Don’t give vanity a second chance

It’s been a wild few days here at the Farm. For those of you not in the know, Saturday marked the end of my 50th year. And the beginning of my 51st year. For those of you who haven’t gotten here, 51 kind of sucks. When you turn 50 it’s all sorts of fun and silliness and it’s a milestone and shit. 51 is just old. You’re on the second half even if you only live to 60. It’s kind of weird. Monday morning when I got on the EFX trainer I had to plug in 51. I just kind of looked at it as if the machine was the bastard that was making me old.

I have a client who is 27 years old. He’s a little tripped out by the fact that he’s at a point in his life where he can buy a house, at 27. I attempted to buy my first home at 33. I wish I had. I was scared of spending $300k on a condo. Actually not just any condo, one of these. I am a moron for not doing that. Three are currently on the market $899k to $1,195,000. I am a moron. So as I’m counseling him I tell him the story of the Clocktower Lofts and mention that I’m now 51 and still have a hard time believing they let me own my own home and entrust me with animals and such. It’s just a state of mind. What I don’t notice is his jaw has hit the floor. He’s no longer listening. Finally he blurts out “You’re 51 years old? I would have never in a million years guessed that!”. I may have fallen in love with a client. But really it drove home my point. It’s a state of mind. In my case, a state of denial. It’s not like a wear clothes that are too tight or age inappropriate or dye my hair or take botox injections. It’s just that the 22 year old idiot that I once was, never really went away. That’s probably ok. I think it’s okay to want to retire to a beach community so that you can surf every day, because you didn’t have time to surf during your working career.

Sunday I went to see the LPGA at Blackhawk. (thanks again for the tix) It was the first day in a long time where I wasn’t running here or there or thinking about what I should be doing rather than what I am doing. I try to always stay in the moment but sometimes the voices in my head are just too loud. But Sunday I watched most of the players come through. I started at the 18th and started walking backwards, which is how I usually do it. When I get to the leaders I follow them back to the end. Blackhawk Country Club is one of those stupid ass courses that can’t be walked. They actually had shuttle carts for the players on some of the holes. I got to the 15th hole and found a gentle PBE reader volunteering as a Marshall. I hung out there while a few groups came through and then walked back to the 14th. They had bleachers at the 14th so I sat there for a while. I ended up staying there until Gustafson and Ochoa came through. Ochoa’s lead had gone into the shitter by then. Gustafson was playing like a machine. Yang was in the group before them and I think she had three eagles and two birdies on the front nine. It was still a horserace at that point. Ochoa shanked one terribly early in the day and the out went even worse. She buried her iron in the sod. It didn’t improve for her from there. Too bad, I was rooting for her, I really like her game, but it was not to be. I’ve been remiss in my game this year. Mostly because I’ve been busy selling houses. I’m going to work this week on getting back out at least twice a week to smack a bucket of balls. I used to get that done easily every week before Alliance crumbled. Since I spent most of those years driving around, I’d just run by a driving range or rather stop as I drove past one. Now I drive past them I don’t have time for a quick break. Must adjust that now.

I know you’ve all been wondering “What’s the Wine Dog been drinking?” How about a little something from the BevMo nickel sale? Oh yeah. The Valentin “V” 2006 Syrah.

valentinThey’re currently selling the 2007 so apparently I got them last year. You never know in the Wine Dog Cellar. It was probably $8.99 per bottle with the second bottle for a nickel. It’s an Argentinean wine. Robert Pepi consults. And it’s really a great value wine. Extremely great value on the nickel sale. There is an uncommon lushness in this wine. It paired up nicely with the pork chop I threw on the grill. Dark cherries, plums and pepper are well balanced in this wine. There’s a smokiness to it that lets it pair perfectly with grilled meats. I just salt & peppered the chop but I could have made a glaze with it and this wine would have stood up nicely to it. When it’s all said and done, if you’re having 10 people over and Q-ing it up, at $4.50 a bottle you cannot lose with this one. It will kick Two Buck Chuck’s ass all day long and well into the night. Your friends will think you spent a lot more on the wine and it’ll be our little secret.

