Sunday, December 31, 2023

New Year's Eve 2023

The plan for the evening was for Sharon's brother Tom to come over for dinner and then the three of us would watch a movie. We celebrated New Year's Eve this way in 2022, 2019 and 2018. Unfortunately, Tom called in the late afternoon and cancelled. He had just gotten back from an "eventful" trip to Disneyland with his two boys and their families...

Sharon made a nice dinner of prime rib, roasted potates and ceasar salad.

The two of us watched May December on Netflix. My thoughts about the movie are here.

Walking Tiber after the movie, I came across one of our neighbors who had locked himself out of his house. Sharon and I both crashed before 11:30 pm. We didn't make it this year to midnight to watch the firewalls from the master deck.

While I have enjoyed retirement over the last five months, we still haven't lived into a rhythm. I haven't made as much progress on my novel about 1991 as I hoped.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

A Star Is Born (1976)

Saturday night, December 30, Sharon and I watched the 1976 version of A Star Is Born. Sharon is in the middle of reading Barbara Streisand's biography My Name is Barbara. She has been playing Streisand's music and wanted to see the movie.

A Star Is Born is a 1976 musical romantic drama film directed by Frank Pierson. The film is a remake of the 1937 original. It was adapted in 1954 as a musical starring Judy Garland and James Mason and then again in 2018 with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

It stars Barbra Streisand as an unknown singer and Kris Kristofferson as an established rock and roll star who fall in love. Her career ascends while his goes into decline.

Sharon liked the film more than the 2018 version. While I liked the 2018 version, I hated the ending. This ending made more sense to me. I don't have much exposure to Streisand. I was amazed by her voice and her acting. I suspect we will watch more of Streisand's movies.

Friday, December 29, 2023


Friday night, December 29, Sharon and I watched Nyad on Netflix. It fits loosely into our annual trek to see all of the potential Oscar nominated films. The GoldDerby site has the film in the running for best supporting actress.

Nyad is a biographical sports drama film directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. It was written by Julia Cox based on Nyad's autobiography Find a Way.

The movie stars Annette Bening as swimmer Diana Nyad, Jodie Foster, and Rhys Ifans. It describes her efforts to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

At the 81st Golden Globe Awards, Bening and Foster received nominations for Best Actress-Drama and Best Supporting Actress respectively. The film is not nominated for a Golden Globe.

While I don't think that Nyad will win any Golden Globes or Oscars, I enjoyed it more than I expected. Both of Foster and Bening's performance are good.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

American River Hike

Sharon and I hiked from Bannister Park to the Sunflower Drive-in in Old Fair Oaks and back. We covered 5.6 miles in about two hours and twelve minutes. We had nutburgers [nutmeat patty served on a whole wheat bun with sauce, onions, pickles, tomatoes, romaine, and sprouts] and chips and salsa for lunch.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Poor Things

Christmas Day, Tom, Jack, Sharon and I saw Poor Things at the Cinemark Century Arden 14. It fits nicely into our annual trek to see all of the potential Oscar nominated films. The GoldDerby site has the film in the running for best picture, best actress, best supporting actor and best adapted screenplay nominations.

The movie was named one of the top 10 films of 2023 by the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review. It has also been nominated for seven Golden Globes, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

Poor Things is a science fantasy black comedy film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and written by Tony McNamara. It is based on the 1992 novel of the same name by Alasdair Gray.

The film stars Emma Stone [The Favourite, La La Land, Birdman), Mark Ruffalo [Spotlight, Foxcatcher), Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, Christopher Abbott, Kathryn Hunter, Jerrod Carmichael, Hanna Schygulla, Margaret Qualley, and Vicki Pepperdine. Its plot focuses on a young Victorian woman who is resurrected by a scientist following her suicide. She runs off on an odyssey of self-discovery and sexual liberation.

I had some apprehension about the group seeing this movie. Sharon and Tom hated Everything Everywhere All At Once. With its cyberpunk aspects, I was worried that they would react negatively to this movie. They didn't; at dinner, both of them said that they enjoyed it. Sharon gave it a "7".

Visually, parts of the movie are interesting, particularly the scenes in Lisbon and onboard the cruise ship. Stone's performance is very good. There are some physical comedy aspects to the Stone's performance that she handles extremely well. I can see her winning the best actress Oscar. Given the competition, I don't think that the movie wins the best picture.

I enjoyed movie. I recommend it as long as you realize that you are getting a Frankenstein story with lots of nudity and sex...

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal

My second book for December was The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal. Casting around at the last minute before the trip to Boston, I downloaded this book. The book was nominated for the 2023 Hugo Award and 2023 Locus Award for Best Novel.

I realized after I starting reading the book that I had read another book--The Calculating Stars--by the same author several years ago. I didn't particularly like the previous book...

The protagonist, an inventor and heiress, embarks on a luxury honeymoon aboard a spacecraft cruising from the Moon to Mars. The romantic getaway takes a sharp turn when a fellow passenger is murdered.

