Thursday, June 30, 2016

2016 Europe - Day 7 - To Ghent, Belgium

We all slept in until 8 am. This is a moving day... We will be heading to Ghent.

For the second time on the trip, Jack and I went for a morning run. This has been a very unexpected development (pleasure). We did a loop out to the four remaining windmills and back. A map of our run is here. While Jack and I ran, Sharon went to the spa.

After getting cleaned up, we wandered down to the Market Square and had omelettes at one of the restaurants lining the square. Packing up the room and checking out, we caught a taxi to the train station. I was disappointed with how long it took for the taxi to show up. Overall, although we had a great room at the hotel (Dukes Palace), the desk service was at best mediocre.

We caught a 12:37 train to Ghent. It was only a 30 minute train ride to the Ghent St. Peter train station. We caught a taxi to the hotel. We are spending two nights at the Ghent Marriott. This turned out to be a very unusual Marriott right in the middle of the historic city center.

After getting unpack, we headed to the Castle of the Courts. This is castle built in the middle ages.


When we finished the castle, we had a snack along the river canal. From there, Jack and Sharon went to the top of the Belfry of Ghent. Having had enough of towers at this point, I toured the St. Nicholas Church.

Meeting back up, we did a 40 minute boat cruise. Compared to Amsterdam and Bruges, the Ghent boat canal tour covers a fairly small area. Interestingly, there was a canal that ran 30 miles to the North Sea at one point. Parts of it are filled in now.

Scouting a place for dinner, we walked through the neighborhood near the castle, but didn't find anything promising. We ended up having dinner at Pakhuis. Sharon found this restaurant in the Rick Steve's book. It was a very cool setting. Jack and I spilt some oysters (not as good as day 1...), while Sharon had smoked eel. For the main course, I had chicken, Jack had ham, and Sharon had salmon. The only shortcoming of the dinner was that my food was not very warm.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and watched the Portugal versus Poland Euro2016 soccer game. Portugal won the game on penalties. Jack and I have watched the last two Portugal games and they have been pretty boring. Jack and I wandered around the area to take some night pictures after the game was over. It was after midnight by the time we got to bed.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

2016 Europe - Day 6 - Bruges, Belgium

I got up at 6:00 am. I couldn't sleep anymore... Sharon and Jack slept until 8:00 am.

The hotel had given Sharon directions to three places to have waffles for breakfast. I couldn’t find the first place. It turns out it had moved… We ran across it later in the day on a different square. We ended up having waffles at the Prestige. Apparently, the Belgium’s don't really eat waffles for breakfast. They are more of a desert or a snack.

After breakfast, we walked to the De Halve Maan Brewery and brought tickets for the 11 am tour. With some time to kill, we walked through the Begijnhof and associated church. This is a complex which formerly housed beguines, lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world.

The three of us took the De Halve Maan Brewery tour. It lasted a little over an hour. Their brands are Zot and Strong Henry. The tour was followed by a tasting.

After a quick stop at the hotel, we headed to the Bell Tower. We hit it just right; there was essentially no line. It is 392 steps to the top. Have I said recently that I am not a heights person...


We had a nice lunch in a restaurant on a small square on Simon Stevinplein street. After lunch, we toured the Groeninge Museum. This is a fairly small museum. The most notable piece is Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele by the early Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck. The last couple of rooms merit only a speed walk.

Sharon shopped for chocolate in the same small square where we had lunch. We then wandered back to the Beer wall and got a different sampler than on Tuesday. We sat along the canal in the rain. I have been very surprised how much that it has rained on this trip. We have gotten rained on every day!

The package with the home keys finally got delivered to Eric on Wednesday morning his time. While we had a drink in the hotel bar, Sharon spent some time talking to Eric while he was at the house and checking on the cat.

After struggling with the hotel staff to find a restaurant, we ended up just walking into town. We were heading back towards the neighborhood near the brewery. Close to the hotel, we stumbled on a small restaurant called The Habit. It turned out to be a very nice flemish meal. We had a shrimp appetizer. Sharon had rabbit, I had beef stew and Jack had Brugse Waterzeei (chicken cream soup).

Market Square, Bruges, Belgium

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

2016 Europe - Day 5 - To Bruges, Belgium

To my surprise, Jack wanted to do an early morning run. We ended up running more than 5.7 miles through the city to Vondelpark. We circled the park and then ran back to the hotel. A map of our run is here.

We had breakfast at the hotel for the second straight day. Thankfully, the Fedex package is now in the system and shows up in Germany. Packing up the room, we walked to the train station.

We caught the 11:17 am high speed train to Antwerp. We had a nice conversation with an American couple along the way. The leg was about an hour and 15 minutes. The Antwerp train station is architecturally interesting. We switched to an intercity train to Bruges. Making about six stops, it took another hour and a half. We got to Bruges about 2:30 pm and caught a cab to the hotel.

We are spending two nights at Dukes Palace. Janie had stayed here a couple of years ago and recommended the hotel to Sharon. To Jack and my surprise, we have a large multi-level family suite.

After getting settled in the room, we headed into town. With too many people trying to decide which way to go, we had a ragged start.

The first stop was the Church of Our Lady. This church contains a Madonna and Child by Michelangelo. It is said to be the only Michelangelo statue to leave Italy during his lifetime. The statue was taken by Napoleon and the Nazis. The statue is featured in The Monuments Men...

