Sunday, February 28, 2021

To Napa for the day

Looking for an excuse to get out of the house, we made a reservation for a tasting at Donum Estates. We rolled from Carmichael about 11:15 am and pulled up to the gate at Donum at 12:50 pm.

Donun is remodeling their tasting room that they only opened a couple of years ago. We had a nice tasting in the winery amongst the tanks. Our host (Alex?) has actually hosted Sharon and I twice before [December 2018, January 2019] as well as the book club [March 2019]. Alex played division two tennis in college at Ferris State University in Big Rapids. After the tasting, we wandered the property, including visiting the spider house.

From there, we headed to Napa. After Sharon did some shopping at the Cabi outlet store, we drove through Yountville to the Napa River Ecological Reserve on the Yountville Cross Road. Working in the Napa Valley in 2015 and 2016, I probably drove by this spot hundreds of times, but never stopped. We took a short hike along the banks of the Napa River.

We wandered back to Yountville after the hike. We had a 5 pm reservation at Ad Hoc. This has always been one of Sharon's favorite resturants. Getting seated outside early, we split a family style dinner of Mixed Greens Lettuce Salad [castelvatrano olives, cucumbers, pickled red onions, brioche croutons, italian dressing], Grilled 1855 Black Angus Ribeye [roasted brussels sprouts, garlic & spinach orzo, red wine sauce], Cowgirl Creamery Devil’s Gulch [focaccia, tomato marmalade] and Ice Cream Sundaes [vanilla ice cream, chocolate, butterscotch & strawberry sauces, pearson farm pecans, whipped chantilly]. It was a very nice dinner.

The traffic wasn't bad on the way home. It took about an hour and twenty-five minute to get home. We were home just before 7:50 pm.

Friday, February 26, 2021


Friday night, Sharon and I watched Nomandland on the AppleTV on Hulu. We are continuing to make guesses about what movies might be nominated for Oscars. This film is on a number of lists as a candidate in the best picture and leading actress categories. Several sites have it as the favorite for best picture.

Nomadland is a drama directed, written, and edited by Chloé Zhao. It is based on the 2017 non-fiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder.

The film was named one of the ten best films of 2020 by the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute. It received four Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture – Drama at the 78th Golden Globe Awards.

It stars Frances McDormand as a woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad. It also features David Strathairn in a supporting role, as well as real-life nomads Linda May, Swankie, and Bob Wells as fictionalized versions of themselves.

About halfway through the movie, Sharon said "if this wins Best Picture, I am going to kill myself." I liked the picture a lot more than she did. I enjoyed the scenery; we need to visit the Badlands. Visually, it would have been a nice movie to see in the theater. I think that it could win best picture. Whenever Sharon and I debate the possibility of a film winning best picture, I always point back to examples of Moonlight and The Shape of Water as films that I didn't particularly like, but won the Oscar.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America

My book for January was Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America by by Walter R. Borneman. Drew give me the book for Christmas in 2019. It fits into my long term project to read books about all of the presidents.

A protégé of Andrew Jackson, Polk was a member of the Democratic Party and an advocate of Jacksonian democracy. After attending the University of North Carolina, he settled in Nashville Tennesse to study law. Polk was elected clerk of the Tennessee State Senate and then to the state house of representatives. Within two years of being elected as a state house representative, he was elected to Congress.

Polk spent fourteen years in Congress representing Tennesse, including four years as Speaker of the House. He is the only president to have served as Speaker of the House.

Leaving Congress, Polk was elected Governor of Tennesse. After serving one term, he was defeated in two subsequent attempts to hold the office. Although he was angling to gain the Vice President position, Polk ended up as a compromise candidate at the 1844 Democratic Convention.

As president, Polk had four principal goals: reestablish the Independent Treasury System [the Whigs had abolished the one created under Van Buren]; reduce tariffs; acquire some or all of the Oregon Country; and, acquire California and its harbors from Mexico. He accomplished all of these goals. Polk's presidency is chiefly known for extending the territory of the United States through the Mexican–American War.

When he ran for president, Polk pledged that he would only serve one term; he kept that promise. His ex-presidency of 103 days remains the shortest in history. Cholera was the likely cause of his death at age 53. His wife (Sarah) lived for forty-two more years; the longest widowhood of any first lady.

