The Return of Photojournalism

Every move has it’s share of lonely dryer socks. You know, those things you know you own, but can’t find to save your life. You know, when the Hometown Mafia breaks into your house and says “Give me all of your flashlights and nobody gets hurt”. And you know you own 35 flashlights and can’t lay your hands on a single one and your house is now the scene of the most horrific crime in the nation. And CNN and MSNBC and Geraldo are all parked in their buses on your street and they’ve all got those giant satellite dishes, all because you couldn’t locate a flashlight? Or a corkscrew? Or the charger to the digital camera, which is why there’s been no photojournalism for nearly a month. Here I come to save the day! Underdog! Just as the information left my head it returned yesterday. I would not lose my laptop bag, so the digital camera charger would go with the laptop in the lap top bag. So without further adieu, allow me to present:

Dog who loves his new house:

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actually, what he loves is the new Trader Joe’s treats I’m teasing him with.

Bobby Flay is my bitch

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That is boneless, skinless chicken breast, barbecued over a gas grill with some Cajunland seasoning. Check it out it’s in the background on the left. I will slice that up onto some whole wheat bread and there’s your Body For Life lunch.

And the kitchen works too

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The kids across the street came over yesterday and dropped off a bowl of salsa that they had made from the tomatoes in their back yard. It was some kick ass salsa. I’m sauteing a chicken breast, then adding that kick ass salsa and wrapping it up in a whole wheat tortilla. Add a salad, perfect Body for Life dinner. Dear knees, help is on the way.

Disorderly conduct

This weekend featured dinner at Metro Lafayette. The place is owned by a sommelier and his wine list is impressive. Not in a let-me-stick-my-nose-up-in-there-air-so-that-when-it-rains-I-die sort of way, but in a how-the-hell-did-you-get-over-half-the-list-under-$50 sort of way. We both had the duck confit that was on a bed of black lentils with mango and pomegranate. It was so good that when the guy came to ask about dessert we both asked to have the duck again. We ended up with lemon cheesecake and an apple huckleberry crisp. The crisp was off the hook. The cheesecake was good, but a little bit of a let down compared to everything else we were brought that night. Drinking a 2005 Carpe Diem Cab, worked great with the duck. Tonight I hit the BevMo nickel sale and with some help from The Sommelier I came home with a Serabel Cote du Rhone. I know, I promised no French wine, but it was such a deal. It’s a good drinking wine too. Excellent at 2 for $21.99. Drink up mate!

You know how to take the reservation, Part II

OK, I was irrationally exuberant about my new dishwasher.  I tried to not get too fired up about anything because it always leads to disappointment.  The dishwasher was no exception.  I had talked to the installation company on Wednesday and told them it was critical that I had a very small window of time.  Yes, I was first on the list and the guy gets started pretty early in the morning.  Great.  So I get the required hall pass and wait this morning for the installer to show up.  At 9:15am, I get a little antsy and call.  Well, you were first but he’s gone to Diablo, I think.  We’ll have him call you.  Mind you I’ve told them repeatedly that I have to take off work to meet them.  9:45 rolls around no phone call, so I call back.  He didn’t call you?  We’ll have him call you right back.  10:15 rolls around, still no call, but now we have the added attraction of the $60,000,000 transaction I’m working on is now blowing up.  I need to be at my office and on a good day this will take me an hour.  I call them once last time. 

I’ve asked three times for your guy to call me.  Apparently he has no respect for me or your customers.  I’m sitting here with my thumb up my ass waiting for your jerk off installer to drop a dime on me and he can’t be bothered.  This is simple, tell him not the bother coming by the house either.  I’ll pick the damned thing up myself and install it myself. 

The cost of waiting for your clowns to get their act together was prohibitive.  If you’d like to drunk dial someone tonight, their number is 925-455-1800.  Ask them if their refrigerator is running. 

So, now I have to pick up my KitchenAid Architect II dishwasher and install it this weekend, once I’m finished with the doors and the leaky sink, and the furnace exhaust at my mother’s house.  I think I’m in the wrong business.  I should be the Fred Sanford of Contra Costa County.

