Happy Birthday to me…

The thing about birthdays is that it’s your own personal way of marking the passage of time.  It’s the one day you can force your friends to celebrate the fact that they know you.  It’s the one day that you can run around like a 4 year old gleefully blurting “It’s all about ME!” and it is.  Well, today, it’s all about me.

My brother said something interesting the other day.  He was dropping off the check for our escrow and the gal who was writing the receipt didn’t know who I was.  Now, part of me wants to bellow YOU DON”T KNOW WHO I AM?  But another part of me likes reeling the little minions in, and then if they don’t behave, stepping on their little necks.  These days I take the more gracious approach of giving them a few chances before I snap their necks.  While walking Beauregard this morning I thought about some of my adventures.  There are two County Recorders who have had to amend their procedures after getting in my crosshairs.  I take great delight in reminding them that it’s an elected position and if they don’t concede to my way of thinking I will run for their office, with the blessing of the title industry and put them out of work.  I pulled that stunt one time with the Alameda County Recorder the day before Thanksgiving.  I was already gone for the day, up in Montclair having sushi and Kirin for lunch with some friends.  My boss tracked me down and said “Doc, you got to get down to Oakland and get our deals on”.  So I went down there, got in line with our rep and waited for them to try and close the window.  At 1pm, they did, but I started hollering “Where’s Patrick O’Connell? Bring me Patrick O’Connell!”  Patrick O’Connell, the County Recorder was already gone for the long weekend and his staff had to make the call as to whether or not record documents presented to the County Recorders office after their artificial cut off time.  The supervisor came out to quiet me.  I reminded her that they were county employees, paid for with our tax dollars.  When it was all said and done, they recorded all of the documents presented that day.  From that adventure came a series of meetings that changed how things are recorded in Alameda County.

Back when the Loma Prieta earthquake rattled the Bay Area, I was living in San Francisco.  I had taken my Father to the World’s Series that night.  We were in the parking lot when he felt the ground coming up at him.  He’d been having some problems with his ticker and grabbed his chest, expecting the worse.  I felt the ground come up to me too, then I saw a 5 series BMW rocking on it’s springs and looked up and saw the high wires swaying.  I said to the old man “Stand up you silly son of a bitch, it’s an earthquake!”  He says “Oh!” and we walk into the game.

I’ve had so many adventures, smoking the Series 7 (yeah, I got a 92) working in the World Trade Center, doing dog rescue in New Orleans after Katrina, one of my proudest moments was at a Filipino friend’s daughter’s 18th birthday party.  They did the whole pomp and circumstance thing, the name of which escapes me.  There was all sorts of bizarre Filipino dishes that I was afraid of, but the highlight came when they did pictures of her birthdays from Day 1.  So this slideshow starts and it’s the family, the family, the family, and then her 16th birthday there I am with her in front of all the Aunties and Uncles and every thing else, the only non Filipino in the entire slide show.  That made me proud, that I made the cut.  I don’t think there are 49 pictures of me, I’m actually sure there aren’t.  But so far, it’s been a life well lived.

Kibbles and bits

One of my co-workers had an article in her office today listing all the things you shouldn’t give your pet.  Like cheese, isn’t this a staple of dog training?  Liver?  Isn’t freeze dried liver the preferred bait for show dogs?  I know we used it for the obedience ring.  Alcohol, ok that makes sense.  Grapes, doesn’t make that much sense considering that the old Italians used to know that it was time to pick the grapes when the dogs started stealing them off the vines.  Beauregard stole every Concord grape I ever grew.  On numerous occasions I’d catch him sprinting through the yard with the remains of a bunch of grapes hanging out of his mouth.  Didn’t hurt him a bit.  And is wine under the alcohol or grape category?  Tuna.  He has licked every tuna can I’ve opened since I got him.  He picks the cans up and takes them into the yard to assure himself of every last delicious morsel.  Hasn’t hurt him in the least.  Eggs.  Since dogs don’t have high cholesterol, he gets all my yolks.  Xica got all my yolks before him.  She lived to 15 years and change with a gorgeous coat.  He’s chugging along nicely, I don’t think they hurt.