I enjoyed the book. This is one of those biographies where the author adds a fair amount of his views rather than just telling the story; I prefer a more straightforward story. I have read very little about the period between Andrew Jackson (1837) to Lincoln (1861). This book starts to fill in that period.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

At Shasta Ski Park

Using RunKeeper on my iPhone, I built a map and a couple of views in Google Earth of our ski runs at Shasta Ski Park. If it had been a clear day, I think that we could have gotten an interesting group photo with Mount Shasta in the background.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

One Night in Miami

On Saturday night, Sharon and I watched One Night in Miami. We are making some guesses about what movies might be nominated for Oscars. This film is on a number of lists as a candidate for best picture and in several acting categories.

One Night in Miami is directed by Regina King in her feature film directorial debut. The screenplay was written Kemp Powers based on his stage play of the same name.

The film is about a fictionalized meeting of Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke in a room at the Hampton House in February 1964. The group is celebrating Ali's surprise title win over Sonny Liston. The men were friends in real life. Cassius Clay is on the cusp of transforming into Muhammad Ali.

It stars Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcom X, Eli Goree as Cassius Clay, Aldis Hodge as Jim Brown, and Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke. Lance Reddick, Joaquina Kalukango, Nicolette Robinson, and Beau Bridges appear in supporting roles.

Sharon liked the film more than she thought she would. For both of us, it raised a number of questions about Malcolm X. I really don't know anything about his life. I recommend the movie, but don't think that it will win the best picture Oscar.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Lincoln Hills Club Hills Course

On Sunday, Sharon and I played golf with Holly and Van. We played with them on the Lincoln Hills Club Orchard Course in December. After playing a lot of golf in 2020, this is the first time we have played in two and a half months. It showed.

After feeling like I was getting a little more consistent last year, I was very inconsistent. In particular, I am really struggling on Par 5s. Starting to get a little momentum on the back nine, I completely fell apart on the Par 5 15th. It is probably the worst hole of golf that I have played in 45 years; I got very frustrated.

I ended up shooting a liberally scored 116. There were a couple of greens on the back nine that I completely misread.
The four of us ended the day at Citizen Vine. Sharon and I spilt a Vine’s Chop Salad [Romaine, Smoked Bacon, Cherry Tomatoes, Chicken, Balsamic Dressing and Goat Cheese] and Chicken Potstickers [Five Lightly Fried, Sesame Oil, Spicy Plum Sauce].

Saturday, February 20, 2021

More Adventures with Lee plus Zooms, Curbside and a Movie

Morgan asked us to babysit Lee for the day while she studied.

Late in the day, we ended up doing two Zooms. With the Chabriers moving to Auburndale, Florida, they pulled together a virtual get together of Old Aggies. I popped in and out for the first twenty minutes.

In the evening, we joined a Zoom celebrating Sharon's brother Tim and nephew Eric's birthdays. I am looking forward to the day when we can have large family gatherings safely...

We finished the day with curbside takeout from Cafe Bernardo. Sharon had a Thai Noodle and Mushroom and Jartsberg salad, while I had Penne Pasta. Eating dinner, we watched One Night in Miami.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Man Down Redux (Shasta Ski Park)

I took a quick walk from the Sheraton to the Sundial Bridge in the morning. Afterwards, I met Tomasin at his mom's house at 7:30 am. Snipes rolled up a few minutes later. Tomasin drove the three of us to the Mt. Shasta Ski Park; it was a little over an hour.

After some initial turmoil, I had a nice day skiing with Tomasin and his neighbor Glenn. It wasn't cold or rainy. The runs were covered with a fair amount of heavy powder. Turning in this kind of snow is hard on my right knee. It was foggy most of the day.

We stopped for lunch about 1245 pm. With the visiblity getting worse and worse, we called it a day about 3 pm.

Now for the rest of the story. Snipes didn't make it into any of the pictures...

Shasta has triple lift chairs. In Snipes defense, they are moving pretty fast. I had the chair sneak up on me a couple of times over the course of the day, including getting hit on the helmet pretty hard as I turned my head to look back.

Getting on the chair for the first run, I was with Tomasin and didn’t see what happened. Snipes was with Glenn.

Talking to Snipes later, he said that as he turned to look back for the chair, he got dizzy and lost his balance. Snipes then got plowed over and knocked down by the chair. They had to stop the lift, help him get up and put him on the chair. Glenn said later that Snipes really struggled to stand up.

At the top of the chair lift, it was a pretty steep ramp down, When you haven’t skied in a while getting off the chair on to a drop off can be daunting. Again, I didn’t see what happened, but Snipes crashed getting off the chair. He had a hard time getting up again; he to be helped.

I was down the hill screwing around with my boots, The first time I saw Snipes he was lying on the ground wrapped around a pole. Apparently, he had skied down a short distance and slide into the pole. He was on the ground saying that he was having some trouble breathing, shortness of breathe.

