This makes me twitch…

I have a powerlifting meet in Vegas on December 1.  My company has a policy about a vacation blackout in November and December.  In order to get to this meet, I need one day, November 30th off.  I have not missed a day since I got hired.  I’m now 9 months without a sick day.  (Although I’m now fighting a cold and might miss a day later this week if I don’t beat it).  My boss did not see it fit to let me take that day off.  Now I’m faced with flying, which one, I can’t really afford and two, I hate flying, or not going and defending my own world record.  One day dude.  Buy a clue.  Needless to say, his response sent me to the moon yesterday, and when I’m angry at work, I surf the internet.

Yesterday, I was trying desperately to not give in to the  cookie craving.   There’s a Specialty’s around the corner from my office and they make the best chocolate chip cookies.  I would know.  Back in 1981, the last time the title business took a powder, I worked for Mrs. Fields.  The real Mrs. Fields, not the corporate franchiser.  I was part of a team that brought Mrs. Field’s Cookies to Santa Barbara.  I was their Crew Leader Baker back then.  There was one baker faster than me and he worked in Union City at the corporate distribution center for mail orders.  Yeah, I was bad ass.  Back then the recipe was a great mystery.  It was well protected.  The sugar pack came from one source, the flour pack from another.  We added eggs, vanilla and chips into the big Hobart in the back.  I could not leave well enough alone, so I weighed the incoming flour pack and the incoming sugar packs to begin to deconstruct her recipe.  What I discovered was that the ratios were very similar to those on the back of the package of Nestle Semi-Sweet chocolate pieces.  The plain old Toll House recipe.  As the Crew Leader Baker, I knew that she did not bake them at the heat that Nestle recommended.  Mrs. Fields’ cookies are baked at 300 degrees in a convection oven.  In 1981 a convection oven was unheard of, and I didn’t know what it was, but I did take note of it.  Now I own a convection oven, it’s funny how things evolve.

Since the time that I worked for Mrs. Fields there has been a dirth of letters and emails claiming to be the Mrs. Fields recipe.  Sometimes an attorney was charged $250 by Neiman Marcus (Needles Markup), sometimes it’s Nordstrom, but essentially the message is the same.  I can remember receiving this recipe in the mail before the internet.   I knew it was wrong because I’d deconstructed the original.  Yesterday, in my internet surfing I decided to see if I could find the real Mrs. Fields’ cookie recipe.  So I googled Mrs. Fields+recipe and got 93,600 results.  That was really insane, but I was pretty pissed so looking at 93,600 recipes yesterday was in fact in the cards.  But, I get bored easily so it was time to google something else.  So I googled Debbi Fields and found her own website.  Whenever I see a website for someone famous that looks like this, I figure someone else stole her name.  Then I clicked on the bio and it really was her bio.  Then I clicked on recipes and there was the real Mrs. Fields cookie recipe.  Now don’t we all feel stupid?

Blue-Ribbon Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup salted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen Preheat oven to 300° F.

In medium bowl combine flour, soda, and salt. Mix well with wire whisk. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer blend sugars at medium speed. Add butter and mix to form a grainy paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add eggs and vanilla extract, and mix at medium speed until just blended. Do not overmix.

Add the flour mixture and chocolate chips, and blend at low speed until fully combined. Do not overmix.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 18 – 22 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer cookies immediately to a cool surface with a spatula.

In the stores they use parchment paper, which I believe makes a difference.  The real secret to Mrs. Fields’ cookies is the quality of ingredients she uses.  Use real quality butter, flour, sugar, and for God’s sake use something better than Nestle’s chips.

Please play the theme music from Flip this House…

This is the house I sold last September, before:








That’s Xica da Silva in the foreground. The best little black dog that ever lived.

Now this house before:




I’ve got a little painting to do, but for all intents and purposes, it’s done.  It’s a working kitchen.  I need to choose a paint color, but I need to get paint on the siding first, so it’ll have to wait.  I also need to figure out those damned French doors.  They’re plumb plumb plumb and won’t close properly.  They overlap in the middle now.  Oy.

High Anxiety

LIBRA September 22-October 22
It may feel like you’re falling behind, but that’s your high expectations talking. You’re moving along at a clipped pace.

This weekend brought four major projects.  Replacing the dishwasher, fixing the plumbing under the sink, fixing the French doors and prepping the front for paint  I never got to the prepping the front part, and the jury is still out on the French doors, but progress was made.

