the game. Calvin Hill (Grant Hill's father) who later starred for the Dallas Cowboys played running back for Yale. Tommy Lee Jones who was rooming with Al Gore at the time played offensive tackle for Harvard. George W. Bush was attending Yale. One of the Harvard players was dating Meryl Streep who was attending Vassar. Garry Trudeau's earliest Doonesbury comics while he was at Yale essentially feature the Yale football team.

The film mixes broadcast video of the game with interviews with close to 50 of the surviving players. The film was created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the game. In addition to actual game footage and the contemporary interviews, the film includes commentary about the Vietnam War and the sexual revolution. One of the players had served a tour of duty in Vietnam.

Although not as slick as some of the 30 for 30 documentaries, it is worth seeing. I was struck by how football today looks very much the same as it did almost 45 years ago.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wackman's Christmas Party

After Mass and dinner at Macaroni Grill, we went to the Wackman's Christmas Party. They went with us to the Milo Greene concert at the Fillmore last month. Their youngest son has played baseball with Jack on the Outlaws for the last two and a half years. The Borjas were also there. It was a late night. By the time we got home and to bed, it was almost 1:00 a.m.

Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 SEAS Christmas Program

We went to the thirteenth annual SEAS Christmas program in the morning. With the program structured around the Christmas Story, Jack's class sang Joy to the World.

This is our last lap through the school's calendar of events. It is hard to believe that after more than eight years at SEAS that Jack will be moving on in six months!

Pictures from the last eight years are here! I have to figure out if I have a picture from kindergarden.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 Farm Credit West Christmas Party

Sharon and I went to the F@rm Credit West Christmas Party at Il Fornaio in Roseville. The group included a number of people that I knew when I worked at banks, including Norma Udell, Ernie Hodges, Dan Clawson, Dan Hackett and John Boyce. I had expected it to be more surreal than it was. It has been almost fourteen years since I worked for the Farm Credit banks. Looking back on the 80's and the first half of the 90's, it seems like someone else's life...

Rayvon Browne

With ukulele and vocals by Morgan!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

California Historical Landmark #404

While Jack worked at a Special Olympics softball tournament, I ended up following the railroad tracks to Auburn. I had originally intended just to look for the transcontinental railroad historical marker in Roseville, but ended up leapfrogging from Roseville to Rocklin to Newcastle to Auburn. Along the way, I also stopped at California Historic Markers for the Griffin Quarry, the town of Ophir and the City of Auburn.

City of Auburn
California State Historical Landmark #404

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This landmark is located at the southwest corner of Maple Street and Lincoln Way, Auburn in Placer County, California. There are 20 other California State Historical Landmarks in Placer County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 38° 53.766 W 121° 04.733.

You can log your visit to this landmark at

California Historical Landmark #404

Gold was discovered near here by Claude Chana on May 16, 1848. First known as 'North Fork' or 'Woods Dry Diggins,' the settlement was given the name Auburn in the fall of 1849. It soon became an important mining town, trading post, and stage terminal, and also became the county seat of Sutter County in 1850 and of Placer County in 1851. It was destroyed by fires in 1855, 1859, and 1863.

California Historical Landmark #404

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Civil Wars and Milo Greene

After 27 shows in 66 days across 18 states and Canada opening for The Civil Wars, Drew and Milo Green are heading home. The cities they visited included: Birmingham, AL; Washington, DC; Philadelphia, PA; New York, NY; Boston, MA; Montreal, Canada; Toronto, Canada; Ann Arbor, MI; Columbus, OH; Indianapolis, IN; Chicago, IL; Milwaukee, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Vancouver, Canada; Seattle, WA; Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Durham, NC; Norfolk, VA; Charlottesville, VA; Charlotte, NC; Atlanta, GA; Knoxville, TN

Milo Greene at Blue Lamp

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Milo Greene at Blue Lamp
Friday, February 10, 2012 at 9:00 PM to Saturday, February 11, 2012 at 1:00 AM (PT)
1400 Alhambra BLVD
Sacramento 95816
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Starbucks Pick of the Week - Star Walk [app]

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!
Starbucks Pick of the Week - Star Walk [app]

A stargazer's guide to the sky.

Code Expiration: March 6, 2012

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Megafaun - Get Right

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Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Megafaun - Get Right

Made up former musical associates of Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver). Megafaun delivers a distinctive brand of sonically adventurous, lyrically contemplative rock.

Code Expiration: March 6, 2012

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Help

On Saturday night, Sharon and I watched The Help as an HD rental on the AppleTv. Both of us had read the book.

The film does a very nice job with the casting. The characters in the film seem very true to the characters of the novel. Additionally, all of the central actors deliver good performances.

Although Sharon enjoyed it more than I did, the movie is a solid adaption of a very good book. Like many adaptions of novels, the movie picks and chooses parts of the film to include. There were some parts of the book that I felt were significant that the screenplay left out. From my prespective, the end result was a movie that was a little softer with more rounded edges than the book.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

First 7th & 8th Grade Dance

As part of the St. Anthony's Middle School Club, Jack went to his first 7th and 8th grade dance of the year on Friday night. St. Anthony's will be hosting four dances during this school year.

