A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean

There is a host of things that I want to rant on.  As a matter of fact, I’m pretty pissed off right now in general, it’s kind of an underlying life theme right now.


However, there are also a lot of good things going on and I am a lucky dog.  So today we’re going to talk about a couple of recent adventures.  There are some more coming up too, so I have some great stuff going on.

A couple of weeks ago I got invited up to Hahn Family Wineries for the Pinot Smackdown.  This was Twitter event.  I’m not on Twitter so much any more, so the invites are slower than they used to be, but I am a fan of Hahn Family Wines and I got to hang.  They rolled out all of their Pinots, or at least it seemed like they did with a nice selection of crackers and cheese.  Actually that little fact is what cancelled out the vegan thing.  I can’t live without cheese.  My life is perfect if there is a soft French cheese in it.  One of the problems with living out in the ‘burbs is the lack of cool cheese stores where I can go in and sample different cheese and pick out something wonderful I’ve never had before.  I don’t know if the place is still up in the upper Fillmore, maybe on California but I used to love that place.  Anywho, at Hahn they also had another cheese that was dusted in truffles with a hint of I believe nutmeg in the rind.  Really ridiculously good.

There was a great mix of people, including Alan Kropf the editor of Mutineer Magazine.  Alan was just picked by Wine Enthusiast as one of the 30 under 30 in the beverage business.  I love this guy.  He’s the one that called the Jordan Cabernet a street fight in a glass.  He brings a brilliant fresh outlook to the beverage business and wine in particular.  Although he can cocktail with the best of them.

Hahn Family Wines doesn’t make a bad Pinot, they make varying degrees of good heading to spectacular in several instances.  I’ve talked about Paul the winemaker before.  He’s a surfer dude who makes wine, like Oded of Longboard.  I think that combination of interests makes for a very talented winemaker.  Perhaps it’s the understanding of the spirituality of the ocean that translates into the spirituality of the terroir, I don’t know for sure, but it works.  Unfortunately they served up so many Pinots that I’ve got nothing beyond “there isn’t a bad one in the bunch”.  I’d never had the Lucienne line before.   I don’t even recall what was what specifically, but I can tell you that Lucienne Pinor Noir is really something.  Hahn Family wines has something like seven or eight labels.  The Lucienne seems to be their higher end or maybe it’s just how they put it together.  It’s amazing.  They’ve also added a Hahn Estate SLH that I don’t recall seeing previously.  SLH Santa Lucia Highlands.  These guys just do a great job of putting out wine after wine that’s priced well and never hurts your tongue.

One of the other people I met there was Linda Cordair of Cordair Gallery in Napa.  She told me about this project that Chef Robin White had going on the following week, Cold Soup Week.  She had seven days of soup recipes and seven days of wine pairings starting that Sunday.  From Robin’s website:

What is it? “Soup Week” is an online event. For 7 consecutive nights, (August 21 – 27) Chef Robin White will host a LIVE twitter conversation around her 7 original soup recipes and wine pairings for 7 nights in a row!

Another twitter event, fair enough.  Check out the recipes, really good stuff.  Then halfway through the week came an invite from Linda to the finale at her gallery in Napa.  Oh hell yeah.  Chilled Heirloom Tomato Soup with a Caribbean Style Lobster Salsa.  Oh hell yeah.  I had seconds.  Given the opportunity I would have done with it like the guy in Sideways.

The soup had this spicy sweet thing going on all at once, it was just amazing.  I’m going to work through the other recipes just because it’s so damned good.

Flora Springs was there pouring their 2010 Syrah Rose.   It’s a nice crisp rosé.  It’s not sweet, which is everybody’s bitch about rosé.  It has a hint of strawberries and spice to it.  Perfectly matched with the acidity of the tomato soup and Chef’s sneaky spicy pop on the back palate of the soup.  Cordair Gallery has some beautiful art in there as well.  Just made for a nice stop.

I don’t know what’s next up, it might be a rant.  Stay tuned.

