Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year's Eve 2020

I have said in the past that "I have always counted New Year's Eve as my least favorite holiday." This has changed in recent years. With Drew and Shannon and Morgan and Lee close by this year, it has been a very different holiday season.

I had originally proposed going to Rattlesnake bar for a hike. Sharon counter-proposed going to Bannister Park. Jack, Drew, Sharon, Tiber and I ended up hiking 4.2 miles from Bannister Park across the American River and up river to the Fair Oaks Bridge. We headed back across the river into old Fair Oaks. We stopped for a beer at the Fair Oaks Brew Pub. Afterwards, we wound our way back to the car. I will post a map of the week in the future.

Jack, Drew and I finished the afternoon playing Game of Thrones Catan. I think that Drew won.

In the early evening, we watched the end of the Kings verus Rockets basketball game. The Kings fell just short and lost by the score of 122 to 119.

Sharon made a great dinner of prime rib, baked potatoes and brussel sprouts. We had Tiramisu for dessert.

After dinner, we ended up watching Rounders. More on the movie in a future post.

We finished the night watching fireworks from the master bedroom balcony. I continue to be amazed at the number of fireworks shows spread around the valley.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Lewser! - More Doonesbury in the Time of Trump

My book for December is Lewser! - More Doonesbury in the Time of Trump by Gary Trudeau. As I have said before, 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. Lewser! is a follow up to Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump that was published before the 2016 presidential election and #SAD!: Doonesbury in the Time of Trump that was released in 2018.

Lewser! tracks Trump through the dark heart of Trump's presidency and into 2020 election mania. It is organized into four sections: The Stable Genius; In Search of Trump's Brain; Lie 10,000; and, Cornering the Rat.

While I enjoyed it, this book is not as good as Yuge! Both Lewser! and #SAD feel thin compared to the first book.

A footnote. I am disappointed in the pace of my reading over the last year. The shelter-in-place and work from home shifts have changed a number of my rhythms. Additionally, in the past, I read a lot when we traveled; we obviously haven't traveled much in 2020. One of my goals for 2021 is to change my patterns and read more!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Dinner with Drew and Shannon plus Christmas Lights and Catan

Drew and Shannon stopped by for dinner. Sharon threw together a nice meal of tamales, chili verde and rice.

After dinner, Drew, Shannon, Jack and Sharon did a driving tour of the Christmas lights in the Fabulous 40s.  Feeling beat up after a long afternoon at the dentist, I stayed home.

Drew, Jack and I finished the night playing Catan. Drew won both games. Much to Jack's frustration, I still make too many mistakes in the game play.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Last Christmas

Over the last eleven years, we have gone to see a movie on Christmas Day and then out to dinner. Although Jack talked about going to a drive-in, with the pandemic raging, we decided to just stay home and watch a movie. Sharon is a huge George Michael fan and has talked about seeing Last Christmas since it was released in late 2019. After dinner on Christmas, Drew and Shannon, Sharon, Jack and I watched the movie.

Last Christmas is a romantic comedy directed by Paul Feig and written by Bryony Kimmings and Emma Thompson. It is based on the George Michael's song of the same name and inspired by his music.

The film stars Emilia Clarke [Game of Thrones] as a disillusioned Christmas store worker who forms a relationship with a mysterious man (Henry Golding-Crazy Rich Asians) and begins to fall for him. The cast includes Michelle Yeoh [Tomorrow Never Dies] and Emma Thompson.

Sharon liked the movie more than I did. It is fairly mindless entertainment. I give it a lukewarm thumbs up.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Tenet

Saturday night after Christmas, Sharon, Jack and I watched Tenet. Jack started talking about wanting to see the movie soon after he got here for the holidays.

Tenet is a action-thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. it stars John David Washington [BlacKkKlansman], Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh.

There are three things to know about the movie. First, it is science fiction. Second, the plot uses time travel as a key plot element. Third, the future is at war with the present due to the impact of climate change. The story follows a secret agent (Washington) as he manipulates the flow of time to prevent World War III.

