As for the Easter cantata, we don’t know who’ll sing her part

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson has a face only a mother could love, but last night I wanted to kiss him on the lips. Lawrence O’Donnell annoys me, but wait for it, around 3 minutes. It’s worth it. Gen. Colin Powell’s State Department office must have been an interesting place. To this day I think he only stuck out Bush’s first term because he’s a soldier and they don’t quit. Then he went home and took a very long hot shower. The more I see General Powell speak unfettered the more I like the man.

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Let’s talk about the good folks in wine.  I’ve certainly ran into a few of them lately. What do you say about a night that involves Papillion, Leviathan, Cain Five, Symphony3 and David Bruce? And that was just one of the tables. This is why I love my pals at Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants. I’m a big David Bruce fan. The mission of the winery is “To make the World’s Greatest Pinot Noir”. And it’s been that way for years. Long before Pinot Noir became trendy. Pinot is one of the hardest wines to get right and David Bruce does that all day long. They had the Sonoma County out on one table and the Russian River out on another. What’s really funny is that I have a bottle of his Cab in my cellar. No Pinot. I think I drank it all. The Sonoma County was actually a little better balanced than the Russian River. Typically full of dark cherries, vanilla and oak, smooth and beautiful. The Russian River was a little more “in your face” about it, but it had amazing depth and character.

I love Orin Swift’s wines too.  Papillon is a real “in your face” Cabernet Sauvignon based Bordeux blend, sort of.  I don’t know the rules but I think you need more than 2% of Cab Franc and Malbec.  Anyway, it’s a big wine, the kind you can drink alone or with food.  Very fruit forward with deep dark blackberries and cherries rolling around.  A bit of smokiness and vanilla in the gentle finish.  I love this wine.

Next up was the Leviathan.  Sometimes I love this and sometimes it just doesn’t seem right to me.  I assume it has to do with how my palate is feeling and what I’ve had to eat recently.  It’s a Cabernet Franc based blend the defies logic.  This thing is made by Andy Erickson and Anie Favia.  Yeah, Screaming Eagle is on their resume.  Really dark fruit, deep and rich.  To me this wine doesn’t feel like it has the legs to lay down for more than a couple of years, but time will tell.  That being said, I’d pour it with spicy food that needed to be calmed down by a big fruit forward red.

Next up, the 2005 Cain Five.  This one was a true Bordeux blend.  That’s why they call it five.  And it behaves like a true Bordeux, it needs to lay down for at least a few years.   It wasn’t quite there yet.  At $100+ per bottle, you like it to be a little more there.  I think in time, this one will develop nicely over time but right now it’s just young in the bottle.  All the swirling in the world wasn’t letting that one open up.  I’d like to revisit this wine in about five more years and see what develops.  I would expect the harsh tannins would disappear and the fruit would become elegant, but it’s hard to speculate at $100+ a bottle.

There was probably another 25 wines there.  I had about half of them including a Fort Ross Chardonnay that had so much gasoline on the nose that it was really hard to get past it.  And it tasted like metal.  Yet I ended up with a bottle of their Pinotage.  Go figure.  It’s got a long story involving Davis, so here you go.  It was the most interesting wine on that particular table.  It had the earthiness of a Pinot, some vanilla, oak and Earl Grey in the back palate.  Gentle tannins and a refined finish.  Very interesting wine.

I guess my race is run

Miss me?  Yeah, I know.  I suck.  Actually, you have no idea how much I suck.

[youtube 16u0wwCfoJ4]

After the BMW blew up in Pittsburg and I got railroaded by the Authorities a few other choice events occurred, I got myself into a First Class nosedive.  I was in a flat spin heading out to sea.  I mean seriously, you can fight the Man for so long and then be Alfred E. Neuman for so long and then all of the sudden some SOB comes along and blows down your house of cards.  Well.  There you have it.  I did everything I could think of to shake off the funk but it would not go away.  I even considered going to work for someone.  And then it hit me, like a hot kiss at the end of a cold fist.  Actually, I slipped off a curb, rolled my ankle and ended up on my ass.  Yep.  Flat broke ass splat on the pavement.  As I picked myself up I was thankful that nothing seemed broken, because I can’t afford to go see a Dr.  If it was broke, it was going to stay broke.  I had no choice.  But then something strange happened.  It was like the universe was done screwing with me and once I picked myself up, it was all over with.  I was hurt, but out of my funk.  My right knee and my right elbow are pretty swollen, but they’re going to be alright.  And I’m back to my usual obnoxious self.  And I own those bitches dammit.  So, without further ado, a letter to Bill Foley.

