Around the Horn

Street scenes

No sooner do I mention the lady in the Viking hat…she was parked at Sutter and Montgomery today.  I hadn’t seen her in years.  And the piper was at Davis and Market.  And when you really know you love this town is when guys like this:

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make your day.  This is Frank Chu.  I was standing next to him when a bike messenger rode by and flashed a sign to him and said “Rock on Frank”.  Rock on Frank.  One day we may interview you for Pink Bunny Ears.

Who knew?

When Matt Williams used to get on a hitting streak, he’d say the ball looked like a big old grapefruit coming off of the pitcher’s hand.  This is such a big old grapefruit that it’s not really fair if I do hit it out of the park.  It’s more along the lines of shooting fish in a barrel.  The headline in the USA Today today says “Dozens of bridges rated “deficient” since 80’s”.  This is too much of a meatpie.  If you really still don’t know who’s fault this is, check out the tags.

Down on the Farm

The carpet was installed yesterday.  I am beside myself with joy.  It looks awesome.  A big shout out to Brian Rogan at California Custom Carpets in Dublin.  His guys were in and out and did an amazing job.  What amazes me is that one of the services Brian offers is to pay his bill at close of escrow.  Had his seller done this, instead of trying to sell a place with piss-ridden chartreuse carpet, she’d have probably gotten at least asked.

Weight is holding at 207-209.  I haven’t gone to the gym this week and will start the new challenge on Monday after me and all my crap once again live in the same house.  I can’t wait for Sunday morning!

When in doubt, forge forward.

Down on the Farm 

I’ve pretty much run out of time.  I’ve done all that I can do in the amount of time I have.  I lost a tremendous amount of time with Saturday’s airless sprayer debacle.  For what it cost me in time and money, I probably should have just rolled the SOB.  So much for Monday morning quarterbacking.  So the bathroom is a shell.  No toilet, no vanity, no shower AND no paint.  I realized yesterday that I forgot to paint it.  On the upside, Tile Guy helped me install the new oven and microwave hood combination.  They went in nearly perfectly, with the noted exception of a 45 minute trip to Bill’s Ace is the Place to get exactly two lag screws.  Today cost $.57, time expending figuring out what size we needed, 40 minutes.  Today the carpet is going in.  I wanted all the painting done before the carpet when it, that makes sense, but I forgot to paint one of the rooms, so I’ll have to do that, I don’t know, later.  In the end, the decision I made was to pack my existing house and move in and deal with the rest when I got there.  There is a working toilet and sink there.  No shower.  I do belong to a gym and a friend has offered her house as they are out of town.  I just can’t stand two screwed up houses, two cars full of crap and a desk at work loaded down.  So yesterday I worked like a dog and cleaned up my desk at work.  Then last night I cleaned up the Farm a little.  Then this morning I tore up the house I’m living in, filling numerous boxes and packing Granny’s china.  I think I have a plan.  Get the house I live in ready for the movers and make them take everything over to the farm.  Clean that house and walk away, then all the madness is in one place.  Beauregard is very upset with the boxes in our house.  I told him I needed the boxes so we could go and live at the dog park.

BARF

Today is a Spare the Air day.  In conjunction with a waning full moon, this is a recipe for disaster.  It’s nice to not have to pay, but BART is now packed.  What I don’t get is if all these people can get where they’re going today on BART, why aren’t they riding it every day?  That seems to me to be just irresponsible and selfish.  On the other hand, whenever they have a bunch of people on BART who aren’t used to riding BART, it’s amateur hour.  These people come with way too much baggage, sometimes a backpack they knock fellow passengers over with and bad manners.  Cover your face on a crowded train if you’re going to cough or sneeze.  The rest of us really don’t want whatever pestilence you’re carrying.  Still, if you can ride BART today when it’s free, you should ride it every day and do your part to stop this country’s reliance on foreign oil.  Is it really worth the life of an American soldier so you can park your ass solo in your car every day and suck up fossil fuel?