From there, we wandered through the Burg Square and ended up somewhat accidentally in the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Built in the 12th century as the chapel of the residence of the Count of Flanders, the church houses a venerated relic of the Holy Blood allegedly collected by Joseph of Arimathea and brought from the Holy Land by Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders.

Belgium is known for its beer. We wandered to the beer wall at 2be. We had a sampler and watched the boats on the canal.

Afterwards, we took a boat cruise of Bruges. This was a much more intimate experience than Amsterdam.

We stopped on the Market Square for a cold drink and a snack. Jack wants to climb the Bell Tower tomorrow.

We crashed in the hotel room for a while. Sharon and I wandered down to check out the hotel bar before dinner. Eventually, we went to dinner at Breydel De Coninc about 8:30 pm. Sharon and Jack had mussels with white sauce, while I had mussels with Bruges beer sauce. We split an ice cream desert. The food was very good.

We struggled to get the check when we were ready to leave. Sharon and I have experienced this in past trips to Europe, but this may have been one of the more bizarre episodes. I swear the waiter was purposely ignoring us!

We walked back to the hotel in the pouring rain after dinner; we didn't bring jackets with us. We crashed a little after 11:00 pm. The earliest that we have gotten to bed so far on the trip.

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Domino Drop

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

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Domino Drop

Code Expiration: September 20, 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

2016 Europe - Day 4 - Amsterdam, Netherlands

We had breakfast in the concierge lounge of the hotel. The plan for the morning was to take a canal tour. Using Rick Steve's Jordaan walk, we headed back to the Anne Frank House. We ended up taking the Orange Line on the Grey Line Company This trip trough the city took about an hour and a half and had five stops. In hindsight, I think that we would have been better off with a sightseeing boat, but everything worked out. It is a great way to get a different perspective on the city.

After the canal tour, we bought tickets for the Westerkerk Church Tower. They take six person groups up the tower on a 30 minute tour. The tour guide stops at each floor and talks about the tower construction and the bells. I am not a heights person and stayed inside at the top rather than walking around the outside of the tower in the rain. Jack gets the photo credit...

The next stop was lunch. Liz had recommended that we try shoarama. Sharon lead us back to a place that we had seen on Oude Lellestraat near the beginning of the Jordaan walk.

After lunch, we finished the Rick Steve's Jordaan walking tour. We stopped for a cold drink along one of the canals in the heart of the Jordaan neighborhood.

At this point, we walked back to the flower market to do a little shopping. I bought Sharon a Christmas ornament, while she shopped for some Delftware.

On the way back to hotel, we toured the De Papegaal Hidden Catholic Church along the busy pedestrian shopping mall. It was closed when we were doing the walking tour yesterday.

Back at the hotel, Sharon tried to check on the status of the Fedex package of the keys to Eric. She got very frustrated with the hotel staff. We had a drink in the bar at the hotel to unwind.

We did the Rick Steves' walk through the Red Light District about 6:00 pm. Although I have read descriptions of the set up, I am not very good visualizing the physical layouts based on written descriptions. As a result, I was "surprised" how it is organized. Given the early hour, the area was not very active yet.

We ended up having a cold beverage at a restaurant just off Dam Square and watching the Italy versus Spain Eurocup Soccer game. The bartender was Italian. Italy won the game by the score of 2 to 0.

We finally wandered off and got a cab near the front of the New Church. Sharon had made a 8:00 pm dinner reservation at Tempo Deoleo. This is a Michelin rated Indonesian restaurant. We had the international rice table. The food was very, very good.

We got a cab back to the hotel. Sharon and Jack went out for a while. Surprisedly, they stumbled across a Red Light district very close to the hotel which was much more active than they had seen earlier!

It was almost midnight by the time they got home and everyone got to bed.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

2016 Europe - Day 3 - Amsterdam, Netherlands


Sharon probably spent more time researching the food in Amsterdam than she has on any trip that I can remember. We ended up having an early breakfast at Pancakes Amsterdam. While Jack and I ordered sweet dutch pancakes, Sharon ordered a savory pancake. All were all excellent. I had strawberries and yogurt. Sharon's pancake was almost like an omelet.

From there, we walked towards the museums. We started with the Van Gogh Museum. Sharon and I had seen several traveling Van Gogh exhibitions in Los Angeles and Denver in 1999 and 2000. Consequently, I was a little disappointed by the breadth of the museum's collection. I was surprised by some of the Japanese style paintings that he had done as well as his sketches. The Tree Roots painting that he was apparently working on at the end of his life was interesting. It took us almost an hour and a half to cover the museum.

The Rijksmuseum was next. This is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. It has masterpieces by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer. I was very surprised by Rembrandt's Night Watch. It is very impressive! We spent another hour and a half exploring this museum.

Done with the two major museums, we wandered to the Leidseplein and made a stop for a cold drink. This marked one end of Rick Steve's walking tour. Eventually, we started back towards the hotel following the walking tour. Sharon enjoyed the flower market along the way.

We walked through the Begijnhof. The Begijnhof is one of the oldest inner courts in the city of Amsterdam. The Begijnhof is the only inner court in Amsterdam which was founded during the Middle Ages, and therefore lies within the Singel — the innermost canal of Amsterdam's circular canal system.

Afterwards we spent 30 minutes exploring the Amsterdam Museum. This museum focuses on the development of Amsterdam as a city.

We continued along pedestrian shopping mall on the Rick Steve's walk towards Dam Square and then continued up Damrak to the train station. The walk ended very close to our hotel.