Dear Bill you rat bastard Mr. Foley,

How dare you!  You have just cut staff again and you have just reduced their pay again.  All in service to your Wall Street gods.  Shame on you!  Right now most of the poor schmucks staff that work for you are making about the same as a clerk at Trader Joe’s, which isn’t even a union shop.   So they aren’t making dick.  Your marketing bullshit says that your staff “”takes pride in title and escrow services that meet customer demands for efficient and timely processing and quality products.”  No they don’t.  They’re fighting for their lives.  They can’t make their house payments, they can’t pay their bills and with the bump in insurance they can’t insure their families.  They are over worked and woefully underpaid.  Enough.  To quote one of your County Managers “He’s sitting up there overlooking his vineyards sipping on his wine while everybody down here is struggling”.  Yes Bill, I know you said “profits are at 1993 levels so pay will be at 1993 levels”.  OK, why don’t you call up the assholes at Exxon and have them drop the price of gas to 1993 levels.  And then when you’re done with that roll back my mortgage to 1993 levels.  I was paying $800 a month for housing in 1993, that ought to work for me today.  How about that dumbass?  And while we’re at it, let’s roll back your compensation to 1993 levels.  How do you like me now eh?  You disgust me Mr. Foley.   And that is why I boycott your wine and that is why I advocate the boycott of your wine to the wine community.  One day they’ll understand, but for now, you are a rank bastard who single handedly ruined an honorable profession.  Shame on you.

Just think what he’ll do to the wine business, another honorable profession that he’s got his slimy fingers in.  Boycott Foley Family Wines

She’s dancing in the video next to 50 Cent

Random cuteness

I don’t even have a picture cute enough to be submitted to the Pioneer Women photography contest, but since I don’t have a lot of content today either, enjoy the ones that were submitted.  Some are definitely professional, but it’s an amazing grouping of stuff you’ve never seen before.  Good on you PW!


I already know on the second to the last day of the month that I will not have had a day off this month.  I think the last day off was the 23rd or 24th of January.  It was a wine event.  Expect to find me in the witness protection program one day this week.  A dog just gets tired.  I was caught flat footed back in November with not much in the pipeline and no inventory in the market.  Buyers got frustrated with me because I couldn’t magically make a house appear.  The banks quit releasing REO’s so the “lunch money” aspect of what we’d been doing for over a year evaporated and I found myself out standing in my field.  With a bunch of crickets.  So I reloaded pretty quickly, readjusted the focus of my business and got cracking.  I learned a valuable lesson about paying attention to trends in the market place.  I saw it happening but didn’t get that I had to react.  I won’t make that mistake again. 

I’ve had three realtors recently that I’ve had to exchange cash for keys on high end homes.  The one who had been in her house the shortest period of time was 8 years.  I’ve got to say, there is a marked difference between how realtors handle this and how mortgage brokers handle it.  Realtors leave the house intact.  They call in when the notice is delivered and work it out.  The only one who didn’t, sued the bank, and he moved out,left it clean then came around and filed suit.  When I spoke to him and he bandied the idea of filing suit around, I told him I couldn’t advise him, but that if that’s what he thought he should do, then he should talk to an attorney, not me.  I’m very curious as to how that one is going to play out.  We did not give him cash for his keys, but he still showed pride in how he handled the situation.  Realtors “show” me the house while I’m doing the walk through and they take pride in the face of adversity.  Mortgage brokers steal the appliances and disappear into the night.  I’m sure I’ll piss some people off with that, but I’ve taken over close to 200 homes in the last year.  That’s what’s been happening.  And I’ve got to say, the realtor homes are the ones that affect me the most.  I’ve lost sleep over two of them.  Not so much that I’m the one taking their keys, but just empathy for what they’re going through.  And then of course knowing that but for the grace of God go I. 

