Monday, December 21, 2009
Why I plan to become affiliated again. ...
Soon ... some time after the holidays, I'm planning to temporarily abandon my "decline to state" status and signup as a Republican before the primaries. The CA Republican Party does not allow decline-to-state voters to vote in their primaries and I want to throw my vote to Tom Campbell for the Republican nominee for CA governor.

Sure, sure. I don't always agree with Tom's positions -- he and I don't see eye-to-eye on the health care reform debate, f'rex -- but he is a bright guy. Sharp as a tack. He thinks things through. He's amenable to changing his mind when different factors are brought to his attention. (And back when he was my Congress critter, he answered my e-mails at 3A Washington, DC, time when I dropped him notes after midnight California time.)

He listens.

Why would I change my unaffiliated to Republican-affiliated? Because Meg Whitman is the front-runner in current polls and I do =not= want Meg Whitman as the Republican nominee. And Whitman as Governor? Oh, noes! Sure, I could vote in the Democratic Party primary as an unaffiliated voter, but voting there will probably not make a huge difference in which candidate (Jerry Brown, anyone?) is chosen to run.

Tom Campbell is a =much= better choice than Whitman, but knowing the state party, he probably won't make the cut unless Meg really blows it between now and then or enough decline-to-states join (or re-join) the Republican party and vote for Campbell.

Update: For the June 2010 primary, it turns out, decline-to-states CAN vote in the Republican primary =if= you request a Republican ballot, either at your polling place on Election Day, or in advance by contacting your county elections office. Which is what I now plan to do. (Although the push this year to implement the bar failed, the push is still on within the party to bar decline-to-states from voting in future primaries, so be aware.)

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Sunrise. Yesterday.
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We've been having amazing weather, but, please, may it rain, really rain, soon?

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Thursday, June 18, 2009
Yosemite. 01-Nov-2006
I was thumbing through pictures taken during a long weekend at Yosemite in late October, early November 2006. The valley was so peaceful and lovely. The deciduous trees had turned. The hikes up toward Vernal Falls and elsewhere were still open, pending the first snow. Not many people cluttering up the space.

I was trying to find a photo that captured it all, perhaps a cheery yellow-orange tree against a Half Dome backdrop, but I had cheery yellow-orange trees and I had granite, but the granite photos all seemed to have evergreens in front of them and the fall colors didn't have granite in the background. Ah. Here's one.

If you ever have a chance to go for a few days to Yosemite when the crowds of tourists have gone but the valley isn't deep in snow, Go!

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Saturday, June 06, 2009
Prop 13, Education, and the current budget crunch
Read an interesting comment yesterday in my alumni magazine. An earlier issue had an article ("Struggling for Words") in which English Professor Jonathan Lovell rued the effects Prop 13 has had on education since it passed in 1978.

Oh, really? (or words to that effect) was the comment.

While the state of public education is deplorable, Prop 13 is certainly not one of the causes. Assessed values, tax receipts and school funding have all increased at faster rates than inflation since its passage in 1978. The provisions of Prop 13, which create a more stable tax base, will provide a relatively "soft" landing during the recession, as not all assessed values will fall from the grossly inflated market values of recent years. Without Prop 13, the decrease in property tax revenues would be even more dramatic than what we're actually seeing. -- Pete Conrad, '82 Business

Something to think about.

Another benefit of Prop 13 for education, which I've never heard mentioned, is that it created an incentive for families to stay put, not to trade up to a bigger house. As a result, our children went from K-12 with pretty much the same set of kids. The parents worked together for years and were gung-ho about working with the schools. We knew each other, our quirks, our pet peeves, our strengths. Instead of people moving in and out and up, we had a stable foundation for volunteerism and fundraising.

But, yeah. I hadn't thought about the precipitous fall in property tax revenues that there would've been without Prop 13.

Oh, you say? But wouldn't we'd've had a mess more money if Prop. 13 hadn't been around? Yeah. We would've. Year to year. And we would've spent every frickin' dime and be left now with unsustainable programs and no funds to run them. Rainy day funds are an anomaly in this state. Alas.

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Friday, May 29, 2009
Two grooms
Found this in the Papyrus stationery store @ 243 Montgomery while I was walking down to the SPUR Urban Center opening yesterday afternoon.