I have mixed feelings. I enjoyed parts of the story. Like her previous book that I read, the romantic interactions between the two main characters felt odd. With all of the build up, solving the murders felt rushed and anti-climatic. I don't recommend the book.

[Note to self], the book includes cocktail recipes at the beginnig of each chapter. I am interested in trying a couple of the recipes.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Christmas Day 2023

A Christmas Day in five parts.

Part 1

With everyone moving slow and seeming a little flat, we eventually had breakfast and exchanged gifts. Sharon picked out her own present this year: a pair of David Yurman earrings. I supplemented that with a Sonos Roam, an Apple Watch Band, a Peloton workout top and some golf balls. I got Jack a Keegan Murray City Edition Jersey.

Part 2

In the late morning, we headed to Sharon's brother Tom's house. We did a nice gift exchange. The change of scenery helped lighten the mood.

Part 3

Tom, Jack, Sharon and I went to an afternoon movie. We saw Poor Things at the Cinemark Century Arden 14 and XD. This is a return to a pre-pandemic tradition. A list of movies that we have seen on Christmas Day is here.

Originally, we talked about seeing Boys in the Boat, but switched to Poor Things in order to get home to see the 49er game. Although I wasn't sure how the group would react to Poor Things, it was on my list as a possible nominee for multiple Oscars. My thoughts about the movie are here.

Part 4

After the movie, we went to Buca Di Beppo for an early dinner. Like seeing a movie on Christmas Day, this is a return to a pre-pandemic tradition (2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019). The four of us split: Bruschetta; Chopped Antipasti Salad; Eggplant Parmigiana; Spaghetti Marinara; and, Stuffed Shells. Oddly, even at this early in the evening, they were running out of a number of items including pizza, lasagna and meatballs!?!. By the time we left, the entryway was packed with people waiting for a table.

Part 5

After dropping Tom at his house, Sharon, Jack and I finished the night watching the San Francisco 49ers play the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams came into the game with records of eleven wins and three losses. It was a mess. The 49ers lost by the score of 33 to 19.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Eve 2023

Drew and Carmen spent the night. Jack was up early and drove Sharon's car into San Francisco for work.

A Christmas Eve in two parts.

Part 1

Morgan, Clem, Lee and Daniel came over about 9:15 am. We had a nice leisurely late breakfast of waffles, scambled eggs, bacon and berries.

Afterwards, we opened presents. Lee is at a great age for Christmas. I really enjoyed; it was wonderful to have everyone together. Sharon spent a long time reading Lee from a book about mushrooms.

I talked three years ago about a sea change. While there has been a couple of interesting stretches [Tennessee], this paradigm shift continues.

Morgan, Clem, Lee and Daniel headed home in the early afternoon.

Part 2

Sharon's brother Tim had originally committed to host Christmas Eve. Coming back from Las Vegas earlier in the week, Tim and Kathy both ended up sick. After some discussion with Tom, we decided to step up and host. Will and Eileen picked up the food that Tim and Kathy had bought [ham, crab cakes and quiches] and dropped it off at our house on Saturday.

Inviting everyone to come over at 2 pm, we ended up with a group of twelve. Drew and Carmen stayed until about 3 pm. In addtion to them, the group included:: Tom; Eric and Ashley; Kevin, Leah, Lydia and Amelia; Jim, and; Sharon and I. At the last minute, Will and Eileen and Erin and Cormac texted that they were sick.

It was a nice afternoon. The weather was warm enough that we ended up sitting on the deck to exchange presents.

After everyone left, Sharon and I cleaned up and then watched episode nine of season six of the Crown. Jack got home from spending the day working in the city just before 8 pm.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

2023 Kings versus Timberwolves

Drew and Carmen came to the house to drop off Christmas presents in the late afternoon. Drew, Carmen, Jack, Sharon and I then headed downtown. We had an early dinner at the Foundation. I had an Italian Cobb Salad [grilled chicken, crisp pepperoni, red onion, tomato, cucumbers, croutons, parmesan, egg pepperoncini & Italian dressing].

After dinner, the five of us went to the Sacramento Kings versus Minnesota Timberwolves NBA basketball game. I bought seats 1, 2 and 3 in section 117, row S. Drew ended up getting his season tickets upgraded by his ticket representative to Row B in section 107.

The game was a rock fight. I was very impressed with how hard the Timberwolves played on defense. Trailing most of the game, the Kings pulled within 5 points with two minutes left (100 to 95), but missed a number of shots down the stretch. The Timberwolves won the game by the score of 110 to 98. Anthony Edwards was the high scorer for the Timberwolves. He had 24 points on 13 for 27 from the field, 3 for 12 from three and 5 for from the free throw line. Edwards added 10 assists.

De'Aaron Fox was the high scorer for the Kings. He has 27 points on 10 for 23 from the field, 3 for 11 from three and 4 for 4 from the free throw line.

The Kings shot 8 of 33 from beyond the arc. This is the fewest 3-pointers they've made in a game this season.

During the game, we switched seating. Jack sat with Drew in the second quarter. Sharon and Carmen sat in Drew's seats during the third quarter.

