Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year's Eve 2018

Sharon's brother Tom came over. Sharon made a nice dinner of osso buco, risotto and green beans. Jack joined us for dinner before he and Jason took off for El Dorado Hills.

Sharon, Tom and I watched Roma on Netflix. Although it is foreign film with subtitles, Roma is on a number of lists as an Oscar Best Picture nominee. You can find more on the film here.

Sharon and I made it to midnight. We finished the night watching fireworks from the master balcony.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

House of Cards - Season Six

After getting back from visiting with my sisters on Saturday night, December 29, Sharon and I finished the sixth season of House of Cards. We finished season one in October of 2016, season two in November of 2016, season three in April of 2017, season four in June of 2017 and season five in September of 2017. This season was originally released on November 2, 2018.

The season does not include former lead actor Kevin Spacey who was fired from the show due to sexual misconduct allegations. In the wake of Spacey's firing, Robin Wright leads the sixth season of House of Cards. Her character, Claire Underwood, assumed the presidency at the end of the previous season.

New additions to the cast included Diane Lane and Greg Kenner who played Annette and Bill Shepherd, the sister-brother inheritors of an industrial conglomerate. Portrayed as a family with the power to influence politics, the characters were inspired by the Koch brothers.

I really hated this season. I disliked it even more than I disliked season three. They were already filming season six when Spacey was fired. It is clear that they quickly rewrote the plot for the season. The end result is a disjointed abbreviated season with lots of loose ends and a bad finale.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

To Marin County

Tiber and Sheep

Drew, Jack and IRolling from Carmichael about 8:30 am, the plan for the day was to meet up with my sisters, a couple of cousins and Drew and Shannon in Marin County. We met at the Smith Ranch Park and Ride. The group included Lee Ann and Dean, Sharon and Michael, Drew and Shannon, my cousins Pete and Christine, Sharon, Jack and I. There are also multiple dogs, including Tiber, Lee Ann's two Brussels Griffon terriers and a Great Pyrenees named Bear that Drew and Shannon were house sitting.

From the park and ride, we headed up Lucas Valley Road to the property that Lee Ann and Dean have bought. Located off of Fire Road, they have twenty-five acres and plans to build house there. Dean brought the blueprints and showed us how the split level house would be laid out.

We stopped for lunch in Rancho Nicosia Bar and Restaurant. After lunch, we headed to Sharon and Michael's property. They have fifty acres near the corner of San Antonio Road and I Street south of Petaluma. Sharon has about two dozen sheep that she uses to train her sheep dogs. On the way to the property, Sharon picked up her five sheep dogs!

We roamed the property. My sister Sharon gave Tiber a chance to herd the sheep. We watched a couple of her dogs work the sheep.

We had a very nice visit. We ended up staying later than I expected. It was also 4 pm by the time we left. Hitting an accident on Highway 37 and lots of traffic on Highway 80, it was almost 6:30 pm by the time that we got home.

At Sharon and Michael's property

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Wine Tasting in Napa

Crouching Spider, 2003, by Louise Bourgeois
At Donum Estates

Leaving the house before 9 am, the plan for the day was wine tasting in Napa. Sharon had wine shipments to pick up at several wineries where she is a wine club member. We made a quick stop at Raleys to grab a couple of sandwiches.

The first stop was Bouchaine Vineyards. Sharon has been a wine club member here since our first visit in 2010. It is amazing how much this winery has changed in the last nine years. They are building a new tasting room that will be open in the spring. We sat on the back deck, had a nice tasting and ate our sandwiches.

From there, we headed to Donum Estate. Thanks to Sharon's friend Noel, we discovered this winery two years ago with the Sanborns on the way to Sea Ranch. This is a remarkable winery with a world class collection of art. With the wind coming out of the north, it was a very clear day. We tasted in a room on the south end of their new tasting room with gorgeous views of the bay. You could see all the way to San Francisco.