The cheese stands alone

I’m sure all of you who have television saw the original of this.  I think he looks terrible in that video.  Actually, I think he’s looked bad for a while now, bad like he’s-going-to-drop-dead-at-any-minute-bad.  I hope he doesn’t, at this point he’s kind of the heart of the Democratic Party, the only guy who remembers how to get anything done.  I can’t even begin to understand what happened to the Republican Party.  They have clearly forgotten about the separation of church and state, which while not in the Constitution, was clearly the intent of the founding fathers.  (Do your homework).  I reject the cultural and social conservativism they are spewing forth at this point.  And for what it’s worth, we aren’t going to cut our way out of this mess, we have to grow our way out.  I swear to God I hear one more teabagger spew a bunch of numbers at me about how the government doesn’t create jobs the private sector does I am going to scream at them to dismantle the military industrial complex and call me when they’re done.  There.  I just got rid of a bunch of government jobs you ignorant assholes.  Where do the masses turn for work in tough times?  They join the military you idiots.  But I digress.

I’m actually here today to talk about cheese.

After I read the article about Clinton’s new vegan diet and how he’d lost 20 pounds and was in better shape than he’d been in years, I thought about maybe it was time for me to think about heading back that way.  I was a vegetarian for years.  I quit because I wasn’t getting enough protein.  I feel better now than I did then.  Could I get the protein up high enough to make it work?  It would certainly be better for me.  I’m getting to be in a little better shape.  The cycling is doing that.  I’m getting ready to compete in powerlifting again.  I laid off last year but I’m ready to go again.  Processing….processing….

I went to the google.  Vegan bodybuilding diet.  Pretty similar to what I would have to do.  There’s those crazy Brits.  That looks complicated.  Robert Cheeke is a vegan bodybuilder, what does that guy eat?  That’s doable.  And no where does it say I have to stop drinking wine or beer.  That’s a plus.  But one of the fundamentals of vegan is no cheese.  They have substitute soy based cheese that tastes like ass.  I hate substitute anything.  Veggie burgers chap my hide.  Although I was watching an older True Blood last night and Lafayette comes out and delivers Jesus his meal as he announces “I had to see who ordered the veggie burger with bacon.”  Which is kind of how I feel about veggie burgers.  Always have.  And substitute cheese.

I could work around those two issues, but then I thought about my big grill out back.  And how amazingly excellent the pork chops with the orange chipotle glaze were last night.   Sure I can could vegetables on the grill.  I grilled corn on the cob last night too.  Asparagus earlier in the week.  But I would miss the occasional pork chop.  I have mastered chicken breast.  I would miss that.  I would definitely miss tri-tip.  I got a perfect tri-tip from of all places Safeway last week.  Safeway should have perfect tri-tips since they are the first ones to ever put one on the grill and cross cut it.  I would miss my grill.

Could I go without eggs?  I do an omelette or scrambled eggs a couple of times a week.  I use one egg and three or four whites.  I would miss that.  I’d have to make cookies without eggs, those usually taste like the bottom of my boot.  We’re not winning here.

Then there’s cheese.  That was the back breaker.  I love artisan cheese.  I love the Cowgirl Creamery.  I love the little farms in Sonoma that make little bits of amazing cheese.  I love goat milk cheese.  As a matter of fact, from Wednesday to Friday of last week, I’d been living cheese and crackers or bread for dinner.  I could not survive without cheese.  Wine requires cheese.  Beer requires cheese.  My life requires cheese.   The idea of a vegan red velvet cupcake with substitute cream cheese icing was painful.

That was it.  Off the table.  Well, not completely.  I found this website in my travels last night.  There are some amazing little recipes on there and I will certainly try some of them out.  I think it would be ok to add some vegan meals into my repertoire and I’m going to do that.  I do love beans in almost all forms.  I eat more in the winter than the summer and that seems like a good plan.  But I can go all in for all the reason stated above.  And right now I don’t have to, my latest cholesterol test with the blood bank came back at 153.  I’m good.