On our way to a Christmas Party, we dropped Jack at the home of one of his classmates. The Laskins took two carloads of boys out for pizza before the dance. Jack noted that it seemed like there were fewer kids at the dance than the ones that he went to last year.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Party

For the fourth year in a row [2010, 2009, 2008], Sharon and I went to a Christmas Party at the home of my boss on Friday night. The group included IS leaders from across the organization, their spouses and significant others. Donna and Kevin were there. Although Sharon disagreed with me, it seemed there were more people than last year.

At the end of the evening, they held a white elephant gift exchange. We took a copy of Drew's band Milo Greene's EP. In one of those strange twists of fate, Bobbie ended up stealing it from Jerry. We introduced Jon and Bobbie to Drew's music at the end of the party in 2008. In 2009 and 2010, we took copies of Drew's Paradise Sessions and Under California Skies as white elephant gifts.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Is Albert Pujols Really Worth $250 Million?

Is Albert Pujols Really Worth $250 Million? -

Uh, bad news, Anaheim

Just as you can't plan a parade just yet in Anaheim, you shouldn't discount a potential repeat run for the Cardinals. One player can certainly nudge a team toward a championship. But he can't guarantee it. Not even close.

Nevada County Landmarks

California State Historical Landmarks in Nevada County
{GPS Coordinates of Site Location}

*NO. 134 Donner Monument - [map] - {39.32385,-120.231283}
*NO. 292 Home of Lola Montez - [map] - {39.216,-121.064834}
*NO. 293 Home of Lotta Crabtree - [map] - {39.21633,-121.06416}
*NO. 297 Site of One of the First Discoveries of Quartz Gold in California - [map] - {39.21267,-121.0717}
*NO. 298 Empire Mine - [map] - {39.20705,-121.046783}
*NO. 780-6 First Transcontinental Railroad-Truckee - [map] - {39.327483,-120.185533}
*NO. 799 Overland Emigrant Trail - [map] - {39.061883,-121.08855}
*NO. 832 South Yuba Canal Office - [map] - {39.26293,-121.01685}
*NO. 843 North Star Mine Powerhouse - [map] - {39.20835,-121.069833}
*NO. 855 Mount Saint Mary's Convent and Academy - [map] - {39.21417,-121.06767}
*NO. 863 Nevada Theatre - [map] - {39.26285,-121.02003}
*NO. 899 National Hotel - [map] - {39.262333,-121.018167}
*NO. 914 Holbrooke Hotel - [map] - {39.219194,-121.063601}
*NO. 1012 First Manufacturing Site of the Pelton Wheel - [map] - {39.26217,-121.02033}

List of California Counties

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Santa Cruz Run

After working almost 36 hours straight from last Wednesday morning to Thursday night, I went for a long run in the dark along the cliffs in Santa Cruz. I covered almost 7 miles. Using data from my Garmin 305, I created the following maps.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

California Historical Landmark #983

While I was working in the control center on the EPIC electronic medical record go-live in Santa Cruz, I walked along the boardwalk looking for this waymark.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
California State Historical Landmark #983

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This landmark is located at 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County, California. There are 7 other California State Historical Landmarks in Santa Cruz County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 36° 57.819 W 122° 01.000.

You can log your visit to this landmark at

California Historical Marker #983

A local landmark since 1907, this boardwalk was one of the first amusement parks in California. It is now the only oceanside amusement park operating on the West Coast. The boardwalk is the site of two rare attractions, the 1911 carousel and the 1924 Giant Dipper roller coaster. Both were manufactured by members of the Looff family, some of the nation's earliest and most prominent makers of amusement rides.

California Historical Marker #983

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - She & Him - I'll Be Home For Christmas

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!
Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - She & Him - I'll Be Home For Christmas

Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, collectively known as She & Him, bring warmth and charm to a holiday standard.

Code Expiration: February 28, 2012

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Civil Wars with Very Special Guest Milo Greene

Drew's band [Milo Greene] spent the last four days winding their way from California to North Carolina. They are playing seven nights in the next eight days as they finish up the tour opening for The Civil Wars. In January, they will be going up into the studio to finish up their upcoming LP.

Dec 5 - Page Auditorium - Durham, NC
Dec 6 - The Norva - Norfolk, VA
Dec 7 - Jefferson Theater - Charlottesville, VA
Dec 8 - McGlohon Theatre - Charlotte, NC
Dec 10 - Presser Hall - Agnes Scott College - Atlanta, GA
Dec 11 - Presser Hall - Agnes Scott College - Atlanta, GA
Dec 12 - Bijou Theatre - Knoxville, TN

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Magnum Force

Running on the treadmill, I watched Magnum Force as a HD rental on the AppleTv. Filmed in 1973, it is the second film to feature Clint Eastwood as maverick cop Harry Callahan. This film features early appearances by David Soul, Tim Matheson and Robert Urich as vigilante traffic cops. Future Three's Company TV star Suzanne Somers has a brief uncredited role at a pool party. At 124 minutes, it is the longest Dirty Harry film.

I watched Dirty Harry almost two years ago with the idea that I would watch all of the films in the series in 2010.

Friday, December 02, 2011

View from the Dream Inn in Santa Cruz

I spent a couple of days in Santa Cruz working in the control center for our electronic health record go-live.

Thursday, December 01, 2011