And the garden. I finally got the garden going again. Auntie was here in what? May? June? And left a gift card to Navlets. I hadn’t had time to even think about it until last week. I churned through the soil and went down to pick up some seeds and such. I asked the clerk about the citrus trees and she said “Come back on Thursday, they’re going on sale”. Okay, I can do that. She wasn’t kidding, when I came back they were 40% off. Holy Cowboys! So now I have several rows of little lettuces popping their heads up, lots of Swiss chard, brussel sprouts and fava beans. AND a grapefruit tree, an orange tree and a lemon tree waiting for me to dig three holes. Life is good here on the Farm.

Last week the double panes for the front of the house showed up and supposedly my buddy the contractor will be here tomorrow to install them and fix the gate that’s giving me agida. And in a mere two hours, a man from Contra Costa Door Company will be here to do the measurements for replacing the garage door. They came in $700 UNDER Home Depot on the very same quality product. Actually, a higher quality opener. Then, the Wine Dog is going to get out a can of paint and put some paint on this thing. Although I might let the neighbors kids paint it first.

Never trust a man with egg on his face

The LPGA is in town.  I will get over there to watch them this time.  I’ve missed the Nabisco for about three years running.  I’m really sorry I didn’t get over there yesterday to witness this.   A freshman at Livermore High.  Congratulations!  You just checked one off my bucket list at 13.  I’d better get cracking.

I love when I don’t have to do anything and the universe just takes care of stuff.  We all know the fence story.  I’ve chosen to do nothing and letting go of it has been quite freeing.  Once I did that the universe came to visit the mal-spirited in the form of another neighbor’s self expression.

img_2402

In the foreground you can see the nicely manicured lawn that lies to the north of the offending fence.  In the background you can see the home across the street from the house with the nicely manicured lawn.  I can’t even imagine what kind of fence it’s going to take to hide that.  Tee hee.  It’s a situation where the ex-wife used to live there with the kids and couldn’t afford the home any more so the ex-husband moved in with the kids.  Since the kids did a lot of the painting, I’m going to guess it’s an overcompensating sort of thing where he’s letting the kids do whatever to offset the fact that the Mom isn’t with them any more.  Let’s just say the Wine Dog is amused.

Mercury is in retrograde and no one told me.  This is sauteed in wrong sauce.  Apparently this crap continues until the 29th.  It has manifested itself on the Windows side of my Mac.  Imagine my surprise!  I can’t run iTunes and Word at the same time.  I mean I can, I just can’t do any work in Word if iTunes is open.  So when my broker called and wanted me to do something that should have taken 5 minutes and it took 90 minutes and three restarts, I should have known.  He called to say WTF and I was so pissed he gave up and said “Just send it when you get it”.  Knowledge is power and now that I know why this has been happening, I’ll settle down until the 29th.  However, I will not make an appointment at the genius bar nor will I update the software or design on either of my blogs until it’s over with.

Back to just desserts.  I have my listing into escrow.  Wednesday the buyer did their inspections.  The inspector was to show up at 1:15 and be there for about an hour.  It’s a simple 1 story home with a crawl space.  People live there.  It’s a regular sale of a regular house in a regular neighborhood.  I asked my seller to lock up the dog and leave by 1:15.  She did.  She called at 2:30 and wanted to know if it would be ok to drop off the groceries.  I said, “they said an hour but usually it takes closer to 2 hours, so why don’t you pick up your kids from school and then go home, that should be fine.”  Little did I know, they were still there.  An hour later I get another call.  They’re still there.  Six hours later they’re still there and my seller who has been locked up in the master with her two children is out of her mind.  And I’ve got nothing.  I think she should be out of her mind.  (Although in the back of my mind I’m thinking I should have offered to take the kids to an afternoon show but that horse has left the barn, it’s 7:15)  They left shortly thereafter, I settled my seller down and the buyer’s side called for some renegotiates.  Trust me, they didn’t get anything more than what they were going to get before they started after the six hour debacle.  Yesterday morning rolls around and I decide that a good agent would make a call to the inspector to find out why it lasted six hours.  Every real estate agent who comes here will know that a six hour inspection on a little one story rancher with a crawl space is obscene.  It should have been two and out.  Tops.  I had a guy do a 4000 square foot two story home with a pool AND the termite at the same time and it only took two and a half hours.  I call the guy and say “Hey, I’m the listing agent and I need to understand how the inspection took over six hours yesterday”  He says “Who are you?” The listing agent.  Then this dude just launches into this rant about how he’s the owner of the company and he’s going to do business as he sees fit and if I don’t like it I can, well, essentially piss up a rope but not that nice.  Then he pauses.  And I say “Dude, anger management”.  If he hadn’t gone berserk before, he does now, screaming at me and ultimately hanging up the phone.  I wait a minute or two and call back.  It goes to voicemail and I very calmly tell him that I will be calling the selling agent and his broker and letting them know about the complete lack of professionalism on his part and have a nice day.  And then I do exactly that.  Now my phone is blowing up with this guy calling me back.  But I’m getting ready to show property and I don’t need his bad mojo getting between me and my client and whatever house I show him.  So I let it roll to voicemail.  Seven times.  Finally on the seventh call he leaves this stilted message about how I was stern with him (actually not) and because I was stern we got off on the wrong foot.  Dude.  Do you blame your wife for when you beat her?

