Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jesuit Registration and Placement Testing plus snow

We took Jack to the Jesuit High School registration and placement testing for the Class of 2016. After short presentations about the sports, arts and club programs, Jack took placement tests in english, science and math. The tests help determine at which level he will be placed in the fall. Afterwards, he said that he felt like he did very well on all of the tests, particularly the algebra test.

Watching the 200 plus boys line up for the testing, I expected to see a couple of man-childs. I was surprised when I didn't. I was struck by how small and young a lot of the boys look.

The plan for the rest of the day was to try and get to Sparks for a 2:45 p.m. baseball game with the Outlaws. This plan went quickly awry. We were just a little behind the storm instead of ahead of it. We ended up sitting at Dutch Flat for over an hour to get through the chain control. Once we got through the chain control, the going was slow; it was snowing heavily. We sat again for over an hour at Donner Summit with the snow piling up on the road.

It took us almost six hours to get from Carmichael to the Grand Sierra Hotel in Reno. The only good news was that the car performed very well in the snow. The Lexus RX400h is a four wheel drive with an electric motor in the back. Even with street tires, it handled the snow extremely well.

Friday, March 30, 2012

California Historical Landmark #260

Santa Clara Campaign Treaty Site
California State Historical Landmark #260

See this location on Yahoo Maps in Flickr
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This landmark is located in Civic Center Park at the northeast corner of El Camino Real and Lincoln Streets, Santa Clara, California. There are 42 other California State Historical Landmarks in Santa Clara County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 37° 21.155 W 121° 57.238.

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

California Historical Landmark #260

After an armed confrontation on January 2 and a meeting the following day, Marine Captain Ward Marston, commander of the United States expeditionary force, and Francisco Sánchez, leader of the Mexican-Californian ranchers, agreed to a treaty here on January 7, 1847. U.S. forces were to recognize the rights of the Californians and end seizures of their property.

California Historical Landmark #260

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Virtually Biking Across America - Day 12

On day 12, I covered 24.4 miles along Highway 50 in Nevada. Starting north of the US Naval Reservation, I rode on the highway to the Cold Springs Pony Express Station. Although the maximum grade was only 4.5%, most of the ride was a long steady climb. I was more than ready to be done after climbing steadily for more than an hour...

The trip log for Virtually Biking Across America is here.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thomas Starr King Statue

Reading about Thomas Starr King after visiting his sarcophagus, I was surprised to read that a statue of him had originally been in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol. It was replaced by a statue of Ronald Reagan in 2009 and moved to the grounds of the California State Capitol in Sacramento. I went looking for it...

Thomas Starr King
Statues of Historic Figures

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This waymark is located in the Civil War Memorial Grove in Capitol Park, California State Capitol, Sacramento, California. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 38° 34.590 W 121° 29.490.

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

Thomas Starr King

Thomas Starr King

Thomas Starr King
1824-1864

Courageous and inspirational San Francisco minister, stalwart defender of the Union during the Civil War, advocate of racial justice, admired educator and pioneering nature write

Starr King was a Unitarian preacher credited with keeping California from seceding from the Union at the dawn of the Civil War. His ceaseless advocacy for the Union cause would earn him the title "Apostle of Liberty." This prominent location welcomes visitors to the Civil War Grove, the first monument in Capitol Park. The grove was dedicated on May 1, 1897, and honors all those who fought in the war.

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - W.E.L.D.E.R.

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Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - W.E.L.D.E.R.

Crossword taken to a new plateau.

Code Expiration: June 19, 2012

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Gregory Porter - On My Way to Harlem

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!
Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Gregory Porter - On My Way to Harlem

The California-born, New York-based jazz vocalist explores the rich artistic tradition of Harlem in a track from his sophomore album.

Code Expiration: June 19, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Virtually Biking Across America - Day 11

Coming off a couple of hectic days of moving followed by a quick trip to Arizona for spring training, I was beat and rode for only 30 minutes on day 11. Starting on Highway 50 near the Sand Spring Express Station, I rode 10 miles west on Highway 50 stopping north of the US Naval Reservation.