Wine of the day.  Gordon Brothers Merlot.  I paid $17 for it.  Retail is around $21, God bless the Wine Thieves.  A very nice drinkable wine.  Some vanilla, some nice fruitiness, without sweetness.  My kind of wine.

Since my last missive, I’ve done a little research, not much, but a little on Parkinson’s Disease.  I hadn’t looked at it in a few years.  Apparently they believe that genetics are involved, but more importantly genetics combined with a rural lifestyle seems to be the ticket.  My father had several siblings who also had Parkinson’s.  I figured we were doomed.  Come to find out that even with a first degree relative the chances of it passing on are only 5%.  If I had 95 siblings, I’d be feeling pretty comfortable right now.  When Dad first was diagnosed I had a conversation with my brother about the fact that so many of them had it.  I mused that there was going to be a correlation between bacon grease and Parkinson’s.  My brother demurred suggesting that the real cause was the fact that they spent so much time hitting each other in the head with shovels as kids.

It’s getting to be that time of year.  Four people were out sick yesterday, three today.  When I got hired on to this job it was over a week before I met everyone because they were all so sick.  I didn’t get the bug at all.  I’m taking my vitamins and some Airborne and hoping for the best.  The amount of stress that I’ve been under is really off the hook and while it doesn’t bother me that much, my body has a different take on all the turmoil.  My vitamin regiment consists of:

1 TB Liquid Health 40+

750 mg Glucosamine/Chondroitin

1200 mg Vitamin E

800 mg Advil 3X daily (ok, it’s my Vitamin A…the knee Doc has me taking that so I can walk)

Creatine and HMB on lifting days

What I’ve been eating:


1/2 whole wheat english muffin, 2 slices lean Canadian bacon and a slice of low fat cheddar

Mid morning

1 oz beef or turkey jerky

1 nonfat yogurt


Tuna on ww sourdough


Apple and string cheese


Chicken breast and either a roasted potato or brown rice or ww pasta and asparagus, grilled


Riccota and blueberries or strawberries

Today’s weight 208, such a surprise.  The surprise is I found the Moron so I know the body fat measurement is 36.4.  Unfortunately one of those fast moving thick black spiders came running up the side of the box so that’s the last thing that got unpacked yesterday. 

There’s been no photojournalism because I can’t find the charger and the camera ran out of juice around five days ago.  Every night I look diligently for it, knowing it will turn up three days after I go out and buy a new one.

So in the interest of entertainment, here’s an old picture of Beau, just because.


Sometimes, success is measured in the eye of the beholder.

I’ve been working like mad trying to get my house in order so that I can go tear my Mother’s house apart.  I’ve made tremendous progress and tonight, I will be eating my first meal cooked in my kitchen on my plates with my silverware.  Then I will wash dishes in my sink, and maybe even put them back where they belong in the shelves.  It really doesn’t take much.

I ran up to Fairfield today and packed the bulk  of Mother’s china hutch.  It took three dish tubs.  I have one left.  My Dad is having such a tough time.  It’s hard for him to help, and since I’m basically cut from the exact same cloth, I know it’s got to be brutal for him.  I don’t know if he’s figured out or not, but I’m living closer than I have in 30 years.  Actually, when I moved out I was a lot farther away.  I’ll be able to bring him over here and put him to work on projects.  He’s upset about losing his garage and I get that.  The real estate market has changed dramatically since the moved 9 years ago.  If we got him a garage, he’d have to build a loft in it so he had someplace to sleep.  Parkinson’s is a terrible disease.  As soon as I get settled, I’m going to get involved on some level.  They’re fighting an uphill battle with our jackass President who is using religious politics to stymie research.  I wish for him the same fate as Reagan.  Reagan could have been spared through stem cell research, his son spoke up and said as much.  It’s science, and it’s showing promise.  Ronnie doesn’t want to be wandering the streets in his pj’s and I don’t want to be face planting in the begonias when I get old.  I’m going to work to further the research that might save my life, or at least improve the quality.

Tomorrow starts week 2 of the four week workout schedule.  Week 2 is always better than week one.  I’m getting stronger as the stress level from the move and finding the folks a condo is disapating.  I should have my superpowers back in another week or two.  Weight is stuck at 208.  Today has been an epic free day with bacon and eggs and german chocolate cake and tonight a New York and a potato baked in my new oven.  Yeah, it’s like that.