Seen on the street

Part of working downtown is dealing with the bums.  Granted the politically correct term is homeless, but I’ve always just liked bums.  Or hobos.  Anyway, it’s a parade of the usual suspects every day.  Occasionally, there’s a little something special.  Today’s guy had a sign that said:

“Give generously to the United Negro Pizza Fund”

Better than the bums are the street musicians.  There used to be a lady with a keyboard and a Viking hat.  I used to see her everywhere.  Everywhere to the point that I thought I was being stalked.  I don’t know what happened to her, but I haven’t seen her in years now.  There’s the guy that plays bagpipes at lunch down by Peet’s on Market.  There is a steady stream of musicians as you leave BART.  There’s the guy with the mandolin, he’s pretty good.  Occasionally, like today, there’s the Johnny Cash dude.  His vocals are dead on.  Today he was singing “I walk the line”.

A word about Mr. Vick

What this guy does from here is anyone’s guess, but I have to give him credit for stepping up the the plate.  He didn’t use the wiggle words we’re so sick of hearing.  He didn’t say “if I offended anyone”.  He apologized.  He said he did bad things, used bad judgment and let a lot of people down.  He said he needed to grow up.  And not unexpectedly, he found God.  Well, if that’s what it takes, great.  This guy has lost over $150 million dollars over bloodsport.  He was an idiot.  He knows it now.  His sincerity will be evident or not upon his release.  He can start donating time and effort to end the scourge of dogfighting.  He can be the sort of role model that he should have been all along.  Or he can be a dumb ass.  Time will tell if he really is sincere or not, but I give him credit for ditching the wiggle words and apologizing properly.

Who’d a thunk it?

When I bought new appliances, I was leery of buying Kitchenaid again.  I went around and around with them and the dishwasher at the old house.  I ended up writing 7 on your side and they finally got them to respond, the problem got fixed and they extended the warranty for 3 more years for free.  It was a lot of hassle, but it was also during a corporate merger for them.  So I took my chances, hopefully it will pay off.  Tonight, Tile Guy is going to help me install the oven and microwave.  I was dreading the microwave as it is a ventilation hood  as well.  Well, who’d a thunk it?  It has a recirculating system and does not need to be vented outside.  Really?  I asked when I called them.  Yes, really said the nice lady on the customer service line.  Her husband was equally credulous when faced with the notion of not venting a hood outdoors, but proceeded according to instructions.  It works, he’s happy and we’ll not be venting mine outdoors either.  I’m a little fired up.  Rumor has it the backsplash is half up.  I love it when a plan comes together!

One Market.  Not only is the building the bane of my existence, but it is also the location of the closest Bradley Ogden house to my office.  I love his restaurants.  Love Lark Creek, love Lark Creek Steak, love One Market.  I had a lovely lunch with one of my closest friends there today.  I ordered the melon gazpacho followed by a crab risotto.  Too bad I work for starched shorts title company.  A nice Pinot would have been lovely. 

