Thursday, September 30, 2021

Jack is off

After spending a few days with us, Jack and Jason are off to Southern California. They are going to spend a couple of nights in Fullerton with Jason's sister. This weekend, they are heading to Santa Barbara for Gabe's wedding. After the wedding, Jack is taking the train back to SoCal to spend a couple of nights with Drew before flying back to DC.

It was very nice to have Jack here for a couple of days!

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

Looking for something lighter after the 700 plus page John Tyler biography, my book for September was The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers. I previously read her first three books: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet [July 2017], A Closed and Common Orbit [April 2018] and The Record of a Spaceborn Few [January 2019]. It is loosely a sequel to the first three books.

The novel takes place at the Five-Hop One-Stop, a refueling and licensing station located on the planet Gora. A technical failure causes nearly all of the satellites in orbit around Gora to crash and all traffic is halted. The five different aliens are trapped together for several days and end up confronting their similarities, differences, prejudices and personal challenges.

This book continues the author's excellent world building. I enjoyed it a lot more than the third book, but not as much as the first two books. I gave the first two books a "B+" and the third book a "C". I recommend the book and give it a solid "B" grade.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Hurt Locker

With Sharon in Napa, I watched The Hurt Locker on Friday night. I have had this movie on a short list to watch ever since I watched The Town.

The Hurt Locker is a 2008 war thriller film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal. It stars Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Christian Camargo, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse, and Guy Pearce.

The film follows an Iraq War Explosive Ordnance Disposal team who are targeted by insurgents. It examines their psychological reactions to the stress of combat.

The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards. It won six, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.

The movie is very good. The footage of the urban warefare in Iraq is disturbing.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Sacramento Kings will make the playoffs or live in NBA infamy

From Sunday's Sacramento Bee, "The Kings team will either immortalize itself as the one that finally ends the city's suffering after 15 consecutive losing seasons or live alone in infamy with a dubious record for the longest playoff drought in NBA history."

I was at the last playoff game: May 5, 2006 against the Spurs.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Janie for Dinner

After Jack and I played Catan with Drew, we finished the night having dinner with Sharon and Janie on the deck. Sharon made a great dinner of cornflake chicken, scalloped potatoes and green beans.


Sunday afternoon, Jack, Drew and I played two games of Catan. Jack won both games.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Jack is back!

Taking an Uber to Union Station, Jack caught a regional train to BWI. He boarded an 8:24 am eastern time United flight to Denver. Jack was on the ground in Denver just after 10 am mountain time. He took a United flight from Denver to Sacramento. Leaving a little late at 11:50 am, Jack was on the ground at 1:08 pm pacific time in Sacramento. I picked him up.

I am surprised to find the parking garage and all of the short term parking full. I ended up circling the terminals and stopping in the cell phone waiting lot.

Jack, Sharon and I finished the day watching episode ten of season two of Ted Lasso.

Friday, September 24, 2021

To Napa

With Janie visiting California, Sharon and Janie spent the day in Napa. They shopped at CABi, wined tasted at Bouchaine and had dinner at Coqueta. They split Paella Mar y MontaƱa [head-on gulf prawns ala plancha, clams, mussles, fresh garlic scapes, chorizo, atop bomba rice, cooked in fire roasted tomato soffrito, jamon-shellfish broth].

I finished the day watching The Hurt Locker.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

California Historical Landmark #772

Sharon and I passed this historical marker while we were hiking the SF Crosstown Trail.

Original Site of St. Mary's College
California State Historical Landmark #772

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This landmark is located at 220 College Avenue, San Francisco, California. There are 48 other California State Historical Landmarks in San Francisco County. The GPS coordinates for this location are 37° 44' 06.6" N 122° 25' 27.6" W.

California Historical Landmark #772

In August 1863, Archbishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany, OP, opened St. Mary's College here with a faculty of two diocesan priests, four laymen, and two student teachers. In August 1868, at the invitation of the archbishop, Brother Justin McMahon and seven Christian Brothers took charge of St. Mary's.