So when it doubt, drink.  Last night’s offering at Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants were a selection from Bourassa Vineyards in Napa.  Vic Bourassa was there.  Not really a people guy.  But he loves his wine and that showed through.  He brought with him five wines.  His Chardonney which was more than I think I’ve ever had in a glass of Chardonnay.  It was creamy and buttery and spicy and citrusy all at one.  The fruit is sourced from the Russian River.  To break it down a little better, the butter and cream were on the front palate, the mid palate had maybe cardamon and pears and it finished crisp and with a little bit of red grapefruit.  One of the best Chardonneys I’ve had in years.  Really enjoyed it.  Next up was his Zinfandel.  Not your typical Zinfandel.  It wasn’t big or jammy, but the fruit was right there.  Dark cherries, some light spice in the mid palate and a nice luxurious finish.  Next up was his Harmony3.  This is a Bordeaux blend.  It was beautiful.  Beautiful viscosity, dark fruit a little tobacco leathery sort of thing going on and a nice elegant finish.  I wanted to sit down to a big meal in a nice restaurant with this beauty.  Next up was his Cabernet Franc.  I love Cab Franc.  When I cataloged the cellar the other day I was surprised at how much of it I had.  I would love to have this one in the cellar.  This one should be held as it was a little bright, but it had the structure to age well.  Cherries, plums, raisin and vanilla on the palate.  I should have brought one of these home to age.  It’s got “it”.  Finally his Symphony3.  This is a Cabernet Sauvignon based blend.  This was the jammiest of all of them.  I was kind of surprised since that’s not what you expect from a Cab.  Raspberries, blackberries, deep dark fruit, chocolate, coffee all in a mouthful.  It has a long sweetish finish that was also surprising.  I wanted to blacken a filet with this one, or maybe that blackened prime rib they serve at the Kaiser Grill in Palm Springs.  Yeah, that would be awesome!

You know I got these burning heels to use

It’s about time I talked about some wine.  One of the tasks on my list has been to move and catalog the Wine Dog Cellar.  I finally got that mostly done yesterday.  Discovery -not a lot of depth to my cellar, but a ton of Caberney Sauvignon.  And a bunch of stuff I should probably drink.  Like the 1994 Andeol Salavert Cotes du Rhone Villages Rochegude, whose time may have passed.  There are 165 bottles in the total Wine Dog Cellar, give or take a couple.  The ones in the cases next to the wine refrigerator have not be cataloged, but here’s what I got so far.  But we all know a bunch of shit in my refrigerator isn’t interesting so let’s review a few that I’ve opened recently.

Last week I had the Unti 2007 Petit Frere open.  It’s a Cote du Rhone stiled wine.  44% Syrah, 38% Grenache and 18% Mourvedre.  I loves me some Mourvedre.  It’s basically a Grenache with a pair.  (Find that in your wine notes buddy)  It was a lot darker and concentrated than a Grenache usually is, full bodied and multi layered.  I just saw their note:

Think of this wine as our version of a Cotes du Rhone that has been on an aggressive weight lifting program.

This is a lot more meaty than a Cotes du Rhone, that’s for sure.  Mine stood up nicely to of all things, blackened salmon.  Unti is one of my favorite producers.  I don’t belong to their club, just because at some point you really have to draw the line, but if I had room, I would.  Then I would quit drinking their juice the minute it comes through the door.

Last month at Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants (which continues to be my favorite local wine stop) one of the selections was the Quercus Rubra Reserve 2006.  They grow this stuff in the Suisun Valley.  No shit.  It’s 85% Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot for a Bordeaux blend, but it drinks like a California Zin.  I didn’t read the bottle until a minute ago and was surprised it had no Zinfandel in it.  Dark fruit, spice and mocha undertones make for a very interesting wine.  I see they think it will cellar for 7-10 years.  I grilled a steak with a nice spicey rub, it stood up nicely to the wine.  I’d say I’m on a spice kick, but every one knows I could bring the heat and throwdown with Bobby Flay on any given day.  Bring it on.

With sword in hand I face demands, delivered with the best intentions

We all know that PBE is all about accountability.  I have no problem calling out whoever on their bullshit.  Today is a Mea Culpa.  I got called out on my bullshit.  And I was wrong.  I made a mistake.  I checked my facts as best I could at 5:30 in the morning, but sometimes I’m not at my best.  Lucky for y’all Gloria Schaefer was nearby with a newspaper to smack me on the nose.  I should have known better.  I knew I was sad to see Audelessa on the list of Foley wines, but I couldn’t remember why besides that I liked their juice.  The reason was that I know Gloria through several social media sites.  I should have just asked her but I spaced it out.  She didn’t.

