Thibodeaux, fontaineaux, the place is buzzin’

Jack Assery, party of one, your table is ready.

OK, I know.  blahblahblah.

Thieves.  These thieves are lucky.  I don’t know that I would have been able to restrain my desire to fire off rounds at them if I’d been home.

These little d-bags stole my catalytic converter.  They unbolted it at the back but then used a pipe cutter to cut my goddamned header because the front bolts were seized.  I want to shoot them all.  I was out of town at The Cult of Red’s Family Reunion (an amazing event that makes me proud to be affiliated with them) when this happened and my dogs were in their kennels while my dog sitter slept.  If my dogs had been in the bedroom with me, I doubt these asshats would have gotten away with it.  I truly believe Ike would have woken up and at the very least given a bark.  I could have gotten off a round or two before they got away.  But finally I have to say something nice about Concord PD.  They caught them.  And they got my cat back.  And they talked Concord Toyota into reinstalling it.  So instead of having to buy a new one at $1200, I bought a new header at $300.  Add another $300 in labor and it’s back out there for these little turds to try and steal it again.  Yes, we’re going for restitution.  There are four of them.  I want every one of them to pay $600 and I want the extra to go to charity because I couldn’t use my truck to rescue any dogs or go to any AIDS Lifecycle training rides because of them.  There are consequences goddammit.

On a lighter note.

Duke is a very sensitive young man.  He’s a bit of a serial little dog mauler.  He went after a Boston yesterday.  Twice.  The little girl was just trying to say “Hi!”.  Duke was trying to do a Sylvester/Tweety bird on her.  We had a very serious discussion about his behavior.  When we got back to the condo Duke put himself on a time out.  I’ve never seen a dog who punishes himself before.  I’m down to the three who belong here and that’s kind of nice.

Prescott is living merrily up in Rossmoor with another old lady.  I thought I might have made a mistake with him.  He was a little younger and stronger than I expected.  I suggested that maybe he wasn’t the right dog for her.  Two days later everything is solved and there are no more issues.  Because Prescott is a perfect dog.

The third time he jumped on me he got a knee in the chest.

Little Sister is doing awesome in Oakland at her new home.  She had a little adjustment period too.  Crates.  That’s all I have to say.  Use crates.

Last I heard, Hannibal had everybody wrapped around his paw in Michigan.

Tomorrow I’m rolling out my new project.  It’s pretty simple and self explanatory.  Oh yeah, and if it catches on like it should it will save our nation $2 billion annually.  Really.  The Wine Dog will save this nation $2 billion annually.  Starting tomorrow.

And you’ll be pleased to know I’ve got a few rants in me.  But today in the interest of time, I’ll boil them down to a paragraph.

Somalian pirates.  The solution is simple.  Hook all 15 of those little rat bastards to the back of the US Navy destroyer and use them for chum on the way back to port.  Then stack up their ransom demand, whatever it was, set it afire and burn whatever the sharks didn’t eat for all to see.  These guys are savages and this is what they understand.  I don’t understand why we have been such pansies about this crap.  We go blow up a bunch of mud huts after 9/11 after waiting 32 days to do anything, and now we let these maggots continue to operate.  They are criminals acting in international waters.  Game over.

Gaddafi.  Or Khaddafi.  Or whatever.  He’s the best argument against what Bush did in Iraq.  We don’t have the man power to get involved in another skirmmish and over throw another crazy guy in the Middle East.  Even though this is the one that really deserves it.   Although every time I think of him I remember that we had a toy ball, I don’t remember where we got it, that my rugby team used to play with before practice.  It was the head of a terrorist.  This was back in the 90’s.  We called it the Khaddafi ball.  Or Gaddafi.  Or.

Wisconsin.  Cheese.  Remember when Reagan broke the air traffic controllers union?  Think we’re better off because he did that?  Nope.  Not a fan of union breaking.  I know the UAW is out of control, but from my experience, the unions allow people to do their jobs without worrying about a lot of other crap that people worry about in their jobs.  Union workers have superior benefits.  Wouldn’t you like to have better benefits?  Work conditions are generally better.  And they don’t find themselves involved in class actions suits for wages not paid.  I’m on my fourth now.  I got the call the other day.

Like The Brother says, if y’all would act right, but you won’t.  So here we sit.