Change in the weather…

something’s happening here..

It’s raining right now. October 12th and it’s raining. Those of us in the Bay Area know October to be blazing hot. The Oakland Hills Fire occurred on October 20. Loma Prieta occurred on October 17. It was hotter than hell then. But here we are on October 12 and it’s rained twice this week. It’s 47 degrees outside and my body hurts like bloody hell. The arthritis in my knees has made every step an adventure. Will it hurt or will it collapse? My shoulders woke me up several times last night as they snapped in and out of place. My back hurts so badly I can’t stay in one position for any length of time. I hate cold and dampness and it hates me. I met an orthopedic nurse last weekend who told me that for every 10 pounds of extra weight we carry it puts 50 foot pounds of extra pressure on our joints. I thought about those extra 200 foot pounds of pressure I carry every time my knees bit back this week. Then I worked out hard, took my Vitamin A(dvil) and stayed focused. Another reason I’m so sore is that it took so long for the movers to get my parent’s stuff on the truck that my brother and I helped the guys unload the truck. We didn’t want the guys working for free due to our lack of preparation. I’m still pretty sore from that. I need to work some yoga back into my program, once I finish moving into the Farm.

About the Farm

Any minute now, my brand new KitchenAid Architect II dishwasher will arrive. I can’t wait. I finished installing the air gap and the air switch last night. I washed the rest of the dishes and I’m so ready to have a dishwasher that works again. The former owner bought cheap ass appliances when she had to replace things. While the dishwasher is good and functional, it was tough leaving it here when there was a brand new KitchenAid microwave hood combination, a brand new KitchenAid convection oven and a brand new Dacor cooktop installed here. This part of the project will be complete this morning. I need to rub down the cabinets and do some minor touch up on the stain and I’m done. Tomorrow a retired contractor is coming by to help me reset the damned doors. I can’t stand that any more, it’s time to get out the checkbook and pay someone to teach me the great mystery of shims.

Body for Life

I’ve done pretty well this week. I started the week at 212, I’m at 210 today. I slept through yesterday’s work out, mostly because my body aches from the dampness. I should get back to 207 by the end of the weekend and then I start a new 4 week powerlifting cycle on Monday. I have two more cycles before Vegas. This one went very well and I’m glad I backed the weight off after the move. Tonight an old friend is taking me to dinner for my birthday to this place. Let’s see what I get into tonight.

You know how to take the reservation.

You just don’t know how to hold the reservation.

There’s so much in this life that seems so simple.  The last time my parents moved U-Haul took the reservation for the truck, but when it came time to pick up the truck, they didn’t have a truck. 

I went to the Palmer House last July in Chicago.  I called to advise them I was coming in on the red-eye and that I needed a room at 7:15 in the morning.  If that meant I needed to pay for Friday night, that was fine.  It did and I gave them my credit card.  When I arrived at the stroke of 7:15 a.m. in the midst of the worst heat wave in years…they could take the reservation, but they could not hold the reservation.  Someone released my room at midnight and I didn’t get into a room until 1pm that day.  I blew up in my powerlifting meet the next day.  No rest will do that for you.

When I lived at Parkwoods, I was going to class at night at the same time.  I had an assignment that was due two days after I moved in.  The building was brand new and PacBell was called to hook up the phones, which back then equalled the modem as well, so I could finish my homework.  When I had no dial tone I called them, only to hear that they were not responsible for dial tone in the unit, only to the box.  It would be $85 to have them come out and troubleshoot.  Without dial tone in my home, I really don’t need y’all.  In the end, they hooked up unit 115, not 215 and I did not pay the $85.  Which brings us to my Mother’s unit.  She dutifully called the phone company, which in her case was AT&T, and ordered phone service to be turned on Monday.  Tuesday, it was ringing when you dialed, but not ringing in the unit.  She called AT&T and they informed her that the previous owner had a different phone number and that’s why she didn’t have dial tone.  Does anyone in the universe move into a place and keep the former owner’s phone number?  What kind of bullshit is that?  So I called them.  My Mother is 79 years old.  She doesn’t need dial tone to the nearest closet.  She needs dial tone in her house.  She’s an old lady.  Old ladies talk to their friends and relatives on the phone.  They call the Doctor and the hospital.  Sometimes, she even calls me, from the phone, in her house, not in some phone closet on the property.  Either get her some dial tone or I’ll call Asstound or Comcast or some kid up the street with two paper cups and a string.  They retested the lines and low and behold, there was a problem. 