As Margo Channing said,

“Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” And bumpy it’s been. First the water heater. Don’t ask me why you can buy one at Home Depot for $270, yet, it cost me $465 with First American’s Home Warranty. That was my part. God only knows what First American paid in addition to the $465. Then I got called on the carpet for being at the house while the water heater boys looked at the leaking hulk and said “Yup, es broke”. Apparently escrow officers require wookies now. Then I soaked the new bathroom, but that was a no harm no foul situation, just a time consuming mess to clean up. Then yesterday, I fired up my airless to paint the living room only to find out that my dear friend who I lent it to, didn’t clean it out like I told him to and it wouldn’t pump paint. So I go down to Wally’s Rentals, where I have rented equipment for 7 years. I rent their airless at $77 per four hours. Except it’s 2:45 and if I keep it over night the charge will be for four and a half hours. Don’t ask the logic to that. The machine is pretty clean and the guy says, bring it back like this or you have to pay the $65 cleaning fee. No worries, I’ll clean it the minute I’m done. So into the house I go, fire this bad boy up, prime it, spit out the water, or so I thought and flip it to run. It proceeds to spray paint and water all over the wall and ceiling. So I spray on the floor a little and it seems good to go, so I hose down the house. I finish at 4:09. I think woo hoo, I can have this thing back by five, I’ll just take it out side, put it in a bucket of water and clean it up. Not so much. Five o’clock came and went and I was still scrubbing. Six o’clock came and went and I was still scrubbing. At seven o’clock I put that bitch in the garage and went home. I could get up the next morning, bring some thinner over there and maybe get it cleaned, if not, the cleaning charge was $65 and if I kept at it like this, I was going to spend at least that to get help to get the rest of the job done. So I go back with the thinner and the paint is even worse and I can’t get it at all. That’s it, I’m done. At 7:55, right before Wally’s opens, I load the thing into my truck ready to pay the $65. I put the truck into gear and I guess I must of left the brake on, it won’t move. No, the brake’s off, I must be in 3rd gear, not 1st…no, I’m in first gear, but now we’re halfway down the block and the truck is listing to the left. $%^$&*%#. The truck has a flat tire. So I call AAA because believe it or not, I’ve never had a flat. Several slow leaks but never a flat. I have never taken the tools out of the truck that came with it in 1994. As a matter of fact, I’ve never operated the jack. Today is not the day to start and now I’m not going to have this thing back to Wally’s by the end of the grace period at 8:30. WRONG! Enter Dave from Concord Tow World. Dude’s got game. I helped with some minor stuff, then I slung the offending wheel into the back of the truck. Dave looks up and says “you’re a savage”. I’m taking that as a compliment. Dave got me to Wally’s by 8:26. So the guy behind the counter saunters out and looks in the back of my truck and slowly pulls the machine out of the truck. Yeah, I know it’s dirty just charge me the $65, it was hot yesterday and the damn thing dried before I got all the paint off. I did run it for two and a half hours and it was pumping out clear water for about an hour so I know the mechanism is clean, I just didn’t have the stuff to get the rest of it clean and I give up, charge me the $65. He’s a complete jerk to me. On one hand he’s treating me like a petulant child. Later I realize, he’s probably just a misogynist son of a bitch. Guys who’s pinnacle in life is to work at a equipment rental operation usually are like that. It’s $65 an hour and it’s going to take at least an hour and a half plus the lacquer thinner at $15 a can to clean this thing up. But the guy yesterday said $65 cleaning fee, not $65 an hour. Well, buddy, you got your $97. I hope the ownership at Wally’s enjoys it, because it is the last $242 I will ever spend with you. Had the guy said, well, anything other than what he did and not copped such an attitude, the situation could have been salvaged, but this guy was a complete ass. After seven years and two remodels, a smarter man would have softpedaled the situation and offered solutions. One would have been, hey, we’re going to charge you $97 for a kid to sit here with lacquer thinner. Would you like to run back to Bill’s Ace is the Place and get some lacquer thinner and clean it a little better so we don’t have to charge you? I probably would have paid the charge, but I wouldn’t be pissed and I would still do business with Wally’s Rentals. But this guy thought being a jerk to me because I’m a woman was a better course. I hope the Wally’s ownership sees this, because Steve, the manager of the Concord store, your a clown.

The fun didn’t stop there today. I actually tripped over my own two feet and went crashing to the ground in the house. Knocked the wind out of myself and everything. Still, at the end of the day: Photojournalism!

Beau waits patiently for Tile Guy to show up and bring his girlfriend Coco.

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The kitchen cabinets are coming along, and even getting closer to what I’m looking for

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Here’s the paint on the master bedroom. The color is called Quesy, for some bizzaro reason.

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And Tile Guy decided on his own little self to do something different in the shower stall. Ain’t it cool? The blue tape will come off when he finished grouting.

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Bon mots and cheap shots

Let’s start with Stuck on Stupid, this morning.