After we got back to the hotel, Sharon and I wandered across the street from the hotel to a Spanish tapas restaurant for a snack.

Sharon had a made a late dinner reservation so we decided to stand in line for the Anne Frank Museum. I had tried to buy tickets ahead of time, but they were all sold out. We ended up standing in line for about an hour. It takes about 30 minutes to tour the museum. It was worthwhile. I will probably end up reading the book at some point...

We finished the night with a 9:00 pm. dinner at Balthazars Kejken. The restaurant had a three course fixed menu with a meat and fish main course choice. Jack and I had white fish, while Sharon had rabbit.

By the time we wandered back to the hotel, it was about 11:15 pm. I have been using my iPhone and watch to navigate, but it died shortly after we left the restaurant. As a result, Jack and I took a different way back to the hotel. As Sharon was getting miffed that we had lead her on a wild goose taste, we walked up on the hotel.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

2016 Europe - Day 2 - Amsterdam, Netherlands

We finally landed in Amsterdam a little after 2:00 pm. We breezed through customs and collected our luggage. My biggest surprise was that the taxi was a Tesla. It took about 20 minutes from the airport to our hotel. We are spending three nights at the Amsterdam Renaissance. We actually have two rooms for the first three nights of the trip. We were in our rooms a little after 3:00 pm.

After getting settled in the rooms, Sharon and I spent some time with the concierge trying to figure out how to ship the house key to Eric. Eventually, they sent us to a post office about a quarter of mile away. Unfortunately, the post office couldn't get the key out until Monday. The saga continues...

From there, we walked by the Anne Frank House and the Westerkerk (West Church). Jack wants to come back and climb the bell tower. We found a spot along one of the canals for a cold drink near the Anne Frank house.

We then walked to Dam Square. The Royal Palace (picture right) is one side of the square. Unfortunately, the palace is closed until July 2 to set up an exhibit. On another side of the square is the New Church. This is now an exhibit hall. We bought museum passes (museum kaart) that we can use for the next couple of days and spent some time browsing the exhibits. We finished the afternoon walking back to the hotel up a busy pedestrian shopping street called Nieuwedijk.

Doing some research ahead of time, Sharon made restaurant reservations for all three nights in Amsterdam. We had an early dinner at bistrot nerf near the hotel. Sharon had veal, while Jack and I had duck breast. Jack and I spilt some very good Irish and Dutch oysters as an appetizer.

Jack and I finished the night in an Irish Pub watching Portugal play Croatia in the round of 16 of the Eurocup. With the score tied 0 to 0 at the end of regular time, Jack and I moved to the hotel lounge to watch the end of the game. In extended time, Portugal won by the score of 1 to 0. By the time, we crawled up to the room it was after 11:30 p.m.

Although we lost four and a half hours to the plane problems in Chicago, it was very successful first day. We had a chance to get our bearings and built a plan of attack for the next two days in Amsterdam.

Given my family history, I have always wanted to come to the Netherlands!

Friday, June 24, 2016

2016 Europe - Day 1 - To Amsterdam, Netherlands

Staying at a Marriott near the San Francisco Airport, we were up about 5:30 am. This turned out to be one of those days when nothing goes quite right. As we were packing up the hotel room, Sharon realized that she had forgotten to give Eric the house key... As a result, we spent most of the rest of the day trying to find somewhere to ship the key back to Eric overnight without success.

We drove from the hotel to the SFO long term parking garage. [Note to Self], we are not paying to park here again. We caught a shuttle to the terminal. Checking our bags and getting boarding passes, the three of us got TSA Pre boarding. We breezed through security. Sharon, Jack and I boarded a 9:20 am United flight to Chicago O'Hare.

The flight to Chicago was easy. Unfortunately, Sharon realized on the flight that she couldn't find her United credit card. She thinks that she put it in her passport after she checked in and then dropped it as we were wandering the SFO terminal looking for somewhere to ship the key to Eric.

Landing at O'Hare about 3:00 pm, we wandered the C gates of Terminal ! trying to find somewhere to get a bite to eat. About 5:00 pm, we boarded a 5:50 pm United flight to Amsterdam. This is where the fun really began.

After taxiing away from the gate and sitting at the tarmac for almost an hour, the captain informed us that they were having problems with the anti-skid brakes. The plane went back to the gate. We ended up sitting at the gate for almost two more hours with little or no information from the crew. Much to my chagrin, the United iPhone app kept sending updated departure time delays to my watch.

Eventually, they took everyone off the plane in order to run some maintenance checks. United said that if they couldn't fix the problem they were going to put us on another plane. Finally, about 10:15 pm, they announced that the problem was resolved. They loaded everyone back on the plane, but had to find a new crew of flight attendants. It was after 11:00 pm before the plane pulled away from the gate again.

Instead of arriving in Amsterdam at 9:20 am in the morning on Saturday, we are now scheduled to be there at 2:00 pm Saturday afternoon. In the twenty plus years that Sharon and I have traveled together, we have one rule: any day that you end up where you were supposed to be is a good day.