The Kings have one win and one loss in games that I have seen in person during the 2023-2024 season.

I walked Tiber when we got home and then crashed. Drew, Carmen, Jack and Sharon stayed up past midnight playing Codenames. Drew and Carmen gave Jack the game for Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2023

2023 San Francisco - Day #8

Up fairly early, Sharon and I headed down the street to Starbucks for breakfast. Afterwards, we wandered down to Union Square.

Packing up the room and checking out, we headed to Jack's apartment. We hung out there for a while before heading to Saualito.

The three of us had lunch at Scoma's. Sharon had a louie salads [Iceberg lettuce, hard-boiled egg, tomato, cucumber, and louis dressing]. I had a nicoise salad [seared ahi tuna, wild arugula, marbled potatoes, french radishes, romano beans, mixed cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, italian vinaigrette and basil aioli]. Jack had lobster risotto [Canadian lobster, onion, garlic, spinach, tomato, trumpet mushrooms, chicken stock, tarragon].

It took us almost three hours to drive from Saualito to Carmichael. I was very glad that Sharon was driving; I napped in the back seat. The world is a parking lot...

We finished the day watching Spirited on AppleTV.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

2023 San Francisco - Day #7

Several weeks ago, Sharon pitched the idea of spending the night in San Francisco to pick Jack up for Christmas on Friday morning. We rolled from Carmichael just before 10 am.

We stopped for a wine tasting at Caymus-Suisun. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a very nice tasting room. We enjoyed the wine.

From there, we headed into the city. We got to the Omni Hotel about 2:30 pm. The room was ready.

Using the Waymarky app, I took a short walkabout to California Historical Landmark #650. This was the site of the What Cheer House.

We took an Uber to an early dinner at The Progress. It has earned a Michelin star and is known for its innovative and seasonal dishes. After a drink at the bar, we split radicchio & persimmons [melon, toasted black rice & green peppercorn], caviar potato cloud, tierra vegetables masa dumplings [toma cheese & huitlacoche crema] and blue corn fried ‘whole’ mcfarland springs trout [beech mushrooms, pink apples & aleppo pepper].

Grabbing an Uber back to hotel, we crashed hard. I am still not 100%.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Adventures with Clem

Sharon and I traveled to Placerville to meet Clem and catch up with Morgan and Daniel.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023


Monday afternoon, Sharon and I saw Maestro at the Tower Theater. We are restarting our annual trek to see all of the potential Oscar nominated films. The GoldDerby site has the film in the running for best picture, best actor, best actress and best original screenplay nominations.

Maestro is a biographical drama film that centers on the relationship between American composer Leonard Bernstein and his wife Felicia Montealegre. It was directed by Bradley Cooper, from a screenplay he wrote with Josh Singer.

The film stars Bradley Cooper as Berstein and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) as Montealegre. Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke, and Sarah Silverman appear in supporting roles.

Cooper's performance as Berstien is exceptional. Mulligan is also very good. I would bet that the movie gets nominations for best picture, best actor and best actress. Nevertheless, I don't believe that it can win best picture. The film received a limited theatrical release in Sacramento, before being released on Netflix on December 20.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Christmas Card 2023

2023 Christmas Card Front 2023 Christmas Card Back See all of the Christmas Cards since 1997!

Neighborhood Homeowners Association Meeting

Sharon and I went to a short neighborhood homeowners association board of directors meeting at Jim and Debi's house. Sharon was elected to the board in 2019 and was running for relection. She lost to Tom; Tom got eleven votes, Sharon got seven and Brad got one.

Although there has been some drama with the HOA, I love our neighborhood.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Deterding Ranch Neighborhood Christmas Party

Over the last eleven years, there has a been some version of a Deterding Ranch Neighborhood Christmas Party [2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022]. This morphed into a progressive dinner in 2015. When it became clear that the progressive dinner wasn't going to happen last year, Sharon and I decided to host a cocktail party. We are back to the progressive dinner this year.

We started off with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres at Jan and John house. The group moved to our house for dinner. Sharon made lasngna. Mike and Jill added salad and bread.
After dinner, the group moved to Jim and Debi's house for dessert, pool and an ornament exchange.
The group totalled 17, including: Tom and Judy; Glen; Mike, Jill and their son Mike; John and Jan; Heidi, Brad and Clark; Greg and Michele; Jim and Debi, and; Sharon and I.

The house looked great; Sharon did a fantastic job decorating the house for the holidays. Although I was fading hard by the end, it was a very nice evening!

Friday, December 15, 2023

Amazing Race - Season 35

Thursday night, Sharon and I finished watching season thirty-five of the Amazing Race. With a passion for traveling, I have enjoyed watching the Amazing Race over the last few years. We finished season 32 in January of 2021, season 33 in March of 2022 and season 34 in December of 2022.

Filming for season 35 began on June 13, 2023 in Los Angeles. Slovenia was visited for the first time in the entire franchise. Filming concluded in Seattle on July 8, 2023. The season premiered on September 27, 2023.