Bull, red flag, CHARGE!

I tried to behave, really, I did.  But dophyngyrl just had to wave that red flag in front of me. 

Mattel apologizes to China for toy recalls

Toy manufacturer takes ‘full responsibility’ for three worldwide recalls involving more than 21 million toys, citing design flaws.

BEIJING (AP) — U.S.-based toy giant Mattel issued an extraordinary apology to China on Friday over the recall of Chinese-made toys, taking the blame for design flaws and saying it had recalled more lead-tainted toys than justified.

The gesture by Thomas A. Debrowski, Mattel’s executive vice president for worldwide operations, came in a meeting with Chinese product safety chief Li Changjiang, at which Li upbraided the company for maintaining weak safety controls.

“Our reputation has been damaged lately by these recalls,” Debrowski told Li in a meeting at Li’s office at which reporters were allowed to be present.

“And Mattel takes full responsibility for these recalls and apologizes personally to you, the Chinese people, and all of our customers who received the toys,” Debrowski said.

Mattel (Charts, Fortune 500) ordered three high-profile recalls this summer involving more than 21 million Chinese-made toys, including Barbie doll accessories and toy cars because of concerns about lead paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed.

The recalls have prompted complaints from China that manufacturers were being blamed for design faults introduced by Mattel.

On Friday, Debrowski acknowledged that “vast majority of those products that were recalled were the result of a design flaw in Mattel’s design, not through a manufacturing flaw in China’s manufacturers.”

I cannot be expected to leave this alone.   Corporations are made up of people.  They sell their products to, ultimately, people.  Why is it that they cannot be responsible to people?  Would Debrowski hand these toys to his kids to play with?  What if one of his grandkids swallowed some lead paint or a tiny magnet that was part of Mattel’s “design flaws”?  Is that what it takes to get the people who work at Mattel to be responsible towards the people who are their consumers?  At what point to we quit bowing to the corporate gods and start being responsible to our kind, you know, human beings?

The corporation I work for has a huge database system that we all have to work on.  It’s the biggest piece of crap in the industry.  It is tempermental, absolutely not user friendly, cumbersome and lumbering.  Yet, it saves the company and buttload of cash on their data storage costs so they are just fine with their people having to navigate a brutally user unfriendly program because it saves them money on the technology side.  You sell a product produced by people to people.  How do you lose sight of that?  How do you not care that your staff battles daily with a ridiculous interface?  When did you forget that you are a human being too?

And because it’s Friday, and I’m busy beating corporations let’s just quote my brother for a moment.  A lot of folks like to complain that attorneys are what’s wrong with this country.   If attorneys weren’t bringing these suits for this that or the other, things wouldn’t cost so much.  Little brother is an attorney and many years ago he said “If y’all would just act right, I’d be out of work”.  That’s the bottom line.  If corporations would act responsibly, they wouldn’t be defending themselves against most of the lawsuits that are brought.  I’ve been involved in several compensation suits as a member of the class.  Morgan Stanley sent me over a months pay and I’m expecting another check for the residual.  They did not properly compensate their Financial Advisor Trainees.  We did not get commissions so we were not exempt.  Now comes my current employer, who has also made me exempt.  I do not receive commissions.  I am not a manager and I do not make more than $49.77 per hour.  I am not exempt.  My boss came in and told me that sometimes I needed to work more, but that I should always be here (in other words I can’t take the comp time) because escrow officers need their wookies.  When this company just laid off 1300 employees, I guarantee you that one or two of them are also non-exempt improperly catagorized like I am.  One of them is going to file the class action.  Had my boss said “I understand that you’re misclassified and I understand that you don’t want to put the company in a bad position and you’ll keep your time straight”, that would have been smart.  But he didn’t.  Now, when it hits, I have a story to tell and if they depose me, they’ll hear it, and I’ll collect.  That was so unneccessary, yet, that’s why guys like my brother stay employed.  A lot of people like to make fun of the old lady that got burned by the cup of McDonald’s coffee.  It makes a funny sound bite, but the woman in her 80’s had third degree burns in a place where you really don’t want third degree burns.  More importantly, that particular McDonald’s had been warned numerous times by the health department that their coffee equipment was cranked up too high and that the coffee was over 180 degrees.  Not so funny any more, is it?


