Monday, February 29, 2016

The Dark Forest By Cixin Liu

I finished reading The Dark Forest by Cixin Lui in February. The Dark Forest is the second volume of a trilogy. The third book--Death's End--will be published in September.

Last year, I read the first volume of the trilogy: The Three-Body Problem. It won the 2015 Hugo Award for best novel. The trilogy was written in Chinese and translated to English.

In the story, Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion. The aliens are on their way to Earth, but won't arrive for four centuries. A number of countries and organizations are working on long range plans and strategies for repelling the invasion.

I read science fiction for ideas. This book actually contains an interesting idea: hunters in the dark forest. Unfortunately, the author only starts to explore this idea at the end of a long book.

I didn't really enjoy this book. It felt like a couple of different books mashed together. There were long sections that I struggled through. Although I don't recommend this book, I will probably read the third book in the trilogy to see how the story turns out...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

88th Academy Awards

Sharon and I watched the 88th Academy Awards. Chris Rock was the host. Over the last three years, Sharon and I have worked in December, January and February to see as many of the nominated films as possible. This year I saw all eight of the movies nominated for best picture, while Sharon saw seven of the eight. She didn't see Mad Max.

Last year, I was only three for five in correctly predicting best picture, best actor, best actress, supporting actor and supporting actress.

This year, I ended up picking four of five, including getting best picture, best actor, best actress and supporting actress right, but missing on supporting actor. Although everyone and their brother was picking The Revenant to win Best Picture, it was not in my top four of the eight films. Looking back over my notes from all of the movies, I ended up correctly picking Spotlight. Before the show started, I told Sharon and Drew that I would rather be wrong than pick The Revenant! I was shocked that Rylance won supporting actor. Sharon responded by screaming "Noooo" at the television...

Sharon made some great rubbed ribs for dinner.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Danish Girl

On Friday night, Sharon and I watched The Danish Girl on the AppleTV. This is part of our effort to watch all of the Oscar nominated films.

The film is based on the 2000 fictional novel of the same name by David Ebershoff. The book and the film are loosely inspired by the lives of Danish painters Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. The film stars Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery, and Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener. The film has received some criticism for its inaccurate portrayal of historical events.

The film is nominated for four Oscars. This includes: Best Actor - Eddie Redmayne; Best Supporting Actress - Alicia Vikander; Best Production Design and Best Costume Design.

After the movie was over, Sharon said "well, that was odd." I find it interesting that there has not been more discussion about Redmayne's performance. In all of the podcasts that I have listened to and articles I have read, I don't think I have heard or seen anything about his performance. Redmayne gives a pretty amazing performance. Most of the discussion has been about Vikander. Given the other performances nominated for best supporting actress, I think that she probably wins. Overall, the movie is probably worth seeing just for Redmayne's performance.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

To Windsor

Finishing the work day in Santa Rosa, I met Tomasin at John & Zekes in Healdsburg. While catching up, we watched a little of the Warriors versus Orlando. Curry sunk a half court shot at the end of the third quarter.

After a quick stop at Johnny Garlic's, we headed back to the Tomasin's house in Windsor. Julie made a nice dinner of pasta. Staying fairly late, I wandered back to Napa for the night...

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Steve Jobs

On Saturday night, February 6, Sharon and I watched Steve Jobs on the AppleTv. This is part of our effort to watch all of the Oscar nominated films.

The film was directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin. It is based on the biography of the same name by Walter Isaacson, was well as interviews conducted by Sorkin. Jobs is portrayed by Michael Fassbender, with Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen (as Steve Wozniak) and Jeff Daniels (as John Sculley) in supporting roles.

The film is structured into three acts covering fourteen years (1984–1998) in the life of personal computing innovator and Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs. Each act takes place immediately prior to the launch of a key product: the Apple Macintosh; the NeXT Computer; and, the iMac G3.