I’m amazed since the divestiture how terrible all of the phone companies are.  It took me eight minutes to weave through AT&T’s labyrinth of menus to get to a real person.  The last time I called Asstound the “current wait time” was 15 minutes.  I hate PacBell, SBCGlobal whatever their current name is so much that I won’t do business with them.  How did we let our standards slip so much that this is OK?

WINE OF THE DAY

I have opened two bottles recently.  Actually, I opened one, my buddy opened the other.  A 1998 Clo du Val St. George Cab that had cooked or turned or something.  It had taken a ride last year to the coast but hadn’t gotten consumed so it came back with me.  That might have done it or there was some other catastrophic event that turned that little bottle to plonk.  Beck said it hurt her tongue.  On my own I opened a 1998 Freemark Abbey Bosche.  That was nice.  Real nice.  It’s got some spice going on and some cigar box and leather.  A very nice wine.  I have several more bottles of it, two signed by Ted Edwards and Tim Bell.

What is and what should never be…

I’ve gotten my parents moved.  The pinnacle of the whole situation was Saturday morning when the movers came to me and said “Get your Mother out of the way, we’re afraid we’re going to hurt her”.  Ma, go sit down and stay there.  Naturally, that was met with resistance, but I told her she could holler orders to me and I would do them, but she needed to get out of the men’s way so that they could work.  I ended up kicking them an extra Benjamin, just because the whole thing was a nightmare.   She wasn’t done packing.  In the beginning the guys groused, but in the end, they brought in some speedpaks and loaded them up with her stragglers and that made a huge difference.  I had my brother take her down to the new condo to get them out from under foot.  Then something happened.  It’s like all the stress disappeared.  When we arrived at the new place, everyone stayed out of the way, let the men work and the unload was very quick.  With the noted exception of the two neighbors who gave the guys a hard time about the gigantic North American truck parked in the driveway.  One head case made Perry drop the trailer so she could recycle a television.  This probably cost the guys 30 minutes.  The other lady started kvetching about the fact that fire and ambulance couldn’t get through.  I said “Lady, we’ll pull the truck out for fire or ambulance, but you’re just a lady in a Honda.  Please park on the street and I’ll carry your groceries and walk you to your house and I’ll even come back and get you when we’re done, if you’ll just let us unpack this truck”.  She turned out to be a nice lady who was just having a bad day.  We got the truck unpacked, my brother and I helped the guys because they’d lost so much time.  I was just trying to make the whole thing as right as I could.  As predicted, they don’t fit.  At the end of the day, Concord’s various charities will benefit.  I now have the family piano.  More importantly, after two bottles of wine with my buddies, I found I can still play Fur Elise.  I probably cannot play it sober.  The best part of the weekend was yesterday, when I told my Mother to Trader Joe’s to get some frozen entrees so that they could eat for a few days until everything was set up.  I said something stupid and for the first time in a month, I got him to laugh.  It’s going to be alright.

building a body for life

I spent yesterday afternoon taking care of the bullshit that is life, laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, grocery shopping and getting ready to get my eating back on track.  I cooked in my kitchen, like real cooking with spices and everything.  I made turkey sloppy joe’s with a couple of Harry’s Homegrown Thai Chilies.  Beau got to lick the plate as usual, but I don’t think he was digging the aftermath of those chilies.

