Wednesday, November 30, 2016

ESPN 30 for 30 Vol 3: Phi Slama Jama

Running on the treadmill over Thanksgiving holiday, I watched Phi Slama Jama. Led by a Nigerian soccer player named Hakeem Olajuwon and a lightly recruited hometown kid named Clyde Drexler, the University of Houston Cougars, nicknamed Phi Slama Jama, electrified the NCAA Final Four with three straight appearances from 1982 to 1984. This is the twelfth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 Volume 3. An episode guide for Vol 3 is here.

As underclassmen in 1981/82, a young Cougar team lost to the eventual champion North Carolina Tar Heels in the national semifinals by the score of 68 to 63. The North Carolina team included Micheal Jordan, James Worthy and Sam Perkins.

The 1982/83 season marked the high point of Phi Slama Jama. The Cougars posted an Associated Press #1 ranking, a 31–2 record and a 26-game winning streak before losing in the NCAA Final. Considered one of the most unlikely upsets in NCAA tournament history, Phi Slama Jama lost a closely contested championship game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack by a score of 54–52. Ironically, the final margin was decided on a last-second dunk by Wolfpack forward Lorenzo Charles. The story of the Wolfpack's Cinderella championship run is told in the 30 for 30 Volume 2 film Survive and Advance.

Despite the early departure of star forward Clyde Drexler after the 82–83 season, Phi Slama Jama continued their success in 1984. Hakeem Olajuwon became the focal point of the team and was selected as a consensus first team All-American. The Cougars returned to the Final Four once more, this time losing to the Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown Hoyas in the final. Olajuwon, with one year of eligibility remaining, declared for the NBA draft shortly after the loss in the title game.

Woven through the film is the story of enigmatic role player Benny Anders. The documentary follows 1981/82 co-captains Eric Davis and Lynden Rose as they try to find Anders after more than two decades of mystery.

Although not as compelling as some of the other 30 for 30s, this is a solid documentary. Somewhat ironically, Olajuwon and Drexler won two NBA Championships with the Houston Rockets.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Jack back to school

We took Jack to the airport early Sunday morning. He caught a 8:35 am United flight from Sacramento direct to Dulles Airport. Jack took an Uber from the airport to Georgetown University. He was back on campus by 5:20 pm (2:20 pm Pacific time).

It was great to have him home for a few days. In just a little over three weeks, Jack will be home for Christmas.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Decorating the house for Christmas

This year's neighborhood dinner party is almost two weeks earlier than last year. It is going to be Friday, December 2. Our house will be the dessert stop. Given that we were hosting Thanksgiving, this left us with a very small window to convert the house from the fall decorations to the Christmas decorations. Thankfully, due to the fact that the fall dinner party was at Sea Ranch this year, we probably had only 10% to 15% of the pumpkins that we normally have!

The small window translated into the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving. I staged most of the Christmas boxes from the storage shed into the garage last Sunday, November 20. I picked up the Christmas tree on Friday afternoon, November 25. Except for getting the Christmas Tree decorated [something that we can do at night after work in the coming week], we got everything ready by Sunday night...

Friday, November 25, 2016

2016 Kings versus Rockets

2016 Kings versus Rockets

Sharon and I went to the Sacramento Kings versus Houston Rockets NBA basketball game. Hitting an impressive number of 3 point shots, Houston led by as much as 29 in the first half. The Rockets cooled off a little in the second half and the Kings were able to claw back. The Rockets won the game by the score of 117 to 104.

The Houston Rockets set an NBA record with 50 3-point attempts!?1

Playing only 30 minutes due to second half foul trouble, DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 32 points on 12 for 22 from the field, 5 for 9 from three point range and 3 for 5 from the free throw line. He also had 9 rebounds. Cousins made four consecutive 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter when the Kings pulled within 112-104.

In 40 minutes, James Harden led the Rockets with 23 points on 6 for 18 from the field, 3 for 11 from three point range and 8 for 8 from the three point line. He had a triple double with 10 rebounds and 10 assists. I spent most of the second half watching his line and rooting for him to get the triple double. Harden got a rebound on the last play of the game to notch the triple double.