The film is nominated for two academy awards. Fassbender and Winslet are up for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

Sharon read the Walter Isaacson book about Steve Jobs. About halfway through the movie, she started saying "this is horrible" over and over again. In the following weeks, when we were talking about the Oscars, Sharon would say "the Steve Jobs film was horrible."

Like Mark Rylance's supporting actor nomination for his performance in Bridge of Spies, I am perplexed by Kate Winslet's nomination for best supporting actress. I can't see either Fassbender or Winslet winning an Oscar for their performances. Although I may have Sharon's voice in my head, I don't recommend the film...

One footnote. As portrayed in the film, the Mac was introduced in a Super Bowl ad in January of 1984. Apple started selling Macs to Stanford students at a heavily discounted price in fall of 1984. My ex-brother-in-law who was a student at Stanford bought one for me. I remember driving down to Stanford to pick it up with my ex-wife who was heavily pregnant with Drew...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts: The Bad Boy of Bowling

ESPN Films has released the forty-sixth film in their 30 for 30 documentary short series.

30 for 30 Shorts: The Bad Boy of Bowling

In the most notorious moment of his storied career, Pete Weber screamed, "Who do you think you are? I am." "The Bad Boy of Bowling," directed by Bryan Storkel, explores the meaning of that shout, uttered for a national television audience right after he won an unprecedented fifth U.S. Open title. He's the one-time wunderkind son of Dick Weber, the matinee idol of bowling in its heyday. He's the mullet-wearing PDW who gave much-needed energy to a dying sport with his "crotch chops." He's a wise guy who has wised up-at least a little. In this entertaining but piercing roll down memory lane, viewers will discover just who Pete Weber really is.

You can find The Bad Boy of Bowling on the ESPN web site at .

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - My New Roots

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - My New Roots

Code Expiration: May 17, 2016

Monday, February 22, 2016

Bridge of Spies

Saturday night at Sea Ranch, Phil, Marlene, Sharon and I watched Bridge of Spies. This is part of our efforts to see all of the Oscar nominated films before the awards show.

The film was directed by Steven Spielberg. The screenplay was written by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen. It stars Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, and Alan Alda.

The film is nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (for Rylance), Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Production Design and Best Sound Mixing.

The film tells the story of James Donovan, an American lawyer, who is recruited to defend arrested Soviet spy Rudolf Abel in court during the cold war. Donovan is then tapped to help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers. In real life, Donovan went on to negotiate the 1962 release and return of 1,113 prisoners held by Cuba after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion.

I enjoyed this movie a lot. It is a well told true story with a solid performance by Tom Hanks. I have now seen all eight of the films nominated for best picture. Of the eight, I might rank Bridge of Spies as high as my second favorite behind Spotlight. I am perplexed by Rylance's nomination for best supporting actor; there is no way that he is a serious contender for the award.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


With the Academy Awards show next Sunday, Sharon and I are working our way through as many of the nominated films as possible. Sunday afternoon, we went to see Room at the UA Theater in Roseville.

Based on her novel of the same name, the screenplay was written by Emma Donoghue. The film stars Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, and William H. Macy.

The film is nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director for Abrahamsson, Best Actress for Larson, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Donoghue.

It is a powerful film with strong performances by Larson and Tremblay. I was particularly amazed by the performance of Jacob Tremblay as Jack. My guess is that Larson will win the Best Actress Academy Award. I have seen all eight of the films nominated for the best picture Oscar. My favorites are Spotlight and Bridge of Spies, but Room falls pretty close behind...

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Celebrating Tim and Eric's Birthday

Sharon and I went to Tom's for dinner to celebrate Tim and Eric's Birthday. It was a pretty large group, including: Tom, Eric, Kevin, Leah, Lydia, Jim, Tim, Kathy, Eileen, Will, Terri, Steve, Sharon and I.

Tom made a great dinner of Shrimp Boil with some mussels, clams and scallops thrown in. We finished the evening with a marble cake for dessert.