I fired off my missive to our agent.  It’s been a tough battle all around.  The seller has been less than cooperative.  They’re taking a $60k plus bath on this place and they kept holding out for someone to give them asking of $264k.  Wasn’t going to happen.  My friend Harry is handling this transaction.  He wants to make me forget about Bob!  That’ll never happen, Bob! found me the Farm, but Harry earned this one.  There would be no deal at all if he hadn’t taken a ton of initiative and looked for and found a place for my parents.  We weren’t originally going to buy, but at least this way, they won’t be evicted again.  It’s his first deal and that would make most people nervous.  Because he’s my good friend, I know he’ll do what I ask him to, so he’ll get his first deal under his belt and my parents will get a house and hopefully my aggravation level will stay at a status quo.  The seller trying to drive the deal sent me to the moon.  After all the growling and gnashing of teeth, come to find out, the seller wants to open the deal with the company I work for, around the corner from my house.  I’m glad Harry sat on the missive, it was the right thing to do.  There’s a lot of kick backs and bullshit that goes on in Southern California, not to mention that their fees are higher and most of them are stupid.  I really didn’t want that for this transaction.  So on one hand, I chewed off one of my arms for nothing, but on the other, I’m glad I was on top of the situation, although I do feel a little like a jackass.

I’ve been back in the gym.  I had to take a lot of weight off of my workouts.  My opening bench was 135, now it’s 115.  My high was 205, now it’s 185, but I’ll get it back to where it’s supposed to be once the frothing that is my life settles down.  The next meet is Vegas November 30.

 It rained last night.  It’s September 19th and this does not make me happy.  I have five gallons of paint that needs to go on this house and dampness is the last thing I need.  The five gallon bucket cracked on the bottom due to the heat 15 days ago and now it’s 53 degrees in the morning.  Usually we have a heat wave in September-October and this ain’t it. 

This and that

Now the doctor came in stinking of gin
And proceeded to lie on the table
He said Rocky you met your match
And Rocky said, Doc it’s only a scratch
And I’ll be better I’ll be better doc as soon as I am able.

I should have known what the banging was outside my home office window. It was Rocky and his buddies coming into the backyard for a party. They can’t party in our neighbor’s back yard because he’s a cop and he sprayed pepperspray where they built their raccoon fort. So last night when it was time to send Mr. Man out for his evening constitutional, I judiciously flipped on the porch light and Rocky headed for the oak tree. He ran around the back of it, climbed halfway up the trunk and peered around at the door to verify that I was going to indeed release the Hounds of Hell. I wish I had a picture of Rocky peering out from the trunk of the tree, it was really cute, by raccoon standards. Beauregard exploded out the door with a fevor he reserves for our four legged intruders. Rocky headed deep into the oak tree never to be seen again.

Just because lenders piss me off

We got the deal for the condo for the parents. We waited over a week to hear back from these wankers. Then as a condition they unilaterally lower the purchase price by $1000 and dink us $100 a day for every day past our original closing date we go. Personally, I think that’s just typical lender arrogance, which is why I hate them so much. Then they required us to go with their title company. (Insert the sound of a needle being dragged across an old LP right here). After 31 years in the title business that sent red flags flying in every direction. It was like Valderama tackled a referee. I stewed about that condition all night, but this morning I fired off this missive:

It is highly unusual that the seller demands to pick the title company. As Contra Costa County is a buyer pay, the buyer should be allowed to choose the company they purchase their policy from. That being said, I am concerned that the seller is going to open this with a Southern California escrow agent that participates in questionable business practices. Southern California is renowned for that sort of behavior and it would answer the question of why the seller is adamant about picking the title company. That being said, and in the interest of getting this thing closed, we are acquiescing to this unusual request. I think it would be best to advise the seller’s agent the level of sophistication of your buyer. Please feel free to advise them of my position, the fact that Father Winedog was a licensed Real Estate Broker for 45 years and the fact that The Brother is an Attorney practicing law in the State of California. We will be in the position to close on October 6, 2007. We will not tolerate any irregularities or unnecessary delays brought on by the escrow agent, when we were not allowed to choose our own.

Stay tuned, this is going to be interesting.