We ran into Alan and David Laskin before the game. Sharon and I visited with Holly and Van during half-time.

Although she saw Paul McCartney in the new arena in October, this was Sharon's first Kings game in the Golden 1 Center. I parked in the Capitol Garage at 10th and K. We sat in Section 109, Row H, Seats 5 and 6. I bought these tickets for about half price using a promotion that the Kings sent out to my old seasons ticket account.

While I enjoy going to the games, I have no interest in having season tickets. It is a poorly constructed team that is not very fun to watch... The Kings now have 0 wins and 2 losses in games that I saw during the 2016/2017 NBA season.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016


After I got back from running the Run to Feed the Hungry, we spent the rest of the day getting the house cleaned up and dinner prepared.

Celebrating Jim's birthday on ThanksgivingPeople started showing up about 3:00 pm. The year's group was a little smaller. It included Sharon's brother Tim, Kathy, Erin, Eileen, Sharon's brother Tom, Eric, Jim, Sharon, Jack, and I; a total of ten. Kevin, Leah and Lydia went to Leah's grandfather's in Napa.

We served an interesting cranberry cocktail as the pre-dinner drink. To my surprise, everyone actually ended up out on the deck before dinner. With all the rain that we have had, the park is very green.

We served honey-baked ham and turkey for dinner. The turkey was spatchcocked.

After dinner, we celebrated Jim's birthday with chocolate cake and pumpkin pie.

2016 Run to Feed the Hungry

At the start of the 2016 Run to Feed the Hungry #rtfth2016

For the twelfth time in the last thirteen years [2015, 20142013, 20122011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005 and 2004], Jack and I ran the Run to Feed the Hungry. Sharon was not feeling well and didn't run this year. We entered in 2007, but I was feeling under the weather and we decided not to run before heading to San Francisco for Thanksgiving.

For the fifth year in a row, I parked on University Avenue. This year, I parked closer to the H Street bridge rather than the Guy West Bridge. It was a little shorter walk to and from the car.

I had a lot of trepidation leading up to the race. I have been under the weather the last few weeks. As a result, I am not as strong and fit as I would like to be. I am somewhat embarrassed by results. My time was 1:03:57 for an average pace of 10:18. Based on Runkeeper, my splits were: 1-9:39; 2-9:46; 3-10:03; 4-10:14; 5-10:31, and; 6-10:39. I have got to do better next year!

They announced the crowd at 29,000 at the start of the race. One of the things that has changed over the years is that the crowd never really thins out. It is a pack of runners from the beginning to the end.

Jack ran the 5k with a group of friends. It was weird to go to the race by myself and not meet anyone afterwards. I also miss not getting our traditional picture with Jack after the race.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Getting a Christmas Tree

At the end of day, Jack and I met Sharon at Abel's Christmas Trees on Sunrise. Sharon spotted this lot last year. From 2009 to 2014, we got our tree from Lamb's in Elk Grove. From 2003 to 2008, we got a tree at Cal Expo five out of six years. In 2001 and 2002, we bought trees on Folsom Boulevard from a lot which may have been Abel's. In 2000, our first year in Elk Grove, we got a tree on Laguna and Laguna Springs where the Brewhouse parking lot is now.

We picked out a tree and had them flock it. The lot was not officially open yet!?! I am going to go back on Friday to pick it up. Partly to due to the schedule for the progressive neighborhood Christmas party, we are buying a tree more than two weeks earlier than last year!

Sharon, Jack and I finished the day with a nice dinner of Chinese food at the Mandarin Restaurant. Although I probably shouldn't have been, I was surprised how busy the restaurant was.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Jack is back!

Sharon and I picked Jack up at Sacramento International Airport. He is home from college for Thanksgiving. Jack flew Reagan to O'Hare to Sacramento uneventfully...

Jack is back!