California Historical Landmark #772

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The White Lotus

Sunday night, Sharon and I finished watching season one of The White Lotus.

The White Lotus is a satirical comedy-drama television series created, written, and directed by Mike White. It premiered on HBO on July 11, 2021.

The series was greenlit in October 2020 and filmed in Hawaii at the Four Seasons Resort Maui in late 2020. It features an ensemble cast including Murray Bartlett, Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge, Alexandra Daddario, Jake Lacy, Natasha Rothwell, and Steve Zahn.

The first season consists of six episodes. The series details a week in the life of vacationers as they relax at a tropical resort in Hawaii. With each passing day, a darker complexity emerges of the travelers and the hotel's employees.

Following its critical acclaim, the show was renewed as an anthology series. Season two will tell the story of a different group of travelers during their stay at another White Lotus property.

I have mixed feelings about The White Lotus. Before we watched the show, I heard a lot of people raving about it on several of The Ringer podcasts. While it was interesting and well done, it didn't live up to my expectations. I give it a "B" grade and a lukewarm recommendation.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Neighborhood Homeowners Association Meeting

Monday night, Sharon and I went to the annual neighborhood homeowners association meeting at the pool. Sharon was re-elected to the board.

The meeting was pretty well attended. Nine of the twenty-four properties were represented. After reports on the improvements over the last year and the finances, there was a lengthy round robin of feedback.

I love our neighborhood.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Lee Overnight - Day 2

Sharon and I kept Lee overnight so that Daniel and Morgan could go to a concert with Drew and Carmen at the Greek Theater on Sunday night. It was the third time [May, August] that Lee had spent a night away from Morgan. They dropped Lee off about 8:45 am on Sunday. It was a very easy day, including:
Lee slept until about 6:45 am on Monday morning. Daniel scooped him up at 7:30 am.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Davis Ranch [Lee Overnight - Day 1]

Sunday morning, Sharon and I made a pilgrimage to Davis Ranch to get fall decorations. We have gone there for a car load of stuff 16 of the last 18 years [2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2020]. We didn't go to Davis Ranch in 2016 when the fall dinner party was held at Sea Ranch or in 2017 due to our fall trip to New Engl@nd. One of my favorite pictures from those trips is here.

This year, we had Lee with us!

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Bike Ride with Laura

Sharon spent the afternoon bike riding with Laura. They rode from our house to Arden Pond and then east on the bike trail. Unfortunately, Sharon got a flat tire. I had to pick them up at Hagan Community Park.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Shopping for an Anniversary Present

While I worked in the room, Sharon did some shopping. We had a late lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen (Santa Fe Bowls).

The plan for the afternoon was to shop for an anniversary present for Sharon. October 13th will mark our 25th Wedding Anniversary. We spent about an hour and a half at the David Yurman store in the Santa Clara Westfield Valley Fair Mall picking out her present.

The drive home was a struggle. 880 to 680 to 80 to 50 took almost four hours. Waze took us off the freeway in Concord and Davis. The world is a parking lot.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

To Santa Clara

Taking off after work, Sharon and I headed to Santa Clara. Taking 80 to 680 to 237, it took us about 2 1/2 hours. We are spending one night at the Element Santa Clara.

After having a drink at the bar in the hotel, we had a late dinner at the Athena Grill. For a starter, we split Octopus Mezes [Traditional grilled octopus with olive oil, lemon juice and oregano]. For main dishes, I had a Lamb Souvlaki Plate [Tender pieces of marinated lamb loin grilled on a skewer, served with rice and vegetable medley], while Sharon had a Gyro Plate [Thin slices of seasoned beef served over warm pita, with tzatziki sauce, tomato and red onion, served with side of garlic fries].

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

President without a Party: The Life of John Tyler

My book for the summer (June, July and August) was President without a Party: The Life of John Tyler by Christopher Leahy. Drew give me the book for Christmas in 2019. After finishing a book about Polk, I was interested in reading about Tyler. It fits into my long term project to read books about all of the presidents.