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C.T. Martin, councilman for the City of Atlanta. This is the knucklehead that has introduced the ordinance to ban the showing of boxers, thongs, sports bras and bra straps in public. Apparently every crime in the City of Atlanta has been eradicated, every homeless person has a warm place to sleep, every employable individual has a job, taxes are low, services are up, the potholes are fixed and no bridges are in danger of falling down.

Dear City of Atlanta,

Please recall this ass clown.

And while we’re on Stuck on Stupid, last night they were dissecting Bush’s speech to the VFW with John Dower, the MIT professor he quoted. Bush told the VFW that the current occupation in Iraq was similar to what happened in Japan and then quoted the good professor. Apparently the good professor thought the occupation of Japan was well handled, by that charismatic, intelligent guy with the corn cob pipe. Professor Dower studored (yes, I meant to spell it that way) Allison Stewart on the creation of the Marshall Plan (initiated in 1942 and implemented in 1945) and the lack of an occupation plan for Iraq opining that there was no comparison. Somebody, or their speech writer should have paid better attention in history class.

On to the farm. I’m leaving momentarily to make my 181st trip to the hardware store this week. Bill’s Ace is the Place is now my tool and part library. I buy it, take it home, look at it and know I bought the wrong thing and bring it back. Repeat numerous times each day. Today, I’m getting a space suit, some stuff to mask with and one of those dishwasher connecting things. I’ve got a full day of masking and taping and painting and packing. I need to get some more photojournalism up, look for that this evening.

One more swipe at Stuck on Stupid. Maybe it’s the heat in Atlanta. What makes a guy who has the world by the tail be such an idiot. Michael Vick bankrolls a dogfighting ring and loses everything. Everything. For bloodsport. How stupid do you have to be? At what point to you think that hooking up an electrical wire to a hosed down dog’s nose and testicles and electrocuting them is okay? At what point do you become such an animal that you hang a bunch of dogs because they won’t fight and then cut down the three that didn’t die and slam them on the ground trying to kill them and then drown them because they won’t die? It has nothing to do with race or culture. It has everything to do with being subhuman.

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And Inga Newkirk, please shut the hell up, you’re insane, and not in the good way.

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink…

Since the water is off at the Farm, I decided to take that opportunity to switch out all the corroded galvanized pipe and rotted angle valves.  Seemed simple enough, and it was.  Until I decided to turn the water on to test them.  All three of them were in the “on” position.  I turned on the gate and you could HEAR the water hitting the ceiling in the bathroom.  I turned if off immediately, but when three valves are wide open in the same little tiny room, the damage was apparent.  I told Tile Guy to fire the General who was jacking up the work site… oh, that’s me. 😀

About the Home Warranty company.  Somehow my out of pocket on the water heater is $465.  Is this a scam?  Hell yeah.  Not only that, I have to dump the SOB myself.  On the upside, it will be brand spanking new and it was totally not up to code and now it will be.  No, dear City I Live In, I am not pulling permits.  Build it to code and keep the City out of my life boys.  Thank you.

Minor adjustments

The original plan was not to replace the water heater until spring.  Don’t ask me why spring was the anointed timeline.  It just was.  Was.  Sunday while I was feverishly working on the house, because my deadline is quickly approaching, I heard water running.  Strange.  The lawn is dead, the roses were watered yesterday and I’m the only one here.  Well, Beauregard was there, but he doesn’t have opposable thumbs, so he’s not running water.  I looked around, everything was off, so I went back to what I was doing.  Then what I was doing led me to the garage where water was pouring out of the bottom of the 1987 era water heater.  I’m so not paying for this, so I get a ladder, intent on turning off the water.  The gate snaps off into my hand.  Now I have no choice but to turn off the water at the house.  I decide that I’m going to run this through the Home Warranty company.  It’s an ancillary service that the conglomerate I work for provides.  My co-workers informed me yesterday that our Home Warranty company is the worst.  Yea! for us.  So today between 10-12 I will be over there, instead of at work, waiting for the home warranty company to hopefully replace the water heater with minimum cajoling from me.