Soon. ...
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Monday, May 25, 2009
Memorial Day weekend in Paso Robles
We were down for a long weekend on a fairly HUGE piece of dirt that friends own outside Paso Robles, on the west side, in the hills, before you get to the ocean and San Simeon/Cambria.

This was their tenth annual Memorial Day weekend but ... for whatever reasons ... we've never been before. (Last year we had something happening, the year before ...)

We came this past weekend, bringing with us a charming teenager who lives in our fair ville, who needed a lift down to the party (unless someone from down in Paso was willing to drive four hours up to our fair ville and four hours back down with her.. and they would've been, but we promised to bring her with us).

The three of us arrived, after a four-hour drive, in time for chile verde and/or buffalo stew burritos on Friday night. We left after helping to pack up the tables and chairs and sundry furniture and stowing them in the workshop/barn on Monday morning.


These folks invite a lot of people. (More than fifty. Less than one hundred.)

Some arrive Friday. Some leave Monday. Few are there for the duration. Some bring some pretty hefty trailer-type vehicles. (HUGE! some of them) Some bring vehicles the youngsters can chew up road with. (Wear your helmet!)

Folks bring their dogs, ranging from petite chihuaha-type dogs to WOLF HOUNDS THAT WILL EAT YOU FOR LUNCH. Watching the social dynamics of the dog pack was an on-going entertainment.

Some guests stay with other party-attenders. Some go over to Cambria or San Simeon to grab a place to stay. Some come in from Paso -- those who are relatives or high school chums. Most stay in tents, pitched on the grounds around the main house.

We were lucky (being the first to ask) to stay in the bunk house, with a bathroom and shower and EVERYTHING. (Plus the cabin is well-insulated so even when the evening temperatures dropped we were fine. We spread out sleeping bags on the futon ...)

First thing in the morning, our host started a huge pot of coffee. From there the day progressed through food. more food. visit to the farmers' market in Templeton. food. more food. drinks. drinks. more food. food. more drinks. dessert. drinks. And talk talk talk talk.

The guys cook. And others too. Burritos on Friday night. Salmon and pork ribs on Saturday night. Chicken on Sunday night. Sundry other stuff. Steam shovel vegetables. Desserts up the wahzoo. Salads. Hors d'oeuvres. Garlic bread. Caprese.



We also checked out the home of a close friend of our hostess (and work-related compadre of his nibs) on Sunday. His nibs had heard so much about the place while it was in the building phase and we were dead curious. Their home was less than five miles as the crow flies from Party Central, but almost fifteen miles by (sometimes dirt) road.

The house was not large, but the siting. ...

Oh. My. The. Views. (°Mira los robles!)

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A good weekend was had by us. A really good weekend. Nice people. Good food. Interesting guests. Bouncy dogs.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009
A road trip home
We were in the Central Valley this weekend for a memorial service for my cousin.

We spent the night in Lost Hills and took the long way home, through the Bitterwater Valley and on to Parkfield, then up 101 and a jog here and another there and finally home.

More photos to follow. Maybe.

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Saturday, February 28, 2009
Schwarzenegger Declares California Drought Emergency
Schwarzenegger Declares California Drought Emergency

Some more rain is arriving tonight, if the weather mavens are to be believed, and carry over for a few days, but things aren't looking good.

Step one: encourage farmers who suck up water to raise crops like cotton and rice to move their operations to places that are better suited for water-guzzling crops.

Step two: encourage folks who plant golf courses in deserts to transform them into something else and/or let the land lapse back into sand dunes.

Step three: see where steps one and two take you.

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Monday, February 02, 2009
Mormons donated more to California's Prop. 8 campaign than they'd previously copped to
Mormon church reports $190,000 Prop. 8 expenses.

Mormon church officials, facing an ongoing investigation by the state Fair Political Practices Commission, Friday reported nearly $190,000 in previously unlisted assistance to the successful campaign for Prop. 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.

Now there's a huge surprise.

Up until Friday, the Mormon church had denied any direct financial support for the campaign beyond a reported $2,078 spent for bringing church Elder L. Whitney Clayton to California.