Tyler was born to a prominent Virginia family. He had a long and varied political career, including serving as a Virginia state legislator, Virginia governor, US representative, and US senator.

Tyler was initially a Democrat, but he opposed Andrew Jackson during the South Carolina Nullification Crisis. Tyler believed in the fundamental tenets of Jeffersonian democracy and limited federal power. He saw Jackson's actions as infringing on states' rights. This led Tyler to ally with the Whig Party. He was put on the 1840 presidential ticket to attract states' rights Southerners to a Whig coalition to defeat Martin Van Buren's re-election bid.

President Harrison died just one month after taking office. Tyler became the first vice president to succeed to the presidency without election.

This presidency was marked by battles over a national bank, tariffs and the distribution of proceeds from the sale of federal lands. Tyler vetoed two national banking acts pushed by the Whig controlled Congress. His term also included the Annexation of Texas.

Tyler fathered more children than any other American president. His first wife was Letitia Christian with whom he had eight children. Letitia died of a stroke in the White House in September 1842. While still President, Tyler married again to Julia Gardiner with whom he had seven children.

Tyler was seated in the Confederate Congress on August 1, 1861 and served until just before his death in 1862. In November 1861, he was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives but he died of a stroke before the first session could open in February 1862.

At the 700 pages, the book was a bit of a load. Rather than a linear outline of Tyler's life, the author spends a lot of time exploring and intepreting the movitations of the key players. It is an interesting story, but not my favorite presidential biography. I give it a "B-" grade.

I have been disappointed in the pace of my reading over the last eighteen months. I still haven't figured out a rhythm for my every day reading while we work from home and largely continue to shelter in place.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Dances with Wolves

Friday night, Sharon and I watched Dances with Wolves. I had never seen the movie. It caught my eye earlier in the year; it won the best picture Oscar the year that Godfather Part III was nominated.

Dances with Wolves is a 1990 epic Western film starring, directed, and produced by Kevin Costner in his feature directorial debut. It is a film adaptation of the 1988 book of the same name by Michael Blake. It tells the story of Union Army Lieutenant John J. Dunbar (Costner) who travels to the American frontier to find a military post and of his dealings with a group of Lakota.

The film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards at the 63rd Academy Awards. It won seven, including: Best Picture; Best Director for Costner; Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Film Editing; Best Cinematography, and; Best Original Score. It is one of three westerns to win best picture. The other two are Unforgiven (1992) and Cimarron (1931).

I enjoyed and recommend the movie. It is a little dated both in the music and the cinematography. It would have been an interesting film to see on the big screen.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Bing Maloney

Sharon and I played golf at Bing Maloney with the Gainsleys. It is probably only the second time that I have played the course in fourty years. I was haunted by some fragments of memories of playing the course with Nooter, Wallen and Dave Hare.

Teeing off at 10:36 am, I enjoyed the company and the course. In spite of how much golf we have been playing, I remain frustratingly inconsistent. My goal is to legitimately break 100.

The four of us finished the day with an early dinner at Scott's Seafood on the River. Sharon and I split an order of Pork-Kimchi Potstickers [asian slaw / sweet chili drizzle / bulgogi dipping sauce]. I had some Boston Clam Chowder. For entrees, I had Lemon Grilled Hawaiian Swordfish [summer vegetable risotto / grilled asparagus / sundried tomato pesto], while Sharon had the Macadamia Nut Crusted Alaskan Halibut [brown butter / citrus wild rice pilaf / steamed vegetables].

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Being James Bond: The Daniel Craig Story

Saturday night, Sharon and I watched Being James Bond: The Daniel Craig Story on AppleTV.

In this retrospective, Daniel Craig candidly reflects on his 15 year tenure as James Bond. Including never-before-seen archival footage spanning from Casino Royale to No Time To Die, Craig shares his personal memories in conversation with 007 producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, in the lead up to his final performance as the iconic secret agent. After an almost eighteen month delay, No Time To Die is now scheduled to be released October 8.

We have seen all of the Bond movies. Watching the retrospective, Sharon and I talked about rewatching the Daniel Craig Bond films. Craig is Sharon's favorite Bond.