Who is Gloria Schaefer you ask?  She’s one of the founders and owners of Audelssa.  Yeah, still.  It wasn’t sold to Foley Family Wines, they are independent.  That’s good news.  They have a distribution deal, which I knew about, but that’s it.  Foley has no ownership.  My mistake.  And I’m making it right, here and now.  I was wrong and I apologize to all the ownership and employees of Audelssa.


For all of you out there who think I am a disgruntled former employee, you’d be wrong.  I worked for him about 15 minutes back in 1982 or 1983.  He bought St. Paul Title in Santa Barbara.  He actually came into our offices after the acquisition, because he wasn’t that big back then.  He made his original money with Carl’s Jr. franchises.  That’s why I call him the Burgermeister.  He has treated every business since then as if they were flipping burgers.  I left Fidelity Title of Santa Barbara because I was moving back to Northern California.  I wasn’t asked to leave and I had no axe to grind back then.  I never worked for him again.  I did watch him raid our offices, steal our employees, offer them ridiculous salaries and then shitcan them 3 months later.  Their most recent MO has been to lure people in with big salaries, secure their book of business and can them.  I watched a lot of people I knew being sold a bill of goods.  I watched them build flashy new offices and then not do a single upgrade for 10 years.  I watched people not get a single raise for years after coming over for a big splashy salary.  I watched him change the title insurance industry not for the better over a 25 year period.  It is now a risk assumption business.  It used to be risk aversion.  It’s now risk assumption because they don’t do the job that the customer thinks they’re doing.  I watched him follow Parker Kennedy’s lead and off-shore our jobs.  I watched him raid Parker Kennedy’s First India Corp and offer his Bangalore employees larger salaries.  And I watched the see-saw move against both companies in India.  It is no longer as profitable as it once was to off-shore our jobs, but they still don’t have to pay taxes so they keep doing it.  I hope I get to watch Obama change that. And I’ve watched them deliver obscene earnings to Wall Street while laying off California workers.   I know over 50 years experience lost their jobs in the form of only two employees last week.  They canned someone who had been with the company for 26 years.  That is reprehensible.  They should have showed even to Wall Street and let that employee continue to make his mortgage and feed his family.  They will call him back at a deeply discounted rate with no benefits through a temp agency.  That’s what they do.  It’s a disgusting, slimy business practice and it’s wrong.

How these business practices will translate to the wine industry is anybody’s guess.  The two things that are most concerning to me is the total disregard for talent.  Title companies no longer have or respect the years of knowledge that goes into making a talented title officer or a gifted escrow officer.  Will the same thing translate to the winemakers?  The vineyard manager?  Will the Burgermeister decide that biodynamic sustainable practices are not cost effective?  Will that change the juice?  Will they source their grapes from another country?  Another region?  Will they bring in inferior grapes and put just enough Stag’s Leap juice in it to call it a Stag’s Leap appellation?  Who knows right now what he’ll think of to increase profit, but he will.  And he’ll do it on the backs of the employees while marketing something completely different to the customers.

My money says he’s gunning for Jess Jackson.  That’s his way.  He’s been trying to clip the Eagle for years.  No reason to think he’s not after Jess Jackson in the same manner.  The wine industry got a taste of that last week.  That was totally corked.  If these rich men aren’t already scrapping, it’s coming.

Here is the revised list:

Clifford Bay
Firestone Vineyard
Foley Estates
Lincourt Vineyards
Three Rivers Winery
Wattle Creek

Dance in flames for the final quest

This week I watched the State of the Union address.  I haven’t seen one in several years because, well because Bush was a moron and I couldn’t listen to the guy.  I hope Obama can work his way through this economic shit sandwich that Bush & Co handed the country.  We all know one of the moments in California politics that sent me to the moon was during the Gubernatorial debate when Tom McClintock pointed to FNF and their exit to Florida because they didn’t want to pay California taxes.  I was enraged with McClintock and of course I hate Bill Foley and the Evil Empire.  I still secretly wish a hurricane would come and demolish only Bill Foley’s offices, nothing else in Jacksonville.  Come to find out, I’m not alone.