Church officials complained that Karger's complaint was full of errors and that the church had "fully complied" with California law.

The report filed Friday contained few details about how the money was spent.


While the deadline for the report, which covers the period from July 1 to Dec. 31, is Monday, many campaign contributions by major donors and independent committees must be reported within days after they're made.

The final reports are due today, because U.S. District Judge Morrison England late last week refused to exempt the yes-on-8 campaign from making their filings today.

If the Prop. 8 campaign was exempted from disclosure because of reports of harassments of individual donors, said Deputy Attorney General Zackery Morazzini, the same case could be made for any controversial initiative. Courts would have to "keep the entire California electorate in the dark as to who was funding these ballot measures," he said.

England agreed.

He noted that some of the reprisals reported by the Prop. 8 committee involve legal activities such as boycotts and picketing. Other alleged actions, such as death threats, mailings of white powder and vandalism, may constitute "repugnant and despicable acts" but can be reported to law enforcement, the judge said.

Even if there have been illegal reprisals, that would be insufficient reason to grant a wholesale exemption for a multimillion-dollar initiative campaign, England said. He also rejected the Prop. 8 campaign's argument that the $100 disclosure limit established in 1974 should be increased for inflation, saying some states require reports of contributions as low as $25 and the Supreme Court has never invalidated them.

[ref:Prop. 8 campaign can't hide donors' names]

Interesting to see what comes out today that the yes-on-8 campaign was so anxious not to have come out.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009
On this date in 1848, James W. Marshall -- constructing a mill on property belonging to Johann A. Sutter near Coloma, California -- discovered gold.

My, how things changed.

Some of his nibs forebears came out here to set up shop in San Francisco, selling picks and shovels and pans to folks heading up to the hills to search for gold. Made a pretty penny in the hardware business, they did.

They were johnny-come-lately, but their offspring married into a family whose forebears arrived in 1776.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008
Moonrise - full moon
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Wife of former 49er Young voting No on Prop. 8
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Vote NO on Proposition 8, redux.
Jerry Sanders, Republican Mayor of San Diego and former Chief of Police, made this statement a year ago September, explaining why he would not veto a council resolution supporting marriage equality, even though he'd run on an anti-gay-marriage platform.

Even up to the day before the press statement, when the resolution was passed, Sanders still fully intended to veto it.

He changed his mind and chokes up while explaining why to the cameras and reporters.

He mentions that his daughter is gay, as are members of his staff, and he found that he couldn't veto the resolution and tell them "they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage."

"In the end, I couldn't look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationships, their very lives, were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife, Rana"

Words well said, and worth listening to on the eve of the election.

Vote NO on Proposition 8.

[via Andrew Sullivan. The Daily Dish]

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Saturday, October 04, 2008
And ice cream castles in the air*

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Lovely clouds. With luck we'll have more rain. With luck the weather cleared up and stayed sunny in bucolic Kern County, CA, for first-cousin-once-removed Davy's wedding this afternoon.

[view of the N bay from Pacific Heights]

* "Both Sides Now" - Joni Mitchell

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008
House of the Week: Built for Art
House of the Week: Built for Art

Have art? Have I got a place for you.

Holmby Hills. (Think crusty Bing Crosby neighborhood. Aaron Spelling, Tori's Łber rich dad, bought the Crosby estate and scraped it to build a home for his oversized ego. 46K sq ft. 123 rooms. That kind of neighborhood.)

3BED 5BA (and a powder room!)

11K sq ft


Check out pic 6/7. Designer designed an ugly bedroom, eh?

[WSJ via Curbed SF]

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Friday, September 05, 2008
Recent Earthquakes - Map for 122-37
Recent Earthquakes - Map for 122-37

We're sitting at the dinner table.

Me: "Did you feel that?"


Me: "Oh, come on. The chimes on the spiral fire-escape out there are rattling! Listen."

"Oh. OK. I thought you were kicking the table. The seagulls are squawking too. 2. something."

Me: "I say 3.5 and fairly nearby."

I came up to check

4.1 4.0 (updated)

2 miles ENE of Alamo, CA

Shake. Rattle. Roll.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Prop 8 update
Prop. 8 backers sue to change ballot wording

Seems Jerry Brown (formerly Governor Moonbeam, currently State Attorney General perhaps Governor again after the next election, who knows ...) has authorized the following ballot language for Proposition 8: "eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry."