Last year, we celebrated their birthday at Red Lobster...

Friday, February 19, 2016

2016 Kings versus Nuggets

After dinner at Tuk Tuk, Sharon and I went to the Sacramento Kings versus Denver Nuggets NBA basketball game. Taking a lead early in the first quarter and never trailing again, the Kings won the game by the score of 116 to 110.

DeMarcus Cousins was the high scorer for the Kings. He had 37 points on 12 for 20 from the field, 1 for 1 from three and 12 for 15 from the free throw line. Cousins had 20 rebounds and 4 blocks. Rondo added 24 points and was one assist short of a triple double.

Danilo Gallinari was the high scorer for the Nuggets. He had 27 points on 6 for 11 from the field, 3 for 6 from three and 12 for 13 from the free throw line.

The Kings looked pretty sloppy. They had 22 turnovers. I was surprised to actually see Cousins running up and down the court!

The Kings have 1 win and 2 losses in games that I have seen in the 2015-2016 NBA season.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


At the hotel on Thursday night, February 5, I watched Trumbo. This part of my effort to see all of the movies nominated for this year's Oscars.

Trumbo is a 2015 American biographical drama film directed by Jay Roach and written by John McNamara. It stars Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Louis C.K. and John Goodman. Bryan Cranston is nominated for best actor for his role in the movie.

The film follows the life of Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. It is based on the biography Dalton Trumbo by Bruce Alexander Cook.

Due to the fact that it is a true story, there are a number of famous celebrities portrayed, such as Kurt Douglas, John Wayne and Edward G. Robinson. They tried to find actors that looked and sounded like the famous celebrities. It works to some degree.

The first hour is slow, but there are twenty minutes towards the end that are very good. I give it a "B-". With so much content in the world, it is not something that I recommend you go out of your way to see, unless, like me, you trying to see all of the Oscar nominated films and performances... Cranston is not going to win best actor for this role.

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Progress to 100

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Progress to 100

Code Expiration: May 10, 2016

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts: Slick, Nancy and the Telethon

ESPN Films has released the forty-fifth film in their 30 for 30 documentary short series.

30 for 30 Shorts: Slick, Nancy and the Telethon

Think of what the NBA would be if there were no Indiana Pacers. No Reggie Miller draining 3s, no Larry Bird coaching them to the 2000 Finals, no professional team in the spiritual home of basketball. That came close to happening, if it weren't for one special night when the fans stepped in to save the Pacers. On July 3, 1977, coach Slick Leonard, a favorite son of Indiana, and his wife Nancy, the de facto general manager, decided to hold a telethon to stave off the creditors and keep the Pacers in Indianapolis. In this evocative film directed by Michael Husain, the still loving couple travel back in time to relive the tension and deliverance of that night. The Pacers may have never won an NBA title, but then no other NBA fan base can lay claim what they can. The telethon was, as Slick says, "as big as winning the championship."

You can find Slick, Nancy and the Telethon on the ESPN web site at

Monday, February 15, 2016

2016 Sea Ranch Day 4

We started the day with a leisurely breakfast. Afterwards, while Phil and Marlene took off to play tennis, Sharon and I took a great 3.5 mile hike up the coast. We hiked to the seal observation point and back to the house. A map of the hike is here.

We spent the rest of morning getting packed and loading up the truck. We rolled away from the house just before 11 am. After dropping off the key, we started to wind our way back.

We made a stop at Lynmar Estates just after 12:30 pm. Sharon and I visited there as part of Frame Family Function a couple of years ago.
We had a very late lunch at Peter Lowells in Sebastopol. By the time that we got on the road heading home, it was after 3:40 pm.

The traffic on the way home was heavily, particularly across Highway 37. I really appreciated Phil driving! It was after 6 pm by the time that we got home.