This season returned to using commercial flights instead of charter flights as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic on two previous seasons and season 36. Season 36 which premieres March 13, 2024 was actually filmed before this season in late 2022 and was pushed back following the decision to have 90-minute episodes.

Elements of the show that also returned this season include the Express Pass (last seen in season 29) and the U-Turn (last seen in season 32) in the form of a voting U-Turn, which was previously utilized as a one off-twist on season 31. The Scramble, which was introduced in the 34th season, also returned but was included in the final leg rather than the first leg.

Brothers and computer scientists Greg and John Franklin were the winners of this season, while best friends Joel Strasser and Garrett Smith finished in second place, and father and son Rob and Corey McArthur finished in third place. Sharon and I were rooting for the father and son and against the best friends.

The legs of the race included:
  • Leg 1 (United States → Thailand)
  • Leg 2 (Thailand)
  • Leg 3 (Thailand → Vietnam)
  • Leg 4 (Vietnam)
  • Leg 5 (Vietnam → India)
  • Leg 6 (India)
  • Leg 7 (India → Germany)
  • Leg 8 (Germany → Austria → Slovenia)
  • Leg 9 (Slovenia)
  • Leg 10 (Slovenia → Austria → Sweden)
  • Leg 11 (Sweden → Ireland)
  • Leg 12 (Ireland → United States)
Sharon and I were particularly excited by this season because it included Slovenia. Our Crossroads of the Adriatic trip with the Wongs in September '24 includes: Croatia; Montenegro; Bosnia & Herzegovina, and; Slovenia. We are going to several spots that they highlighted on the show. Additionally, we are planning to visit Sweden in July on our Viking Homelands cruise!

Thursday, December 14, 2023

The Exchange: After the Firm by John Grisham

My book for December was The Exchange: After the Firm by John Grisham. I finished the book on the flight from Boston to Phoenix coming home from the Army/Navy game. Somewhat unbelievably, this is the 38rd book by John Grisham that I have read in the last thirty-two years. I am not sure that this is something that I should be proud of...

The book is a sequel to Grisham's legal thriller The Firm. It brings back the protagonist Mitch McDeere. Fifteen years after escaping the clutches of the Bendini, Lambert & Locke law firm, McDeere is a successful partner at a prestigious New York firm, living a comfortable life. After a trip to Libya, he finds himself entangled in a complex web of international intrigue.

I enjoyed the book, but felt like the plot was a little outlandish; although not as outlandish as the plot of The Rooster Bar! Nevertheless, I will continue to read Grisham novels as filler between more ambitious books. They serve as a nice mindless break.

I read the The Firm in 1993; it was the first Grisham book I read. I had driven she-who-will-not-be-named to a class in San Francisco. Waiting for her, I spent the day running in Golden Gate Park, reading The Firm and then buying some software at an Egghead store on Market Street. Driving back to Sacramento, she and I went to Hunter's 40th birthday party!

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Clement “Clem” Louis Contreras

Our second grandchild, Clement “Clem” Louis Contreras, was born yesterday, Tuesday, December 12 at 6:24 pm. He weighed 7 lbs 14 oz and was 20 inches long.

Monday, December 11, 2023

1958 Oscar Nominations

Best Picture
    ✔ The Bridge on the River Kwai – Sam Spiegel, producer - winner
    12 Angry Men – Henry Fonda and Reginald Rose, producers
    Peyton Place – Jerry Wald, producer
    Sayonara – William Goetz, producer
    Witness for the Prosecution – Arthur Hornblow Jr., producer

Best Actor
    ✔ Alec Guinness – The Bridge on the River Kwai as Colonel Nicholson - winner
    Marlon Brando – Sayonara as Major Lloyd "Ace" Gruver
    Anthony Franciosa – A Hatful of Rain as Polo Pope
    Charles Laughton – Witness for the Prosecution as Sir Wilfrid Robarts Q.C.
    Anthony Quinn – Wild Is the Wind as Gino

Best Actress
    Joanne Woodward – The Three Faces of Eve as Eve White/Eve Black/Jane - winner
    Deborah Kerr – Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison as Sister Angela
    Anna Magnani – Wild Is the Wind as Gioia
    Elizabeth Taylor – Raintree County as Susanna Drake
    Lana Turner – Peyton Place as Constance MacKenzie

Best Supporting Actor
    Red Buttons – Sayonara as Airman Joe Kelly - winner
    Vittorio De Sica – A Farewell to Arms as Major Alessandro Rinaldi
    ✔ Sessue Hayakawa – The Bridge on the River Kwai as Colonel Saito
    Arthur Kennedy – Peyton Place as Lucas Cross
    Russ Tamblyn – Peyton Place as Norman Page

Best Supporting Actress
    Miyoshi Umeki – Sayonara as Katsumi Kelly - winner
    Carolyn Jones – The Bachelor Party as The Girl
    Elsa Lanchester – Witness for the Prosecution as Miss Plimsoll
    Hope Lange – Peyton Place as Selena Cross
    Diane Varsi – Peyton Place as Allison MacKenzie