So when I’m not drinking wine, I:

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Finished staining the dining room and:

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Had a new gate installed, pretty cool eh?  And I also had this little gem installed:

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This does two things.  1) it centers the shower controls that were off center and 2) installs one of those pressure bladders that means that someone else can be in the house, flush a toilet and I won’t go through the roof from the scalding I typically receive.  How cool is that.  I’ve put two coats of stain on the kitchen cabinets and I’m really not thrilled with how they’re coming out.  I will revisit that while waiting on the Home Warranty company.  I spoke with an old friend of mine yesterday about the project.  Her husband is a contractor and they just re-built a slew of houses in some podunk town in eastern Texas that were destroyed by Rita.  (yeah, there were two bad hurricanes that year) She asked me why I was rolling the paint when all but one room was going to be the same color.  “Hose it down” says Marcia.  Get one of those paper space suits, mask the windows and hose it down.  So I’m going to be taping off today, so I can hose it down tomorrow.
With all this nonsense going on, you’ll be shocked to hear that I’m still making it to the gym every day, and I am holding tough at 208.  I have changed my workouts and decided to not start a challenge until 9/3.  My workouts are now more typical.  I’m benching 135 for 4 sets of 10.  Deadlifting 135 for 4 sets of 10.  Doing a bunch of shoulder strengthening stuff and ab work.  Nothing too heavy, just enough so I don’t lose it while I’m remodeling this house.

Drinking wine, spo dee o dee drinking wine…

Yesterday I got to go to the Family Winemakers trade event at Fort Mason.  Nearly 400 winemakers were represented.  It was really mind boggling to be there.  Since I lean towards the smaller wineries, I’d heard of many of them, even had a lot of the wine that was being poured.  I skipped a lot of wineries that I was familiar with, Landmark, Siduri, Chappellet, Keenan (although I didn’t see their booth, I know they were supposed to be there) Hollywood and Vine, (I think there’s a Doug Barr story in the archives) Grgich Hills, Gundlach Bunshu, Corison, St. Supery…well, it’s a long list isn’t it?  While I’m a big fan of Freemark Abbey, I’m not sure why they were there.  They are owned by a corporate conglomerate after their bankruptcy.  They have managed to retain Ted Edwards and Tim Bell so far, and I know these two are responsible for the consistently great wine, but with the way that corporations do business, I feel like every day with them hangs tediously in the balance.  Freemark Abbey’s Bosche is the wine that I hold as a benchmark for Cabernet Sauvignons.  It’s currently running around $50 a bottle, so a wine that’s say $65 like Whitehall, should be X% better than the Bosche.  Personally, I don’t think the Whitehall is better.  Rombauer is roughly the same price but they’ve been making all of their wines even more jammy and big and this and that in recent years, so it gets a tepid pass.  Robert Keenan just got some ridiculous rating on their Cab, which retails around $40ish.  I think their Cab has a lot more going on and is a lot more elegant than Rombauer or Whitehall.   Folks I saw there would be Ben Davis the boy genius behind Tallulah.  I was hanging out with my Sommelier buddy so she was looking at everything from the point of view of how it would sell and mesh with food in a restaurant setting.  All of their wines would have worked very well and were quite drinkable without food, as we proved yesterday.  I ran into the owners from DuNah Winery.  I wrote about them earlier, as I had tried their wine at 750ml in San Mateo.   They make a Pinot, a Chardonnay and a Red Table Wine.  All are excellent.  We stopped at Cafaro’s table.  My buddy has an old card from 1997 from Joe Cafaro.  He’s still making the exact same production from the exact same plot of land as he was 10 years ago.  While my buddy questioned why he was still doing exactly what he was doing 10 years ago, when I tasted his wine I thought “Why the hell not?”  This guy makes two beautiful wines.  That’s it.  He’s obviously supporting himself, seems awful happy, why the hell not?  We visited with the guys from Trione Vineyards.  They made a Pinot, a Chardonnay, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Bordeaux blend.  They were all very nice wines.  I really liked the Bordeaux blend a lot, which surprised me, since they’re from the Sonoma side.  Another great stop, which somewhat diverted from my plan of staying away from wines I knew, was a stop at Merry Edwards.  I just love her wine.  I’ve had an occasional bottle here and there, but never the opportunity to run through her entire line.  Delicious!  We ended the day with a steak over at Izzy’s Steak and Chop house on Steiner.  Some days, it’s just great to be me.