Monday, November 21, 2016

ESPN 30 for 30 Vol 3: Believeland

Running on the treadmill over the last couple of days, I re-watched Believeland. At the beginning of the film, it is noted that Cleveland was the only city with three major sports franchises that hadn't won a championship in the last fifty years! This is the ninth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 Volume 3. An episode guide for Vol 3 is here.

The documentary can be roughly divided into five parts. First, it starts by looking at the growth of the city and the success of its sports teams after World War II. In 1948, the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Braves in the World Series. Behind Jim Brown, the Cleveland Browns upset Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts to win the NFL Championship in 1964. This championship starts fifty years of frustration!

Second, the film looks at the Browns of the late 1980s. Coached by Marty Schottenheimer and Quarterbacked by Bernie Kosar, the Cleveland Browns lost the AFC Championship game to the Denver Bronocs at the end of the 1986 and 1987 seasons. In the 1986 Championship game, John Elway drove the Bronocs the length of the field to tie the game and win in overtime [the drive]. In the 1987 Championship game, Ernst Byner fumbled as the Browns were driving to tie the game [the fumble].

Third, the documentary follows the Indians of the late 1990s. The Cleveland Indians lost the 1995 World Series to the Atlanta Braves in six games. The Cleveland Indians then lost the 1997 World Series to the Florida Marlins in game seven by the score of 3 to 2.

One side note, on October 3, 1997, Tomasin, Hunter, Snipes and I went to game three of the Florida Marlins versus San Francisco Giants playoff game at Candlestick. The Giants lost the game by the score of 6 to 2 and were eliminated from the play-off. I am going to post the box score and a few comments about this game in the near future.

The fourth act looks at Art Model's purchase of the Cleveland Browns in the early 1960s and his history with the team and city. When he couldn't get a new stadium, Model ended up moving the Browns to Baltimore in 1996. The NFL turned around and gave Cleveland a new team in 1999. Model and the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000. The Ravens also won the 2012 Super Bowl.

Fifth, the documentary looks at LeBron and the Cleveland Caveliers. Starting with the drafting of LeBron, the film follows LeBron's initial tour with the Cavs. They made it to the NBA Finals in 2006-2007, but were swept by the Spurs. They lost to the Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008-2009 and then to Boston in the second round in 2009-2010.

At this point, LeBron jumped to Miami. The film closes with LeBron coming back to Cleveland and the Cavs losing the 2015 NBA Finals to Golden State. The film first aired in May of 2016 just a couple of months before Cavs beat Golden State to win the NBA Championship.

After the Cavs won the championship, the end of the documentary was reshoot. I need to find new version. Overall, this is a very good film!

A second footnote, Larkin and I saw LeBron play his first professional game!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

House of Cards - Season Two

Sharon and I finished watching the second season of House of Cards. We finished Season One in October of 2016. Season Two was released in its entirety on February 14, 2014.

Season Two begins at the exact time that season one ended. Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood spends most of the season as the newly appointed Vice President of the United States. As Sharon complained, the plot has a lot going on. By the end of the season, President Walker resigns and Underwood becomes President of the United States.

The season earned thirteen Primetime Emmy Award nominations for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards and three nominations at both the 72nd Golden Globe Awards and the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards. Kevin Spacey won Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama for playing Frank Underwood in season two.

While we enjoyed the season, the second season was much darker and violent than the first season. There were more than a few unexpected plot twists...

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bouchaine Wine Club Holiday Pick-up Celebration

On a rainy afternoon, Sharon, Janie and I went to the Bouchaine Vineyards Wine Club Holiday Pick-up Celebration. They served some wood-fired pizzas and desserts.


Bouchaine Wine Club Holiday Pick-up CelebrationBouchaine Wine Club Holiday Pick-up Celebration

Afterwards, we went to Hog Island Oyster Co. at the Oxbow Market in Napa for an early dinner. Sharon and Janie had chowder, while I had the Seafood Stew.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Arden Hills

Thursday, Sharon and I carpooled to work together. On the way home, we went to Arden Hills to work-out. I lifted and then ran on the treadmill, while Sharon did a class.