Out with the old…


And in with the new!


(Notice the super cool blue lights)

I ran it through and so far so good.  No leaks, no overspill with my Rube Goldberg air-gap installation and no leaks with the new elbow under the sink.  I’m hopeful that I can wipe it down and put the soap and Comet and Bon Ami under the sink finally.

Cooking Big Dog Style

This week’s food features Jambalaya for lunch. 

2T olive oil

1 package Trader Joe’s Chicken Andouille sausage cut in pieces

1 pound skinless chicken thighs cut in pieces

1 pound medium shrimp

2 onions

2 cloves garlic

3 stalks celery

1 red and 1 orange pepper

3 Thai peppers (from Harry’s garden)

4 Roma Tomatoes

2 cups brown rice

Spice mix

2T paprika

1T salt

1T pepper

2 t Cayenne

1T Oregano

1T thyme

Dust the shrimp with spice mix and saute briefly.  Pull out and set aside.  Dust the chicken thighs with spice mix and saute.  After around 6 minutes add sausage and cook another 4 or 5 minutes.  Pull out and throw in onions, celery, pepper, and garlic and cook until limp  Add meat and shrimp back in and toss around.  Add 8 cups of water and bring to boil for 20 minutes.  Add rice, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour.  Let sit for 30 minutes and you’re good to go.

This week’s food


Oatmeal and 1/2 cup ff cottage cheese

Mid morning

Beef jerky and fat free yogurt



Mid afternoon

Apple and string cheese


Beef stew, ww pasta and Caesar salad


Ricotta cheese and blueberries

Why I don’t spend money on dog toys


Wine of the Day

The Foley Charbono.  I’ll have to check the year, but what a fun wine.  Lots of layers of flavor, big on fruit, and pepper but not overpowering.  A nice smooth finish.  We decided that it kind of acts like a Zin with character.  We accidently had some Roquefort cheese with it. (I was originally going to slice a couple of pieces to put over my London Broil and we started nibbling on it)   It was so good we ate most of the Roquefort.

Lunacy is…

Changing up your webpage on a full moon.  No, I don’t know what I was thinking.  I’ll be playing with the changes over the next few days, hopefully I won’t fade to black.   I’ll also be adding a Current Events category and dropping a bunch of the others.  Some things I just have to comment on, and maybe they don’t fit into the Bush is a Moron or Stuck on Stupid category.   Stuff where I just want to write a minuet and maybe even be kind.  I’m also loading up some archived stuff left over from the move.  Those on RSS might get clobbered in the next three days so I’ll apologize in advance.

What is the Wine Dog drinking?

Well, I sure as hell had better be drinking if I’m going to tinker with my webpage on a full moon.  Guenoc’s 2005 Claret.  Such a deal at BevMo’s nickel sale.  Easy to drink, lively, enjoyable wine.  Not the bring to dinner at Lark Creek kind of wine, but a drink at home because I deserve a good glass of wine kind of wine.

On becoming the biggest loser

This week’s lunch fare include my version of Joyce Goldstein’s Garofolato di Manzo alla Romana, beef stew scented with clove.  She serves is with mashed potatoes, but I put it over a baked potato because that’s more Body for Life.  So this week’s menu:


1/2 WW English muffin with 2 slices lean Canadian Bacon and a slice of low fat Havarti

Morning snack

1 oz beef jerkey

1 can Yoplait fat free


Beef stew on a baked potato with spaghetti squash -total calories on this 380

Afternoon snack

Apple and String cheese


WW tortilla with a chicken breast a little light cheese, fat free sour cream and fresh salsa



Ricotta and boysenberries.

I’ve kicked it up a notch in the gym and added 10 pounds to my max on the bench.  I’m keeping it light on the deadlifts because my hip has been bothering me.  Today I did sets at 195.  My left shoulder has been a bit of a punk but I’ve been icing it, and we all know, ice is your friend.

This morning’s weigh in: 211 -a little disappointing.

And today my Clos Pegase shipment arrived.  A bottle of the new Pegaso and a bottle of the new Cabernet Franc.  My stomach is almost far enough over the flu to start thinking bad thoughts about the Pegaso.

I’m bringing back RANDOM!