Guilty Pleasure

I will confess that I watch “The Biggest Loser”. It’s the only reality tv show you can watch and root for every single participant to do well. I get fired up watching the trainers too, it makes me work out much harder when it’s on. This time I think Kae is going to win the whole thing. That Army background made her tough and now she can smell what her life used to be like, she’s the force to be reckoned with. A woman might finally win the thing. In honor of last nights success, I slept in and didn’t go to the gym. In my defense, I was up half of the night stewing about the ass clown seller requiring us to use their title company, which I know is going to be in Southern California. I think I was pretty good this morning and with a shot like that over the bow, they know not to kickback on this deal.

This morning, my whiskers are in a twist.

There’s a plethora of items that are sending me to the moon today.  In no particular order:

Another warning about another dog treat, Made in China, this one laced with lead, arsenic and some other deadly chemical.  And surprise, surprise!  It’s being sold at Walmart.  How much longer are we going to allow a communist dictatorship to poison our children and our pets and us?  As I sees it, this is the rub,  we export our jobs to a communist dictatorship, so the population has limited economic means and then we sell back to them goods and services for a cut rate, which is good, because that’s all they can afford because they haven’t gotten a raise in seven years!  And the same dumb asses continue to vote Republican.  Too bad Walmart doesn’t sell clues, maybe you could buy one.

The “mortgage meltdown”.  Exactly what the hell else did you wankers expect?  You created these “products” that allowed people to get into homes that they could not afford and then the “product” reset and the mortgage payment doubled and you can’t figure out why they went into foreclosure?  It’s not rocket science.  Lenders, who I believe are the catfish of the financial world, made predatory loans under loose regulations.  Now it’s a big deal because the lenders are going under.  Why wasn’t it a big deal when Jack and Diane went under? Why aren’t the mortgage brokers who made these predatory loans being investigated?  A lot of companies and a lot of “salesmen” made a lot of money in the last seven years.  Now, they scurry, as the ship sinks.  The blame is twofold.  Jack and Diane should have read the paperwork.  Mortgagebrokers should be held accountable in the instances where they lied.  There was a lot of lying going on.  I saw it first hand.  It was wrong and now the cows have come home.  The good news is there has been a pull back in housing prices, which was necessary.  It just wasn’t necessary for families to lose their homes.  Now, I have no sympathy for those who ran up their credit cards and then refinanced their homes to pay off the consumer debt.  I think if you can’t afford it don’t buy it.  It is my belief that more than half of what we think we need, we really only want because of marketing.  Which gets me to the next subject. 

Marketing.  Their job is to get you to believe that you NEED new widgets.  Now, I like bright and shiny objects as much as the next guy, but there comes a point.  Strangely, I don’t buy that much stuff.  I just don’t get rid of stuff either, which is why it took me two weeks to move.  Three cars might be a little excessive, but they each have a purpose.  The toy is in the garage.  The truck got a monumental work out over the last three months and the car is what I drive when I’m not doing chores.  I have 200k on the truck, 90k on the car and the toy sits in the garage.  I bought the toy in 1980, the truck in 1993 and the car in 2001.  So it’s not that I have to have the latest and the greatest, it’s that I buy good shit and just hang on to it.  I would buy all three all over again, given the chance.  I have over 50 dress shirts.  I have been collecting them for around 8 years.  I buy classic well made shirts and they just don’t wear out.  The more I have, the better rotation, but it’s good shit that just doesn’t wear out.  I do not have the latest Prada or this year’s Ferragamo or Hermes or anything like that.  I just have good quality, classic stuff, a very little consumer debt.  (not counting the remodel).  Every now and then the marketers will get too me.  I almost HAD to have one of these:


Yeah, they’re really cool, but already out of style.  I’m using a Razr that I got for almost nothing.  Much better consumer choice, although I’m really thrilled with the design of this thing even today.  Marketers put shiny things together to make us think we need them.  Why do you need little plug in deodorizers?  Why not just give the dog a bath.  Or smoke outside.  Or clean out the refrigerator?  Do we really need a cleaner for this surface and another one for that surface and another one for the other room?  We’re victims.  I don’t watch commercials any more and for the most part don’t even know about this stuff any more.  And I’m just as happy.  On the other hand, I gouged the hell out of the back of my thumb two days before I moved.  I couldn’t find any band-aids or Neosporin so I just let it be and it became infected.  I was up at the Big Greek Diaper Boy’s place and he had this really cool stuff that he painted on like nail polish.  It was like a band aid and bactine all rolled into one.  The next day the infection was gone.  So there is some cool stuff out there, but how much of it do we really need?  Where do we stop the conspicuous consumption?  Where is the line?