Fairly quickly, the ski patrol came up and started talking to him. Both the ski patrol and Tomasin were concerned that it was a cardiac event.

They ended up putting him in a sled and taking him back to the lodge. Once he was there, they put him in an ambulance and sent him to the local hospital. Snipes spent the rest of the day having tests run on him. He joked that everything came back fine except for {redacted}.

The hospital released him about 3 pm and Tomasin and I scooped him up and headed back to Redding. Leaving Redding in separate cars, we met briefly at Louie Cario's. After checking out the restaurant, we all decided to just head home.

It was January of 2009 when Larkin and I were with Hunter and he had to be carried off the mountain...

Thursday, February 18, 2021

To Redding

After working all day, having dinner with Sharon and walking Tiber, I took off for Redding. It was 170 miles in just over two and a half hours.

I am spending one night at the Sheraton Hotel at the Sundial Bridge. It is an odd feeling; although we have been to Sea Ranch a couple of times in the last eleven months, it is the first time that I have stayed in a hotel in almost a year.

The plan for Friday is to ski with Tomasin and Snipes at Shasta Ski Park.

Monday, February 15, 2021

President's Day

My company took away President's day as a holiday, but added Martin Lurther King Day. Discussing the change at a townhall, a senior business leader noted that no one knew which Presidents were being celebrated or when they died.

Presidents Day is celebrated on the third Monday of February. The federal holiday has traditionally honored George Washington who was born on February 22, 1732. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971 moved this holiday to the third Monday in February which can fall from February 15 to 21.

When I was a kid, both Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays were celebrated as separate holidays. Lincoln's birthday on February 12th was never a federal holiday; it was a California state holiday. California still lists Lincoln's Birthday as a holiday, but as of 2009 no longer gives State employees a paid holiday.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Valentine's Day 2021

We did a Valentine's Day hike with the Gainsleys starting at the Rattlesnake Bar boat ramp. We hiked up the lake past Avery's pond and PGE's Newcastle Power Plant and around Mormon Ravine. Turning back, we stopped at Avery's pond for lunch. In total, we covered just over 5.4 miles in just under two and a half hours. A map of the hike is here.

I ran this section of the trail during the American River 50. I have been talking to Sharon about coming back for a hike for some time. I was shocked at how low the water level in Lake Folsom was.

Like last year, our goal is going to be hiking at least once a month. In January, we hiked Cronan Ranch with the Larkins.

In the late afternoon, Sharon and I picked up dinner from Selland's Market-Cafe. Aferwards, we dropped off Valentine's Day presents for Morgan and Lee.

We finished the night with dinner and presents. We split a shrimp cocktail, a salad, mashed potatoes and salmon wellingtons. I got Sharon a nocrumbsleft MAGIC ELIXIRS™ Marinated Red Onion Bowl and a Withings blood pressure monitor, while she got me a new beard trimmer.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

A Hearty Farewell to Kathy, Rod and Maggie - Virtual Dinner

I have said over the years how much I like our neighborhood. We have gotten to know our neighbors in a way that never happened in the twelve years that we lived in Elk Grove.

Friday night, we attended a farewill dinner for one of the couples that we have gotten to know. Rod is retiring from Dignity Health and they are moving to Arizona [Cave Creek/Tatum Ranch Golf Club].

I helped Sharon make and bottle some Greyhound cocktails for the dinner. The dinner was salmon, polenta and brussel sprouts from Selland's Market-Cafe.

[Note to self], I need to get people to pose for screen grabs during Zoom get-togethers!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

MacBook Air

My home computer has been a Mac Pro that I purchased in early 2009, while my personal laptop is a Macbook Air that I purchased in September 2011 just before the New Zealand trip. Both devices have been work horses; the laptop has been all over the world. Unfortunately, both devices are getting a little long in the tooth. The inability to continue to upgrade the OS and their slower speed (cant' run Catan!?!) started to become a problem.

In December, I bought a new MacBook Air with the Apple M1 chip to replace both devices. I decided to consolidate down to one device. I am plugging the laptop into a big monitor with a keyboard, mouse, webcam and jabra speaker.

I am ecstatic about the performance of the device. Additionally, the tight integration between the MacBook Air, my new iPad and my iPhone is incredible!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021


Sharon and I watched the documentary miniseries Tiger. It aired in two episodes on HBO on January 10, 2021 and January 17, 2021.