I frankly enjoyed the movie more than I expected. I have heard so much about how it is difficult to follow the plot that I expected more of a trainwreck.

Nevertheless, as I have said before, I am just not a big fan of time travel stories in books and movies. The logic of the impact on the changes of current and future timelines just gets so messy. I give the movie a lukewarm recommendation because the plot plays with some interesting ideas and the special effects in the last half of the movie are visually stunning.

One footnote. The movie had a production budget of $200 million. Rather than using models and special effects, Nolan bought an actual 747 airplane to crash into a building as part of the film!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Sharon, Liz and Laura

Liz and Laura dropped by in the late morning. The three of them spent a couple of hours on the deck catching up and exchanging presents.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Day 2020

Christmas Eve and Day represented a very different experience this year. This is the first time that I have spent these holidays with both Drew and Morgan since at least 2002. Additionally, it has been more than twenty-six years since I haven't spent Christmas Eve with Sharon's family. With the first ripples dating back almost eighteen months, an enormous sea change has taken place. While the change has been favorable for Sharon and I, I honestly feel bad about the current impacts and future ramifications to Drew and Morgan.

Christmas Day morning, everyone was up and moving fairly early. We did the stockings. Afterwards, we made waffles, bacon and berries for breakfast. When we were done with breakfast, we shifted back to opening presents.

Drew and Jack spent some time in the morning flying Drew's drone. I was worried that the drone would end up in a tree, but they got some amazing footage. I will post a couple of the videos in the next couple of weeks.

Morgan, Lee and Daniel showed up a little after 10 am. Lee had lunch and then went down for his afternoon nap. Sharon and I did a Frame Family Christmas Zoom get together in the late morning.
Drew, Jack and I spent part of the afternoon playing a Game of Thrones branded version of Catan. This is not just a re-skinned version of the game. It is a substantial variation that includes a number of naunces. It actually started to make more sense as we moved through the first game. We took a break to walk Tiber. Jack ended up winning.

After Lee got up from his nap, we opened Morgan, Lee and Daniel's presents. Drew and Shannon gave Morgan a giant piano mat. I am fascinated by Drew and Morgan's musical ability. Jack is also developing some musical ability.

For dinner, Sharon served individual beef wellingtons and green beans. Morgan, Lee and Daniel took off shortly after dinner.

The rest of us finished the night watching Last Christmas. My notes about Last Christmas and our Christmas Day tradition of seeing a movie are here. After the movie, we had a nice dessert that Shannon made before everyone crashed.  Shannon and Drew spent a second night with us.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve 2020

Sharon and I spent a hectic day getting the house cleaned up.  With everyone getting tested for COVID this week, Sharon, Jack and I hosted Morgan, Daniel and Lee and Drew and Shannon for Christmas Eve. Sharon noted that it was the first time that she hasn't spent Christmas Eve with her family.

Before Drew and Shannon got there, we spent some time on the deck. We added a propane patio heater in the last week.

We had a very nice dinner of ham, lasagna and green salad. Shannon made the Lasagna.

Morgan, Lee and Daniel headed home a little after 7 pm. Sharon, Jack, Drew, Shannon and I had a relaxing evening catching up and opening a few presents. There are a lot of presents left to open on Christmas Day.

In an unexcepted surprise, Jack had built a Jeopardy game with questions based on posts in this blog!?! We finished the night playing Jeopardy. Being caught off guard and falling behind early, I rallied to beat Sharon, Drew and Shannon and win the game.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

2020 Kings versus Nuggets {virtual}

As I said almost five months ago, I am not sure when we will be able to attend the Kings games in person again... With the team struggling and missing the playoffs over the last fourteen years, I have continued to go to home games, but I rarely sit and watch a whole Kings game on television. With the shelter in place and work from home still in force, I am going to watch a few complete games over the next couple of months.

Wednesday night, Sharon, Jack and I watched the Sacramento Kings versus Denver Nuggets NBA game. Buddy Hield tipped in a Harold Barnes miss at the buzzer in overtime. Kings won the game by the score of 124 to 122.