I met a gal at a wine event last week, which I will talk about in a day or so, but this is time sensitive.  She told me about Cold Soup Week.  What?  Yeah, it’s a social media thing, but conceptually it is very interesting.  She knows Chef White so it makes it more interesting.  And I’m going to try a couple of these this week.

And now Tiffany, the news.

Rumblings of a middle aged mad man

A lifetime ago I sold college class rings at various Universities and community colleges throughout Northern California. In 1991, a woman at Santa Clara gave me a term that I’ve never forgotten; male madness. She was getting a degree at Santa Clara because the father of her children caught male madness after 21 years of marriage. She was in her late forties and so was he.
So am I. I’m not leaving my wife, but I’m not sure I’m not suffering from the beginning stages of male madness. My father did. He didn’t leave me, my brothers and my mother either. I know he wasn’t sure who he was or who was going to be. He had been an advertising executive and a pharmaceutical sales rep. He quit that and was unemployed for two painful years. He did macramé. He spent time with his sons. He became a truck driver. He made up for lost time by sitting behind the wheel of an 18 wheeler, rolling up and down the pacific coast for 18 hours a day (I know his driver’s log didn’t say that, but I was with him. I know). He was traveling without arriving.
I lost a job I loved, 3 years ago. It wasn’t a good, clean break. It was a death by a thousand cuts. Clueless management administered everyone one of those cuts. One day, a woman who I wouldn’t interview because her resume was so bad, was hired to replace me. 13 years were flushed down the drain because a young lady with full lips and a seductive canter slid into the office and captured the imagination of the small, incompetent president. The boss I loathed, agreed with me; this woman was trouble and she wasn’t going to lead my team in any productive direction. He was fired, too.
Since then, I have had 2 successful years selling hi-tech products for a HUGE silicon valley legend. They’re abusive. They cut my pay, made me hourly and threatened me if I asked for overtime time for the hours I actually work. They provided no extra money or recognition when I smashed my first year’s quote by 24%. They matched their anemic level of love when I squeaked by last year’s bloated quota by 8%. I’m not finding happiness at work.
Home is all good. Our son is getting better grades and growing into a young man I’d like know (even if I wasn’t his father). My wife and I are fine. We respect each other’s work and each other’s contribution to our home. After 25 years, that’s not small.
A few months ago, I “enjoyed” a chilling epiphany. This is it. There is nothing after this. This life is everything we get. We’re animals, like cattle, horses, apes, dogs and cats. We’re biological creatures who learned how to be social. We developed intellects that understand that we will die. We form strong bonds; some emotional, some sexual, some superficial. We learn how to be liked. We decided if we want to go through the trouble and responsibility to be liked. We live with our fellow humans. We hope for a life everlasting.
There is none. That was a story developed a long time ago for reasons that are as dead as their creator. Our last breath ends our being. There is no overcrowded hereafter brimming with generations past. There is no selection process for eternal happiness that is understood by a supreme being and his designates. We’re like the Llama who wanders into the brush and bravely tastes its last sip of air on this world. They’re not afraid. We are.
So, that’s where I am. If that isn’t existential angst, I don’t know what is. I already have a sports car. It got me into a ton of trouble (that I didn’t deserve) in June of ’10. So I can’t become that cliché.
That is why I disappeared. Perhaps I’m back. Who knows?
I’m simply trying to figure it all out. Perhaps that’ll make a good, less selfindulgent post.

It’s all Reagan’s fault

We have a guest blogger this morning.  Actually, he’s never heard of Pink Bunny Ears.  Maybe his people will tell him about our little thing. I don’t always agree with this guy’s spin on things, but sometimes he nails it.

There’s a catagory here called “It’s all Reagan’s fault”.  That’s because it is.

Here it’s all laid out sucinctly and properly.  And he’s right.  He should have entitled it “It’s all Reagan’s fault.”

There’s evil in the air and there’s thunder in the sky

If ever there were a week that was perfectly shiteous, it was last week.  Holy Canolli what a trainwreck.