We were back on the road towards home about 1:45 pm. It was a slog. The traffic was very heavy. The GPS in Sharon's car actually routed me on the freeway in Fairfield and Vacaville. We were home just after 4:00 pm...

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Rey Azteca plus

Jack and I had a nice dinner at Rey Azteca. Afterwards, we watched the Kings play the Clippers. Falling behind by more than 25 points, the Kings rallied in the fourth quarter to make the game close.

Sharon had dinner with Liz and Liz's friend Scott at Samurai Sushi. They celebrated Liz's birthday.

I spent the afternoon adding a Ring Doorbell Pro to the collection of things that I have running in SmartThings.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Day 2018

With Sharon feeling a little under the weather, we had a slow start to the morning. We exchanged presents. This year, for the first time that I can remember, I let Sharon pick out her Christmas present. [Note to self], while it was definitely a hit, I think that I will go back to a surprise in the future. Sharon got a necklace, while I got a Ring Doorbell. After presents, I made waffles for breakfast.

The plan for the day was a movie and dinner with Sharon's brother Tom. This is the tenth year in a row that we have seen a movie on Christmas Day! We saw Vice at the Century Arden 14 and XD. Vice is on some lists as an Oscars Best Picture nomination.

After the movie, we headed for an early dinner at Buca di Beppo. We split bruschetta, a chopped antipasti salad, eggplant parmigiana, spaghetti with meatballs and chicken limone.




We finished the night with coffee and dessert at Tom's house. We watched the Grinch.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve 2018

Drew and Shannon spent the night with us. We had a nice leisurely breakfast and exchanged gifts. It was very nice to get a chance to spend some time with Shannon.

For the eighth time in ten years, we hosted Christmas Eve. The group of Frames, Funks and Heringers included: Tim and Kathy, Eileen and Will, Erin and Cormac, Tom, Kevin, Leah, Lydia and Amelia, Eric and Ashley, Jim, Terri and Steve, Lori, Fabian, Brian and Bella, Sharon, Jack and I. At 23, this sets a record for the number of people that we have hosted for a holiday dinner!

Christmas Eve 2018

Sharon made a nice dinner of Prime Rib and Ham. Everyone contributed something to the evening including rolls, salad and lasagna.

Last year, the present opening was a little bit of a fiasco. This year, things went much more smoothly. With Jack orchestrating, we went back to doing a round robin by age.

With everyone showing up earlier this year at 3:00 pm, the original plan was to go to Mass at 11:00 pm. We didn't make it; it is probably the first time in 15 years that we haven't made it to Mass on Christmas Eve...

Sunday, December 23, 2018

2018 Kings verus Pelicans

2018 Kings versus Pelicans

Shannon, Drew and JackSharon, Jack, Drew, Shannon and I went to the Sacramento Kings versus New Orleans Pelicans NBA game. Trailing by as much as 19 points in the first half, the Kings roared back in the fourth quarter to win the game by the score of 122 to 117.

The Kings leading scorer was Buddy Hield. He had 28 points on 11 for 18 from the the field, 6 for 11 from three and 0 for 1 from the free throw line. It seems like Hield has scored 28 points in every game for the last two weeks... Borden Bogdanovic added 24 points off the bench.

Jrue Holiday was the Pelicans leading scorer. He had 27 points on 12 for 21 from the field, 1 for 5 from three and 2 for 3 from the free throw line. For much of the game, it seemed like Holiday was walking into the paint and making a lay-up without anyone touching him. Anthony Davis added 26 points and 17 rebounds.

The Pelicans were 6 for 26 (23.1%) from three point range. The Kings were 14 for 31 (45.2%).

The Kings now have three wins and one loss in games that I have seen in person during the 2018-2019 season. My goal continues to be to see at last one game a month. With two games left in 2018, the Kings (18-15) are guaranteed of heading into the new year with a winning record for the first time since 2004-05.