It was a very nice weekend. I am looking forward to the Sea Ranch trip that we are planning for a larger group for our 20th anniversary and the dinner party.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

2016 Sea Ranch Day 3

The plan for the day was to play eighteen holes of golf at The Sea Ranch Golf Links. After hitting on the range, we started off the first tee about 9:15 am. It was an interesting round. I shot a very liberally scored winter rules 103: a 50 on the front nine and a 53 on the back nine. Two years ago, I shot a 102 on the same course.

After a rocky start over the first two holes, I settled and played pretty well over the rest of the front nine. I had five bogeys and a par. I had a great tee shot over the ravine on the par three eight.

I struggled on the back nine. The back to back par fives were a mess...

I putted reasonably well. There was a stretch on the front nine where I actually felt confident in my putting; something I don't say very often. I had 40 putts; I three putted six greens, while I one putted the third and sixteenth.

We are playing pretty slow and let a number of groups play through. It was about 2:45 pm before we finished. The round took about 5 hours and 30 minutes.

Heading back to the house and getting cleaned up, we headed to St. Orres for an early Valentines Day dinner. Sharon and Phil had the rack of lamb, while Marlene and I had the boar. The rack of lamb was a better choice. The boar was dry.

I gave Sharon a Victoria Secret robe that matches a set of her pajamas for Valentines Day.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

2014 Sea Ranch Day 2

After breakfast, I took a short 3.1 mile run. I ran to the lodge and back and then added a short loop to the north before heading to the house. Along the ocean at Sea Ranch is one of my favorite places in the world to run. I will add a map in the next two weeks.

The plan for the day was to ride bikes. Sharon arranged to have some bikes delivered early in the morning. This is something that I have never done before. Sea Ranch has a set of interconnecting roads and trails so that you can ride from one end to the other without going on Highway 1.

Taking off in the late morning, we rode all the way to the pro shop at the Golf Course. Backtracking just a bit, we locked the bikes to a tree. We hiked down the Salal Trail in the middle of the golf course down to the ocean. The four of us hiked this trail two years ago. We sat in one of my favorite coves and ate a picnic lunch.

After lunch, we headed back to the house. In total, we covered just a little more than 17 miles. I will eventually post a couple of maps.

Getting cleaned up, we headed into Gualala, much to Sharon's chagrin, Jack's Pharmacy has closed. It was an odd store that actually sold fur coats... We ended up having a drink at the Sandbar. Sharon, Marlene and I wandered down to check out some possible houses for our October anniversary trip and then did some grocery shopping.

We finished the night with dinner back at the house and a movie. Phil made a great pot roast for dinner. While eating dinner, we started watching Bridge of Spies. This is one of the films that has been nominated for last year's best picture. Additionally, Mark Rylance was nominated for best supporting actor.

I really enjoyed Bridge of Spies. It was a nice way to end a very active day.

Friday, February 12, 2016

2016 Sea Ranch Day 1

In 2014, Sharon and I spent the President's weekend at Sea Ranch with Phil and Marlene. We had a great time and eventually got a repeat event planned for this year's President's weekend. The Sanborns rolled up at our house in Carmichael at 8 am in the morning. Two years ago, we wasted a bunch of time trying to figure out which cars to take and how to pack, we eventually took their pickup with a bed full of stuff. This year, we planned from the start just to take their truck. We were on the road just a little after 8:15 am. I really appreciate Phil doing all of the driving; it gave me a chance to get some work done.

The plan for the day was to stop at Kuleto Estate for a tasting and a picnic lunch. Sharon is a wine club member at Kuleto. With one stop, we got there a little after 10 am. We went on the 10:30 am tour followed by a tasting and then lunch. Sharon and I have had lunch there before; Kuleto's has a great picnic spot.

We rolled from the winery a little after 1:00 pm. Heading down into the Napa Valley, up to Calistoga, across to Santa Rosa and out the River Road to Jenner, it took us about 2 1/2 hours to get to Sea Ranch. The stretch after Jenner is always slow.