Last night while I was working my way through my email I found a slew of new reasons to hate Bill Foley and FNF and some comraderie at that.  Facebook for the most part is kind of a happy place.  You have to use your own name, no room for anonymous trolls and it just chugs along.  Unless you’re Bill Foley.  Then there is a dedicated group called “I dislike Bill Foley with a passion“.  Apparently, the folks of Whitefish, Montana don’t like what he’s doing out there.  Yep.  I told all you wine people he was Satan.  This is what the people who live in the same community as he does think of him.  I’m telling you, he is the Devil.  Boycott his damned wine!  And we’ll call it “the mountain” not whitefish mountain resort.  (didn’t capitalize it for y’all).  The New West did a long and telling article on him.   The comments section is equally telling.


January 15th, the Evil Empire laid off 70 Californians, only to call many of them back as “temporary” workers with no benefits at a deeply discounted pay rate.  This is the Fidelity way.  They will report their Q4 earnings on February 3.  I promise, you will see a wicked EPS.  They are off-shoring more work and putting more Americans either out of work or in distress.  I’m rooting for Obama.  Tax that asshole and every other corporate winged monkey who has taken an American job and sent it overseas.  The problem ain’t illegals coming into our country taking our jobs, those guys don’t have even green cards.  The problem is assholes like Bill Foley laying off American workers in a recession from decent jobs so he can pull more money out of his company and buy more shit for himself and sending their jobs to freaking India.  That’s the problem.  Business didn’t used to run that way, but in the 80’s under, you guessed it, Reagan, the business schools started professing a different way of doing business.  It used to be that companies held back cash for the lean times because business is cyclical.  No more.  They pull everything out of the business that they possibly can and then balance the books on the backs of the employees.  They found ways to exploit every accounting rule on the books and now just send our jobs overseas so that the good old boys can give each other obscene bonuses and suck the American people dry.  If they were paying taxes on those off-shored operations they would come right back to our shores where they belong.  Period.

Knowing that, why are you drinking his wine?  Stop it.  Everyone.  The leopard will not change his spots.  We know he acquired Sebastiani not for the wine but for the distribution channels.  He doesn’t care about the industry.  As winos we have only one option, chase him out of the business.  How is that accomplished?  By doing business with someone else.  It looks like he as acquired Audelssa which makes me sad, (Audelssa was not acquired by Foley) but I was sad when he acquired Kuleto too.  It’s not like there aren’t hundreds of true family owned wineries making lovely juice out there.  So here’s the revised boycott list:

Clifford Bay
Firestone Vineyard
Foley Estates
Lincourt Vineyards
Three Rivers Winery
Wattle Creek

The job you save, may be your own.

I’ve stared straight into the sun

File this under “That’s going to leave a mark” in the “Reasons why the Wine Dog is a Wise Dog” file.  The PR Newswire blares “Fidelity National Financial, Inc. Issues Statement Refuting Significant Inaccuracies and the Omission of Important Facts in New York Time Article“.   What New York Times article you say?  Click here for hanky panky and shenanigans.  Stuff like this is what’s wrong with business in America.  Just a reminder, of the 20-40% cuts in wages the employees of FNF received over the last three years, no one’s salary has been restored.  No one’s commission structure has been reinstated.  And Bill posted $.62 3rd Quarter EPS to Wall Street.  His corporate gods have been satisfied on the backs of his workers once again.  Winos, this man should not be allowed in the wine business.  You are laying down with the Devil and bad things are going to happen.  Mark my words.  Boycott Foley Family Wines.  Be careful, we’re not talking about Robert Foley Vineyards.   Robert Foley is truly family owned and he may very well be the God of Cabernet.  Personally I really like his Charbono too.  Enjoy Robert Foley wines all day long, boycott Foley Family Wines.

robert foley

It’s a damned fine Charbono.  I wrote about this last year, but we had this with NY strip steaks with a bit of roquefort on top and a red wine reduction.  It was a perfect pairing.

Back to business, I ran across this youtube which was part of the Leading@Google series.  The speaker is Bill George.  He spoke on October 22, 2008.  Before the Presidential election.  It’s an hour long but I high recommend getting a cuppa joe and listening to the whole thing.  And yes, FNF is hierarchtical.