The trip log for Virtually Biking Across America is here.



Thursday, March 22, 2012

California Historical Landmark #853

Captain Pedro Fages Trail
California State Historical Landmark #853

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This landmark is located 856 Danville Boulevard at El Portal, Danville, California. There are 14 other California State Historical Landmarks in Contra Costa County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 37° 50.065 W 122° 00.982.

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

California Historical Landmark #853

In 1772 Fages, commandante at Monterey, vainly looked for a way across San Francisco Bay. With Franciscan missionary Juan Crespí, 14 soldiers, a muleteer, and an Indian servant, he trekked along Carquinez Strait, thence eastward nearly to Antioch before turning back. These, the first white men to explore what became Contra Costa County, passed this point and camped near Danville on March 31, 1772.

California Historical Landmark #853

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Virtually Biking Across America - Day 10

On day 10, I rode 21.10 miles from Highway 95 near the Carson Sink Pony Express Station to Highway 50 near the Sand Springs Pony Express Station. Rather than follow Highway 95 north to Fallon and Highway 50, I went east south of Carson Lake. This was a difficult ride with the climb topping out at a 13.5% grade.

I used a feature of the software for the first time that allows me to freehand draw part of the route. The road did not go all the way through on Google Maps, but I could see a dirt road over a small mountain range in the satellite view. I used the freehand mode to draw a route following the dirt road.

The trip log for Virtually Biking Across America is here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

2012 Spring Training Day 4


This is the seventh straight year that Jack has gone with me to spring training. When Wallen and I were talking in the hot tub on Sunday, I realized that this might be Jack's last year for a while. He is starting high school in the fall and will probably be playing baseball next spring.

Up at 6:00 a.m., Jack and I packed up the hotel room and loaded up the rental car. Winding our way back to the airport, we dropped the rental car and caught a shuttle back to the terminal. It took a while for a shuttle bus to show up. Phoenix Airport is definitely not someplace that you want to be in a hurry. We had a leisurely breakfast at the Fox Sports Restaurant next to the gate.

We caught a 9:20 a.m. flight back to Sacramento which left a little late. We were on the ground at 11:45 p.m. in Sacramento. The new terminal at Sacramento airport is very nice; I would like to take some time to wander around it at some point.

Meeting Sharon at the house, we headed back out to Elk Grove to pick up a final car load from the old house. I was a very odd experience and a little emotional to walk through the empty old house. This is a house that Sharon and I picked out together, including all of the interior pieces. It is a yard that we built from scratch.

Jack finished the day playing golf at the Emerald Lakes Golf Course in Elk Grove. He is playing on the SEAS golf team. With a little over two months until Jack graduates, the logistics are going to be interesting. We are going to spend some time running back and forth to Elk Grove.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

2012 Spring Training Day 3


As Bob Wallen noted, "this was not a typical spring training day."

We had been talking all weekend about a storm front that was moving towards Arizona. It rained hard on Saturday night. I was certain that the storm was going to move through quickly and leave us with a nice Sunday...

I got up fairly early. Leaving Jack in the room, I ran for an hour on the treadmill. Afterwards, Tomasin, David, Gail, Jack and I had breakfast at the hotel.

After a couple of calls to the box office to check on the status of the game, we eventually rallied everyone and headed to the game. We had tickets to see the Brewers play the Rangers at Maryvale. Maryvale has always been one of my favorite venues.

Initially, the weather looked like it might hold. Although it was windy, the sun was out.

Over the first four innings, we saw a couple of home runs and a suicide squeeze. With the Brewers leading by the score of 6 to 4 in the fourth inning, it started to rain hard and then hail. Everyone headed for the exits and the umpires called the game. It is the first time that I have been rained out of a spring training game. The temperature dropped markedly. When we got back to the car, the temperature gauge said that the outside temperature was 39 degrees.