Breakfast

1/2 WW english muffin with lean Canadian bacon and lowfat havarti

Snack

Turkey jerky and ff sugar free yogurt

Lunch

Turkey sloppy Joe on 1 piece ww bread

Snack

Apple and string cheese

Dinner

Chicken, asparagus (or salad) and ww pasta or brown rice

Dessert

Ricotta and boysenberries.

I’m on the fourth week of the four week powerlifting cycle.  I had dropped the weight way back because of the stress of this month.  Next Monday, I’ll add 10 pounds to the max number.  I should get two full cycles and be pretty fresh by the time I get to the meet in Vegas.  Viva Las Vegas!

Rope a Dope

I win, you lose. I tried to close my parent’s deal professionally and respectfully. Babs wasn’t having any of it. So I ran a Rope a Dope on her and yesterday, we closed my parent’s deal, on time. And the crowd went wild! It took my brother’s missive to get everyone to wake up and come to the party, but in the end, they partied like Rock Stars! Johnny Johnny’s team was outstanding. They had that machine wound all the way out for about 20 days and closed on time. The Escrow Officer was all about flying right until the Attorney’s missive arrived. Then she was old school and down and dirty. She made the difference. I was on the phone with some of my old school buddies who know all the tricks working out a strategy. As Miss March is explaining how to do it, an email from our EO arrives explaining the exact same Rope a Dope. It worked. In about 30 minutes, I have to take cleaning supplies over to the new place. I got the keys too late last night to clean it. The movers will be at the parents at 8am. Then it’s show time.

Down on the Farm

It’s a running joke about my plumbing issues. I think the biggest problem has been that I’m so overloaded that I’m making stupid judgment mistakes. Last night I installed the kitchen sink basket for the eighth and ninth time. Between the eighth and ninth attempt, I ran down to KMart where they sell Craftsman tools and got an 18 inch set of channel locks. I was still stewing about the Barbara Chambers thing so I’d had a few beers when I got to KMart. The channel locks are a $20 item. Apparently that is the cut off for stealing tools from KMart, so they were on a locked rack. I looked and looked for some staff. It was 9pm and there was no red shirts wandering around. So I looked for some box cutters, but couldn’t find any. The beer said “Use this screwdriver to pry a set off and get out of here”. I did, it worked and away I went. I cranked the hell out of that thing. No leaks. Washing dishes in the kitchen sink has never been so satisfying.

It was 40 years ago today…

Actually it was a year ago today that Harry and I got laid off from the Evil Mini-me. In that year, I sold the house on Toyon for $555k. I had purchased it for $215k. Lived in a rental for 9 months. Wrote a business plan and tried to find a site for a wine bar. Got hired back to the Evil Mini-me as a temp to do work that I knew they needed me to do when they canned me. Landed the best title job available in the Bay Area. Bought the Farm for $489k. Remodeled it. Moved into it on September 1. Found a condo way under market for my parents and swung the deal to get them in, all in less than a month. And here we are again. Yeah, I’m tired, and I’d just like for front and back doors to hang right.

Barbara Chambers -Today’s Worst Person in the World!

With a nod to Keith Olbermann.

Barbara Chambers is the Assistant Recorder in Contra Costa County. Not the elected official, the highest ranking COUNTY EMPLOYEE. She is renowned for her power trips and vindictive behavior. Yesterday she out did herself.