Money changes everything

Today is going to be short and sweet.  For those of you concerned about Bubba, he’s doing better.  We all know the rule, the first $300 never fixes the dog.  If the first bill exceeds $300 there’s a better than average chance that the dog will be healed.  It’s like the first $500 never fixes the BMW.  Or the first $200 never fixes the truck.  Thankfully the bike can still be fixed for under $100.  So with a $860 dog bill, he was destined to turn around and he did.  He’s still pretty gassy but it’s not the paint removing eye watering respiration stalling kind he did have.  He’s on antibiotics, rice and either boiled beef or cottage cheese.  He’s getting fed three times a day right now and I’ve increased the portions to 2 cups rice 1 cup cottage cheese or beef.  I had to bathe him too because he was in that crate with that mess.  I couldn’t even pet him he was so disgusting. He’s clean and gorgeous again and feeling better, so we’re back to as close to normal as we ever get around here.

[youtube UD5TFUC0ASI]

It’s just the beast under your bed

As if there weren’t enough on my plate, Bubba decided he needed a little extra attention yesterday.  Or at least his ass did.

bubba-noes

It actually started Sunday night.  He woke me up in the middle of the night and needed to go out.  He raced out, hid behind a tree and did his business.  The privacy thing is normal so I didn’t really think that much about it.  When I did my clean up rounds in the morning it was apparent that his tummy was giving him issues.  I didn’t really think that much about it at the time.  Yesterday afternoon, I came home to that familiar scent of a very sick dog.  I’d only been gone for three hours.  On Mondays I have to go to each of my assignments and be sure that some asshats haven’t broken in over the weekend and say skateboarded in the living room.  (Sonofabun had that one over the weekend)  I’d knocked out the homes in Danville, Alamo and Moraga and was heading out to Pittsburg.  Yep, I have foreclosed houses in all those towns.  I get a call that my windows are in.  Windows, you say?  Yep, dual panes for the front of the house.  And the underlying reason why I haven’t called the City on the fence.  I’m fixing to install new dual panes on the front of the house sans permits.  (Don’t ask me what I think of that bullshit money generating scheme by the City)  Normally I would have been gone all day, but yesterday there was a pit stop around 2pm.  All was well at the farm.  I went back up and finished up my run by around 5pm and got back around 5:30pm.  All was not well at the farm.  Bubba was the issue and oh my God that dog had an issue.  I let him out and left him out.  His crate was a mess.  I pulled out his blanket to wash it and it was full of blood and other things of a scatalogical nature.  Bubba is a private dog.  I don’t get to ever see him assume the position.  I went out in the yard with them both and after running some frantic laps Bubba ran over to me and let me know in very explicit details what the issue was.  Game over.  I called Encina Veterinary and away we went.  In addition to the obvious issue, his nose was raw.  I couldn’t figure that one out at first. 