[youtube J0mXxkLWobk]

She set the night on fire

I think I owe everyone a missive of sorts.  I could talk about the Global No Pants Subway Ride on January 10, 2010, but I’m waiting for the No Pants Global Bicycle Ride.  This post is going to be a little more difficult because I’m going to talk about French wines.  Generally I don’t drink French wine, because they’re so French.  Not that I have a thing against the French.  You know I love those Freedom fries and Freedom Toast.  (I may never give that bit up)  But I don’t speak French.  And I can’t understand the bottles.  So I have a terrible time picking them and then can’t remember what they are because it’s in French.  It’s not that I don’t like French wine, it’s that it’s really too much work for my lazy American ass to figure it out.  Or learn French.  Especially when if I were to learn another language it should be Spanish, so I can say “Pack your shit and get the hell out” in two languages.

I was invited to tasting at Biondivino Wine Boutique in San Francisco last month.  They are a little tiny shop on Green Street that specializes in small little Italian wines made by family farmers in Italy.  So a night of French wines was a departure for them as well.  The line up included all small French farmers, organically grown, sustainable, all that crap.  I was in San Francisco anyway so why the hell not?  I am about to type a bunch of words that I have no idea what they mean, which isn’t that much of a departure from when I type a bunch of words I actually understand.

I arrive at my French adventure only to find out that they are going to serve wine in a box.  Those French bastards!  The first was a Cotes du Rhone, Estezargues From the Tank Blanc.  I believe this translates to “French wine in a box, now shut up your American bastard!”.  It was a Grenache blanc.  The 3L box sold for $42, which is kind of a good deal if you consider that’s four 750ml bottles.  It s was a bright wine full of melons and pears.  They also had a red, the Estezargues From The Tank Rouge.  Translation “The red wine in a box, your Americans are so stupid!”  This one had notes of licorce, lots of smoke and strawberries and then it just died on the palate.  Like someone turned off the switch in your palate died.  It was a Grenache, Syrah & Carignan blend.  At $42 per box, same math as before, really not too bad.  Plenty on the front and middle, just an abrupt finish.  The Estezargues Domaine Gres Saint Vencent, Cotes du Rhone Village at $17 was a bright little wine with cherries and pepper.  It was a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan.  I loves me some Mourvedre grapes.

I could go on about the story of Alsace, but we all know that they sometimes have German names.  At least I hope we all know why that is.  The Binner Riesling d’Ammerschwir at $20 was a great little Riesling.  Honey, and citrus, lemony goodness.  Nice viscosity with a dry finish.  Best of show for sure.

They had three Languedoc offerings.  The Chemin de Bassac Isa Blanc -Roussanne & Viognier at $16.  This was a pretty interesting wine with lavendar and stone fruit on the palate.  It was very creamy, a nice little wine.  The next was the Chemin de Bassac Pinot Noir at $18.  I have to say, we’ve gotten spoiled on the Pinots.  This one was smoky and very tight.  Not a lot going on, so it was pretty disappointing.  Next up was the Chemin de Bassac Isa Rouge.  This was a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon at $16.  This one was also smoky but it had a really nice middle to it.  Dark fruit, spice and ripe cherries.  Right up there with the Riesling for me.  I’d buy this one all day long.

Finally the Corbieres, Deux Anes Premier Pas at $15. It’s a blend of Carignan, Grenache, mourvedre and Syrah.


Deux Anes translates to Two Asses, which is good thing.  This wine had the bouquet of two donkey asses.  Yeah, an asses ass.  The worst smelling wine I have ever been around.  Now I know that there is some sort of badge of courage associated with appreciating a wine with “a lot of barnyard” but sorry, the bouquet is part of the experience and if my glass smells like donkey crap, I just can’t get past that.  Seriously.  I can’t.

We’re living in our eloquence, another old lang syne

It’s a blue moon and the Wine Dog will be holed up in the bunker with the Hellhoundz tonight.  For the most part I think New Year’s eve is amateur night.  I’d say “take a cab” but I remember one night years ago in the City where in fact we did take a cab.  Several cabs.  And I got myself a little stupid.  And the last cab ride home it was like 2:30 in the morning and the guy was driving like a complete asshole.  Now, I know a little about driving like an asshole.  So I said to the cabbie “Dude.  Stop the cab.  Right now.”  He did.  I continued “Look buddy, I’m hammered and I could be driving like an asshole and trying to get us killed.  But instead I’m paying you to drive like an asshole, trying to get us killed.  We can get out now or you can stop driving like an asshole and take us home safely .” He settled down.