Just for the record, I hear all this bullshit about bad teachers who just go on and on with tenure.  Name one.  Name one goddamned teacher that is so shitty that they need to be fired but can’t be because of tenure.  Name one.  I dare you to.  Can’t?  That’s what I thought.  That teacher is a right wing bug-a-boo and doesn’t exist any more than the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.

OK, not that Santa.

Give me a lifetime of promises and a world of dreams

I’m going to talk a little about Chef Todd Knoll today.    Chef Todd is the Evil Genius of the kitchens at Jordan Winery.  This guy is an über food geek.  His wife told me about his quest to make his own sea salt.  So they hump water from obscure places all over the world and he evaporates it and makes sea salt.  Somebody at the table told me he sketched out every menu on a scratch pad.  He does.  Yep, I got his wife to show me that too.

It’s a gift really.  I’m not an über food geek, but I’m getting a lot better.  I know I surprised the staff when I asked if the flower in the gougères was a fava bean bloom.  I know, it’s cheating, I’m growing fava beans.  The blooms are edible.  Actually so are the leaves.  Chef Todd makes his own olive oil, grows his own herbs, evaporates his own salt.  He is Bruce Almighty.

I’m planting my own herbs too Chef so stand down buddy!  OK, maybe not, I’ve got a ways to go.  A long ways.  It must be amazing to have free reign to dream up and create these amazing dishes and menus.  There is a guy at Jordan who runs the garden.  But it sure helps to have a guy there who’s job it is to bury the asparagus so it doesn’t turn green. He does an amazing job with that garden.

There is an entire row of strawberries down there.  And fava beans.  And all kinds of different sorts of goodness.  And just to be sure that weeds stay in check, there’s Barney and Clyde.

They keep them either penned up or on goat leads so that they don’t wander off and get eaten by a mountain lion or a coyote.  They’re very sweet little goats.  That’s Clyde, I’m pretty sure, I think, probably.

And Chef Todd has his toys.  And lots of them.  They are now building a pizza/woodburning/bread oven on the property.  We all know I want one of those so this was of particular interest to me.  It looks kind of boring right now but Chef explained that the foundation went deep into the ground, close to 6 feet.  They asked the local paper if they would like to cover the construction of the oven and they turned their nose up at the opportunity.  I think the locals missed the boat.  People are entertaining more at home in this recession and making improvements to their home.  There are people out there who would love to read this story.  I’m curious as to how it all goes together, but we know a bread oven is on the master plan for The Farm.  Part of a master plan that involves dropping off of the grid.

And there’s this one other toy.  This is where the magic happens.

Isn’t she gorgeous?  Now, what did Chef Todd do with all of that amazing goodness he had to play with?

Mero Seabass and Tasmanian Salmon

with Our First Peas and Ramps

Yes he did.  They paired it with the 2005, 2007 and 2008 Jordan Chardonnay.  More on the wine tomorrow.  I’m not sure what kind of bloom he’s put in there, but I’ve had them before.  Just gorgeous.

Second course?

Gilled Sonoma Lamb and this Morning’s Carrots

with Fava, Morels and Black Garlic Jus

Oh yes he did. That was paired with the 1999, 2005 and 2006 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon.  I will not spoil tomorrows post by talking about this wine.  I will not spoil tomorrows post by talking about this wine.  I will not spoil tomorrows post by talking about this wine.  I will not spoil tomorrows post by talking about this wine.

Not only were each of these dishes beautiful on the plate, they were equisite on the palate.  We had a discussion at our table about salmon cooked poorly.  I guess it was to my advantage that my father didn’t like fish so we never had salmon as kids.  I’ve heard more stories about overcooked dry nasty salmon from people’s childhoods.  If my salmon is overcooked it’s because I’ve had an ADD moment.  For the most part I’m used to it being prepared fairly properly.  Rarely perfect.  Chef Todd put perfect salmon on the plate.  And perfect seabass.  In a beautiful pureé of baby peas.  It was a gorgeous dish, paired perfectly with their Chardonnay.

I don’t even attempt lamb here, but I love it when it’s done properly.  Once again they nailed it.  The presentation was in a deep flat bowl.  It allowed the jus and the vegetables to marinade in their own goodness.  It was an absolutely perfect dish.

Our garden tour was actually after the first two courses.  After that we came back up to shaded area for dessert.