I am writing this post over Nova Scotia with five more hours to Amsterdam. The wireless is better on this flight than it was on the flight from San Francisco to Chicago!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

2016 Europe - Day 0 - San Francisco

Dropping Tiber with Eric, Sharon, Jack and I took off for San Francisco at 6:30 pm. Using some Marriott points, we are spending the night at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront. It was an easy drive into the city. We got to the hotel a little after 8:00 pm. With an early start on Friday, we crashed fairly early.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

2016 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Baseball North Playoffs

After a lack of success in the play-offs over the last two years (missed in 2014, one and done in the 2015), Jesuit won its first two play-off games this year before losing two close games. Jesuit beat Rocklin by the score of 3 to 2 and Vintage by the score of 4 to 0. Jesuit then lost to Elk Grove by the score of 6 to 5 in eight innings and were eliminated by Woodcreek by the score of 8 to 7.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Seniors lead Elk Grove over Jesuit in section baseball

The 2016 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Baseball North Playoffs bracket is here.

Thundering Herd overcomes rough start

Josh Urps hits walk-off single in eighth

Walks doom Jesuit in last inning

BY JOE DAVIDSON
jdavidson@sacbee.com
It’s back to normal scheduling for this baseball bunch.

Graduation plans for Monday afternoon won’t be altered, adjusted or otherwise scuttled for the seniors on the Elk Grove High School team, a crew that collectively agreed that it would have reached for ball caps and uniforms over the chance to walk across the stage in caps and gowns.

On Saturday afternoon at Sacramento City College, an unsung senior sparked a rally, and two steady seniors sealed the deal for The Bee-ranked No. 1 Thundering Herd in a 6-5 victory over Delta League rival Jesuit in Sac-Joaquin Section Division I-North play.

Bryce Jamias produced a two-run, pinch-hit single in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie it 5-5, then Ryan Robards pitched a quick eighth in relief, and Josh Urps won it in the bottom of the inning with a single to left field in a game that made little sense in a sport that doesn’t always make a ton of sense.

Jesuit had strong pitching early and played typically stellar defense, but the Marauders loaded the bases on walks in the fateful eighth, allowing the defending-champion Herd life, and it pounced.

Aaron Wong, another senior, raced across the plate excitedly with the winning run, electrifying the Herd crowd and dugout. Dylan Carlson, the team’s senior leader and most experienced player, didn’t have to cross the plate after Urps since it was over, but he did so anyway out of sheer enthusiasm, and also to bear-hug Urps.

Urps, a standout shortstop, is the newcomer to the lot. He transferred from rival Pleasant Grove in the middle of last season, but his work ethic and personality fast made him a lot of Herd friends.

Winning games only adds to the fun now.

“It’s great to have that walk-off, because I’m still new here, but the guys have accepted me,” said Urps, headed to Sacramento State. “Now they might let me graduate on Monday.”

Urps said that with a laugh, and the Herd could exhale after an uncharacteristically sloppy early-game effort. Carlson started on the mound for Elk Grove and struck out five, but he walked three, departing after the fourth inning with a 4-1 deficit. Elk Grove also committed three errors.

“They bailed me out,” Carlson said of his mates. “There’s nothing better than winning a game like that, especially against a really good team like Jesuit.”

After the game, Carlson’s father, Herd coach Jeff Carlson, stressed to his club that this sport can be equal parts joy and despair, and to avoid getting too high or too low. He praised the comeback and urged the Herd to remain focused while still enjoying the game.

“It took everyone to win it today,” said Carlson, whose program seeks its ninth D-I North title since 2002 under his tutelage and seventh section title in that span. “You never know what’ll happen. I’m happy for Urps. He’s been outstanding, a great kid who works his tail off.”

Jesuit received strong early pitching from Cody Jensen, who struck out four and departed with a 5-1 lead in the sixth inning. Marauders center fielder Jared Alameida made a diving catch and doubled up Robards at second to preserve a 5-1 lead in the fifth, and second baseman Darren Baker had three hits for the Marauders, who play the Monday elimination game at Sac City against Woodcreek. Elk Grove (21-8) beat Jesuit (22-8) in league play, 4-1 and 3-0.

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Proud

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

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Proud

Code Expiration: September 13, 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016

ESPN 30 for 30 Vol 3: O.J.: Made in America, Episode 5

Sharon and I watched O.J.: Made in America, Episode 5. This is the fifth episode of a five part ten hour miniseries. The miniseries explores O.J.'s life as well as race relations and the cult of celebrity. This is the tenth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 Volume 3 and the first episodic ESPN 30 for 30 documentary. An episode guide for Vol 3 is here.

The fifth and final episode opens with the 1995 verdict in the murder trial and follows O.J Simpson's life until he was imprisoned on 2007 robbery and kidnapping charges. I was surprised by the footage and description of the life that he was living in South Beach in the 00s. O.J was living large...

Both Sharon and I enjoyed the documentary, but felt like the ending was weak. After so many hours of incredible footage, the film kind of sputtered to an end.

O.J.: Made in America [Episode 1] [[Episode 2] [Episode 3] [Episode 4] [Episode 5]

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day 2016

Sharon and I spent the morning running some errants and then stopping to see Tom. He is taking off for Ireland and England on Monday. We spent the afternoon starting to pack for our trip

I barbecued steaks and corn for dinner. Sharon and Jack had given me an early Father's Day present.

Sharon, Jack and I finished the day watching the Warriors versus the Cavs in game seven of the NBA finals. Coming back from a 3 to 1 deficit in the series, the Cavs won the game by the score of 93 to 89.