With 22 points, Hield was the high scorer for the Kings. He was 7 for 15 from the field, 5 for 11 from three and 3 for 3 from the free throw line. Fox and Barnes both added 21 points.

Nikola Jokic was the Nugget's leading scorer. He had 29 points on 11 for 18 from the field, 1 for 2 from three and 6 for 9 from the free throw line. Jokic added 15 rebounds and 14 assists for a triple double.

Jamal Murray killed the Nuggets. He was 1 for 9 from the field and 0 for 5 from three.

Watching a game on television is such a different experience than seeing a game in person. At times when I am in the arena, I like to follow individual players rather than the ball. Last night, I would have liked to watch Tyrese Haliburton. He ended up playing 30 minutes in his NBA debut. Additionally, in person, you get a better sense of the spacing and the flow of the offense.

A log of 2020-2021 Kings games that I saw in person or watched virtually is here.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Jack visiting for the holidays

Spending a couple of weeks in Jamaica, Jack caught a Delta flight from Montego Bay to Atlanta. After an hour and half layover, he caught another Delta flight to Sacramento. Jack was on the ground a little after 10 pm. Sharon and I picked him up.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

2020 Neighborhood Christmas Party

Sharon and I attended to the sixth annual [2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019] Deterding Ranch Christmas Party. With the pandemic raging, we did a Zoom get together rather than a progressive dinner.

The group included: Greg and Mitchell; Jim and Debi; Rod and Kathy; Mike and Jill; Brad, Heidi and Clark, and; Sharon and I. We did a secret Santa ornament exchange. Afterwards, the Jill led the group in a game of "who is most likely."

Friday, December 18, 2020

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Firday night, Sharon and I watched Ma Rainey's Black Bottom on Netflix. This film is being talked about for several possible Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is based on the play of the same name by August Wilson. Denzel Washington initially had a deal with the television network HBO to produce nine of the playwright August Wilson's plays into films. The first film was Fences. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is the second.

The play's title comes from Ma Rainey's song of the same name. Rainey was a well-known blues-singer in the 1920s.

The film stars Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman with Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo and Michael Potts in supporting roles. Boseman (Black Panther star) died during post-production.

The movie chronicles the 20th-century African-American experience. Set in Chicago in the 1920s, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom deals with issues of race, art, religion and the historic exploitation of black recording artists by white producers.

When it was over, Sharon said "that was not good." While I liked it more than Sharon did, I don't recommend it. Boseman has several particularly powerful scenes. It will be interesting to see if he wins an Oscar.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The City Game: Basketball from the Garden to the Playgrounds

My book for November was The City Game: Basketball from the Garden to the Playgrounds The book is included on Bill Simmon's list of the best sports books.

The book follows the New York Knicks 1969-1970 season as the team winds it way to its first NBA Championship. The book includes chapters on the key players, including Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Cazzie Russell, Bill Bradley and Dave DeBusschere. The Knicks defeated the Lakers (Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and Wilt Chamberlain) in a tough seven game series. Game seven included the legendary story of Willis Reed dragging himself on to the court to play.

The book is more than a history of the Knicks' first championship. It explores what basketball means to New York City, including the young black men who spend their nights and weekends perfecting their skills on the concrete courts of the city’s parks.

This is a very readable book. I recommend it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Dinner with Morgan and Lee

Wednesday night, Sharon and I picked up curbside takeout from Siam Patio Thai Cuisine. We took the food to Morgan's apartment and had dinner with her and Lee. Our order included: Thai Dumpling; Pad Thai with chicken; Thai Fried Rice with no meat; Spicy Eggplant with pork and brown rice; Jade Green Curry with Mixed Vegetables, Mild and no rice; Broccoli Oyster Sauce with beef.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Jamaica

Jack is spending a couple of weeks staying with his girlfriend's family and working from remotely at the Rainbow Tree Villa in Treasure Beach, Jamaica.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Investigating practices by Sutter Health that led to higher California health care costs

From the middle of 1998 to early 2014, I worked for Sutter Health. The organization as it exists today really dates from the merger with CHS in 1996. It was interesting to be part of Sutter Health's drive to change from a set of affiliated hospitals to a tightly integrated delivery network. Sunday night's 60 Minutes segment paints a less than flattering picture of the impact on consumers of the end result.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

The Crown - Season Four

Friday night, Sharon and I finished watching season four of The Crown on Netflix. We finished watching season one in April of 2018, season two in May of 2018 and season three in February of 2020.