When you keep your dogs, Dobermans, Greyhounds and other similar leanly built dogs at weight, there’s not a lot of room for error.  Three to five pound weight loss can be disastrous.  I had also noticed last week that Bubba seemed to have lost some weight.  I was pretty concerned, since that’s the only symptom Beauregard showed for his cancer.  I didn’t want to lose a young dog barely a year after losing Beau.  I was getting ready to feed him three times a day.  I didn’t have a good reason yet to take him in for a full work up but that’s really in my heart of hearts what I wanted to do for the dog.  So with bloody shit all over everywhere yesterday, I had my justification.  Dr. Del Campo, a really cool guy who reminds me of an actor, that’ll come to me, was awesome at breaking down all the scenarios.  He instantaneously put together an action plan and had the issues prioritized.  He saw three things wrong with my dog.  1) Shit flying out his ass. 2) Weight loss 3) abrasion on his nose.  I wasn’t that concerned with his nose, it had occurred since 2pm.  It was bizarre but brand new.  Then he laid out an action plan and presented an estimate.  As he was talking to me Bubba kept licking his chops like a dog fixing to puke.  What I noticed was that he was running his tongue over the end of his nose and around his snout which was also raw.  #3 was off the agenda, I had my answer.  One thing that could be causing the main problem was a blockage.  X-rays were about third on the depth chart but I knew that would show a blockage and cancer so it was much higher on my depth chart.  In the end I authorized everything.  X-rays and a full blood work up would absolutely show cancer and blockages.  There was no comma in the estimate so I authorized all of it.  As it turned out everything came back ok but his bloodwork which showed a high white count.  This is one of the few situations where I will allow antibiotics.  So they gave him something for his diahrea and some antibiotics and put him on a bland diet, three times a day.  He’s supposed to come in once a week to be weighed until he gets his weight back on. 

paulschulze <—–this guy

I do not sniff the coke I only drink Tempranillo

Racism, death, fences and 9/11.  For the love of God Wine Dog, could we please have some fun on this blog?

You betcha.  Let’s start with a little dumpster dive in flagrante delicto.  No, I can’t answer the question “What’s the matter with Kansas?”.

And week is not complete without taking a swipe at our friends in Richmond.  Ponzi=criminal.  Doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between Madoff and Chandler here.

Could I get a downgrade with a negative outlook back? Evil Empire, Old Repulsive, Dinty Moore, all got downgrades from Fitch.  The Bloodless Empire dodged that bullet, but I’d take a downgrade over reading this in the paper. That’s going to leave a mark.  We all know how many times stuff like this happens.  Wonder how many people have lost their houses in similar situations.  OK, you never want to see your company name on the Ripoff Report.

I could do Asshat of the Week but this week there are so many contenders it’s hard to know where to start.  So let’s start with this asshole.  For the record, I got a bottle of water thrown at me yesterday down in Pleasanton.  It whizzed past my head.  If it had hit my head, chances are I’d have gone down.  That’s assault.  That’s no different than me walking up to someone and cold cocking them.  I was riding by my self, legally in a bike lane.  So Chef James Martin, you’re an asshole.  And I hope your show and your column are cancelled and you lose everything, because people in positions of responsibility should know better.  Idiot.

Fox news gets owned by Rick Sanchez.

[youtube qM1f5xrOfGU]

Dammit, I’m sorry.  Is this better?

[youtube 0pDCl9SH9H0]

And let’s review a bottle of wine just for shits and giggles.  I’ve been drinking less wine because I’ve been on a more strict training program.  That’s what I get for asking Mr. Hardcore for advice.  I have to keep my heart rate below 130 beats per minute, 129 after next Saturday, and stay on the flat for long slow distance.  The first two weeks I really struggled.  Then last week it rained and I didn’t even bother to go out.  I took a weekend off for the first time in almost a year.  I think I needed that more than anything.  Yesterday’s ride was a piece of cake.  It was 68 out and back on Danville Blvd all the way to Sunol and back.  Generally that ride bores me, but yesterday I had a fresh outlook and was just banging.  I was probably 50 miles into it when I met a guy at the corner of Bollinger and San Ramon Valley Blvd.  He pulled over in the shade for a minute and I asked him if he was ok.  He waved he was all good and I continued to the light.  Then he pulled up next to me and it was on.  We rode together all the way to Rudgear, with my heart rate monitor blowing up the whole way.  We were traveling around 23 mph and it was ridiculous fun.  Cool dude, told me about some other local rides and one up in Guerneville.  When I peeled off at Rudgear I tried to get my heart rate back down where it belonged.  It was getting hot and now I had to really work at slowing it down.  I got it for the most part.  As I was coming up the last little hill before my house the thing is blowing up again and I hear a voice saying “Keep that heart rate down”.  There’s Mr. Hardcore sitting in his car waiting for his son.  I confessed my sin and he says “Didja have fun”.  Oh Hell yeah I did.  Good.  Anyway, one of the games I like to play is pot luck in my wine cellar.  I blindly pull out three bottles and choose one of the three to drink.  Last night I pulled out a Lan Reserva Rioja 2004, a Whitehall Cab 2006 and a Verismo 2006 Cab.  Of the three, The Lan Reserva is the only Wine Spectator Top 100.  #52 in particular, at $15 per bottle.