It opened with me requesting a showing at one of my listings where there is one party adversely holding the other parties essentially for ransom.  The great great grandfather built the place in 1918.   Somewhere in time another patriarch built out the basement.  He was a short guy so it’s not to code height wise.  By the time it was all said and done it’s divided into 16ths.  One great great grandaughter lives there and the rest of the family just own there share with which they can do nothing.  She’s a deadbeat, no one in her family even attempts to work and the place has fallen into disrepair.   How bad?  The health department would probably consider it uninhabitable if they came out.

The other side has been trying to get her to either buy them out or sell for the last four years.  Last year they retained me and an attorney to do that.  I’m smart, I took the listing right away to tie up the property.  Then the attorney sent the letter.  Much crying and gnashing of teeth.  They threaten a partition and eviction and she calls an attorney.  He makes some threatening phone calls to amongst other people, me.  He said I can’t have a listing without the owner’s signature.  No, dumb ass.  It only takes one party to list that house.  It takes all of them to accept the offer, but only one to list it.  Sashay your stupid ass back to Bolt Hall and bone up on some real estate lawyer Assclown.

Finally she agrees to let it go on the market.  It’s in Oakland and there are a certain sector of buyers who don’t read English and are inherently rude.  They go up to the door and ask to see it.  Many of them.  She freaks out and her husband calls and yells at me.  He’s not a party to the transaction and I suggest he STFU.  I tell her that the instructions in the MLS are clear.  I can’t make people I don’t know act right.  I explain to her and the agent who is supposedly helping her that if she doesn’t allow people to show it, they will get substantially less for it.  We go from “No Show” to “By appointment only”.   I get exactly one guy in to see it.  The next time I get a call to see it she has the “flu”.  She is also a notorious liar and I don’t believe a word that comes out of her mouth.  Her husband calls back and leaves me a message that “They have to be given 24 hour notice.”  Not the previous agreement.

On Tuesday I get a message around 5pm that someone wants to show it the next day at 11am.  Not 24 hours notice totally but they aren’t tenants, so that law doesn’t apply to them.  Her jackass husband calls back and says they can see it at 6pm because 11am is not 24 hours notice.  And I had to attend every showing.  Actually that was a message.  I let him go to voice mail so I can record what they say.  Then he does what he does which is to blow up my phone.  Eventually I answer and he starts screaming at me.  I hang up.  He calls back. I pick up.  He screams.  I hang up.

I get home that night and there is a message from her with a new schedule of when I can show the property.  I sit down and write her.  I’m done with your bullshit.  There will be no schedule.  I’m advising the family to proceed with the partition and eviction.  And if your jackass husband ever calls me again I’m filing a restraining order against him.  I used a lot of better real estate words but the message was clear.  OMG I stirred up a hornets nest.  No, don’t do that, you can show the house, blah blah blah.  She’s really good a moving the goal posts.  Just doesn’t understand that I know what the game is.  She calls my Team Leader and tells him I won’t return her phone calls.  The truth is she never called me.

I suggested that the family offer her $5000 advance on her proceeds to move out.  She wants $10,000.  It’s her money.  I think they should do it, we’ll see where this one goes.  That was Tuesday.

Wednesday 5am was Ike.  I’m still pretty disturbed about that one.  I found Xica dead when I got home one day.  Rayette was in deep distress, with end stage kidney disease, and my old vet (who was about 10 minutes away from retirement) told me that if she were his cat, he would let her go.  Broderick had gone flat when I got home.  That was a no brainer.  Toby was in deep distress with lung cancer.  Cody went flat in the back yard and I had to carry him in.  Beauregard was in deep distress with lung cancer.  Ike was different.  There was something very seriously wrong with that dog.  On Sunday he came into the living room and pissed on a pile of laundry.  The back door was open and he could have gone outside so that wasn’t what it was about.  I was sitting in a chair in the living room and I yells “No!”  He turned and snarled and snapped at me.  He’d done the same thing three days earlier in the entry way.  He scared me and I picked up a babygate to keep him away from me.  He’d lost weight.  His wobblers was progressing.  There was something bad going on with him but quite honestly I didn’t know what it was.  I was planning on doing a blood test for cancer, I thought he had cancer, but I didn’t have time to get it done.  Do I stitch his face up to find out he has cancer? Do I test for cancer before stitching up his ear?  Do I have an X-Ray?  What do I X-Ray?  His head where I think the cancer either began or spread to?  Or his mid-section that has a palpitable mass?  Do we glue him together and wait to see what happens?  Will he live through the surgery?  Are we just going to end up in the same place at the end of the day?  He pushed the envelope Wednesday morning and left me with really crappy options.