Ouch, that was really esoteric.  I need to go lie down.

BFL: Weight is holding the same, but I expect progress any day now.  I’m getting my workouts in and eating properly, finally.

I have never been so happy to wipe down kitchen counters as I was last night.  I have never brewed a better pot of coffee, than the first one in the new house, brewed fresh, this morning.  I would like to think that the reason I could only find one coffee cup and it was the Dan Marino coffee cup is because it’s time Miami turned it around.  I lined most of the kitchen shelves last night, after cleaning all the sawdust off of them, and tonight, I shall put the dishes away.

The Further Adventures of Fartman!

Why do dogs insist on eating disgusting things? Chester, the neighbor cat has gotten in the habit of crapping in our back yard. Beauregard, being the disgusting creature that he his, has taken to eating Chester’s deposits. The results? Fartman. I’m standing at the Lafayette Street Fair and the Blonde looks at me and says “it smells like poo”. No, that’s just FARTMAN. The toxic cocktail of cat crap, popcorn and a stolen lollipop was really too much for the delicate Doberman digestive system. He’s soooo sleeping alone tonight.

I ran into an artist that I ran into several years ago with the Big Greek Diaper boy. Needless to say, we made an impression. She asked if we were BFF. I guessed so. Several years ago he went home with a mask and a mirror, today I went home with two wine bottles. Check her out here.

The master bath required a revisit. It is finally complete. Mirror in place. I dropped and shattered the original light fixture, but had another on hand, so that was installed in it’s stead. The handles are on the cabinets which have received their final coat of stain. The drop cloth has finally left the kitchen floor and the front door has been rehung for the sixth time.

Astound fails to astound me, unless you find a total lack of service astounding. I lost service yesterday morning and they could do nothing but schedule an appointment next Saturday. So as of this morning I had exactly six days of internet service for the month of September. Yeah, it’s the 16th. I felt it necessary to rip somebody a new one this morning and chose Astound. By the time I was finished, I had a reconfigured modem and service, while tedious is somewhat restored. I told her I could get the same crappy service via AT&T or Comcast and that they really needed to do something to remind me why I chose them in the first place. She did.

I ran into Cousin Jeannie at the Lafayette Street Fair. Cousin Jeannie is awesome. When we were kids, I always thought she was the coolest thing since flavored gelatin. She still is. Her husband is a jeweler and quite a talent. I wouldn’t have been able to chat if she hadn’t come down the Kristin’s booth and ran into me.

Tomorrow, I put the dishes away and start living like normal folk.

Rube Goldberg is my bitch.

I finally got the master bathroom finished. American Standard, in all their wisdom, did a straight up shiteous job of designing the vanity I bought. It is nearly uninstallable. I have no idea how a big plumber dude does this sort of work. I can’t get my arms in there, but after six hours yesterday and two more this morning, no leaks.


In all my bliss, I moved on to the kitchen. Possibly not my smartest move, but I was all awash in my lavatorial success and felt the need to forge ahead. The kitchen sink has required probably an excess of ten trips to the hardware store. Or A hardware store. Today alone, I was at Bill’s Ace is the Place, Home Depot, and Home Depot’s Yardbirds. After many hours under the sink and three reconnaissance runs, I give you PLUMBING. It is art.


I have a few kinks to work out, like the water pouring from some of the joints, but I’m getting there. Everything fits and I have the right pieces. Only one piece was left over. This was a single sink with no garbage disposal that is now a double with garbage disposal. If you know that this isn’t to code for some reason, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know right now.