Chappellet!

Yesterday I went to the Pritchard Hill party at Chappellet. I took Harry. We hadn’t gotten in trouble in a while. I had never taken him to Chappellet because of their M-F appointment only policy. On one hand, it’s a pain in the ass, on the other hand, it weeds out the riff raff and I can respect Donn Chappellet for doing that. Having been to many wine club parties over the years, I can say that it does weed out to the riff raff. At the end of the day you’re left with amazing wine, incredible food and a family that it’s truly great to hang around with. The Chappellets moved to Pritchard Hill in 1967, so they were working with a Summer of Love 1967 theme. This was their 40th anniversary on the hill. They had a station for tie dying t-shirts, a band playing stuff from the late 60’s, a guitarist up at the winery playing instrumental versions of the all Beatles songs, and a soundtrack to their powerpoint slide show full of Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass. The food was off the hook. Polenta squares with a slice of sausage and a dab of tequila lime pesto. Roasted lamb sandwiches with a red pepper aioli. A portable pizza oven with a margerita pizza, an anchovy goat cheese pizzas, a fig prociutto gorgonzola pizza and another one with olives and some kind of cheese that we never managed to get a piece of. I fell into the lemon bars and couldn’t get out. Harry fell into the pecan bars and struggled out. The wine.

I found out about Chappellet in the mid 80’s. There was an article about their winemaker, a woman, an anomaly back then, in the Chronicle. The winemaker’s name was Cathy Corison. Cathy Corison went on to be a rock star in the valley and now owns her own winery, Corison Winery. Mia Klein studered under Cathy Corison and is a rock star in her own right. Anyway, I had to go up there and try the wine. It was amazing and I bought a bottle of the 1984 Signature Cab. They said you could hold it for 22 years. I paid around $20 for it. A couple of years ago, I googled the bottle and found it going for $220 a bottle. I drank it that fall. Philip Titus in now the winemaker at Chappellet. Most winemakers will tell you that the best wine is made in the fields. The winery is secluded way about the Napa Valley. There are no signs. There probably never will be. The family runs the whole thing. Yesterday we went on a walking tour where they discussed organic farming. While the vineyard manager was brilliant, he was hard to listen to, I wished Jon-Mark Chappellet had done the entire talk. He had such passion for the land and the wine. Chappellet is now a certified organic farm. They don’t make organic wine, but they are an organic farm. There is a difference. Frog’s Leap is the same way. They’re an organic farm too. I think Caymus is as well. All the great wineries are farms first. Great wine begins in the vineyard. A commitment to the land is what makes their wines so amazing. We had everything they made yesterday and then some. The best part was the library. Of the Signature Cabernets they had 1999, 1993, 1987, 1980, 1975 and 1971 open. As time passes these wines become elegant. Harry and I decided that 1980 was our favorite. Truth be told, we didn’t drink a bad wine all day.

The Pink Bunny is back!

After toiling away in the land of databases and localhosts and shiz that I just don’t really get, the problem was that the domain was pointed in the wrong direction. Kind of like those wind up toys that run into the wall and won’t turn. After a mere 10 minutes on the phone with 1and1 support, I’m good to go. The only reason it took 10 minutes was because the guy actually OFFERED to wait around to be sure what we did worked! OK, currently, I’m loving my provider.

The old blog has successfully imported so there’s stuff here that hasn’t been here before.  I’ll upload the other stuff over the next few days.

If you were a registered user, I’m sorry, you disappeared in the move.  Please come back. 🙂