With a number of people flying out on Sunday night, we headed back to the hotel. Wallen, Jack and I spent an hour or so in the hot tub. Afterwards, Wallen, Bob, Jill and I spent some time watching the NCAA tournament in the hotel bar. Tomasin had taken the hotel shuttle to the airport, but after his flight was delayed several times, he came back to the hotel.

Wallen, Jill, Tomasin, Jack and I eventually had dinner in downtown Tempe at Z'Tejas. With a number of people booked on very early morning flights, we had an early night. Jack and I finished the night watching the Fast and Furious on TBS...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

2012 Spring Training Day 2


The Wallen's had invited us to go with them to Hayden Peak. With Jack still sound I asleep, I ended up running on the treadmill for 45 minutes instead.

Afterwards, we got cleaned up and headed to Harlows. Jenny found this spot in 2004 and we have been returning annually for at least one breakfast.

The plan for the day was to head to Goodyear and see the Indians play the Reds. Goodyear is about 25 miles west of Tempe. We saw a game at this ballpark the first year it opened in 2009.

We had some very nice seats behind home plate. Unlike Friday, the ballpark was only about 2/3's full with an announced crowd of 6,500. Moore, Bob, Luke and Brea joined the group, while Kathy and Pat took the day off.

The Red beat up on the Indians and won the game by the score of 9 to 2. The Reds scored in each of the first five innings. Ubaldo Jimenez started for the Indians and got hit hard; he gave up a lead-off home run to start the game. Bronson Arroyo [shown with the high leg kick in the picture above] started for the Reds; he pitched four innings and gave up four hits and one earned run.

We headed to Luke and Brea's house in Laveen after the game. After a quick stop there, Tomasin, David, Jack and I headed to the airport to pick up Gail Bachman. She is flying to Starkville with David and then traveling back cross country with him in a u-haul.

Tomasin's mom had made dinner reservations at the Stockyards. After a leisurely dinner, Tomasin, David, Gail and I played pool at Draw 10. I have known David and Gail since they were born. I have watched them grow up for the last 25 years. It was a very surreal experience to hang out and play pool with them. I headed back to the room reasonably early and crashed watching the end of ConAir with Jack.

Friday, March 16, 2012

2012 Spring Training Day 1


After a long day of moving, Jack and I were up early. We left a house full of boxes and headed to the airport. We caught an 8:45 a.m. flight from Sacramento to Phoenix. We were on the ground before 10:30 a.m., grabbed our rental car and were to the hotel a little after 11 a.m. We are staying this year at the Fiesta Inn in Tempe.

At the hotel, I scooped up Tomasin, David, Tomsin's mom [Pat] and Tomasin's sister [Kathy]. The group for Friday totals fourteen, including Wallen, Jill, Wallen's brother Bob, Bob's daughter Carol, Wallen's brother Jim, Marcus, Brandon and another of Marcus' friends. The plan for the day was to see the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Chicago White Sox at the ballparks at Talking Stick. This is a new ballpark built two years ago when the Diamondbacks and the Rockies moved Tucson to Phoenix. This was the first time that we have gone to this ballpark.

It is a very nice venue with a sold out crowd of 12,559. One of the things that we have noted over the last fifteen years is the crowds at spring training have increased. We can all remember going to games where the ballparks were half empty.


The Diamonds won their first home game of spring training [?!?] by the score of 4 to 2. Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run triple and Geoff Blum drove in two runs. The log of spring training games I have seen is here.

We wandered back to the hotel after the game and Jack and I checked in. Afterwards, we sat and visited near the pool. I called Bruce Barragan, the dad of one of Jack's classmates, and he joined the group for a while. Bruce and his youngest are in Arizona for a baseball tournament. Moore also eventually wandered up.

We finished the night with a group of 12 for dinner at Buca di Beppo in Scottsdale. Wallen, Moore and I got into an extended discussion about healthcare.