After the game, the five of us had leisurely dinner at Il Fornaio. We split a ANTIPASTO DELLA CASA [a sampling of authentic Italian antipasti including: Prosciutto di Parma, Italian salami, mortadella with pistachios, caprese, bruschetta, grilled artichoke, roasted bell pepper, Grana Padang, mixed olives]. Drew and I both had RAVIOLI ALLA LUCANA [organic spinach ravioli filled with Italian sausage, ricotta, Grana Padang & fennel; topped with fresh tomatoes, spicy tomato sauce with imported peperoncino, pecorino pupate cheese & fresh basil]. Sharon had a regional branzino dish, while Shannon had LINGUINE MARE CHIARO [thin flat pasta with clams, mussels, prawns & scallops; seasoned with tomatoes, crushed red pepper, garlic & Trebbiano wine].

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas Cookies

Like last year, Sharon, Tom, Eric, Ashley, Erin and Eileen spent the morning making Christmas Cookies.

Christmas Cookies

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Jack is Back!

Jack took an Uber from campus to Dulles Airport. Like Thanksgiving, I was shocked that it only took him 31 minutes to get to the airport.

He caught a 5:20 pm nonstop United flight from Dulles to Sacramento. Jack was on the ground in Sacramento just after 8:00 pm.

Sharon and I picked him up. I was disappointed to see a Tesla and a Volt parked in the charging stations in the parking garage.

Monday, December 17, 2018

mailing the Christmas Cards

Twenty of the last twenty-one years, Sharon and I have sent out a Christmas Card. Dissatisfied with the quality of the photos on commercial cards like Shutterfly, I have built my own format and process. Unfortunately, this is a lot more work...

Every year, I promise myself that I will get it done earlier, but it always slips into a last minute rush. Last year, I mailed about 70 cards on Sunday afternoon, December 17 and another 30 plus cards on Monday morning, December 18.

This year, I dropped 104 Christmas Cards in the mail box on Monday, December 17. I might send out a couple more this week.

[Note to self], I would like to do a horizontal card next year. I did one in 2007.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Holiday Party

Saturday afternoon, Sharon and I went to the Hultquist's Holiday Party. Sharon and I worked with Larry and Jeana at the F@rm Credit Banks.

We visited with Randy and Marilyn Patane and Van and Holly Wong. I also talked briefly with Bob McCubbin.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

2018 Neighborhood Progressive Christmas Party

Sharon and I went to the fourth annual [2015, 2016, 2017] progressive Christmas Party in the Deterding Ranch neighborhood. The group included: Greg and Mitchell; Jim (Debi was sick); Rod and Kathy; Dan and Debra; Mike and Jill; Tom and Judy; Glenn, Tanya and Jensen; Mary Ann and Scott; Addie (sp?) and Diane, and; Sharon and I.

Deterding Ranch Neighborhood Holiday Party

The party started the evening at Judy and Tom's home for hors d'oeuvre. The party then moved next door to Jill and Mike's house for a sit down dinner. They served a pork roast; Sharon made brussel sprouts and mash potatoes. After dinner, the group moved to Mary Ann and Scott's house for dessert and an ornament exchange.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Holiday Dinner

Sharon and Janie had their traditional holiday dinner and gift exchange at Ruth Chris [2017, 2016]. Sharon took "Eber" to the restaurant and got there about 5:20 pm. I picked her up about 10 pm. I am always surprised at how long they will spend having dinner...

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Back from Portland

I spent the day in a series of meetings in Portland. The project that we first started talking about two years ago is now starting to move slowly forward. At the end of the day, I caught a 7:30 pm Southwest flight back to Sacramento. Boarding with A34, I got the same exit row aisle seat that I got on the way up to Portland on Monday. I was home back in Carmichael before 9:30 pm...

Monday, December 10, 2018

To Portland

After spending the day interviewing the IT team at Rideout, I caught a 5:20 pm Southwest flight to Portland. Boarding with A21, I got one of the less desirable exit row aisle seats. I caught an Uber into downtown Portland. I am spending one night at the Residence Inn in the Pearl District. After a five mile run on the treadmill, I finished the night with a flatbread in the Lot 4 Restaurant.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Volvo XC60 T8 - Day 42

We bought the Volvo XC60 T8 on October 28. So far, I am very pleased with the vehicle.