lan-reserva

It’s a Tempranillo.  I loves me some Tempranillo.  And I love this one.  It’s a spicy Spanish wine with ripe plums, a touch of licorice, and a tremendous amount of balance.  There’s some pepper on the middle and a certain smokiness to it.  I was grilling a steak last night with one of my rubs (which I really should market) and they complimented each other beautifully.  I’ll get to the other two some other night, but than Lan Rioja is just one nice little wine.

[youtube xuthjTjkLH4]

Jake’s got game.

The painted faces on the street, caricatures of long ago

Racism in America is like a pot on the stove, if you aren’t vigilant it will bubble over and make a big freaking mess. We’d like to believe that as a country we’re all that and behave in a somewhat civilized manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s been bugging the crap out of me and finally this week it has boiled over and I think it’s a good thing. Now it’s out in front of us and now we have to deal with it. You can’t sweep shit like this under a rug.

willis

It’s pretty clear what it is. Don’t make me quote Justice Potter again. Discourse is part of the fabric of this country. It is what this country was essentially founded on. However, if you’re going to behave like ignorant heathens, please don’t try to tell me you’re Christians and righteous in the eyes of the Lord. As an old friend taught me, don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. You people are ignorant heathens and an embarrassment to the real church. You’re the people that are going to get to St. Peter all righteous and shit and he’s going to say “What the hell were you thinking?” And y’all can take your sorry racist, bigoted hateful butts off to eternal damnation and have a good ol’ time.

Because Jimmy Carter was right. These people do not want to be led by what they perceive to be a black man. As ugly as that is, it’s the truth.  Notice how Michael Steele went into the Witness Protection Program?  Is like they disappeared him.  Coincidence?  I doubt it.  And at the end of every day, Obama himself is not a black man.  They can say he’s Kenyan and Muslim and every other boogieman out there until the cows come home, they’re full of shit.  He’s a biracial man like a lot of this country is now.  And Hawaii is still one of the 50 States.  I read recently that by the year 2051 this country will look like a giant mocha latte. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

I had a discussion earlier this week on this subject. We agreed that essentially we were all racist on some level, whether we chose to admit it or not. The difference was how each of us handled that information. Do we embrace the differences or judge by them?  Does a group of young men walking down the street make me nervous? Sometimes. If they were Hispanic would that make a difference? Not really, same answer, sometimes. If they were black? Same answer. Asian?  Same answer.  (The worse violence I’ve seen in my life was imparted on an Englishman by a Tong gang)  It depends on the vibe of the group. Yet if a group went off and started committing a crime, what would be the qualifiers? White/black/Hispanic/Asian Male, 6’2″ blue pants white shirt. In that order. As children we are taught to separate the round ones from the square ones and the blue ones from the yellow ones. It’s part of the learning process. My friend’s 4yo son was identifying Volkswagon bugs yesterday in traffic calling them Slug Bugs. We saw an original VW and he announced Old Skool! Naturally it carries over into identifying each other. The kid with the straight black hair is different from the kid with the red hair who is different than the kid with the blonde hair who is different from the kid with the curly hair who is different from the dark skinned kid with the kinky hair. That’s natural. How we handle that information in the future is where we run into trouble. Do we judge based on hair color? Skin color? Racial background? Heritage? I like to point out that as every new group got off the boat in New York, they were the new dogs to kick. The Irish took their share, the Poles, the Jews, the Russians, the Indians, the Afrikaners, even the Germans. So what is it in our make-up where we have to single out a group of people and treat them badly? And what fuels that to the point that it becomes hatred?  The fact that they have something you don’t?  What is this the 3rd grade?