The documentary is based on the 2018 biography Tiger Woods. It examines Woods’ relationship with his father, Earl, and what impact that may have had on his development as a man, his rise, fall, and return in the world of golf. It is clear that both of Tiger's parent played a huge role in shaping his strengths and flaws.

The documentary ends with Tiger winning the 2019 Masters. It was his first major win in 11 years. Sitting in an Omaha hotel having an adult beverage and watching Tiger in the 2012 US Open, I bet Rod that Tiger would not win another major before Jack and Cooper graduated from Jesuit.

This documentary is worth searching out and watching. It includes some remarkable home movie footage of Tiger both as a teenager and an adult. I never really knew much about Earl Woods. I knew that Tiger had dabbled with the Navy Seals, but I didn't realize Earl was a green beret in Vietnam.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Peloton 2020

I use five different applications as part of my ongoing fitness routines. These include Apple Activity, Peloton, RunKeeper, Pedometer++ and Withings.

We bought a Peloton Bike in late 2108. I made a regular part of my workout in 2019 cycling once a week and covering 875 miles. Working from work and sheltering in place, I took this to a whole new level starting in March of 2020. I started riding two or three times a week and pedaled for more than 1,600 miles. I also started using the Peloton app for strength training, power walks with Tiber and a rare yoga class.

Monday, February 08, 2021

2003 Oscar Nominations

Best Picture:
   Chicago – winner
   Gangs of New York
   ✔ The Hours
   The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
   The Pianist

Best Actor
   Adrien Brody – The Pianist as Władysław - winner
   Nicolas Cage – Adaptation as Charlie Kaufman / Donald Kaufman
   Michael Caine – The Quiet American as Thomas Fowler
   Daniel Day-Lewis – Gangs of New York as Bill "The Butcher" Cutting
   Jack Nicholson – About Schmidt as Warren R. Schmidt

Best Supporting Actor
   Chris Cooper – Adaptation as John Laroche - winner
   ✔ Ed Harris – The Hours as Richard "Richie" Brown
   Paul Newman – Road to Perdition as John Rooney
   John C. Reilly – Chicago as Amos Hart
   Christopher Walken – Catch Me If You Can as Frank Abagnale Sr.

Best Actress
   ✔ Nicole Kidman – The Hours as Virginia Woolf - winner
   Salma Hayek – Frida as Frida Kahlo
   Diane Lane – Unfaithful as Constance "Connie" Sumner
   Julianne Moore – Far from Heaven as Cathy Whitaker
   Renée Zellweger – Chicago as Roxie Hart

Best Supporting Actress
   Catherine Zeta-Jones – Chicago as Velma Kelly - winner
   Kathy Bates – About Schmidt as Roberta Hertzel
   Queen Latifah – Chicago as Matron "Mama" Morton
   ✔ Julianne Moore – The Hours as Laura McGrath Brown
   Meryl Streep – Adaptation as Susan Orlean

Best Original Screenplay
   Talk to Her – Pedro Almodóvar - winner
   Far from Heaven – Todd Haynes
   Gangs of New York – Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan
   My Big Fat Greek Wedding – Nia Vardalos
   Y Tu Mamá También – Carlos Cuarón and Alfonso Cuarón

Best Adapted Screenplay
   The Pianist – Ronald Harwood based on the book by Władysław Szpilman - winner
   About a Boy – Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz, and Paul Weitz based on the book by Nick Hornby
   Adaptation – Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman based on the book The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean
   Chicago – Bill Condon based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins
   ✔ The Hours – David Hare based on the novel by Michael Cunningham

The 2020 Oscar nominations are here.

The 2019 Oscar nominations are here.

The 2018 Oscar nominations are here.

The 2017 Oscar nominations are here.

The 2016 Oscar nominations are here.

The 2015 Oscar nominations are here.

The 2014 Oscar nominations are here.

The 2013 Oscar nominations are here.

The 2003 Oscar nominations are here.

The 1975 Oscar nominations are here.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Super Bowl LV

Almost eleven months into a life of sheltering in place and social distancing, I am really hopeful that someday soon we will be able to return to a more normal cadence. It would be nice to be able to host or attend a small Super Bowl party...

Sharon and I watched the Super Bowl. Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Bucs beat the Kansas City Chiefs by the score of 31 to 9. This was Brady's seventh Super Bowl win in ten appearances.  Given the state of Kansas City's offensive line, I probably shouldn't have been surprised at the outcome, but I thought that Mahomes would still be able to pull a couple of rabbits out of his hat. I ended up hitting three of my four prop bets.