Jack and I finished the night watching episode nine of season six of Game of Thrones, Battle of the Bastards. Battle of the Bastards was based on the Battle of Cannae during the Second Punic War, in which a small army led by Hannibal defeated a tremendous Roman army in 216 B.C.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

ESPN 30 for 30 Vol 3: O.J.: Made in America, Episode 4

ESPN Statement Concerning Photographs on “O.J.: Made in America” Part 4

There are several graphic crime scene photos that will be shown during Part 4 of “O.J.: Made in America” that the director and producers of the film feel are key to the powerful narrative of the documentary. These will not be altered in the initial television premiere, nor will they be altered in the version of the film that will be available on demand to viewers online or via cable VOD services. However, since subsequent re-airs will take place at various times, those photos will be blurred in future re-airs.
Sharon and I watched O.J.: Made in America, Episode 4. This is the fourth episode of a five part ten hour miniseries. The miniseries explores O.J.'s life as well as race relations and the cult of celebrity. This is the tenth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 Volume 3 and the first episodic ESPN 30 for 30 documentary. An episode guide for Vol 3 is here.

This episode focused on the details and personalities of the murder trial. Three things stood out for me. First, they showed a number of very graphic crime scene photos. The photos of the injuries to Ron and Nicole and the amount of blood at the scene are overwhelming. Second, I had forgotten about some of the issues surrounding detective Mark Fuhrman. The defense team produced recorded interviews with Fuhrman and witnesses suggesting that he had repeatedly used racist language during this period. Later (with the jury absent) when asked under oath if he had planted or manufactured evidence in the case, Fuhrman invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and declined to answer. Finally, it just seemed like prosecutors Marsha Clark and Chris Darden were no match for the defense team, particularly Johnnie Cochran, F. Lee Bailey and Barry Scheck.

O.J.: Made in America [Episode 1] [[Episode 2] [Episode 3] [Episode 4] [Episode 5]

Friday, June 17, 2016

ESPN 30 for 30 Vol 3: O.J.: Made in America, Episode 3


After going to dinner with Liz at Cafe Bernardo to do some trip planning, Sharon and I watched O.J.: Made in America, Episode 3. This is the third episode of a five part ten hour miniseries. The miniseries explores O.J.'s life as well as race relations and the cult of celebrity. This is the tenth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 Volume 3 and the first episodic ESPN 30 for 30 documentary. An episode guide for Vol 3 is here.

This episode starts with murder of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman and ends as O.J's trial for murder is about to start. From the murder scene to the Bronco chase to the personalities of the attorneys, there is a tremendous amount of detail in this episode. Amongst all of this, I was startled by the composition of the jury. The jury included: an African American man; a Hispanic man; eight African American women; and, two Caucasian women. All twelve jurors were democrats and none of them regularly read a newspaper. With the backdrop of the ongoing issues between the black community and the LAPD explored in the first two episodes, it is easy in hindsight to see where the verdict might end up...

Sharon and I are both looking forward to the next two episodes. This is a very well done documentary.

O.J.: Made in America [Episode 1] [[Episode 2] [Episode 3] [Episode 4] [Episode 5]

Thursday, June 16, 2016

ESPN 30 for 30 Vol 3: This Magic Moment

Staying at the Napa Valley Marriott hotel, I watched This Magic Moment on Netflix. This is the eighth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 Volume 3. An episode guide for Vol 3 is here.

The film chronicles the birth and rise to glory of the Orlando Magic NBA basketball team. Key points include:
  • the franchise was established in 1989 as an expansion franchise;
  • when the franchise won the first pick in the 1992 NBA Draft Lottery, the Magic selected big-man Shaquille O'Neal from Louisiana State University;
  • against very long odds, the Magic again won the first pick in the 1993 NBA Draft Lottery;
  • with the first pick in the 1993 draft, the Magic selected Chris Webber, but traded him to the Golden State Warriors for the number three pick, guard Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway and three future first-round draft picks.
  • in 1994, All-Star forward Horace Grant was acquired as a free agent from the Chicago Bulls;
  • advancing to the 1994-1995 NBA Finals, the Magic were sweep by a more experienced Houston Rocket team on their way to a second consecutive championship;
  • Orlando met the Bulls in the 1995-1996 Eastern Conference Finals and were sweep out of the play-offs; and,
  • in the summer of 1996, Shaquille O'Neal left the Magic and signed with the Lakers.
Like many of the recent 30 for 30s, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the documentary. I loved the opening and closing sequences with Shaq and Penny sitting around a pool!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Jesuit ace Jack Wolger delivers in playoff win over Vintage

[Wolger was named first team All-Metro.]

The 2016 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Baseball North Playoffs bracket is here.

BY JOE DAVIDSON
jdavidson@sacbee.com

Highlights

Wolger, a Cal commit, throws two-hitter in Sac-Joaquin Section D-I North game

Wolger credits defense for carrying Marauders

Jesuit beats Vintage ace Jared Horn, who was coming off a no-hitter



Jack Wolger was spent late Wednesday afternoon, the unrelenting sun beating down on the senior ace and his Jesuit High School teammates.

But Wolger mustered the strength to exhale, smile and dole out profound gratitude.

Wolger earned his grins as he pitched a gem, boosted by some stellar defense and timely hits, to propel the Marauders past Vintage of Napa 4-0 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I North playoff game at Sacramento City College’s Union Stadium.

The 6-foot-4 Wolger endured the 98-degree heat and outdueled the heralded Jared Horn in a showdown of Cal-committed aces.