First off, John Garamendi.  I love this guy.  When he was the Insurance Commissioner, I complained to him at an A’s game about the Evil Empire (FNF).  He actually seemed like he was listening.  Next thing you know, the fines come rolling down.  We don’t like kickbacks.  They give title companies a bad name.  Real Estate Agents that ask for them are just as guilty and need some sanctions as well.  Minding our own keeps the likes of Jackie Spieirs out of our business.  At any rate, John Garamendi is now the Lt. Governor of the Great State of California.  I hear he’s running for Governor, but he just said in an interview that Schwartzenegger was doing a good job with these fires, which I think he is, and then followed it with this little bon mot regarding the worst President in the history of this country:

GARAMENDI: ….. The president goes some place, you’ve got a huge entourage, you’ve got Secret Service all over the place. And all the chaos that comes with whatever the president arrives — wherever the president happens to arrive. But, listen, what we really need are those firefighters, we need the equipment. We need frankly — we need our (California National Guard) troops back from Iraq. We’ll get on here, whether he comes or not that’s not really the issue. I just hope that if he does come, he brings more than he brought to New Orleans.

He’s got the Right Wing up in arms, except Garamendi’s right.  What did Bush bring to New Orleans?  Nada. Zilch.  Phfft.

Second shot over the bow.  Am I the only guy that knew that the bottom was going to fall out of the real estate market?  The bubble didn’t burst, it slathered soap bubbles all over the economy.  Harry’s got four new listings this week.  Mostly bank owned.  That’s good for Harry, especially if he sells them, but that many bank owned properties are bad for California.  The largest mortgage company in the State just shut their doors.  It’s a sad day.  I don’t understand how the money’s there one minute and whoops!  It ain’t here no more.  The banks can make that money available and stop this mess.  The Fed can step in and stop this slide.  The money was available like this last year, it can be available this year.  Although the mortgage crash of 2007 smells a lot like the savings and loan debacle that occurred under some other President’s watch…and the guy’s name was?  That’s right Bush.  Coincidence?  You be the judge.

The Evil Empire Mini-me just canned a bunch more people and gave everybody a 20% cut in pay.  I’ve got to ask John “Ass Clown” Harritt something.  Why weren’t you bankrolling some of the bucketloads of cash these people made for you?  Why were you recruiting and opening offices when the writing was clearly on the walls.  Business is cyclical you little dimwit.  Real businessmen save some of their profits for a rainy day.  They don’t spend it like drunken sailors.  People are not disposable and there is a place in hell for CEO’s who behave like you have.  Shame on you.  I hope your ass is next.  I put you up there with the devil himself, Bill Foley.  For those not in the know, Bill Foley is the burger flipper who ruined the title insurance business when he got into it in 1988.

Next up, the Sox and the Rockies are in the Series?  Maybe it is the apocalypse.  Now playing the role of Bill Buckner…

The inevitable

I knew I couldn’t go as long and as hard as I’d been going without the wheels coming off at some point. The wheels started coming off Thursday night. Beauregard came to me with “that” look. “That” look is the look that my tummy isn’t good and I’m going to hurl if you don’t let me outside. I do not tarry when he gives me that look. I spring into action and let him outside. After around 20 minutes there was no puking, but I knew he wasn’t right. So I gave him the hydrogen peroxide treatment. A tablespoon, wait a minute, a tablespoon, wait a minute. Usually by the third or fourth tablespoon, the hurling has commenced. Not tonight. There had been no drooling earlier so I was pretty certain that it wasn’t torsion. I sat out there for an hour and a half with him. No puking. Then I decided to take him to the Contra Costa Emergency Veterinary Hospital. I am a frequent flyer here. They diagnosed Xica’s vestibulitis. They stitched up Beau’s side when he mysteriously tore it open one afternoon. I’d left the back of the house open while running down to the health food store around the corner for a snack. I was gone maybe 45 tops and I came home to a gash in his haunch. Several hundred dollars later he was stitched back up. Ten days later, I forgot to put his cone on him while I took a shower and he tore the stitches out, resulting in another $150 to staple his butt back together. These are the guys that I went to when he went out and laid flat in the back yard one day. He’d had a terrible bout of diarrhea in house that day. Something was terribly wrong. My friend Chuck had just lost Squiggy, his black retriever, suddenly on the table and I was terrified for Beauregard. I took him in and they looked very serious and suggested he’d contracted parvo. Dobermans and Rottweilers can be vaccinated for this and still contract it apparently. I knew it was going to be over a grand to save his life, but they just needed to save his life. As I left, signing off to $1200 in charges, someone yelled from the back “Don’t let that lady leave”. I immediately started bawling. I just knew that Beau’s fate was similar to Squiggy’s. Finally an assistant came out and said “He just passed something, we want you to identify it”. It was a piece to a big rubber bone that the dogs had gotten for Christmas. The blockage was probably cleared, but he was in grave shape and would have to be hospitalized for the evening. That was one of the longest nights of my life worrying about that dog. He needed to be hospitalized all day the next day and then that night he came home. This is also the vet he went to when he was attacked by the pit bull. So, I’ve got a pretty long history with these guys. Beau’s pretty popular with the front desk. They took a look at him and decided that he might have bloated and then corrected. Or he might have had a little tear in his spleen and corrected. Or he might have eaten something that didn’t agree with him, but it wasn’t poison. Or he might have been bitten by something. I was worried about him so I had the dog walker come by on Friday. She called to say he wasn’t looking good. I forgot to ask about his gums and she graciously returned to the house to check his gums. They looked good but he was still punky. I made an appointment at a new vet, around the corner from the new house for 6pm on Friday. I left work 15 minutes early and caught the right BART train and got to Concord on time. Started up the BMW and it was running pretty rough. Pulled it out of the parking space and it died. Dead as a doornail. Right there. 5:40 on a Friday night. So I call BMW to come and get the damned thing and after weaving my way through the voicemail menu I finally get to a person who has a script they can’t deviate from.