Ten years ago today was my last day at First American Title Guaranty Company.  I worked in Commercial Services in Pleasanton.g.  FATCO didn’t allow anyone time off from November 1 until December 31 every year.  Somehow the management always got time off.  My manager when home to the Midwest.  She asked me to cover her big closings and I did.  With aplumb.  Because I’m that good.  We had some monster deals go down in that unit.  Still I did bigger deals at LandAmerica NCS.  That’s where I got a piece of the KSL resorts deal.  1 billion dollars.  5 properties, four States.  The deal was put on hold because of a hurricane in Florida.  I think it was Ivan. Or the financial restructuring of 73 Kelly Moore stores in nearly every county in the State of California.  Talk about moving pieces.  Anyway, it was my first last day at FATCO.  January 3, 2000 after the Y2K bug did not bring the world to an end, I reported to Morgan Stanley Dean Witter at 101 California in San Francisco.  That was an amazing ride.  I will never forget standing in the window of the 62nd floor of the WTC looking out at the little planes flying by and then looking down at the ants on the sidewalk.  Or the room sized elevators, I’d never seen anything like that before.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to be in one of those when the flaming jet fuel started pouring down the shaft.  Even though September 11, 2001 put a fork in that portion of my career, I can say in retrospect that what I learned at Morgan Stanley allowed me to be where I am now.  That was worth every moment.

OK, enough bullshit.  Here we go.  Last year’s goals:

Wine Dog Goals for 2009

  1. Continue polishing Rita’s training  –on track
  2. Get Bubba’s training to the next level –on track
  3. Lose that damned 50 pounds -fail
  4. Set two new powerlifting records -set three
  5. Finish a
    1. Bicycle race -done
    2. Metric Century  -done
    3. Century -done
  6. Raise $5000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation through Team Fatty (see new button in the sidebar) –fell short but raised $1200 in this economy I can’t complain
  7. Organize real estate business to optimal efficiency -fail
  8. Finish getting the title service business running -fail
  9. Close a deal every three weeks –I did this for August, September and the first part of October.  Consistency this year.
  10. Get a solid marketing campaign going and stay on target with it -fail
  11. Finish at least one of the writing projects -fail
  12. Get this damned house painted -done
  13. Landscape both yards -getting there, can’t call that one done or a fail
  14. Remodel main bath (the only thing inside the house I didn’t do. -fail

Not bad.  When I look back on this the key is organization and I failed badly with being organized.  The REO business we do is based a lot of a CYA mentality.  The bank Asset Manager is covering their ass with their manager, the servicer’s AM is covering their ass with the bank AM who is covering their ass with their manager and that of course just rolls up the food chain.  Our team wants us to cover our ass with the servicer’s AM who is covering their ass with the bank AM who is covering their ass with their manager and that of course just rolls up the food chain.  And at the end of the day, I’m the schmuck who has to run around and cover all these asses.   Trust me, one has always dropped the ball and it’s always my job to fix it.  It took me several months to figure out how to manage these peoples’ emergencies.  In the beginning I spent a lot of time chasing my tail.  My broker is too busy to teach me much of anything so I have to figure it out on my own.  I got knocked around pretty bad in the last year, but I would say I was smart enough to learn what to do and what not to do.  And take my beatings in stride.  I had it rolling for a couple of months but didn’t have the systems in place to keep it rolling.  One of my unwritten goals was to get the mortgage paid on time every month last year.  I did.  After 32 years of working for The Man, the concept of a free fall has finally penetrated my understanding.  Don’t want to ever be there again.  In addition to last year’s goals I mentioned the BMW parked in front of the garage.  This morning it is parked in the garage.