Best Story and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
    Designing Woman – George Wells - winner
    Funny Face – Leonard Gershe
    I Vitelloni – Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano
    Man of a Thousand Faces – Ralph Wheelwright, R. Wright Campbell, Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts
    The Tin Star – Barney Slater, Joel Kane and Dudley Nichols

Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
    ✔ The Bridge on the River Kwai – based on the novel by Pierre Boulle - winner
    12 Angry Men – Reginald Rose based on his teleplay
    Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison – John Lee Mahin and John Huston from the novel by Charles Shaw
    Peyton Place – John Michael Hayes based on the novel by Grace Metalious
    Sayonara – Paul Osborn based on the novel by James Michener

More Oscar Nominations

Sunday, December 10, 2023

2023 Army/Navy Game - Day #4

About half the group were up and out very early to catch 7 am flights home. Larkin and I had a lazy breakfast (veggie & ham omelet) with Max and Zach in the hotel. Nooter and Gribi eventually showed up.

After checking out of the room, Nooter dropped Larkin and I at the airport. We had a 12:35 pm American Airlines flight from Boston to Phoenix.

The flight boarded about 30 minutes late. I had a nice extended legroom aisle seat (10D). I logged on to the wifi as we were pulling away from the gate. Wifi ran great for the whole 5 1/2 hour trip. I finished my book, The Exchange by John Grisham and worked on several blog entries. At one point, I realized that someone was watching football on their iPhone. Digging around, I realized that the free TV services included the football game. In between working on blog entries, I watched the San Francisco 49er versus Seattlee Seahawks NFL football game.

We were on the ground in Phoenix almost on schedule. Larkin and I had another short turnover. Dashing from one end of the terminal to the other, we boarded a 5:25 pm American Airlines flight to Sacramento. I had a nice exit row aisle (D14). I read a new book, The Spare Man, the whole flight.

I gave Larkin a ride from the airport. We were back in Carmichael about 7:20 pm. Cindy picked Larkin up shortly afterwards.

It was a great trip. I enjoy everyone's company immensely. Unfortunately, it was very compressed. I am thinking that next year that I will add a couple of days on the front or back end.

The 2024 Army-Navy Game will be held at FedEx Field where the Washington Commanders play on Saturday, December 14. Fedex Field is located in in Landover, Maryland. This will be the second time the game has been played there. The first time was 2011.

One last note. I think that the thing that I like most about retirement so far is that I don't have to worry about getting up at 5:20 am tomorrow to go to work!

Saturday, December 09, 2023

2023 Army/Navy Game - Day #3

This was not my favorite venue for a football game; I hope that they don't bring the Army/Navy game back to Gillette Staduim in the future.

After a long day and a late night, we were not moving early. We had a late breakfast at the hotel (more berry pancakes).

I had raised the question for some time asking the group how we were going to get to the game. The stadium is more than 30 miles from downtown Boston.

We ended up getting two UberXLs to take us to the game. I ended up in the second Uber that Nooter ordered with Gribi, Nooter, Larkin, Zach and Max.

Even though it was still almost four hours until the game started, the traffic was horrible. It took us an hour and a half to get close to the stadium. Over the last few miles, everything was at a virtual standstill. Eventually, we got out of the car and walked the last half mile or so to the stadium.

I was surprised how much there is around the stadium. I was under the impression that there wasn't anything nearby. In fact, The stadium is surrounded by Patriot Place, a large entertainment complex with shops, restaurants, a movie theater and other attractions. We caught up the first group at the Wormtown Brewery.

We headed to our seats about an hour before the game. We had pretty good seats this year.

Adding to my dislike of the venue, Tomasin, Larkin and I went down in the middle of the second quarter to get some food. We stood in a line for probably twenty minutes. When we got to the front, they announced that they were out of hot dogs and sausages. Larkin and I ended up at another concession getting a expensive, cold cheeseburger.

Army ended up winning the game by the score of 17 to 11. Navy was driving at the end of the game with a chance to tie the score.

With several people worried about getting out of the stadium and catching an Uber back to the hotel. We ended up leaving during the fourth quarter. We hiked to the ride share lot. We were able to catch an expensive UberXL back to Boston fairly quickly. It was over an hour ride back.

With a fairly dramatic ending to the game, I was disappointed that we left early. We listened to the end of the game in the Uber.

Jim organized a late dinner at Filippo Ristorante. I had Lasagna Lucia [Pasta layered with fresh egg, cheeses and ground veal].

After dinner, everyone wandered back to the hotel bar. With about half the group having early morning flights, a number of people crashed. Even though I headed to bed early, it was almost 11:30 pm.

Friday, December 08, 2023

2023 Army/Navy Game - Day #2

Everyone had a leisurely breakfast in the hotel [berry pancakes]. Max had thrown out the idea of touring the USS Constitution on Thursday night. This is one of the few things that we didn't do when Sharon, Jack and I walked the Freedom Trail in 2015. I helped push the idea.