The fourth season spans 1977 to 1990. It is set during Margaret Thatcher's period as prime minister and also focuses on Lady Diana Spencer. Events depicted include Lord Mountbatten's funeral, the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, the births of Princes William and Harry, the Falklands War, Michael Fagan's break-in at Buckingham Palace, the Prince and Princess of Wales's 1983 tour of Australia and New Zealand, the Princess of Wales's appearance at the Barnardo's Champion Children Awards, and Thatcher's departure from office.

Olivia Colman stars as Elizabeth, along with main cast members Tobias Menzies [Prince Philip], Helena Bonham Carter [Princess Margret], Josh O'Connor [Prince Charles] and Erin Doherty [Princess Anne]. Season four adds Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher and Emma Corrin as Diana, Princess of Wales.

Personally, I think that this may be the best season of The Crown so far. Gillian Anderson's performance as Margaret Thatcher is astonishing. The season paints Charles as a spoiled, petulant child; he is not a sympathetic character. I really enjoyed this season and highly recommend it.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

At Lincoln Hills Orchard Course

Sharon and I played golf on Saturday afternoon with Holly and Van at Lincoln Hills on the Orchard Course. Originally, we were planning to plan on Sunday, but decide to switch to Saturday based on the forecast of rain on Sunday. I have never played this course before.  Teeing off at 1:15 pm, we are able to play fifteen holes before it got dark.

Like when played on the day before Thanksgiving, I feel solid at the driving range, but couldn't translate that to the course. I continue to play inconsistently. Surprisingly, my chipping wasn't the biggest problem... I had a par on a short par five. Additionally, I had three iron shots (a long pitching wedge, a nine iron and a seven iron) that were as good as I can hit a golf club; each dropped on the green with a deep divot. I struggled on a several of the more difficult holes (lots of tules!).

After golf, we had a socially distance dinner with outdoor heaters in Holly and Van's backyard. We got a Doordash delivery from Sienna. Van and I had stir fry (tofu and chicken, respectively), Sharon had a burger and Holly had short ribs.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Downton Abbey - Season Five

Monday night, Sharon and I finished watching season five of Downton Abbey. We finished season one in August, season two in early September, season three in late September and season four in October at Sea Ranch.

The fifth season comprises nine episodes. It originally aired from September 21, 2014 to November 9, 2014 with a December 25, 2014 special Christmas episode.

The show explores the lives of the fictional Crawley family, the hereditary Earls of Grantham, and their domestic servants. The storyline in season four runs from February to December of 1924. Historical events include the election of the MacDonald Labour government, the British Empire Exhibition, the Beer Hall Putsch and displaced Russian aristocrats.

I continue to enjoy and recommend the series.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

mailing the Christmas Cards

Twenty-two of the last twenty-three years, Sharon and I have sent out a Christmas Card. Dissatisfied with the quality of the photos on commercial cards like Shutterfly in the late 2000s, I built my own format and process. Unfortunately, this was a lot of work... Additionally, the number of cards that we send out has exploded to over 100 in the last fifteen years with the inclusion of people from SEAS, Outlaws, Jesuit High, Sutter Health, Adventist Health and Deterding Ranch.

This year, I decided to go back to a commercially printed greeting card. Everything went a lot quicker!  I dropped 119 Christmas Cards at the post office on Sunday night, December 6.  I have a few more that I want to get in the mail this weekend.