Random thoughts


Yesterday was September 11th. I wonder about the motivation for some of what was done yesterday. I think a lot of it had to do with political gain. I did a lot of reading about the actual event in the years past. I’ve read Heart of a Soldier. It’s about Rick Rescorla. He was the head of security at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. He predicted the 9/11 attacks and no one would listen to him. The Port Authority told him to go back upstairs and take care of Morgan Stanley. Instead, he had an old Army buddy that was a Muslim and he got intelligence from him. He drilled the employees on evacuation routes and he ignored the building’s stay in place order that morning. All but 9 Morgan Stanley employees survived. Rick was last seen going back up to the 73rd floor with his security detail to clear the floors. If you’ve read We Were Soldiers Once and Young, not Mel Gibson’s half assed adaptation, you’ll see that Rick was a hero in Viet Nam as well. His Bravo Company came to the rescue of the column that was torn apart by the Viet Cong.

Another guy that didn’t make it was John O’Neil. He was the Chief of Security for the World Trade Center. He’d been on the job 11 days. John O’Neil was the FBI’s leading expert on Al Qaeda, but he didn’t fit into the FBI mold, so he went into the private sector. His body was recovered on September 22, 2001.

I watched a special on the 9/11 Commission report yesterday. I’ve got a copy of the report, I just haven’t gotten through it yet. Condoleeza Rice looked terrible in the hearings trying to explain why they ignored the August 6, 2001 bulletin that said Al Qaeda attack imminent. How she got to be Secretary of State is beyond me. I thought she was out of her league at NSA. I wonder if other Heads of States look at each other after meeting our government and shake their heads and say “American morons”.

Richard Clarke is another one. If anyone actually read his book, they would know that he was fed up with our government. Years of our government. The Bush Administration was just the icing on the cake. His book has a great story about Clinton being furious with the Blackhawk Down situation. He called them all in and slammed his fist on the table and said essentially “We will not lose another man on my watch” and we didn’t. I wish for the sake of our Armed Forces someone had said that, say right before we went into Iraq. I wish that someone who weaseled around to avoid their Viet Nam service (Cheney, Rove, Bush himself) had demonstrated the same compassion for today’s youth. I wish someone had slammed their fist on the table and said “Bring me Usama bin Laden!” I wish that for my friend’s who’s sons and daughters and husbands are over there.

Wine Train

Ok, I have absolutely no desire to go on the Wine Train. I don’t even really understand why it exists. I wouldn’t mind the stop at Grgich Hills if it were a day when Mike Grgich met the train. That would be cool. Besides making great wine now, Mike Grgich made the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that beat the French whites in the Paris tasting of 1976, long thought to be the shot over the bow announcing California’s arrival on the wine scene. Anyway, we took a run up to St. Helena yesterday. I got a hard to come by appointment at Spottswoode. I knew it was a family winery and I knew it was woman owned and run. I’d heard good things about the wine. The wine is excellent. They make three wines and a second label. A Cabernet Sauvignon, a Merlot and a Sauvignon Blanc. They were already out of the Merlot, we didn’t even get to taste that one. There was only Cab to taste and I think you could buy the Sauvignon Blanc, but we had an ADD moment and never followed through. It’s a gorgeous old estate and the two wines they served us were amazing. Both well balanced, developed and elegant. The wine dogs are Murphy and Riley and they went right up to me. I am sort of a dog whisperer. The matriarch, Mary Novak, was hanging around doing things and at 75 looked to be spry, to say the least. I was expecting a much older woman that the one I met in the hallway. Keep it up girl!

Then we stopped at Freemark Abbey to pick up my shipment. They’ve been sold, although Ted Edwards and Tim Bell, currently remain there. I’ve noticed the change. All the old tasting room staff is gone. The prices have definitely gone up. The 2002 Bosche is typically excellent, but they were pouring a 1991 Bosche as well. It was priced at $140 and finished with mint and eucalyptus. Are you kidding me? I’m glad I haven’t any 1991 in my cellar. I do have a 1994 and I will keep an eye on it.

From there we went to Dean and DeLucca for lunch. I love a roast beast sandwich on sourdough and they made theirs with smoked gouda and horseradish. We split a bottle of Tofanelli 2004 Charbono. It needed a minute to open up, but it was perfect for lunch.


I’m sort of trying to get back into the swing of things, even though I haven’t a functional kitchen. I’ve started a new 4 week cycle at the gym, and added cardio, since I’m only 4 minutes from the gym now. Current weigh in: 208. I’d like to break 200 by my birthday. We’ll see.