Wednesday afternoon the listing agent calls me on one of my deals.  We were skirting around the edge of what we should be doing to get my buyers this house.  It was a short sale and the sellers were going to removed the interior doors which were custom built for the house and quite expensive.  We had agreed to give them $2100 for the doors if they just left them in place.  We were not going to give it to them until I had the keys to the house and they were driving away.  The wife, who owned the house because he has all this back child support wanted the check two weeks ago.  Not going to happen.  I went over there with the listing agent to try and resolve the situation.  The husband was reasonable but when the wife came out she was out of her mind.  I said “can we sit down for a minute” and the crazy bitch shoved me.  Seriously.  She put her hands on me like that.  I did not drop her.  On behalf of my buyers who are a nice young couple with a baby, I write a very thoughtful letter explaining why we can’t do what she wants but explaining that we do understand her frustration and we have no desire to screw her.

Yesterday she said she was going to cancel the deal if we didn’t give her the check.  I gave it to the listing agent with instructions that it was not to be released without written instructions from me.  Now this is all dangerous because there are supposed to be no payments outside of the HUD.  We dealt with this by calling it a purchase of personal property and used a bill of sale.  Yesterday afternoon this crazy bitch called the title company and told them to cancel the transaction.

When the title company called me I told them it was fine but I was filing an assault complaint and my clients were suing her for specific performance.  I didn’t mention but hopefully the listing agent told her that because we had provided a ready willing and able buyer she is also liable for our commissions.  They are leaving the state for Idaho.  I have a certain opinion of people who leave California for Idaho.  Unless you’re going to Coeur d’Alene.  They aren’t.  Normally you wouldn’t want to sue someone staying in the community for your commission.  With these idiots, game on.

On Wednesday I got a call on a contract I wrote verbally accepting it.  We wrote full price asked for nothing back.  FHA.  The seller is elderly and apparently has a daughter who is a mortgage broker in some godforsaken hellhole in Tehama County.  So she knows more than us about Bay Area real estate.  She just countered us $25k over asking.  The listing agent is very good and she said “just hang in there, I’ll get this worked out.”

I call my inspection company that I’ve used for the last three years to reschedule the inspection.  There’s a 25% short notice rescheduling fee.  I plead, this is something I couldn’t control, I just found out about it.  Nope, it’s $136 to reschedule.  Well we aren’t going to inspect a property that I don’t know if my guy is going to get it or not.  Can’t do anything about it.  I’ve been using you guys exclusively for three years, this is what I get?  I’m sorry.  Yeah, you will be.

Late last night I got an email that they were waiving the fee.  Good move.  Otherwise it would have been the last $136 they ever received from me or any of my clients.

In the middle of all that I closed two escrows.  How was your week?

Godspeed little man

I look at this picture and I know something was up with Ike.  His eyes in this picture are not the eyes I’ve been looking at.

This morning I had Norman and Rita out, Bubba in his crate and Ike in the family room.  Rita hit the French Doors and they came open.  I jumped up in time to see Ike in a very aggressive stance heading out to Norman.  By the time I ran through the house Norman had him down.  Ike was still trying to fight but his ass was kicked.  I sat in the vet’s office crying.  As recently as yesterday I’d had discussions with Doberman guru friends of mine.  I felt something was going on with him and it might be time.  After last week’s acupuncture appointment he’d lost another two pounds.  His eyes were dull.  And it was going to be a small fortune to fix his torn up head.  The vet examined him thoroughly.  She agreed that his behavior was cause to look for something physical.  She noted the wasting that could be Wobbler’s or cancer.  She suggested his flip flop behavior might be the result of a brain tumor, since he was being such a love with us.  I’d thought of brain cancer too.  He’d become unpredictable.  Or predictable in his unpredictability.