We finished the night with dinner in the restaurant. It has changed names so many times that I am not sure what they are calling it now. We had a couple of surprisingly good hamburgers.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lone Peregrino

The lone Peregrino walking back to Albergue at dawn after obtaining his compostella and certificate de distance.

Couldn't have done it without Eric. Amazing young man whose company opened up different vistas, encounters and perspectives and significantly enriched the experience.

Been Camino, Eric, as you begin the rest of your journey🚶✝

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Joaquin Miller Cabin

Sharon and I stopped briefly at the Joaquin Miller Cabin while we were hiking in Rock Creek Park.

Joaquin Miller Cabin
contributing property to the
Rock Creek Park Historic District

National Register of Historic Places #1991001524

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

This building is located on the east bank of Rock Creek one half mile north of Military Road in Washington, DC. The GPS coordinates for this location are 38° 57' 50.2" N 77° 02' 46.7" W.

Joaquin Miller Cabin

The Joaquin Miller Cabin is an historic structure situated in Washington, DC's Rock Creek Park. Built by the American poet, essayist and fabulist Joaquin Miller, it represents the only known example of late 19th century Rustic-style log cabin in Washington, D.C.

In 1883, Joaquin Miller (1837–1913) moved to Washington, DC to get involved in politics. He built the cabin near the intersection of 16th and Belmont Streets, NW across from present day Meridian Hill Park to find rustic peace and "find his muse". Miller is known to have occupied the cabin from 1883 to late 1885 when he left for California.

In 1911, the area near Meridian Hill Park was being developed and Henry White, the former ambassador to France, was building an estate on land that included the cabin. The state of California and the Columbia Historical Society sought to save the structure from demolition and have it moved to Rock Creek Park. The board of the National Park Service refused the request but Senator John D. Works, and Joseph R. Knowland of California successfully intervened to force the Park Service to move the cabin to its present location near the east bank of Rock Creek one half mile north of Military Road.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

2016 Corgi Faire

For the third year in a row [2014, 2015], Tiber went to the Corgi Faire at the Dixon Fairgrounds. With Sharon and Erin going to a Cabi Party, I took Tiber by myself. Sharon went by herself in 2013 while looking for a Corgi breeder. Tiber had a great time running around on the lawn with the other Corgis!

Tiber at the Corgi Fair

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Wildwood Kitchen & Bar

Sharon and I went to dinner at Wildwood Kitchen & Bar. This is a fairly new restaurant in the Pavilions Shopping Center. After a nice hummus small plate, Sharon had a Smoked New York steak, while I had Lamb Pappardelle. The food was not good. Mine was ordinary at best, while Sharon thought hers was horrible. While we might go back for the bar and the small plates, we won't be having dinner here again...

Friday, November 11, 2016

Jesuit Drama - 44 Plays for 44 Presidents

Jesuit Drama - 44 Plays for 44 Presidents
Sharon and I went to the Jesuit Drama production of 44 Plays for 44 President. The production included a couple of minute scene on each of the 44 presidents. While I liked it overall, I didn't feel like that they did justice to Grant, Johnson or Bush Sr. For some of the president's they did a really nice job of providing a concise summary of their administration. For others, it was mostly silly.

I have been working on a long term project to read a biography of all of the presidents. The production remind me that I have a big gap between Harrison and Lincoln. There are six president in this twenty year period that I haven't read anything about. None of these presidents served more than a single term.

It was fun to go back to the Black Box theater. It made both Sharon and I think a lot about Jack appearing in Terror Stories: A Post 9/11 Project and Xanadu!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

HBO Cancels Any Given Wednesday

As I have said before, I found Bill Simmon's Any Given Wednesday HBO show unwatchable. Nevertheless, I was surprised to see that they cancelled it so quickly...
HBO Cancels Bill Simmons's Any Given Wednesday

Any Given Wednesday, the weekly HBO talk show hosted by Bill Simmons, will finish its run on Wednesday, Nov. 9 and will not return to the network next season.