Friday, September 10, 2021


Sharon and I finished the work week with curbside pick up from Matteos. For an appetizer, we had Heirloom Tomato Caprese [Heirloom Tomatoes, Fresh Burrata, Fresh Basil, Virgin Olive Oil and Caramelized Fig Balsamic Glaze]. For entrees, we both had Lamb Burgers [Pink Peppercorn and Cumin Seasoned Fresh Ground Leg of Lamb Burger with Feta Cheese, Chimichurri Aioli, House Made English Cucumber Pickles, Red Onion, Tomato and Arugula] served with Fries.

We got a bottle of Poe Pinot Meunier from the Van der Kamp Vineyard 2016, Sonoma Mountain. It wasn't as good as the Pinot Meunier from Bouchaine!

We finished the night watching Dances with Wolves.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Yellowstone - Season One

Sharon and I finished watching season one of Yellowstone.

Yellowstone was created by Taylor Sheridan and John Linson. Season one premiered on June 20, 2018 on the Paramount Network. It stars Kevin Costner, Wes Bentley, Kelly Reilly, Luke Grimes, Cole Hauser, and Gil Birmingham.

The series follows the conflicts along the shared borders of a large cattle ranch, a Native reservation, and land developers. Kevin Costner as John Dutton stars as a sixth-generation patriarch who operates the Yellowstone/Dutton Ranch, the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. As the series progresses, he is continually challenged by those seeking to take control of the ranch's land.

Sharon enjoyed the series much more than I did. From my perspective, every episode had some event that jumped the shark. I don't recommend the show. Nevertheless, given that Sharon enjoyed it, I expect that we will watch a couple more seasons...

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

California Historical Landmark #79

Sharon and I passed this historical marker while we were hiking in the Presidio.

The Presidio of San Francisco
California State Historical Landmark #1002

See this location on Yahoo Maps in Flickr
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This landmark is located at the corner of Lincoln Boulevard and Funston Avenue, San Francisco, California. There are 48 other California State Historical Landmarks in San Francisco County. The GPS coordinates for this location are 37° 48' 02.9" N 122° 27' 17.1" W.

Presidio of San Francisco

Formally established on September 17, 1776, the San Francisco Presidio has been administered successively as a military headquarters by Spain, Mexico, and the United States. A major command post during the Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean War, it remains a symbol of United States authority in the Pacific.

Presidio of San Francisco

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Peloton Tread

Over the last twenty-two years, I have owned three different treadmills. They have been a large part of my fitness routine.

I bought my first treadmill in the fall of 1999 while we were still living at East View. It lasted until 2006.

In 2006, I purchased a Horizon Fitness T63. I had several different problems with this treadmill. I had to replace some of the electronics in the first year that I had it.

A two-hundred pound person pounding along puts a large stress on a treadmill. In 2010, the running platform split. I took the treadmill apart and replaced the platform and the belt.

In September of 2013, I bought a NordicTrack 2450 treadmill. It has gotten a lot of use, particularly in the last eighteen months. The treadmill is connected to the iFit website. One of the features that I particularly love is that it will play back a workout. I can get on the treadmill and it will automatically increase the speed at set intervals and then decrease the speed as a cool down.

In September of 2017, I had to replace the running platform; it split. I had to take the treadmill almost completely apart and put it back together.

The NordicTrack is pretty beat up at this point. The belt slips as it gets warmed up. Sharon is very uncomfortable with it and won't use it. When Drew and Carmen were here on Sunday, I took the treadmill apart. Drew helped me wrestle the biggest piece downstairs and into the garage.

In the fall of 2018, I got Sharon a Peloton bike as an anniversary present. I have been extremely pleased with the bike and the quality of the Peloton content.

After a safety recall, Peloton starting selling their treadmill again last Monday. I purchased one first thing Monday morning. It was delivered and installed this afternoon.