In 2019, I dropped 73 Christmas Cards at the post office on Tuesday night, December 17 and 33 more on Wednesday morning, December 18.

In 2018, I dropped 104 cards at the post office on Monday, December 17.

In 2017, I mailed about 70 cards on Sunday afternoon, December 17 and another 30 plus cards on Monday morning, December 18.

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

More than 10,000 steps a day for 500 days

Over the last 500 days, I have taken more than 10,000 steps a day every day. Based on the Withings app, I have more than 9.5 million steps during that period and have averaged just over 19,000 steps a day.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

iPad Air

The first iPad was shipped in April of 2010. I purchased one in May of 2010. I used it for a number of years to score Jack's baseball and basketball games and decreasing as a kindle and internet browser when we traveled.

Although I have refreshed my iPhone, Apple watch and Apple TVs on a regular basis, I have several older Apple devices in addition to the iPad, including a Macbook Air (September 2011) and Mac Pro (early 2009) that have been work horses. In December, I am updating several devices and changing my approach to how I use the devices. The first update is the iPad. I replaced my first generation iPad with a iPad Air.

iPad Air

Monday, December 07, 2020

Mank

Saturday night, Sharon and I watched Mank on Netflix. This film is being talked about for several possible Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay.

Mank is a biographical drama film about screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his development of the script for Citizen Kane (1941). Directed by David Fincher, it is based on a screenplay by his late father Jack Fincher.

The film stars Gary Oldman as Herman J. Mankiewicz, Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies, Arliss Howard as Louis B. Mayer, Tom Burke as Orson Welles and Charles Dance as William Randolph Hearst. Many other Hollywood icons are portrayed, including: Greta Garbo; Joan Crawford; Charlie Chaplin; Bette Davis, and; Clark Gable.

Sharon did not like the movie. She said "that was terrible" when it was over. She rated it 2 on a scale of 10. Sharon had a hard time following the plot.

I enjoyed it much more than she did. I have a very different perspective. I liked the movie more than Moonlight (2017 Best Picture Winner) or The Shape of Water (2018 Best Picture Winner). It is very much an "Inside Baseball" kind of picture about the movie industry in the 1930s. Gary Oldman won the 2018 Best Actor Oscar for his performance in The Darkest Hour. I think that he will get nominated for this film.

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Fabian's plus Wallens

Saturday night, Sharon and I got curbside takeout from Fabians's Italian Bistro. Sharon had eaten there with Holly in November. I had Rigatoni Bolognese [angus beef & pork ragĂș, emma pecorino, romano cheese, whole leaf oregano], while Sharon had Pappardelle Scampi [shrimp, gilroy garlic confit, arugula, saffron tomato broth, calabrian chili, lemon, butter]. We split an order of Fried Brussels Sprouts [harissa, preserved lemon] and a bottle of Lyric Pinot Noir.

As we were pulling away from the restaurant, the Wallens called. We had a nice extended talk about grandkids. When things return to normal, we need to visit the house they are building in Todos Santos. Additionally, I would like the four of us to visit Vancouver and then bounce over to visit Lance and Barb. I am fascinated to see the house that Lance built on top of a giant rock!

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Del Mar Saloon and Store

Del Mar Saloon and Store
1904-1910

Marker 34B-8

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

This marker is located on the Saloon Trail near 41195 Deer Trail, Sea Ranch, California. The Sea Ranch Archives Committee has identified twenty-six historic sites scattered about The Sea Ranch. They have constructed trail markers with information explaining the significance of each place. They were placed as part of The Sea Ranch 50th anniversary being celebrated from Memorial Day 2014 to Memorial Day 2015. The GPS coordinates for this location are 38° 44' 44.5" N 123° 30' 13.7" W.

Del Mar Saloon and Store

The saloon was sited straight ahead, close to the eastern edge of today's Highway 1. The Russian colony converted it to a school, since the Del Mar school house was too small for their number of children. Diagonally across the highway in a southernly direction is where the Del Mar Store stood.

Del Mar Saloon and Store