The first tank of gas was November 23 at 1,036 miles. The first thousand miles included a work trip to Marysville and a weekend trip to South Shore Tahoe.

As part of my commute, I have been parking across the street from my work in the morning at a free electric vehicle charger provided by Volta. My commute is just under 30 miles round trip. The SUV is rated at 21 miles all electric. By topping off the battery at the free charger most mornings, my round trip uses very little gas.

Even in the pure mode, the car will turn on the gas engine occasionally. As long as there's juice remaining in the battery, the “pure” mode helps ensure the vehicle stays electric-only and zero-emissions.

I am not crazy about the control that allows you to select the different driving modes, including hybrid, pure, off road, AWD and power. The car always starts in hybrid mode and has to be switched to pure with an odd rocker control.

I am extremely pleased with the Apple Carplay interface to the iPhone. I love being able to get easy access to my podcasts. The Waze interface is fantastic. Being able to listen and then respond to a text messages using Siri is useful.

About my only real complaint at this point is user interface on the technology. There is essentially a touch screen computer in the dashboard. Some of the ways that you interact with the controls seem inconsistent. It will be interesting to see if this gets upgraded and changed over the life of the vehicle. It appears that the technology has the capacity for over-the-air updates.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

BlacKkKlansman

Saturday night, Sharon and I watched BlacKkKlansman as an HD rental on the AppleTV. We have shifted into a mode of trying to guess which films and performances will be nominated for Oscars. The American Film Institute selected this film as one of the top 10 films of the 2018. Additionally, it has earned four Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture – Drama.

BlacKkKlansman is a biographical comedy-drama film directed by Spike Lee. The movie is based on the 2014 memoir Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth. The film stars John David Washington (Denzel's son!) as Stallworth, along with Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, and Topher Grace. Harry Belafonte appears in the film recounting the lynching of Jesse Washington. Alec Baldwin appears briefly at the beginning of the film.

Set in 1970s Colorado Springs, the plot follows the first African-American detective in the city's police department as he sets out to infiltrate and expose the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. It was theatrically released in the United States on August 10, 2018 coinciding with the one-year anniversary of the white supremacist Unite the Right rally.

BlacKkKlansman isn't going to win best picture. Although a little slow in the middle, it is a solid movie. Coincidentally, the chapter of Master of the Senate that I am reading deals with the civil rights movement...

Friday, December 07, 2018

Gainsley's Christmas Party

Gainsley's Christmas PartySharon and I stopped for an early dinner at the Buckhorn Grill in University Village. Sitting at the bar, Sharon had a Steakhouse Burger [Roadhouse Onions, cheddar cheese, & Sweet Fire BBQ sauce] and I had a Buckhorn Burger. I was not impressed with the food; I told Sharon that I rated it a five on a scale of one to ten. We did get a chance to see the end of the Kings versus Cavs game. On a three game winning streak, the Kings won the game by the score of 129 to 110.

From there, we headed to the Gainsley's Christmas Party in Elk Grove. For the second year in a row, we made it to their party! Over the years, it seems like we have often had a conflict. We stayed about an hour and had a nice visit with Laurel and June.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle

Tuesday night, November 23, Jack and I watched Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle as an HD rental on the AppleTV. Sharon, Jack and I had watched the first film in May of 2015. We enjoyed the first film enough to watch the sequel...  Sharon only got through the first 40 minutes before going to bed.

Released in September 2017, the film features Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Edward Holcroft, Hanna Alström and Sophie Cookson reprising their roles from the first film with Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Elton John, Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges joining the cast. The plot follows the members of Kingsman needing to team up with their American counterpart, Statesman, after the world is held hostage by Poppy Adams and her drug cartel, "The Golden Circle." It is based on the comic book series Kingsman.