Oh yes they did.  Yes, that’s gold flakes, I think on a tiramisu, that’s what it sort of played like.  A very high end tiramisu.  There is the shortbread like cookie drizzled in chocolate, I’m not sure what the one with the foamy sort of stuff on top was, it had kind of a cakelike base with almonds I think.  I skipped the fruit bars for no real reason.   There is also something that is not in this picture.  I believe them to be mini profiteroles with marzipan inside and dusted with powdered sugar.  That may not be accurate.  I’m not really good on dessert names.  Especially all the old French stuff they’re making again.  But they may have been something made with an egg white based dough too.  They were ridiculous.  I could have finished the entire tray, and certainly tried to.  I am a huge fan of anything lemon and tend to choose the lemon dessert off of most menus.  Those little lemon tarts were amazing.  I tried to eat the whole tray of those too.  Simply amazing.

When John Jordan talks about a world class experience, and then allows guys like Chef Todd to deliver, that’s where the rubber meets the road.  I’ve been blessed in my life to have been at the right place at the right time on numerous occasions.  I would consider myself very lucky to be seated at one of Chef Todd’s tables any day any where.  The man is a genius.

Dear FCC, we were all comped at Jordan Winery.  I was not asked to write about them.  If I didn’t enjoy the experience and learn something I wouldn’t have written anything because I think if you can’t say anything nice after you’ve been comped, then don’t.  And guess what?  I’m going to write about this day at least one more time.  So there.

He once was a mad bull, a wild and a bad bull

In lieu of a really really angry rant, we’re going with pictures.  Lots of other blogs have Wordless Wednesday.  I don’t have anything nice to say, so here goes.

We will return to our regularly scheduled jackassery tomorrow.

‘Cause the one thing stronger than the whiskey

12-27shatnerdobe

Damned smug Canadians.

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Until 2000 I never had to put an animal down.  It started with Rayette DiPesto at my place at Parkwoods.  She had kidney disease.  My vet was closed that day so I took her to a vet out in San Ramon who wanted to hospitalize my 15 year old cat.  I asked “What will this accomplish”.  He said “She’ll get three days, three weeks maybe three months”.  I said “I see what’s in it for me and I see what’s in it for you, but I don’t see what’s in it for the cat”.  He couldn’t answer the question so I loaded her up with SubQ fluids and took her home for one more night, because I’d never put one of my pets to sleep and I needed one more night to sort it out.  When I took her back to my vet he agreed she was done and I let her go.  I immediately had her littermate Broderick Catford tested for kidney disease.  He had it too.  I lengthened his life by three months because I caught it and he got SubQ fluids for the last three months of his life.  Three months later I lost him.  That cat had no fear.  I had to teach Beauregard the command “Get the cat’s head out of your mouth”.  He loved that cat and was despondent when he died.

12-27 brokerick

I was watching football on the tv above the fireplace and they all laid right there.  I sold the condo in Parkwoods and bought the house in the hood in Concord.  Cody the greyhound came to stay with us.  He was old and only lived six months.  I had to put him down.  Then came Toby the Gypsy Doberman.  She stayed with us for 19 months before the cancer got her.  Then in March of 2005 I came home and found Xica gone.  She’s the only one I didn’t have to put to sleep.  She would have been the hardest if not for Beauregard’s cancer.  I always thought that dog took herself out of the game because she knew it would break me to do it.  And then of course Beauregard.  I sold the house in the hood, stayed out of the market for a year (should have stayed out for six more months but hind site is 20/20)  and bought The Farm.  Beau made it to the Farm.  He loved this place.  That dog thought I had bought him a dog park the yard is so big here.

There’s been a lot of critters through here in the last ten years.  I’m proud that every one of them got to live out their lives as naturally as possible.  I hope I can continue the streak.

And now here’s Newsweek’s spin on the last 10 years.

And a best of the best video.

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But we all live with the scars we choose

We’re all singing “Happy Days are here again” right? Everyone has had their salaries restored to pre-mortgage meltdown rates, right? Your bonuses and commissions have all been restored by Mr. Foley right? Everybody is holding hands and singing “We are the World” at the Evil Empire, right? Oh let’s just quote the earnings call. During the earnings call Al Stinson said:

Open order counts continue to accelerate in October, as we averaged nearly 10,000 open orders for the first two weeks of October. We focused on moderate head count reductions during much of the third quarter eliminating about 850 positions. Despite a 16% sequential drop in closed orders and $101 million or 7% reduction in total title revenue, we were still able to generate pretax title profits that only decline about $13 million and an 8.9% pretax margin that was only a 30 basis points or 3% sequential decline from the second quarter.