It’s always surreal when this happens early in the morning.  I’m sitting here thinking “Did that just happen?”  But my family room is spattered with blood and pretty much looks like a crime scene, so it must have.

I’ll miss him.  He was the only dog I’ve ever owned that could come out in the front yard and not step off the curb.  He’d sit and watch other dogs walk by and not do anything.  He loved going out to get the mail with me.  And he loved me.  I did the best I could for him.  I think his poor breeding finally caught up to him.  So I held him, and I told him he’d been a good dog and that he wouldn’t hurt any more.  And I let him go.





There’s a fashion, there’s a fad, some is good, some is bad


It’s probably been over a year since I’ve done Google Keywords of the Weak Week.  Arguably one of the reasons would be I’ve not been logging on and checking my numbers.  They’re down from the hey day of the Alliance Title debacle and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Title Adventure.    But we can still have fun with keywords.

PBE is the #1 google ranking for the search “patty hauptman santa barbara”.  Woof.  Strangely we are also #1 for the term “swordfish porn”.  Which I’m I little surprised that it comes up at all, although I am secretly proud of that one.  We’re #3 for “mood changing bunny ears”, which is interesting because I don’t believe in bad moods.  I think you choose your mood.  Choose better.    “Flying mosquitoes” is huge.   And then there’s “boylove” which is the name of an image of Beauregard.  You sick bastards that keep googling that should have your junk rot off.

Norman is a big ol’ slice of awesome pie.  Although those towels he’s laying on?  They were originally put down because he took his big 105lb nose and did the nose flip to my elbow.  Unfortunately I had a cup of coffee in my hand and he knocked it out of my hand and all over the papers on my desk, which included four months of receipts.  Dear IRS, I’m sorry I can’t back up my Schedules with actual documentation.  My dog spilled coffee on everything.  So I laid everything out on towels and dried it out.

Ike might be on his end game.  He’s had a couple of incidents where he’s snarled and snapped at me recently.  They seem to be escalating.  I think he’s in pain.  I took him to Dr. Rettig and she said his eyes were different than when she first met him.  I agree.  There’s something going on.  He’s also lost some weight.  The plan is to watch him for now, and hope I don’t get bit.  I think I’m going to have a blood test taken looking for cancer.  And then just make him comfortable as long as I can.  I did tell him that if he snapped at me again, that was his end game.  Choose wisely.

Finally, a little something that bothered me more than I thought it would.  On the AIDS/Lifecycle they provide massages to the cyclist.  You get one on the ride.  They mark your bracelet.  It’s only like a 20 minute massage but honestly, it’s 20 minutes of heaven.  I originally went down on Day 4.  My line of thinking was that it was half way.  About a gazillion other riders thought the same thing and I didn’t get in that day.  Day 4 was torture dungeon day at the massage tent.  Out front was the dungeon master.  He was a hulking man, shaved head, beard, built like a brick shithouse.  He was sweet and kind and explained that they were booked for the day, he was really sorry, could I come back earlier tomorrow.  Not a problem big hulking dungeon master dude.  The next day was Red Dress Day.  Upon my return the hulking dungeon master was rocking a red frock.  Frock is the proper word for what he had on.  It was of a certain style, craft and air of dignity that earns that term.  Red, full length, worsted wool probably.  Same shaved head and beard.  He explained the process for getting signed up that day.  I followed it to a T.  Before we went into the tent, at the changing of the guard as it were, he had us all bunch together and applaud the massage therapists who had been working non-stop, 2.5 patients per hour for five hours so far.  He was sweet and kind and had Doc Martens on under his red frock.

Friday he died.  He had a clavicle injury and had surgery on it.  It didn’t heal properly.  He was going in for his second surgery and had a reaction to the anti-anxiety medication.  He never went back into surgery.  The nurses found him unconscious.  Four days later his family let him go.  A really good guy is gone.  And that makes me sad.