IT’S THE BEST DEFENSIVE TEAM WE’VE HAD SINCE I’VE BEEN HERE.
Jesuit coach Joe Potulny

Wolger struck out three, allowed two hits, worked three 1-2-3 innings and heaped praise on his defense, be it for diving outfield grabs, double plays or the catching of Alex Isola, who singled in Darren Baker for a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

“Our defense has carried us all season,” Wolger said. “They’ve saved me many, many times. They make me look better than I am.”

That’s the modest Wolger speaking.

In truth, he’s every bit as good as his defense, including beating Northern California’s top-ranked team, De La Salle of Concord, 9-1 during a rigorous nonleague schedule that has paid dividends with a 2-0 playoff showing. Jesuit eliminated Rocklin 3-2 on Monday.

Jesuit coach Joe Potulny said of Wolger, “He’s our guy. He’s been great.”

And that defense?

“It’s the best defensive team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Potulny said matter-of-factly.

That’s quite a statement, considering Potulny is in his 26th season as coach. He won the first of his five section titles at his alma mater in 1994, and the last two came in repeat fashion in 2008 and 2009.

This group is quickly shaping up to be a title contender, too.

The infield is headed by shortstop Nick Iwasa and second baseman Baker, son of Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker. Nick Sogard, a cousin of A’s infielder Eric Sogard, plays third base, and Sam Stiltner plays first. The outfield consists of Mason LaFond, Joe Hagopian and Jared Alameida.

Wolger and Horn have deeper ties than their fondness for Cal. Their fathers, Todd Wolger and Daryl Horn, were teammates at Sacramento State.

OUR DEFENSE HAS CARRIED US ALL SEASON. THEY’VE SAVED ME MANY, MANY TIMES.
THEY MAKE ME LOOK BETTER THAN I AM.
Jesuit pitcher Jack Wolger

The younger Horn draws a horde of scouts wherever he goes, thanks to his 6-4 frame and a fastball that touches the mid-90s. Horn was 9-1 entering Wednesday and was coming off a no-hitter against Napa. But Jesuit (22-7) was not in awe of him, having faced top-caliber arms all season.

In the sixth, Iwasa doubled in Baker, and LaFond singled in Isola for a 3-0 lead, prompting the departure of Horn, who struck out eight.

Potulny urged his players to not over-think matters. Horn is human, and this is just a game. Never mind the urgency that a loss would end the season.

“He said that the mound is still 60 feet, 6 inches away from home plate,” Wolger said. “Just play, pitch and play catch, and we did that great today.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

ESPN 30 for 30 Vol 3: O.J.: Made in America, Episode 2

Sharon and I watched O.J.: Made in America, Episode 2. This is the second episode of a five part ten hour miniseries. The miniseries explores O.J.'s life as well as race relations and the cult of celebrity. This is the tenth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 Volume 3 and the first episodic ESPN 30 for 30 documentary. An episode guide for Vol 3 is here.

This episode covers from about 1979 to 1992. It focuses on the violence in Nicole and O.J.'s relationship and in South Central Los Angeles. The tension between the black community and the police is a major part of the story.

I didn't realize how many times Nicole called 911 and LAPD went to OJ’s home for domestic violence. The recordings of the 911 calls are chilling.

O.J.: Made in America [Episode 1] [[Episode 2] [Episode 3] [Episode 4] [Episode 5]

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Abzorb

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

Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week - Abzorb

Code Expiration: September 6, 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sacramento Bee's 2016 All-Metro baseball team

The 2014 All-Metro baseball team is here.

The 2015 All-Metro baseball team is here.

After having two players on the list in 2014 and 2015, Jesuit placed six players on the list this year.

After a lack of success in the play-offs over the last two years (missed in 2014, one and done in the 2015), Jesuit won its first two play-off games this year before losing two close games. Jesuit beat Rocklin by the score of 3 to 2 and Vintage by the score of 4 to 0. Jesuit then lost to Elk Grove by the score of 6 to 5 in eight innings and were eliminated by Woodcreek by the score of 8 to 7.

ALL-METRO BASEBALL

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Dylan Carlson, Elk Grove, Sr.

FIRST TEAM
CATCHER

Alex Isola, Jesuit, Sr. (University of Utah)

INFIELDERS

Ryan Kreidler, Davis, Sr.

Joe McNamara, Christian Brothers, Sr.

Beau Philip, Oak Ridge, Sr.

Tyler Malone, Woodcreek, Sr.

Josh Urps, Elk Grove, Sr.

OUTFIELDERS

Aidan Malm, Whitney, Sr.

Ryan Robards, Elk Grove, Sr.

Jordan Vujovich, Granite Bay, Sr.

PITCHERS

Trenton Denholm, Oak Ridge, Jr.

Aaron Lee, Bella Vista, Sr.

Ben Purcell, Del Campo, Sr.

Jack Wolger, Jesuit, Sr. (Cal)

Alex Zalasky, Elk Grove, Sr.

UTILITY

Cameron Eden, Yuba City, Sr.

Elijah Garcia, Lincoln, Sr.

Tiegen Jones, Capital Christian, Sr.

Matt Manning, Sheldon, Sr.

Zach Tresemer, Franklin, Sr.

SECOND TEAM
CATCHER

Brendan Galbreath, Oak Ridge, Sr.

INFIELDERS

Jack Filby, McClatchy, So.

Jeffrey Jamison, Del Campo, So.

John Mook, Oak Ridge, Sr.