We walked from The Boxer Hotel across the North Washington Street Bridge to Boston National Historic Park. We toured the USS Constitution and wandered through the museum. The USS Constitution is the world's oldest commissioned naval warship still afloat. She was launched in 1797, one of six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794.

Wandering into the North End, we took over the bar at the Ristorante Villa Francesca. We had a couple of drinks and some oysters. Making plans for the evening, Nooter and I each bought four tickets to the Boston Celtics versus New York Knicks NBA Basketball Game at the TD Garden.

From there, the group split up. Several of us explored Paul Revere Mall.

Heading back to the hotel, the group met back up and set up camp at Porters Bar & Grill. With the group expanding to ten and everyone interested in going to the basketball game, I bought two more tickets.

We had a quick dinner at Halftime Pizza. Over the course of the day, I just didn't have enough to eat. This would come back to haunt me.

After dinner, the group headed to the TD Garden for the basketball game. The Celtics won the game by the score of 133 to 123.

Jalen Bruson and Rj Barrett were the high scorers for the Knicks. Bruson had 23 points on 8 for 17 from the field, 0 for five from three and 7 for 9 from the free throw line. Barrett had 23 points on 9 for 16 from the field, 2 for 5 from three and three for four from the free throw line.

Derrick White was the high scorer for the Celtics. He had 30 points on 10 for 16 from the field, 6 for 10 from three and 4 for 4 from the free throw line. Jayson Tatum added 25 points.

Porzingis looked good, scoring Boston’s first eight points with a dunk and consecutive 3-pointers. Jaylen Brown was ejected in the fourth quarter.

By the end of the game, I was a little overserved. The group headed back to the hotel. At one point, Larkin and I wandered back to Porters looking for Nooter and Gribi. I crashed about 12:30 am.

Thursday, December 07, 2023

2023 Army/Navy Game - Day #1

For the fourth time in the last five years, I am heading to the Army/Navy football game [2022, 2021, 2019]. We had tickets in 2020 until the game was moved to West Point in response to the COVID pandemic.

Up at 3 am, I headed to the airport at 4:15 am. If I am not checking a bag, my rule of thumb is to leave for the airport about one hour and forty-five minutes ahead of the flight. Larkin and I had a 6 am American Airlines flight from Sacramento to Phoenix.

As an aside, I decided this year to pack very light; I have a small stuff bag, rather than a carry-on roller. In past years, I have thrown in my running shoes and some workout clothes. I have never used them. It is just not realistic.

I also made a decision to upgrade the first leg to first class. I was hoping for some breakfast, but only got a couple of snacks.

Interestingly, the layover in Phoenix was scheduled at only forty minutes. Our flight was on the ground about fifteen minutes early. Although we had to jump from the end of the A concourse to the B concourse, we made it in plenty of time. They were loading the American flight to Boston when we walked up to the gate. The flight took off on time at 9:30 am.

I had a exit row window seat on the flight to Boston. The internet was not working. As a result, I am behind on a couple of blog entries.

We were on the ground in Boston just after 4 pm. With Wallen and Vic about 40 minutes behind us, we decided to wait for them. Connecting with Wallen and Vic, the four of us got starters and beers at Not Your Average Joe's in the airport. We decided to wait for Tomasin.

After Tomasin landed, we jammed the five of us in an Uber. We are staying three nights at The Boxer hotel. We connected with Max, Nooter and Wallen's brother Jim.

With Vic leading the way, we wandered dowh the street. I was surprised to find the TD Garden, the Boston Celtics arena only about two blocks aways. Earlier in the week, Larkin had suggested that we might want to go to the game on Friday night. Walking pass the arena started a longer discussion with the group about going to the game.

We ended up having dinner at Tavern in the Square. I ended up having a salmon bowl. After dinner, the group made one stop at an Irish pub. Larkin and I wandered back to the hotel and crashed about 11:30 pm.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

A Thousand Miles up the Nile: A Journey Through Ancient Egypt and Its Timeless Wonders

My book for November was A Thousand Miles up the Nile: A Journey Through Ancient Egypt and Its Timeless Wonders by Amelia B. Edwards. The Egyptian Viking tour guide recommended while we were on our trip in October.

The book is a travelogue that offers a fascinating glimpse into 19th-century Egypt. Edwards, a skilled writer and keen observer, recounts her journey up the Nile River, describing the ancient monuments, landscapes, and people she encounters along the way. The book is rich in historical detail, archaeological insights, and personal anecdotes.

Edwards visited a number of sites that we visited including: the Edfu Temple; Philae; the Kom Ombo Temple; Abel Simbel; the Temple of Ensa; the Valley of the Kings; the Dendera Temple; Karnak; the Luxor Temple; the Sakkara Step Pyramid; the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx. When she visited, many of the places, particularly the smaller temples, were partially covered with sand.

Amelia Edwards's trip up the Nile lasted approximately three to four months. It began in December 1873 and ended sometime in March or April 1874. As result, she visited a lot of more places than we did. I have started a list of some of the more interesting ones. I am not sure that we will ever go back to Egypt, but I can see us taking one or more grandkids to Cairo and Petra. I am still interested in seeing the Grand Egyption Museum when it finally opens.