Yep, Bill lopped off another 850 heads and turned in Q3 EPS of .32 per share to the Captains of Industry. Nice job asshat.

The Evil Empire continues to balance the books and bring profits to his Wall Street lords on the backs of the employees. Splendid. Restore your staff’s salaries, commissions and bonuses and THEN post profits for Wall Street. Any question that Bill Foley is a reprehensible character? Any question about his morally bankrupt business practices? Ask one of his employees, they’ll tell you.

You see a little bit of a food fight broke out when my pals over at AWB picked up on my pounding of the drums. They get why I have called for a boycott of Foley Wine Group. But they took it on the chin because the wine consuming public, or maybe it’s just a couple of morons that commented over there, don’t get why Bill Foley must be stopped. The thing in the Wine Spectator article that just jumps out at me is how Bill never said “I bought Sebastiani because I wanted to preserve a 104 year old tradition.” Nothing like that. He bought Sebastiani so that he would have more control over distribution. He never said and doesn’t give a crap about what kind of wine they make or the people who make it. It’s about distribution. So when some little wanker says “Oh he saved Sebastiani”, I say get a clue. Sebastiani’s time had run. Businesses have a life, and maybe Sebastiani was at the end of it’s life and needed to be laid to rest. Not to be further bastardized by a corporate raider. Mark my words, if he’s not stopped by the consumers, he will irrevocably change the wine industry forever, but not for the better.

Old Repulsive released earnings last week too. Well, earnings isn’t really the right word. The loss per share after an accounting adjustment was .20. They paid a .17 cent dividend per share so essentially they’re pretty close to stopping the bleeding. More importantly, they laid off less staff and retained more long term employees than any of the other title companies. They acted as if they knew business was cyclical and they had saved for that rainy day. They continue to behave in a much more admirable manner than any of their competitors. They have their problems, that’s for sure, but they don’t seem to bow to their Wall Street gods like Bill and Parker Kennedy do and here at PBE that’s a good thing.

The Bloodless Empire and Dinty Moore will be reporting on Thursday of this week. I will guess that one posts earnings the other doesn’t. Anyone want to venture a guess? I know, that was a softball. Speaking of softballs, this guy was truly the diameter of a softball. I saw him walking across the street, couldn’t believe it so I pulled over and snapped a picture, since I was up in Round Hill Country Club checking on one of our listings anyway and had the camera.

10-26tarantula

Do me a favor and pass me the Jaeger

I’ve been busy, so let’s do a before and after.

Before:

house-before

House taped up waiting for paint:

house-taped-up

House done.

house-done

Yeah, I painted the front door red.

house-done2

Bubba relaxing after a long day of watching me work.

10-26-bubba-repose

Yes, I have very similar pictures of a black and tan boy, who I still miss terribly.

We’re all humanary stew

How about a little photojournalism? Glad you asked. Today amongst about 75 other things I did, I headed out to Oakley to pick up some river rock from one of my clients. I have two more loads to get. I load until my truck gets down on it’s springs and thats that. Well today I went to the dump first just to drop off a couple of things. They used to charge by weight. Now there’s a minimum charge of $22. I had a chair and a medicine cabinet. Both were brought over here by somebody else who left them here thinking that I wanted them. I didn’t. I sure as hell wasn’t going to spend $22 getting them out of here. So off I went looking for an opportunity at a dumpster. I was in Pittsburg and those guys know better. I considered stopping by a house that I knew wasn’t trashed out but that’s really border line so I didn’t do that either. I decided to put the medicine cabinet inside the cab of the truck and the chair on top of the river rocks and just break the stuff down and put it in the trash when I got home. Traffic was stopped on the 4, (what a surprise) so I stayed on surface streets. I looked up and there was the 19th Hole. For those of you in the know, next to the 19th Hole is Duane’s Meats. Duane’s is well known on the raw dog food circuit. He’s got the best deal on bones. And a dumpster that’s locked. I got 10 pounds of bones for the Hellhoundz and headed to Oakley to get my river rocks.