We are renting a new house this year. Sharon loved Crestview, but it is not available for rent any longer. As a result, we are staying a lot farther south, closer to the lodge, in a house called Serenity. While it has some drawbacks (kitchen and no path directly to the bluff trail), this may turn out to be a nicer house.

We got settled into the house. When Sharon turned on the oven to warm up the lasagna for dinner, we smelled gas. This kicked off a cascading series of events that led to Cal Fire showing up... Using their sniffer, they didn't find any gas leaks.

In between and after the running amok, Sharon and I got a chance to take a couple of short walks along the bluffs and enjoy the sunset.

We eventually had a great dinner of lasagna. Phil and I finished the night in the hot tub trying to solve world hunger and peace.

Sea Ranch Sunset

Thursday, February 11, 2016

ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts: Friedman's Shoes

ESPN Films has released the forty-fourth film in their 30 for 30 documentary short series.

30 for 30 Shorts: Friedman's Shoes

There was a time when a small shoe store in downtown Atlanta was the center of the athletic universe. The time was the turn of the 21st century, the store was Friedman's, and the customers were the biggest names -- and biggest feet -- in sports: Mike Tyson, Michael Jordan, Deion Sanders, Charles Barkley, Dave Winfield, Shaquille O'Neal. Presided over by owner Bruce Teilhaber, Friedman's specialized in large sizes and exotic leathers, and players thought nothing of spending a hundred thousand dollars on footwear. Due to changing tastes and on-line retailers, Friedman's isn't what it used to be. But it's still there, and in this film directed by Danny Lee, Shaq returns to slip his size-22 feet into the good old days.

You can find Friedman's Shoes on the ESPN web site at

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Jack played flag football and basketball against Beau in junior high and freshman football with Beau at Jesuit.

Jesuit running back Beau Bisharat offers cautionary tale of recruiting anxiety | The Sacramento Bee

Jesuit running back Beau Bisharat also signed with Colorado, though it wasn’t initially in his plans.

In May, he verbally committed to Stanford and ended contact with other recruiters, certain he was headed to The Farm. He and his family recently went on an official visit to Stanford, where they met the coaches, toured the campus and spent nearly $1,000 in the campus team store for hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts and pennants.

Then he got the news – and the realization that college football really is a business. As common as it is for high school athletes to back out of verbal commitments, college programs often do the same. Until a player signs, nothing is binding. Two weeks ago, Bisharat said, he was told he was no longer in Stanford’s plans.

“They told me they found someone they wanted more at that position,” Bisharat said. “I imagined myself going to Stanford for eight months, then had to find another school. It’s been the hardest two weeks of my life. It didn’t work out with Stanford, but we wiped away the tears and got moving on other options. I’m really excited about Colorado. It’s unreal. It really fits me.”

Bisharat said his message to recruits is to keep their options open.

“Biggest advice I would give is to always have a second and third option, just in case, because what happened to me happens everywhere in the country,” Bisharat said.

I have more to say about National Signing Day at Jesuit High School, but it will have to wait until June...

Drew in Napa Day 3

Drew and I started the day with breakfast in the concierge lounge. Afterwards, I took off for work. Drew spent the morning hanging out in the room before ending to Berkeley and then into San Francisco.

I really enjoyed having a chance to spend some time with him!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Drew in Napa Day 2

As Drew and I were walking into the concierge lounge for breakfast at the Napa Valley Marriott, Don't Give Up On Me by Milo Greene was playing. It was very surreal. Drew turned to me and said "Well, I just made $0.03..." In reality, it is probably more like $0.0001.

After a nice breakfast, I headed to work and Drew headed to Santa Rosa to meet with a photographer [Nirav Patel]. They spent the day on the coast at Jenner doing a photo shoot.