After a number of long days, I crashed in the room about 11 p.m.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Moving Day

We spent the day moving from Elk Grove to Carmichael. The very long day included Sharon, Kevin [Sharon's nephew] and I, five movers, three medium sized truckloads and roughly 13,000 pounds of stuff. The moving company had to use smaller trucks because the traditional larger truck and trailer moving van couldn't get into the new neighborhood! More on why we are moving early next week...



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

ESPN Films: The Announcement

Riding on the stationary bike, I watched The Announcement. The documentary is built around Magic Johson's November 7, 1991 announcement that he was HIV-positive and would be retiring from basketball immediately.

The first half of the film provides an overview of his life. It looks at his family background and his years in high school, college and the Lakers. It highlights his long relationship with the woman that he eventually marries: Earlitha "Cookie" Kelly. The first half of the film provides a very good summary of who Magic is. I was fascinated by the fact that he won five (5) NBA titles. While I remember the Lakers as being good, I don't remember them as being that good.

The press conference comes almost exactly 45 minutes through the 90 minute film. I had not remembered that he had only gotten married a couple of months before the announcement.

The second half of the documentary explores the impact on his life of being HIV-positive. It looks at the 1992 NBA All-Star game, the Dream Team in the 1992 Olympics and his aborted attempt to play in the NBA at the beginning of the 1992-1993 season. The film explores his role as a spokesman for HIV and AIDS.

Magic narrated the film. Overall, I was very impressed with him. The film surprised me; I watched it with few expectations. It was an interesting story told well.

The Announcement is also available in iTunes.

Bill Simmons did two podcasts with Magic talking about his life and the film that are a very nice supplement to the documentary.  Part One is here, while Part Two is here. Part Two also ran as an 1/2 hour television episode on ESPN after the initial showing of The Announcement!  Simmons' podcast has had a number of interesting episodes lately, but that is the topic for another post on another day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2012 Management Symposium


I spent the day at the Sutter Health Management Symposium at the Sacramento Convention Center. There were over 1,400 managers from all over the system. They are expecting another 1,000 managers on the second day of the symposium on Wednesday.

After presentations by the CEO and COO, the middle of the day was spent on two sessions titled Leading Change to Transform, Personalize and Grow. Lead by Gordon Rudow of Bonfire Communications, the sessions focused on using personal stories to help communicate the mission and vision of the organization. I was a table lead for the working part of the sessions.

The day finished with a session titled Radical Accountability - Making the Leap from Individual Contributor to Extreme Leader by Steve Farber.

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - The Best American Series - 20 Short Stories & Essays

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Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - The Best American Series - 20 Short Stories & Essays

Code Expiration: June 5, 2012

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Damien Jurado - Working Titles

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!
Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - 3/13/2012 - [Digital Download] - Damien Jurado - Working Titles

No-punches-pulled songwriting by the Seattle-based singer-songwriter acclaimed for his artful honesty.

Code Expiration: June 5, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Confirmation Retreat


As part of a two year program for his confirmation, Jack spent the weekend at the Marello Youth Center at the Mount St. Joseph Seminary. Sharon, Tim and I showed up Sunday morning for Mass. Sharon's brother Tim is Jack's confirmation sponsor.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

2012 SEAS Dinner and Auction

Sharon and I went to the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School dinner and auction. This is one of the main fund raisers for Jack's school. It is the thirteenth year that they have held the event and the tenth year that we have attended [2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011].

It is probably the last year that we will attend the event. With Jack moving on to high school in the fall and the move to Carmichael looming, our ties to the parish are fraying. I will miss SEAS and Good Shepherd. It has come to feel like a small town over the last ten years.

Two long tables were set-up for the eighth grade parents. We sat across from the Romeros and near the Laskins; both of their boys will be going to Jesuit with Jack next year.

The number of silent and live auction items seemed lower than any year that we have been. I half-heartedly bid on a couple of live auction items, but did not win anything.