I have pretty much built the deck I was talking about last year.  And the front of the house has new double panes.  I was able to pay for the dog’s large vet bills as they came up but I’d like to stop having Pet Emergencies next year  Bubba’s diagnosis is chronic IBD.  I think I’ve mentioned the woman I know who owns the Top Twenty Doberman.  I saw her last week.  She suggested soaking their food before I gave it to them and giving Bubba Japanese rice.  He’s been getting Japanese rice, so that was good.  His regimen is 2 cups Taste of the Wild wetlands formula for breakfast, soaked in warm water, two cups of rice about 3 hours later, with Grizzley salmon oil on it, 2 cups of rice with lean beef 3 hours later and 2 cups of Taste of the Wild 3 hours later.  I noticed Tuesday when I was walking him that his coat is shining and thick where it’s come back.  It’s also not the light grey that it was, it’s a charcoal grey.  He’s on prednisone and I think he’s in less pain.  It’s been a month like this and I want to do this for a total of 3 months with no change before I reassess his situation.  I think we’re finally getting there.  And thrilled that he doesn’t have cancer.

1-17 bubba

I drank some amazing wine last year and went to some amazing places.  Met people that I would have never guessed would spend time with the Wine Dog.  Even more shocking, they remember me the next time they see me  It’s really quite a blessed existence I lead.  So without further ado….

Wine Dog Goals for 2010

  1. Lose that damned 50 pounds
  2. Organize real estate business to optimal efficiency and STAY ORGANIZED
  3. Get marketing plan running and keep it running
  4. Close a deal a minimum of every 3 weeks consistently
  5. Finish landscaping the yards
  6. Remodel main bath
  7. Bench 215 in competition, deadlift 300
  8. Ride faster (15mpg average) and complete
    1. At least one metric event
    2. At least two Century event
  9. Raise $2500 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation through Team Fatty (new button to be there soon)
    1. pie-in-the-sky-goal -Ride for the Roses in Austin.
  10. Attain goals #1, #2, #3 and #4 by June 1 so that I can justify a new S-Works frame and all the accouterments
  11. Finish a writing project
  12. Get broker’s license
  13. Buy a new vehicle for business

That’s enough  Yes, another year with no wine goals, but that’s been working for me, so why change?  Naturally there are other things that I’m not going to put out there right now, but if I get at least half of those it will have been a great year.  Of course shining God’s flashlight down on cockroaches will always be a goal of PBE and I will not let up on Bill Foley or the Hauptmans  I will continue to point out Foley’s business practices whenever his name comes up in the wine industry and do what I can to stop him from ruining another business that I love.  And the Hauptmans, well, they’re just cockroaches.  At least Mr. Balter got everyone but the Alliance folks dialed in and he’s working on them now.  I think there will be a lot more justice than we thought, I just hope that it isn’t too late for those folks who have been trying to save their homes while the Hauptmans play legal games.  Cockroaches.

How do I feel this good sober?

Where to start, where to start? I really want to rant about the health care bill, but I may just leave that alone since it seems to be ever evolving. Oh what the Hell?  I spent some time today with a Canadian friend of mine.  He thought he was here legally until he found out his paperwork was flawed.  Prior to that discovery he worked legally in this country (or so he thought) paid taxes, even got several tax returns from our government.  We all know the great threat is not Mexico.  It’s those damned Cannucks.

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Anyway, he got sick here and went to the hospital.  And he’s an illegal alien.  And you know what?  They sent him a bill.  And he paid it.  He also told me that if he were in Canada they would have just taken care of him.  Blame Canada.

Sonofabun and I have been talking about doing Cuban night ever since I found that HobNob Shiraz. I thought it was an Aussie, but it’s actually a French shiraz.  Nice fruit on the front, not a lot in the middle but a ton of vanilla on the finish.  The balance is ok but this wine retails for $12 a bottle.  Shut.  Up.


It had so much vanilla on the finish that I knew it needed that needed that spicy, allspice jerk thing.  So we failed on Cuban per se, but we did pretty good with Caribbean.  We split up the menu and got to work.  He made a Cuban bread that was awesome and some stuffed potatoes that were like deviled eggs potatoes.


And Mojitos.  A special thanks to Ines for pointing us in the right direction on our mojitos.


I did essentially Nigel Spence’s Big Ass Jerk Ribeyes and Frijoles Negros.


He made a scented rice to go with the beans.


And there’s a dessert that we aren’t talking about.  It all came out amazing, except the dessert we aren’t talking about.  The good news is that we put flan ice cream over the dessert we aren’t talking about and flan ice cream is pretty damned good.