Drew rolled back to the hotel a little after 7 pm. We went to the Oxbow Market for dinner. After wandering around a bit, we settled at the counter at the Five Dot Ranch. Drew had a giro, while I had a roast beef sandwich. With me feeling a little under the weather and Drew having a busy couple of days, we crashed early while watching an entertaining Warriors versus Rockets game...

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Relight - Better Photos

The complete list of Starbucks iTunes picks of the week is here!

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Relight - Better Photos

Code Expiration: May 3, 2016

Monday, February 08, 2016

Drew in Napa Day 1

After finishing up three days of skiing at Homewood, Drew wandered over to Napa. He will be spending the next two nights with me at the Napa Valley Marriot.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Super Bowl 50

With Sharon just back from her Oregon road trip on Saturday night, we didn't organize a small Super Bowl party. Sharon and I watched the game by ourselves for the first time in four years. In a game dominated by defense, the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers by the score of 24 to 10.

Sharon made some great rubbed ribs for dinner.

Three observations.

First, I have no idea of what a catch is anymore. On the first challenge by Carolina on the long pass over the middle, I don’t understand how they can say that wasn’t a catch after looking at the replay. Clearly, the ball never hit the ground… What the !@#$ is going on?

Second, Peyton should walk away and retire. He has nothing left to prove.

Third, I want some of the performance enhancing drugs that Von Miller has taken over the last month…

Saturday, February 06, 2016

2016 Oregon Road Trip Day 4

Up early, Sharon and Tom headed back to Sacramento. They had lunch in Ashland. They made a quick stop at the New Clairvaux Vineyard in Vina. Tom is a wine club member there. They were back in Carmichael before 6 pm. It was a long day covering more than 460 miles.

Sharon and Tom made a previous trip through Oregon to Gonzaga in 2007 [To Gonzaga, Continuing Towards Spokane and Finally to Spokane]. The entries for this year's trip are here.

Friday, February 05, 2016

2016 Oregon Road Trip Day 3

In the morning, Sharon and Tom hiked along the Row River Trail. They headed into town over a couple of covered bridges. Sharon noted that it paled in comparison to Lithia Park in Ashland.

In the afternoon, Sharon and Tom stopped at the Iris Winery. Afterwards, they continued to the King Estate Winery. Tom is a wine club member there. They picked up the wine club shipment and then had dinner in the restaurant. The drive home from the restaurant was an adventure. They found themselves in an odd mixture of fog and rain.

They spent a second night at the Village Green Resort.

Sharon and Tom made a previous trip through Oregon to Gonzaga in 2007 [To Gonzaga, Continuing Towards Spokane and Finally to Spokane]. The entries for this year's trip are here.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

2016 Oregon Road Trip Day 2

Spending the morning walking in Lithia Park, Sharon and Tom got a late start. They made one stop at the Hillcrest Winery outside of Roseburg. Sharon and Tom really enjoyed this stop, including talking to the owner. From there, they continued on to Cottage Grove. They will be spending two nights at the Village Green Resort.

Sharon and Tom made a previous trip through Oregon to Gonzaga in 2007 [To Gonzaga, Continuing Towards Spokane and Finally to Spokane]. The entries for this year's trip are here.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

2016 Oregon Road Trip Day 1

Sharon and her brother Tom are off on a road trip to Oregon. They made a previous trip through Oregon to Gonzaga in 2007 [To Gonzaga, Continuing Towards Spokane and Finally to Spokane].

Leaving Carmichael about noon, they hit some winter weather on I-5 above Yreka. They eventually made it to Ashland. They finished the night with dinner at Amuse. They spent the night at the Ashland Springs Hotel.

I can't remember the last time I was in Oregon. It may have been almost 35 years ago...

Monday, February 01, 2016

Dinner with the Sanborns

After watching Creed, Sharon and I met the Sanborns for dinner on Sunday night at Paul Martin's American Grill in Roseville. We spent part of the evening planning another Sea Ranch trip. Everyone had prime rib, except me; I had braised short ribs...