The movie jumps the shark in a number of places. I tried to keep reminding myself that it was based on a comic book. I was somewhat shocked to see Elton John in the movie. I enjoyed the film, but don't recommend going out of your way to watch it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

California Historical Landmark #1048

Sharon and I stopped here briefly on our way to South Lake Tahoe. This is a fairly new historical marker; it appears to have been placed in 2014.

Site of Echo Summit
California State Historical Landmark #1048

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

This landmark is located at located at 21200 Highway 50, South Lake Tahoe, California in El Dorado County. There are 30 other California State Historical Landmarks in El Dorado County. The GPS coordinates for this location are 38° 48' 51.5" N 120° 02' 03.0" W.

California Historical Landmark #1048

In 1968, Echo Summit servied as a high-altitude training center and site of the U.S. Olympic men's track and field trials. Four world records were shattered here on the track carved out of the El Dorado National Forest. The U.S. team selected for the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City was celebrated worldwide for its athletic dominance and deep commitment to racial equality.

California Historical Landmark #1048

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

2018 Christmas Tree

In 2015 and 2016, we got Christmas trees at Able's on Sunrise. We were extremely happy with the trees that we got there. When that lot disappeared in 2017, we weren't sure what to do. We stopped at a lot at Cal Expo and then at Lamb's in Elk Grove. We bought trees at Lamb's from 2009 to 2014. We ended up buying a flocked tree at Lamb's. Sharon and Jack were very unhappy with the tree; they felt that it was too small.

Last Wednesday night [November 28], Sharon and I stopped at Bambi's Christmas Trees at Douglas and South Harding. Apparently, this lot has been there for years. They had a wide assortment of large trees, they flock trees and they deliver. We headed up buying a tree tagged as 11 to 12 feet. It was delivered tonight. Sharon went home early to meet them. By the time I got home, the tree was in the house and up on a stand. It is definitely the biggest tree that we have ever gotten!

Monday, December 03, 2018

2018 Jesuit High School Lessons & Carols

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is a service of Christian worship celebrating the birth of Jesus that is traditionally followed at Christmas. The story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus is told in nine short Bible readings from Genesis, the prophetic books and the Gospels, interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols, hymns and choir music.
For the third straight year [2016, 2017], Sharon and I went to Lessons & Carols, an evening of prayer and song presented by the Jesuit High School Chamber Singers, the Concert Choir of St. Francis High School and Jesuit Drama at the Chapel of the North American Martyrs. Sharon's brother Tom went with us. Sharon went by herself in 2015 while I was working in the Napa Valley.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Potpourri

The California International Marathon is run the first Sunday in December. They close Fair Oaks at Palm from about 7:30 am to 11:30 am. Last year, Sharon and I walked to Mass at Our Lady of Assumption. This year, Sharon, Tiber and I walked out to Fair Oaks and watched the race leader go by. We watched the race for about 15 minutes before heading back to the house.

I ran the marathon twice in the 1980s and once in the 2000s. I would love to be able to find the results from the 1980s...

In March, when I was at Spring Training, I talked to the Wallens about the idea of Sharon and I coming up to Seattle for the 49ers versus Seahawks game. I have gone to the game twice with Wallen [2009, 2013]. When Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a knee injury, I punted on the idea. Snipes, Tomasin, David and his girlfriend ended up going to the game! The Seahawks won the game by the score of 43 to 16.

Sharon finished the day going to a Nordstorms sales event with Janie and Terra.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

2018 F@rm Credit West Christmas Party

For the seventh time in the last eight years [2011, 2102, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017], Sharon and I went to the F@rm Credit West Christmas Party. In 2016, Sharon was feeling under the weather and we missed the party.

This year, it was held at the Randy Peter's Event Center in Roseville. We sat with Holly and Van, Chris Petersen, Sylvia and her husband and one of the paralegals at dinner. With Holly retiring at the end of February, this will be the last time that Holly and Van attend. There are fewer and fewer people every year that I knew when I worked for F@arm Credit.