I enjoyed the book. I found the section of the book exploring the Nile past the first cataract at Aswan particularly interesting. This section of the Nile has been flooded by Lake Nassar. Edwards went as far as the second cataract that existed in North Sudan prior to the Aswan High Dam. It is hard to believe that Lake Nassar is roughly 300 miles long.

It's important to note that Edwards' book is written from a colonialist perspective, reflecting the attitudes and biases of her time. I recommend the book, but only as a supplement to a trip to Egypt and a Nile cruise.

Monday, December 04, 2023

2023 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.
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. This is the fourteenth year that Jesuit High School has held the service.

We missed the last three years, but attended in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Sharon's brother Tom went with us in 2018 and 2019. Sharon went by herself in 2015 while I was working in the Napa Valley.

I appreciate that we got a chance to visit Bethlehem during our trip to Israel.
2023 Lessons and Carols Page 1

Sunday, December 03, 2023

mailing the Christmas Cards

Twenty-five of the last twenty-six years, Sharon and I have sent out a Christmas Card. Dissatisfied with the quality of the photos on commercial cards like Shutterfly, 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 in the last fifteen years with the inclusion of people from SEAS, Outlaws, Jesuit High, Sutter Health, Adventist Health and Deterding Ranch.

Four years ago, I decided to go back to a commercially printed greeting card. After moving my database from Outlook into iOS contacts, I printed mailing lablels for the first time last year. Everything has gone a lot quicker!

On Saturday morning, December 2, I mailed 136 Christmas Cards. I dropped three more in the mail this morning. I may drop a couple more in the mail this week.

In 2022, I mailed 127 Christmas Cards on Thursday, December 15. I dropped two more in the mail on Friday, December 16.

In 2021, I mailed 121 Christmas Cards on Wednesday, December 8.

In 2020, I dropped 119 Christmas Cards at the post office on Sunday night, December 6.

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.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Gainsley's Christmas Party

Over the years, it has been hit and miss in making it to the Gainsley's Christmas Party [2022, 2021, 2018, 2017, 2010, 2001]. We made it this year!

Donna actually started working for me at Sutter Health the day after Jack was born in 1998. We worked together until she and Kevin retired in 2013.

The Wongs attended the party for the first time. They stopped by our house on the way. In a nice surpise, Art who was on the Egypt trip was there. We had a great evening. We stayed longer than we have in the past; by the time we got home and I walked Tiber, it was after 11:30 pm.

Friday, December 01, 2023

Sacred Heart Holiday Home Tour

Sharon and her brother Tom spent the afternoon at the Sacred Heart Holiday Home Tour. This is the third year that they have done the tour.

They had a late lunch at Casa East Sac. Sharon stopped and talked to Peja Stojaković as they were leaving the restaurant.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Only Murders in the Building - Season Three

In November, Sharon and I finished watching season three of Only Murders in the Building. It is available on Hulu. We watched season one in January and season two in February.

Only Murders in the Building is an comedy mystery television series created by Steve Martin and John Hoffman. Season three premiered in August 8, 2023. The series has been renewed for a fourth season.

Starring the trio of Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez, season three adds Paul Rudd as Ben Glenroy, a Hollywood actor who is murdered on the opening night of his first Broadway play and Meryl Streep as Loretta Durkin, a struggling actress and Oliver's (Short) love interest, who stars in his Broadway show. The plot of season three revolves around Martin Short staging a Broadway murder mystery play called Death Rattle.

While I really enjoyed the first two seasons, I didn't feel like season three was as good. I was frankly surprised that the series was renewed for a fourth season.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Orphan Breakfast House

Taking advantage of being retired, Sharon and I had a leisurely breakfast at the Orphan Breakfast House. I had Breakfast Tamales [house-made sweet corn tamales served with black beans and two eggs made to order, drenched in tomatillo sauce and garnished with jack cheese, sour cream, avocado, roma tomatoes, and cilantro], while Sharon had an Avocado Scramble [three eggs scrambled with avocado, jack cheese, tomatoes & scallions, served withrosemary potatoes and fresh-baked rosemary bread]. The food and the coffee were good.

Monday, November 27, 2023

The Morning Show - Season One

In early November, Sharon and I finished watching season one of The Morning Show on Apple TV+. Season one premiered on November 19, 2019. We watched the first episode several years ago and restarted watching the series this fall.

The Morning Show is a drama television series starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell. The series is inspired by Brian Stelter's 2013 book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV.

The show examines the characters and culture behind a network broadcast morning news program. After allegations of sexual misconduct, the male co-anchor of the program is forced off the show. Aspects of the #MeToo movement are examined from multiple perspectives, as more information comes out regarding said misconduct.

Sharon likes the series more than I did. Like Yellowstone, I found it a little too soap operaish and overwrought. I give it a luke warm recommendation based on the solid performances of the stars.