“Can we quit screwing around and get a goddamn tow truck out here, I’ve got to get my sick dog to the vet.”

“Could you repeat your VIN, it’s not showing up in our system?”.

Finally at 6:50, yeah an hour and 10 minutes later, the tow truck shows up. I’d called Harry to come get me and take me home, but I couldn’t stop worrying about Beauregard. I should have worried about my new carpet. Whatever he ate that didn’t agree with him was puked out on the carpet. Lucky me. I found the Spotbot in the nightmare garage and got it all cleaned up, maybe. We’ll see if we need to run it again.

Then came Saturday morning. 4am. Bonecrushing headache. The kind where you have to get up because it hurts having your head touch the pillow. So I got up, drank a little water, took a handful of Advil and laid down for another two hours. 6:30a.m the headache has not subsided and I really can’t put my head on the pillow at all, so I get up and make some coffee. Sometimes the caffeine will alleviate the headache. Not so today. The contractor was scheduled to come back and do the French doors with me. I called and cancelled. Then I hurled. And hurled. And hurled some more. Back to bed and slept until 1pm. BMW called to say it was the battery. BMW batteries cost $450 to replace. Don’t ask me why. It seems like bullshit to me, but I didn’t want to talk to the service person on the phone and puke at the same time so I agreed to it. And the alternator belt is shot. And the rear brakes. $1500 later they’ll call me when the car is fixed. Called my friends to say I wouldn’t make dinner tonight and I would try to make the flashlight tour of the Winchester Mystery house. 5:30pm I ate a quesadilla. 6:30pm I revisited the quesadilla and told my friends that I would be eating the $50 ticket to the Winchester Mystery house. I went to bed around 7:30 last night. Today is a new day. Hopefully this morning’s coffee will stay where I put it and I can get back to my life.

The best part of owning a Doberman Pinscher


Mom, if you’re feeling better, I’d like to patrol the perimeter.

They know when you’re hurting. Beauregard spent all of yesterday snuggled up to me. Never being any further than a few feet away from me. Leaning up against me, checking on me every few minutes. I belong to a listserve called Cyberdobes. Yesterday one of the members passed away. I did not know her beyond the list. Never met her in person. She was well regarded and that’s hard to come by in Doberman circles. She was killed by breast cancer, in Breast Cancer Awareness month. The thing that brings wonder to the story was the fact that her Doberman, Sugar Ray, discovered the cancer. He poked and pushed at her chest until she finally listened to him. He was poking and pushing at the cancer. She beat it back then, but apparently it came back with a vengeance and now Sugar Ray has lost his Mom. To all the politicians that would ban these dogs, to all the media that demonizes them, to the insurance companies that refuse to insure homeowners who have them, I say this. You’re wrong. These are the most amazing animals. Ban the deed, not the breed.

Gidday mate!