The decision was mutually agreed upon by HBO and Simmons, who joined the network in July of 2015. In the past year, Simmons has created the Bill Simmons Media Group, which is responsible for a wide range of linear and digital initiatives including the debut of The Ringer website, developing new content and assets, and re-launching the leading podcast franchise in the sports industry.

Bill Simmons: “One of the many reasons I joined HBO was to see if we could create a show built around smart conversations for sports fans and pop culture junkies. We loved making that show, but unfortunately it never resonated with audiences like we hoped. And that’s on me. But I love being a part of HBO’s family and look forward to innovating with them on other ambitious programming ideas over these next several years - both for the network and for digital. With that said, I want to thank the dedicated staff that worked so diligently with me behind the scenes to make this show every week - we hired so many great and talented people and I loved having them in my life. It’s difficult for me to imagine not working with them anymore.”

“HBO is committed to Bill Simmons, and we are excited to bring his unique vision to bear on an array of new programming initiatives under the HBO Sports banner in 2017,” said Peter Nelson, executive vice president, HBO Sports. “Bill is an award-winning executive producer in the documentary arena, and we will work closely with him in developing new and engaging content for our subscribers.”

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Mesa Mercado

For the first time since August, Sharon and I went back to Mesa Mercado in the Milagro Centre. We sat at the bar and had guacamole, ceviche de pescado and al pastor tacos.

Afterwards, Sharon spent some time talking with the owners of Ghiotto Gelato & Wine Bar.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Fort DeRussy

Sharon and I stopped briefly at Fort DeRussy while we were hiking in Rock Creek Park.

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

This site is located in Rock Creek Park National Park near the intersection of Military Road NW and Oregon Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 20015. The GPS coordinates for this location are 38° 57.781′ N, 77° 3.037′ W.

Fort DeRussy

One of the Civil War Defenses of Washington. Constructed on the site in 1861 Fort DeRussy commanded the deep valley of Rock Creek. Its armament consisted of 11 guns and mortars including a 100-pounder Parrott Rifle.

Fort DeRussy

Fort DeRussy

Built in 1861 to protect the Rock Creek Valley during the Civil War, Fort DeRussy's cannon fired a total of 109 projectiles into the northern countryside as 12,000-15,000 Confederate soldiers attacked the city under the command of Confederate General Jubal Anderson Early on July 11-12, 1864. During this two day battle (known as the Battle of Fort Stevens) Fort DeRussy aided the surrounding forts by providing the main suppressive fire to ensure a Union victory on the battlefield.

The largest piece of armament which Fort DeRussy utilized was the 100-Pound Parrott Rifle. This cannon, shown above at nearby Fort Totten, could hurl 100 pound projectiles several miles into the Maryland countryside. During the Battle of Fort Stevens, Fort DeRussy halted the Confederate advance into the city by firing this deadly and accurate cannon a total of 28 times.

[image Parrott Rifle at Fort Totten] Members of the 3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery by 100-Pounder Parrott Rifle inside Fort Totten, 1865.

[photo of Private Samuel Strawser] Private Samuel Strawser, a member of the 151st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, was stationed at Fort DeRussy during the Battle of Fort Stevens.

[photo of General Jubal Early] "On the right was Rock Creek, running through a deep ravine which had been rendered impassable... every appliance

You can download a podcast of Fort DeRussy at

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump

My book for September was Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump by Gary Trudeau. When I was working for the farm credit banks in Sacramento in the 1980s, I used to stop every morning and buy a San Francisco Chronicle. The Chronicle had Doonesbury, while the Sacramento Bee refused to publish it. One of my highlights every morning was reading the comic strip.

Trudeau started using Donald Trump as a character in his comic strip on September 14, 1987. Much to Trump's chagrin, he has been a recurring character ever since. Trump described Trudeau as the “sleaze ball” “third-rate talent” who draws the “overrated” comic strip Doonesbury, which “very few people read.”

The book is organized into four sections covering the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and the 2010s. The comics weave real life events from Trump's life into Trudeau cast of characters and their ongoing story lines.

As I said at the top, I am a huge Doonesbury fan. I enjoyed this collection immensely. It is a must read as part of this unusual election cycle.