A lot of what I’m seeing in the current protests is vicious, racist and always threatening on the edge of violence.  It’s really the first time we’ve seen the right mobilize in the streets in years.  Normally, it’s the left in the streets.  The Civil Rights protests from the 60’s spent a lot of time turning violent.  The Anti-War protests from the 60’s turned violent.  The colleges were such a mess I thought as a child I would not be able to go to college because the colleges would all be gone by the time I got old enough to go.  Then the protests started getting more organized and peaceful.  Now it’s unusual for a protest to get violent, at least excluding the “rent-a-mob”, who are a bunch of anarchists who join in every protest just to stir up shit and cause problems.  And right now the left isn’t in the streets.  I remember the demonstrations in the 80’s over AIDS.  We had a disease that has killed more people than the Swine Flu ever will and a President who wouldn’t utter the term.  And that spawned Act-Up.  I hated them because I felt their antics took away from the real issue, which was that people were dying and research was not being properly funded.  PETA is also responsible for similar antics.  And right now we have a television station that pretends to be delivering news but rarely gets any of the facts right.  And they have several shows on that are fueling the discourse with half baked lies rather than reporting the truth.  Those people like to demonize Keith Olberman, but they don’t even check their facts.  If they did, they would know that he’s pretty right on with his facts every single night.  Occasionally there is an error, sometimes it’s fact checking and sometimes it’s stumbling over the script and he always comes back and corrects it the next night.  “Last night we reported XX and it was really XY”.  Anyone who watches him would know he’s an equal opportunity gadfly.  Obama got it last week.  Obama got it during the election pretty bad in a Special Comment too.  Because unlike Faux News, Olberman seeks the truth.  We should all seek the truth.  Right now the truth is most of this protesting has to do with race and little to do with the truth.  The truth is the United States rates last in industrial nations in the health care provided to it’s citizens.  The truth is we pay more for a lot less.  The truth is that 45,000 of us die from lack of health insurance every year.  The truth is most of these morons who are protesting would benefit hugely from a revamping of the health care system.  The truth is not one of these ignoramuses is actually benefitting from the system the way it is.  So they take to the street and bring their signs depicting Obama as Hitler, which is absolutely laughable if it weren’t so offensive.  (We know how I feel about comparisons to Hitler) Obama as the Joker is pretty offensive as well.  Here’s a hint:

jolson

It’s ok to disagree with policy and it’s fine to take to the street.  And it’s fine to have your children out there with signs that say “I don’t want to pay for this”.  That’s good protest.  I’ve never liked burning the flag, I’ve never liked burning Presidents in effigy and I don’t like what I’m seeing right now.  It’s racist, it’s not good protest.  When things spun out of control in the 60’s, leaders were assassinated.  In one decade a President, his brother, and two Civil Rights leaders were assassinated.  We were spinning out of control.  We’re heading down the same path now.  Fifty years later, we’re still fighting the race issue and the racists are still in our midst.  If we don’t speak up right now, we are complacent.

There’s a lot of talk about White Privilege.  The term actually makes me bristle.  White Privilege is overt and covert.  I bristle over the idea that it’s overt in my life.  And I don’t believe it is.  It is covert.  I don’t think twice about hailing a cab.  I promise you, our President couldn’t hail a cab in NYC last week if he showed up with out the Secret Service.  I can write a check just about anywhere.  If I walk into a high end store I am not suspected of being a shop lifter.  Possibly out of my element but never a shoplifter.  I’ll bet Whitney Houston (just because she’s been out of the public eye for so long) could walk into a store in a town where she wasn’t known and be pegged for a shoplifter.  That’s wrong.

It’s everywhere.  How do  you erase it?  Wait until 2051?  Call it out where you see it?  I don’t know the answer, but I do know that recognizing that there is a problem is the first step to fixing it.  We’re all sitting around saying “I’m not a racist, but.”  But, yeah you are.