ritabone

bubbabone

They were a big hit to say the least. Rita is still entertained. Bubba is asleep in the doorway. Life is good. I head out to Oakley, pull the chair out of the back of the truck and put the medicine cabinet inside the cab of the truck. My client and I loaded up the truck until it was down on the springs and I headed back to Concord. Upon my arrival, I moved some cars around and started unloading the rocks. By now my back is toast so I’m moving pretty slowly. I’m doing other tasks in between to keep my lower back from freezing up on me. I take the chair out of the truck and disassemble it and put its parts in the trash. I go and get the medicine cabinet out of the truck and start disassembling it. I take off the lower hinged door. I take off the two front doors. I unscrew the front from the back but it won’t come off. So I turn it over and this is what I found.

widow

This is the first one I have seen at this property. There are 19 trees on this property. I’m not an idiot. I know there are thousands of them here. I know there are probably brown recluses too. I found a tarantula at my last house. There are tons of wolf spiders here. Those guys travel in pairs across the living room floor. Still in two years this is the first one of these I’ve run across. More over, this morning when I read this article on Claycord, I prayed this didn’t affect my area. Dammit.

And for those of you who have been asking, last week I went back to the vet. She was perplexed that Rita was still leaking too. Quite honestly, her condition is one that is ALWAYS cured by acupuncture, so I was shocked that she wasn’t responding. The vet gave her a prescription for Cystolamine and things have been wonderfully dry around here. It should not be working but it is and that’s good enough for me.

No pedigree from France will get you in the dance

I’ve been working like a dog.  I think I mentioned the only day I took off this month was last Saturday.  I’m aiming for Sunday since tomorrow is already booked up.  My house is starting to look like one of our listings.  I must get it cleaned.  I’ve got three or four BPO’s to do and each one takes around two hours to complete.  Slightly longer because I still haven’t had time to figure out the new camera or it’s software.  Yesterday we did a lock out and the people hadn’t moved.  These people contacted this Satanic woman who accused me of harassing them.  I’m sure she took a fee from them to lie to me, just like the unscrupulous real estate agent who sold them the house and the unethical loan agent that made the loan that is now foreclosed.  Lady, don’t yell at me.  I didn’t take a penny from these poor people.  Y’all keep preying on your own community and quite honestly I think it’s criminal.  Anyone want to lay odds that somebody broke into the home last night?

Stuff like this is why I’m very concerned about the mortgage component of the bail out.  I just don’t think that Senators and Congress understand what happened.  I just don’t think they understand that what happened from 2004-2007 was criminal.  I took possession of another property yesterday.  This one had no appliances.  Stealing appliances really hacks me off.  Two reasons.  One, by the time the appliances are removed the property belongs to the bank so it really is a criminal act and should be pursued as such.  Two, without the appliances we can’t sell the thing FHA which rules out a ton of buyers.  Banks won’t replace the appliances and at the end of the day the FHA buyer can’t buy in this market.  Rich get richer, more of the same, as dictated by the lending community.  Want to write a new law?  Write one requiring sellers to install appliances.  $1500 on the seller’s side opens up the market to all of those FHA buyers.  Oh yeah, and tear out those crappy garage conversions.

We had a break in the rain yesterday and the dogs were running and playing in the yard.  I originally went and got the camera because Bubba was standing on the patio table.  Don’t ask.  But I got some great shots and we haven’t had dog photojournalism in a while.

How happy is this guy?
How happy is this guy?
I could watch floppy eared dogs run all day long.  It makes me laugh.
I could watch floppy eared dogs run all day long. It makes me laugh.
I love their expressions...and the fact that I caught it.
I love their expressions...and the fact that I caught it.

As you can see the yard is a big mud hole.  Rita is disgusting from running laps out there.  We’re in for several more days of rain.  I’ve got to figure out how to get her clean but not have her cold from being wet.  I might have to shower with her.

Well he treed a possum in a hollow log, you could tell from that he was a good ol’ dog

(These are all clickable to larger images)

Why I love Rita

This is why I love Rita

And this is why they’re such great dogs.

And I love when I get a shot like this.

And I love this big old dork of a dog.

Rita treed a squirrel this morning.  At 8:15.  The neighbors must love me for that crap.  She had him in the apricot tree which is the only tree that stands by itself, meaning a squirrel must touch the ground to escape.  I went out to settle her down and saw the squirrel in the tree.  Squirrel, you’d better bring your A game or you’re going to be a snack here.  Well, Squirrel had his A game with him.  He ran down the tree in circles and managed to escape BETWEEN the Hellhoundz and get up the oak tree before they got him.  They tried.  Squirrel 1 Hellhoundz 0.  Thanks for playing our game.