The seller in my parents deal, the bank, dragged their feet for 8 days before they accepted our offer, then put us on a death march to an October 5 close date. Yeah, that’s today. Then they did not send the deed back to escrow in time to close or record. As of yesterday the deed hadn’t arrived. So, being in the title business, I knew we couldn’t get it closed in time. Their eviction is effective October 9th. My boss, has given me a hard time for not being in my office every second of every day and then some. I’m a misclassified exempt employee. What that means is that the company has called me exempt even though I’m not so that they can make me work more hours. But I’m not an exempt employee under California law, so I won’t work any extra. 1) it’s illegal to ask me; 2) they will get sued for it and I don’t want to be a part of it. I want to follow the law. The company would like to do something different. Yesterday I just deposited the third check from Morgan Stanley this year. One was for around $5k, the second was around $1200 and this one was the residual of the residual and it was around $260. That represents three class action suits filed on behalf of Financial Advisor Trainees who were all misclassified as exempt.  I’m all for former employers sending me money, but I’d really rather do it right the first time. So that’s a bugaboo at work. I got in trouble because my water heater broke and I waited at home for a plumber. The plumber was two hours late and my boss “counseled” me about missing time to get the water heater fixed. (That’s so many flavors of wrong it’s hard to know where to start) So suffice it to say, taking a day off to move my parents was pretty much out of the question. I know that Contra Costa County does not allow title companies to record any time other than 8am. That makes sense and I understand that. But shit happens. And shit happened in this deal. Actually, shit didn’t happen and that was the problem. My lender, John Hollinger at Diablo Funding, took this deal full throttle ran it through the gauntlet and got us our papers to sign on Monday. That in itself was a Herculean task. I am certain that no one else could have done what he did. John is the shiznet, he is all that and a bag of chips. Our side was ready to go, but we didn’t have a grant deed signed by the seller. The same seller who imposed the artificial drop dead date. The same seller who sent us on this death march. The same seller that drove Johnny like he stole him. What a bunch of wankers. The escrow officer nonchalantly informed us that we were going to fund on Friday and record on Monday. That’s fine, but the old people are moving on Saturday. The seller’s agent said “oh, I don’t think they’ll go for that”. After some rumination, the Attorney, had had enough. He fired off a missive of epic proportions. Assholes tightened throughout the transaction. A shot had been fired over the bow. The old people were moving in on Saturday, or he was filing an action Monday morning. He was done. He’d been quietly sitting in the background, but this straw, it was his last. All of the sudden the deed is on it’s way back, the deal is funding, but we still don’t have a Friday recording.

I have been in the title business for 31 years. After 31 years there are some professional courtesies that are afforded and granted. I rarely ask for anything, I do more than I receive. Yesterday, I asked Barbara Chambers, Assistant County Recorder for Contra Costa County, to afford me one of those professional courtesies. Barbara is a grade A bitch. Vicious for no reason. Hateful for no reason. A festering wart on the ass of humanity. Yesterday was no exception. I called her and left a message detailing the situation and while this transaction is going through the company I work for, that was coincidental. We had originally written another company into the contract, deliberately. So I kiss that cow’s ass and ask her to make an exception for my elderly parents who I know are living amongst close to 100 boxes right now, to let this deal go on the next afternoon, in spite of the county rule that title companies can’t record in the afternoon. It is clearly an unusual situation and I would like to ask for a professional courtesy. Not only does Barbara Chambers, Assistant Recorder for Contra Costa County respond viciously and vindictively, she denies the request. She doesn’t stop there, she calls the Manager for my company in Contra Costa County and threatens her because I asked for a professional courtesy. I wonder if she had called my manager if I worked for Chevron, or Tosco or any of the other employers in Contra Costa County.  That manager calls my manager and I get a reprimand for asking for a professional courtesy.

Barbara Chambers, Assistant Recorder for Contra Costa County, there’s a place in Hell for you. I hope it’s a place where you need something for your family and some vindictive county employee won’t bend a rule for you. But for now, you are today’s WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD.

Kentucky Fried Hell

The silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched to overload
And nobody’s gonna go to school today
She’s gonna make them stay at home
And daddy doesn’t understand it
He always said she was good as gold
And he can see no reasons
‘Cos there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be shown?