Wednesday night we went to the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant for a tasting of boutique New Zealand wines with Master Sommelier Robert Bath.  Nice man.  I always meet the nicest people there.  One of the wines has slipped my mind, but ones that worked were Hatton Estates EC2 Chardonnay.  It was a lively Chardonnay with a lot of citrus in it.  Well balanced and I could definitely imagine some nice Asian Fusion fish dish with it.  He also poured a 2007 Millton wine that I can’t remember what it was.  (it was red, I feel stupid when I do stuff like this)  I think it was their Malbec.  That was the 2nd best wine.  We also had the Martinus Martinborough Pinot Noir.  They have been growing Pinot Noir for ten years and it shows.  This wine had a lot more depth and character to it, a deep ruby color and was just a velvety joy to drink.  Something that would work nicely with a lamb dish.  He also poured a nice 2005 Greenhough Pinot Noir.  Also a nice wine.  A little high on the acid but I felt food would calm it down nicely.  All and all, another good wine day. 

The Lost Boys

This is one of my favorite movies.  Kiefer Sutherland was awesome as the bad boy vampire.  There used to be a restaurant in town, designed by Pat Kuleto called RAF.  The decor looked like the vampire lair from that movie.  Whenever I here Pat Kuleto’s name, I think of that restaurant and The Lost Boys.  And I loved the last line.  After all is said and done, Grandpa declares:

One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could
stomach. All the damn vampires. 

That’s the one problem with The Farm.  All the damn spiders.  Gazillions of them.  Last weekend I cleaned them out of all the corners vacuumed up all of the webs, including the rat bastard that set up shop on the handlebars of my bicycle.  Then Sunday night I had a bout of insomnia and was wide awake from about 2am to 3am.  That night I decided that I would stay up later than my normal 9:30-10pm and try to sleep through the night.  Reasonable enough plan.  So around 11:15, I head off to bed, except Beauregard sees something at the edge of the bed and tries to catch it.  I don’t know exactly what it is, but it moved and he couldn’t get it.  So I look under the bed and sure enough there’s a critter there.  A big one at that.  So I go and get a flashlight and it’s clearly a wolf spider.  So I grab a shoe and hit it.  Nothing.  Hit it again.  Nothing.  I’d hit it with the shoe a third time but I’m afraid it’s going to take my shoe away from me and smack me back.  So I move to the big guns.  I get the vacuum cleaner.  By the time I get it, this little SOB has scooted into a corner way behind the headboard, but I prevail.  It’s now 11:30 at night.  Did I mention that spiders terrify me?  Then last night I get up to let Beauregard out for his evening constitutional and there goes another one across the living room floor towards the piano.  So I grab a shoe, because I want to see if this one will take it away from me and smack me with it.  He makes the mistake of getting too close to the piano and POW!  He’s off to the great beyond.  Just then ANOTHER one runs along the edge of the piano.  POW!  He meets his maker as well.  I really like The Farm, I just hope I can stomach all the damn spiders. 

Judy Davis of JD Mortgage- Today’s Worst Person in the World!

Judy Davis of JD Mortgage was my parent’s landlady. She is the scumsucking bottom feeder that evicted a 79 year old woman and her disabled 83 year old husband. She is the lying sack of shit that told my parents she was going to remodel their unit so that it would be nice for them last year. She completely inconvenienced them all summer and fall. They moved all of their crap around so she could remodel the place. They stumbled around as a remodeling that they weren’t interested in was done. All the while Judy Davis of JD Mortgage upgraded her unit and continued to collect rent from them. Then she threw them out of their home of 9 years with a 60 day notice. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t realize it was a 60 day eviction notice and sat on in for 10 days. Judy Davis supposedly sold the place in 9 days in this real estate market. In reality, she used this place to create some income because the mortgage business had gone to hell in a handbasket. I suspect she put a straw buyer in place. I’ll be fascinated if the buyer ever moves in. Now, she has screwed them one more time for their deposit. Judy Davis, trash like you gives real estate a bad name. When you throw elderly people out of their homes, you make concessions. If you got every key except for one on Sunday, you don’t jack them for rent for another two days. You don’t charge them $450 to haul off three appliances that you stole and then installed in another one of your units. You don’t charge $250 to clean a lousy two bedroom condo. And you don’t lie about the condition of a place when everyone knows the DRE contract says you leave it broom clean. Judy Davis, you stole from my parents. You abused their trust. You are the lowest form of life. You are the Worst Person in the World.