Nick Sogard, Jesuit, Sr. (Loyola Marymount University)

Aaron Wong, Elk Grove, Sr.

OUTFIELDERS

Ryan Holgate, Davis, So.

Riley Lamb, Elk Grove, Jr.

Patrick Smith, Oak Ridge, Jr.

PITCHERS

Marques Buford, Capital Christian, Sr.

John Cross, Oak Ridge, Jr.

Zach Jedlowski, Sheldon, Jr.

Cody Lindsey, Woodcreek, Sr.

Darren Nelson, Granite Bay, Jr.

UTILITY

Josh Congress, Laguna Creek, Sr.

Jaylund Johnson, Capital Christian, Sr.

Tim Wieser, Oakmont, Sr.

Josh Winkler, Vista del Lago, Sr.

HONORABLE MENTION

CATCHERS: Logan Appino, Cordova; Diego Black, Christian Brothers; Erek Bolton, Elk Grove; Casey DeMello, Valley Christian Academy; Justin Grace, El Camino; Hunter Jury, Davis; Isaiah Morales, Franklin; Michael Nelsen, Vista del Lago; Jack Rotteveel, Woodcreek

INFIELDERS: Kevin Acuff, Center; Darren Baker, Jesuit; Jackson Balantac, Christian Brothers; Bear Belding, Bear River; Tim Butler, Del Campo; Colton Burns, El Camino; Matt Clarke, Bella Vista; Jacob Cross, Bear River; Justin Erickson, Whitney; Kevin Fitzgerald, Laguna Creek; Weston Gaddis, Nevada Union; Kody Gardner, Rio Americano; Avery Gould, River Valley; Josh Hook, Folsom; Nick Iwasa, Jesuit; Kenny LeBeau, Granite Bay; Tommy Lindenthal, Foothill; Jacob Torres-Luna, Mira Loma; Billy Martina, Oak Ridge; Landon Mitchell, Vista del Lago; Ceto Munoz, Christian Brothers; John Papapietro, Inderkum; Chris Piazzoni, Folsom; Jacob Rapp, Delta; Amari Reed, Pleasant Grove; Brennan Rozell, Lincoln; Daniel Vitoria, Galt; Justin Watari, Woodcreek; Nick White, Golden Sierra

OUTFIELDERS: Jared Alameida, Jesuit; Cameron Allie, Oak Ridge; Tim Balmain, Oakmont; Alec Bessinger, Rocklin; Mason Breiphol, Elk Grove; Mitchell Hirata, Woodcreek; Steven Langley, El Camino; Adam Hughes, Bradshaw Christian; Dean Lucas, Sheldon; Brandon Motheral, Mesa Verde; James Pizzuti, El Dorado; Nate Thimjon, Franklin; Donovan Sykes, Bella Vista; Brig Trucker, Placer; Kyle Williams, River Valley

PITCHERS: Dennis Boatman, Woodcreek; Anthony Carrion, Winters; Tyler Condie, Oak Ridge; Tanner Cunha, Christian Brothers; Kyle Galart, Pioneer; Drew Rodriguez, Yuba City; Carlos Salaiz, Oakmont; Jason Schafer, Rocklin; Matt Smith, Pleasant Grove; Spencer Swain, Bradshaw Christian; Radd Thomas, Placer; Grant Woodside, Valley Christian Academy

UTILITY: Montel Aaron, Antelope; Corey Cater, Valley Christian Academy; Greg Creamer, Winters; Burle Dixon, Sheldon; Maurice Hayden, Cosumnes Oaks; Ashton Hughes, Rocklin; Sonny Ledford, Rio Americano; Rudy Mendoza, Christian Brothers; Landon Mitchell, Vista del Lago, Sr.; Scott Randall, Del Oro; Matt Voelker, Granite Bay; Caden Voges, Sacramento; Hogan Weaver, San Juan; Josh Winkler, Vista del Lago

COACH OF THE YEAR
Jeff Carlson, Elk Grove

After losing several key players to graduation – including brothers Nick and Ty Madrigal, The Bee’s 2015 co-Players of the Year – Carlson retooled, and the Thundering Herd kept winning. Elk Grove beat Tracy to repeat as the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champion, the seventh title for Carlson since 2003. One bonus to the season, which Carlson called his most special, was coaching sons Dylan, an outfielder-first baseman and The Bee’s Player of the Year, and Tanner, a third baseman.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

ESPN 30 for 30 Vol 3: O.J.: Made in America, Episode 1

Sharon and I watched O.J.: Made in America, Episode 1. This is the first episode of a five part ten hour miniseries. The miniseries explores O.J.'s life as well as race relations and the cult of celebrity. This is the tenth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 Volume 3 and the first episodic ESPN 30 for 30 documentary. An episode guide for Vol 3 is here.

Sharon and I were both amazed by the first episode. I didn't realize that Simpson had played for USC in 1967 and 1968. For some reason, I had my timeline wrong and thought he played there later. With Martin Luther King killed in April of 1968 and Bobby Kennedy killed in June of 1968, this is obviously a very tumultuous period.

We are looking forward to the second episode!

O.J.: Made in America [Episode 1] [[Episode 2] [Episode 3] [Episode 4] [Episode 5]

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Parties...

Sharon and I spent most of the day going to birthday and graduation parties!