Monday, September 06, 2021

Djokovic versus Brooksby

I don't watch much tennis, but Monday evening, Sharon and I watched our neighbor's son play Djokovic in the round of sixteen at the US Open. Jensen Brooksby was a major topic of conversation at dinner on Sunday night.

Djokovic has been on a roll. He won the Australian Open in February, the French Open in June and Wimbledon in July. The last man to go 4 for 4 at the majors was Rod Laver in 1969.

At age 20, Brooksby is the youngest American to make it this far in the tournament since Andy Roddick in 2002. He was ranked 99th in the world.

Brooksby won the first set 6 to 1. With Djokovic serving, they played an epic game at 3 to 1 in the second set: six break chances; nine deuces; 24 points in all; spread out over nearly 20 minutes. Brooksby won, but Djokovic turned around and broke him on the next game. Djokovic wore Brooksby down after that game.

Djokovic ended up winning the match 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. He moved within three victories of the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men's tennis in 52 years.

One of the more interesting aspects of the match was John McEnroe talking about Brooksby's serve. Throughout the match, McEnroe was very complimentary of Brooksby's game, but very critical of his serve. He said that Brooksby needs to add more than ten miles an hour to his serve to be a top ten player.

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Ancil Hoffman Neighborhood Golf Tournament

Sharon and I played in a neighborhood golf tournament on Sunday afternoon. This the third time in the last two years that we have played with this group [July 2020, April 2021].

Teeing off with Mike and Jill about 2:30 pm, we played the first sixth holes with them. At the seventh tee, we switched to John and Jan. Finally at the thirteenth tee, we switched to playing with Jim and Debbie. We have played with Jim and Debbie a couple of times.

The format was a couple scramble. With Sharon driving the ball very well, I thought that we had a chance for a fairly low score. We started strong; we parred the first hole. Unfortunately, we could never really get going. Our medium irons and chipping were horrible. Although I carried us to a par on the fourteenth, I felt like I could never get any momentum.

We ended up with a 92. We parred four holes and Sharon had a birdie on seventeen. She also won the closet to the pin for women on that hole. We used six of my drives and twelve of Sharon's drives!

We finished night with appetizers and dinner in John and Jan's backyard. Jan made pork chili for dinner. Sharon made cornbread muffins.

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Family Dinner

Drew, Carmen, Morgan, Daniel and Lee all came over the dinner. Sharon made cornflake chicken and scalloped potatoes. Morgan and Daniel contributed a salad. Drew and Carmen brought a dessert.

After dinner, Drew, Carmen, Sharon and I took Tiber for a creek walk. We finished the night playing Unstable Unicorns. I won the first game and then Drew won the next three. With Drew and Carmen spending the night, we crashed about 10:30 pm.

I really enjoyed the evening.

Friday, September 03, 2021

End of Ordinary Time

Over the last twenty years, Sharon and I have lived into a rhythm of decorating the house. Starting Labor Day, Sharon starts to decorate the house with fall decorations. Orginally, this was driven by the fall dinner party, but it has taken on a live of its own.

At Thanksgiving, we switch the house to Christmas decorations. We have an enormous amount of Christmas decorations: 25 plus boxes?

In recent years, Sharon has started to accumulate more Valentines Day decorations that she puts up after we take down the Christmas decorations. After Valentines Day, the house transitions to Easter.

After we take the Easter decorations down, we have started calling it "Ordinary Time." This lasts about four months from Easter to Labor Day.

I spent Friday afternoon pulling the fall boxes out of the shed. In total, there are nine boxes plus some other assorted items.

Thursday, September 02, 2021

to Arnold

Sharon and her brother Tom took off Wednesday afternoon. They had dinner in Murphy and spent the night at the Murphy Suites. They had dinner at Grounds. Sharon had fried chicken sous vide with house mashed potato, sauteed heirloom carrots & carnival cauliflower.

Tom's father-in-law (Becky's dad) passed away recently in Arizona. The family owns a cabin in Arnold. As part of sorting out the estate, Sharon and Tom meet an appraiser at the cabin.

After a light lunch in Murphy, they were back in Carmichael about 5 pm.