I barbecued burgers at halftime. Sharon made some coleslaw.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

The Hours

After finishing The Undoing and reading about Nicole Kidman's career, Sharon and I decided to watch The Hours. The movie received nine Academy Award nominations including Best Picture. Kidman won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in The Hours.

The Hours is a 2002 psychological drama film directed by Stephen Daldry. The screenplay by David Hare is based on Michael Cunningham's 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same title.

The film stars Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman. Supporting roles are played by Ed Harris, John C. Reilly, Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney and Claire Danes.

The plot focuses on three women of different generations whose lives are interconnected by the 1925 novel Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. These are Clarissa Vaughan (Streep), a New Yorker preparing an award party for her AIDS-stricken long-time friend and poet, Richard (Harris) in 2001, Laura Brown (Moore), a pregnant 1950s California housewife in an unhappy marriage with a young son, and Virginia Woolf (Kidman) herself in 1920s England, who is struggling with depression and mental illness while trying to write her novel.

I was frankly surprised that Nicole Kidman won an Oscar for her role in the film. Sharon made the point that the Oscars love transformational roles; Kidman wears a prosthetic nose to look more like the novelist. Overall, it is an interesting film with a plot twist that I didn't see coming. I give it a lukewarm thumbs up.

Friday, February 05, 2021

The Undoing

Friday night, Sharon and I finished watching The Undoing on HBOMax. The Undoing is a mystery psychological thriller miniseries based on the 2014 novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz.

The six episode miniseries was written and produced by David E. Kelley and directed by Susanne Bier. It premiered on HBO on October 25, 2020. It stars Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant and Donald Sutherland.

The series focuses on a New York therapist (Nicole Kidman), her physician husband (Hugh Grant), their young son who attends an elite private school and her wealthy father. Their life gets turned upside down after she and her family get involved with a murder case.

Sharon was critical of several of the courtroom sequences. Nevertheless, the miniseries is very well acted. It is compelling; as a murder mystery, it kept me guessing until the very end. I particularly enjoyed several of Donald Sutherland's scenes.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Super Bowl LV Prop Bets

With no dog in the fight, I made a couple of small prop bets on Sunday's Super Bowl. I have been trying to find a long shot defensive bet to place, but can't find anything interesting on the betting site that I use.

As I said last year, Mahomes scares the crap out of me, but I think that it is going to be a close game.

My bets for this year's Super Bowl currently include:
  • Super Bowl LV MVP Winner - Patrick Mahomes -115
  • To Score A Td At Anytime - Leonard Fournette +105
  • Travis Kelce Total Receptions over 7.5 -170
  • Tb Buccaneers Defense Total Qb Sacks O 1 1/2 -190

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

1988 California International Marathon

Over the last forty plus years, I have run four marathons. This includes the Avenue of Giants in May of 1978 and the California International Marathon in 1985, 1988 and 2006 [pic, map].

My best time was the 1988 CIM. The time was 3:29:09. My average pace was 7:59 per mile. This was by far my best result of any of the four marathons.

The 1988 California International Marathon results are here.

I am sure that I ran the race in 1985. I have an image in my head of my ex-wife and Drew meeting me near the halfway point. Just over a year old, Drew has bouncing up and down standing in the trunk of our Jetta. I don't show up in the 1985 race results...

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Downton Abbey Movie

Last Friday night, Sharon and I watched the Downton Abbey movie. We watched season one of the television series in August, season two in early September, season three in late September, season four in October at Sea Ranch, season five in December and season six in January.

The film was released in September of 2019. Sharon and Liz saw it in the theater.

The storyline in the television series ended on January 1, 1926. The movie is set roughly eighteen months later in 1927. It depicts a visit by the King and Queen to the Crawley family's English country house in the Yorkshire countryside. The plot of the film is based on an actual trip by the British royals to Wentworth Woodhouse in 1912.

The King is George V. He ruled from 1910 until his death in 1936. After George V's oldest son abdicated the throne, Edward [King's Speech], ruled as George VI from 1936 to 1952. George VI's daughter is Queen Elizabeth II [The Crown].

I enjoyed and recommend the television series and the movie. Sharon thinks that they will make another movie.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Withings 2020

I use five different applications as part of my ongoing fitness routines. These include Apple Activity, Peloton, RunKeeper, Pedometer++ and Withings.

Sharon and I have used the Withings app since 2013 when I bought an internet of things wifi Withings scale. In 2020, we added a Withings thermometer. In addition to keeping weight and temperature data, the Withings app is connected to all of the other apps via Apple Health and provides steps and activity data.