Watching season one made me think about a number of things. First, Sharon and I both met each other and our ex's at work. I wonder whether that would be possible today. The series paints a picture that consensual relationships are harder in an environment with #MeToo ramifications. Second, although nothing like the events of the show, as a leader, I dealt with sexual harassment incidents. Most of those were in the late 1980s and early 1990s rather than more recently. Third, there is a whole other subplot in our lives that I need to deal with if I ever write a second book...

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Jack is off

Sharon and I dropped Jack at the train station in downtown Sacramento early Sunday morning. He wound this way back to the city. It was great to be able to spend some time with him!

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Shopping for a Christmas Tree

Early Saturday morning, Sharon and I headed to Roseville to shop for a Christmas Tree. For the sixth year in a row [2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018], we went to Bambi's Christmas Trees at Douglas and South Harding.

In 2018 and 2019, we went to Bambi's on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. In 2020, we went on Friday after Thanksgiving. In 2021, we didn't get around to going until the weekend after the Thanksgiving weekend; the selection of larger trees was not good. Last year, we went on Sunday morning after Thanksgiving.

I was surprised how few people were there. Additionally, they had a good selection of trees. Like last year, although I think that it is more than 10', we picked out a 9' to 10' foot tree. We are having it flocked and delivered on Wednesday.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Ancil Hoffman with Sharon and Jack

Friday afternoon, Sharon, Jack and I played golf at Ancil Hoffman. Teeing off at 1:08 pm, it was a very slow day. The foursome in front of us spent a huge amount of time looking for their balls on every hole. Admittedly, with all of the leaves on the course, seeing the ball even when it was in some of the fairways was difficult, but the amount of time they spent looking for their balls was ridiculous. We ended up only playing thirteen holes in almost four hours before it got too dark to keep playing.

I am continuing to enjoy golf more since I took the Golftec lessons. I had a couple of 240 yard drives on the front nine. I hit into the group in front of us while they were standing around the drink cart on the fourth hole. I didn't card an eight on the front nine, but I am still too inconsistent. I am going to take some more swing lesssons starting in December.

I ended up with a liberally scored 56 on the front nine. I feel like I was hitting the ball better than I scored. As it started to get dark, I lost focus after the turn.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Thanksgiving 2023

After the Run to Feed the Hungry, Sharon, Jack and I headed to Sharon's brother Tom's house for Thanksgiving dinner. The group totaled twenty, including: Tom; Eric and Ashley; Kevin, Leah, Lydia and Amelia; Terry and Steve; Jim; Tim and Kathy; Eileen and Will; Morgan, Daniel and Lee; Sharon, Jack and I.

Sharon made an interesting specialty cocktail for everyone before dinner. She also made a couple of pumpkin pies on Wednesday. Morgan and Daniel brought mash potatoes.

Although he was initially a little shy, Lee warmed up over the course of the afternoon. He had a great time running around in the backyard with Lydia and Amelia.

2023 Run to Feed the Hungry

For the nineteenth time in the last twenty years [2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 20142013, 20122011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005 and 2004], I ran or walked the Run to Feed the Hungry. We entered in 2007, but I was feeling under the weather and we decided not to run before heading to San Francisco for Thanksgiving. Sharon also missed six years ago when she was feeling under the weather. This year, Sharon decided to do a virtual 5k around Ancil Hoffman Park.

I took off by myself at 7:15 am. I ended up parking on Cadillac Drive; they wouldn't let you turn left off of Fair Oaks Boulevard to get to University Avenue where I have parked for the last ten years.

I had a lot of trepedition about this year's run. I have come to view this run as a referendum on my fitness. After walking the 5k for the first time with the family last year, I wasn't sure how I would do.

I ended up with a chip time of 1:10:07 for a pace of 11:17 minutes per mile. My 5k spilt was 33:36 with a pace of 10:48 minutes per mile. Using RunKeeper, my splits were: Mile 1 - 10:47; Mile 2 - 10:32; Mile 3 - 10:53; Mile 4 - 11:20; Mile 5 - 11:31; and, Mile 6 - 11:56.

I felt good physically during the run; nothing hurt. I am satisfied with the results. I am older and slower, but still running! I actually think with a little more distance training that I could carry a little more speed. I slowed down a lot in the last third of the race.

They changed the 10k course since the last time I ran it. It now goes down a couple of the fabulous 40s streets rather than under Business 80 into midtown.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

To San Francisco and Back

About 4:30 pm, I rolled to San Francisco to pick up Jack. It was an easy drive; the traffic was fairly light. Jack got off work at 6:00 pm. I pulled up to his apartment just as he was walking up. The drive took two hours and seven minutes. With a quick stop for some Chick-Fil-A in Fairfield, we were back in Carmichael by 8:45 pm.

Sharon and Laura

Sharon has a tradition of getting together with group of her high school friends on the Friday night after Thanksgiving. This included 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. At some point in the late 90's, they switched from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Wednesday evening while I was driving to pick up Jack, Sharon got together with Laura at Wildwood.