With Jack on his way back from camping, Sharon and I headed to Terri and Steve Funk's house at lunchtime for Lydia's first birthday party. Lydia is Sharon's nephew Kevin's daughter. There was a pretty good size group of people (>25?) spread out in the Funk's back yard.


After a quick stop at home, Sharon and I headed to the Marchant's for Emma's graduation party in the early afternoon. Jack was just leaving this party as we were arriving. After going to grammar school with Jack, Emma and Jack have remained friends. Emma went to St. Francis High School and will be heading to San Diego State. We had a chance to talk to a couple of parents that we knew from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

From there, we headed to Kiki's graduation party. We ended up staying at this party a lot later than I expected. We closed down the party sitting in the backyard talking to Kiki's parents (Dana and Bob) and another couple. Bob is working on a book about Janusz Kusociński, a polish track star from the 1930s.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Vine Trail Bike Ride and Dinner

With Jack off camping, Sharon came over to spend the night with me in Napa. We got a couple of bikes from the hotel and rode the Vine Trail to Yountville.

We headed to Ciccio for dinner. We had dinner there last July. Grabbing a seat the bar, we did some planning for our summer trip. We had a very nice dinner of prosciutto wrapped melon, a soft-shell crab salad, zucchini and pan fried branzino. The fish was very good.

Overall, we rode 13.8 miles round trip. We didn't leave the hotel until almost 6:20 pm. This is the first chance I have gotten to see the second half of the trail to Yountville. By the time, we got back to the hotel, it was almost 9:00 pm and getting very dark!

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Monday, June 06, 2016

Nevada Historical Landmark #175

On my way home from this year's Petersen Shootout, I stopped at six Nevada State Historical Markers, including Bliss Mansion [#70], Methodist Church of Carson City [#71], Orion Clemens' Home [#78], Stewart-Nye Residence [#175], Rinckel Mansion [#252] and The Governor's Mansion [#259].

Stewart-Nye Residence
Nevada Historical Marker #175

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

This marker is located at 108 North Minnesota Street, Carson City, Nevada. There are 25 other historical markers in Carson City County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 39° 09.840 W 119° 46.238.

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

Nevada Historical Landmark #175

This house was built about 1860 of local sandstone for William Morris Stewart who lived here until 1862. He sold it to the territorial governor of Nevada, James W. Nye. The two men were elected as Nevada’s first United States senators after the territory achieved statehood in 1864. Stewart served from 1864 to1875 and again from 1887 to 1905. Nye served from 1864 to 1873. Both men were originally from New York.

The house later became the home of Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice George F. Talbot. In 1917 he sold the house and block to the Catholic diocese and it served as the rectory for the Catholic Church. It was subsequently sold for commercial use.


Nevada Historical Landmark #175

Nevada Historical Landmark #175

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Jack's High School Graduation Party


With Jack's graduation from high school last weekend, we have been scrambling the last two weeks to get the house cleaned up and get everything organized for a graduation party. We spent Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend putting new plants in the front and the back.

Sharon arranged for the food to be catered by Rey Azteca, a local Mexican restaurant. Additionally, we picked up a couple of Mikuni platters.

We ended up with almost 60 people. Sharon had been asking Jack how many people he invited and never really got a straight answer. I was surprised how many of Jack's friends actually showed up. The kids started watching the Sharks versus the Penguins in game three of the NHL finals.

The party was scheduled to be from 4:00 pm to 8 pm. About 7:30 pm, most of the kids moved on to a party at Sam Cook's house. To my surprise, we had a hard core group of people settle in on the deck and stay until after 10:30 pm.

Both Sharon and I were very pleased with how the party came off. It was a great celebration of Jack's graduation!

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Silverado Squatters by Robert Louis Stevenson

I finished reading Silverado Squatters by Robert Louis Stevenson. Written in 1883, the book is Robert Louis Stevenson's travel memoir of his two-month honeymoon trip to Napa Valley, California, in 1880.

I picked up the book after Sharon and I visited the Schramsberg Winery [California Historical Marker #561). As noted on the historical marker at the site, Stevenson devoted a chapter of Silverado Squatters to Schramsberg and its wines.

The book also details Stevenson's visit to a local Petrified Forest [California Historical #915]. I stopped there briefly, but need to go back and spent more time at the site.

Stevenson spent the unconventional honeymoon in an abandoned three-story bunkhouse at a derelict mining camp called "Silverado" on the shoulder of Mount Saint Helena. Sharon, Jack and I visited this site in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park [California Historical Marker #710].

While the book offers some interesting views of California during the late 19th century, I don't recommend it. The most interesting part of the story for me was Stevenson's description of watching the fog roll into the Napa Valley.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Nevada Historical Landmark #78

On my way home from this year's Petersen Shootout, I stopped at six Nevada State Historical Markers, including Bliss Mansion [#70], Methodist Church of Carson City [#71], Orion Clemens' Home [#78], Stewart-Nye Residence [#175], Rinckel Mansion [#252] and The Governor's Mansion [#259].

Orion Clemens' Home
Nevada Historical Marker #78

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

This marker is located at 512 North Division Street, Carson City, Nevada. There are 25 other historical markers in Carson City County. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 39° 09.997 W 119° 46.175.

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

Nevada Historical Marker #78

Orion Clemens, secretary to Territorial Governor James W. Nye, lived in this house with his wife, "Mollie," from 1864 to 1866. His brother, Samuel, a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise, who later became famous as "Mark Twain," stayed here periodically in 1864.

Nevada Historical Marker #78