The event finished with a Johnny Cash tribute band. The singer sounded surprisingly like Johnny Cash!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Embassytown by China Mieville

I finished reading Embassytown in late February. This is one of two books I stumbled across in a list of science fiction books that NPR published: Mind-Bending Sci-Fi Books For A Fantastical Summer. Embassytown is one of the nominees for the 2012 Nebula Award for best novel. I read another of Mieville's books--The City & The City--almost two years ago and enjoyed it enough to be tempted to read another of his books.

The science at the heart of British author China Mieville's latest science fiction novel is linguistics. The book is set in a human outpost on the hostile planet at the edge of explored space that is home to a strange race of beings called the Ariekei or simply the Hosts. The Hosts language is metaphor-based and must be spoken with two voices by two people at once. In a different twist, the Aliens are essentially unable to lie.

The story is told from the perspective of Avice Benner Cho as if she is remembering and telling the story after the fact. As a child, Cho was transformed into a living simile in the alien's language. After traveling the universe, Cho returns to Embassytown and finds herself in the middle of a complete meltdown of the Hosts' society.

I always enjoy different ideas and this book has lots of them. While I am not as thrilled with the book as other reviewers, I recognize that it is unique. Overall, I would rate the book four out of five stars.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

California Historical Landmark #691

I stopped here briefly on the way to a meeting in San Francisco. Thomas King Starr's statue in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol was replaced by a statue of Ronald Reagan in 2009. It is now located on the grounds of the California State Capitol in Sacramento. I am going to track it down next week. We toured the National Statuary Hall Collection last summer.

Sarcophagus of Thomas Starr King
California State Historical Landmark #691

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This landmark is located at the First Unitarian Church on Franklin Street between Starr King and Geary Streets, San Francisco, California. There are 48 other California State Historical Landmarks in San Francisco County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 37° 47.082 W 122° 25.378.

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

Calfornia Historical Landmark #691

Apostle of liberty, humanitarian, Unitarian minister, who in the Civil War bound California to the Union and led her to excel all other states in support of the United States Sanitary Commission that preceded the American Red Cross. His statue, together with that of Father Junípero Serra, represents California in the National Capitol, and his name is borne by a Yosemite peak - "A man to match our mountains."

Calfornia Historical Landmark #691


Calfornia Historical Landmark #691

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Virtually Biking Across America - Day 9

On day nine, I rode 28.8 miles across Nevada from Fort Churchill across Simpson Road to Highway 95.  Roughly traveling along the Pony Express Trail, I passed Bucklands Station, Desert Station and ended up about 0.7 of mile northeast of the marker for the Carson Sink Pony Express Station on Highway 95.

The trip log for Virtually Biking Across America is here.




Starbucks iTunes pick of the Week - PBS Kids WordGirl

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!
Starbucks iTunes pick of the Week - PBS Kids WordGirl - [TV Episode]

Thorn in the Sidekick/Crime Takes a Holiday

Code Expiration: May 29, 2012

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Andrew Bird - Near Death Experience

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!
Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Andrew Bird - Near Death Experience

Code Expiration: May 29, 2012

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Midnight in Paris

Sharon likes to try to see all of the films nominated for the Academy Awards best picture. Looking through the list of best picture nominees available on the AppleTV, we settled on Midnight in Paris.

Directed by Woody Allen, the film stars Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates. Filmed in Paris, the movie alternates between present day and the bohemian Paris of the 1920s. The characters from the 20's include Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Picasso, Dali, and Cole Porter.

Neither Sharon or I enjoyed the film. I found it very boring. I just did not connect with this movie. I recommend avoiding Midnight in Paris.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

2012 Sacramento Diocese Academic Decathlon


For the second year in a row, Jack competed in the Sacramento Diocese Academic Decathlon. With 27 schools competing, the decathlon included teams events in logic and super quiz and individual events in religion, english, science, math, social studies, fine arts, literature and current events. Jack competed in the social studies individual competition as well as the team events.

SEAS beat St. Ignatius and St. John Evangelist in a very exciting super quiz competition. Trailing most of the event, SEAS won the super quiz on the last question.

Jack finished fourth in the social studies competition and SEAS finished fourth overall.