Sometimes, it’s just good to play the Boomtown Rats.  They’ve been running through my head for the last couple of weeks.  I passed overload halfway through September.  Now, it’s just like sitting in the dentist’s chair in Marathon Man.  Is it safe?  I am waiting to hear back if my parents escrow is going to close.  I think we made it.  It has been brutal.  I still don’t have a working kitchen sink.  I hope that the seventh attempt to get it to quit leaking which will be attempted this evening will be successful.  The dishes are piling up.  I’m down to around 10 scattered boxes that need to be put up and a garage that looks like bloody hell.  And the rains are coming and my house needs at least a coat of paint before it starts to rain.  But good Lord willing, we’ll close on this condo on Friday and at least my parents won’t have to worry about getting evicted ever again.  They’ll be closer, and they need to be closer.  Right now it’s 35 miles one way to their house.  With no screw ups I can be there in around 40 minutes.  So any trips up there take at least an hour and a half in the car just in travel time, not mentioning just being there.  Now it will take three minutes.  They need help.  My Mother is carrying a huge load and needs help.  Now my brother can get there in 30 minutes instead of an hour and a half each way.  This will help her a lot.  Hopefully we’ll get this move done without killing each other.  The hate and contempt I have for the landlady who threw them out can be cut with a knife.  As soon as they get their deposit back I will light up the sky with that snake.  Of course in the middle of all of this my boss has decided to call an 8am meeting for all of the title officers.  Bosses who call 8am meetings are just jerkoffs.  I would do it occasionally, but that was when either the staff were being wankers and deserved it or two, they asked me for an early meeting because they wanted it out of the way.  This  Bozo calls an 8am meeting for three people and then doesn’t wait until 8:06 when I got upstairs after sitting in the BART tunnel waiting to come into the Embarcadero as the moments preceding 8am ticked by.  So they’re sitting in the meeting without me at 8:06.  That is so disrespectful, I can’t even quantify it, it’s like disrespectful exponentially to the enth degree.  So now I’m pissed that I’m late, I’m pissed that he set an 8am meeting in the first place and I’m pissed at the lack of respect.  So I go to shut the door and it slips out of my hand and slams.  Now I’m rattled,  he’s up my ass about what the problem is.  How do you answer that?  He is a total misogynist and talked about how he helped my partner while I was on vacation, while I’m sitting there thinking “you just shoveled stuff onto me when he was gone”.  This is not a good situation.

I’ve been doing great with my workouts, but have done a terrible job of eating.  I’m a stress eater and while I can keep it usually under control, the last two weeks has buried me.  I’m trying to not stray too far until this road show is complete on Saturday. 

Prost Postino’s


Every where has a restaurant or two in town that’s been around for a long time.  The Chefs come and go and the place just chugs along.  Some of my friends wanted to take me to dinner for my birthday on Friday night at Postino’s in Lafayette.  Postino’s has had kind of a northern Italian thing going on , but nothing to really write home about.  They serve Rombauer Chardonney by the glass in the bar, so it’s a big hit with the sales reps.  I’ve certainly had some ridiculous evenings in there with the Blonde.  But they have a good wine list, so Postino’s it was.  I don’t believe there is anything better than arriving at a restaurant and finding out that the new Chef, blows the old Chef away.  We had a calamari fry of an appetizer with green beans and some other things fried right up into it.  And not that nasty Fryon transfat laden-we’ve-had-the-same-vat-0f-this-crap-for-five-years kind of fried calamari.  The way the Italians do it, in olive oil, proper.  It was delicious.  Another appetizer that was a pastry with cheese and things baked into it.  Excellent.  I had swordfish with almonds and golden raisins over some mashed potatoes.  It was perfect.  Then the Wine Dog got to pick some wine.  We opened with an Arrowood 2002 Cab, it was a little big but had the leather thing going on along with some nice fruit, lots of layers, a delightful wine.  I followed that up with a 2002 Atalon Cab, not as big as Arrowood’s, nice spice, maybe a touch of vanilla, well developed fruit.  Then it got a little difficult to pick.  I was trying to keep the bottles in the $60 range on the wine list and pull out amazing wines at the same time.  I had two home runs and had to pull a third out of my ass.  It ended up being the Mt. Veeder 2001 Cab, which in my now drunken state, I called the Mt. Vadar, like Darth Vadar.  Also an excellent wine, deep cherries, well balanced, some spice and the perfect end to a perfect ending.  We all used to work together, before I got canned last year.  They’ve managed to hold on to their jobs in this crap market, and I’m happy for them.  I miss them terribly and it was a great evening.