Says he, since the time the petition signatures were collected, the court confirmed the right of same-sex couples to marry. Therefore, Prop 8, which reads "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." would disenfranchise those who just May 15th got the right to marry and his wording is fine and good and valid.

Prop 8 proponents claim Brown's verbiage is "inherently argumentative and highly likely to create prejudice" and they aren't eliminating anyone's rights. They're simply trying to reinstate the definition of marriage that existed in California before the judicial decision in May.

Ya. Right.

Yay! hooray! for Jerry Brown. You go, guy!

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Thursday, July 24, 2008
Same-sex marriage foes warn of kindergarten lessons on gay matrimony
Same-sex marriage foes warn of kindergarten lessons on gay matrimony

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, July 24, 2008

Backers of a November initiative to ban same-sex marriage in California plan to tell voters in the state ballot pamphlet that the constitutional amendment would protect children as young as kindergarten age from being taught in school about the virtues of gay and lesbian matrimony.

"If the gay marriage ruling is not overturned, teachers will be required to teach young children there is no difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage," supporters of Proposition 8 said in ballot arguments that went on public display this week at the secretary of state's office.

That marriage lesson is more than likely part and parcel of the sex education lessons for kindergarteners that the gay agenda is forcing on the good citizens of California.

Yikes. Don't say they didn't warn you. ...

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Thursday, May 15, 2008
California Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban
California Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban

Yay! Hooray! Equality!

Now onward to November when the California Protection of Marriage Act (a constitutional amendment) will probably be on the ballot to read:

SECTION 2. Article I. Section 7.5 is added to the California Constitution. to read:
Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.


Today's California Supreme Court decision [PDF]

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Bits and bytes
It seems to have been all Twitter and no Blogger for far too long. (For the Twitter bits, look over to the right sidebar ...) A brief wrapup of my long weekend.

Saturday morning I walked down to John's Grill on Ellis for a lunch meeting of Mystery Writers of America/Northern California chapter. Along the way I came upon a crowd of "anonymous" with face masks and disguises, gathering near the Transamerica Pyramid for their May 10th swipe at the Scientology headquarters nearby. "Ask me why I'm wearing a mask." read one sign. Jason Beghe showed up on Saturday and mingled with the anonymous undisguised. What more harm could he fear? Search for /anonymous scientology/ for the scoop and the YouTube videos.

Guest for the MWA-NorCal lunch was agent Elise Proulx (Frederick Hill Bonnie Nadell Associates on Union Street in our fair and bucolic ville), who has just become a member of board of Litquake. She talked of this and that, but my notes are elsewhere. Most of what I remember was nothing ragingly new to anyone who read Miss Snark back in the day, or who has read her archives since, but a fair number of the unpublished in the audience obviously hadn't had that experience.

Proulx did say that she hates synopses as a matter of course. She'd rather get a three-para query letter with a overview para, a short synopsis para and a who-are-you-the-author para. If she likes that, she'll ask for a partial. If she likes the partial, she'll ask for a full. She'd rather be reading a partial or a full than a synopsis. Her percentages of how-many-queries become how-many-partials become how-many-fulls become clients weren't terribly encouraging.

Proulx also said that there's a site out there (you may know which one I mean -- she didn't remember the name of it) which sends out queries for writers. She says she gets these e-queries with her name there next to a cc: for a LARGE bunch of other agents in the A-F category. She deletes those queries; she considers them spam. Be forewarned.

Funny stories about queries? Proulx had them in spades. Gaffes? Those too. Note: Do not send a query to her headed Dear Ms Hillnadel. Yes, her e-addr is, but that doesn't mean she's changed her last name.

A good time was had by all. My chicken caesar salad was excellent. My $3 worth of raffle tickets won me a book of my choice from those donated at the table on the east side of the room. I picked Louise Ure's latest, The Fault Tree. Had her sign it. Started it over the weekend. Intriguing sleuth. Interesting setup.

After the MWA-NorCal lunch, I walked down to the Embarcadero and met up with his nibs and moseyed over to the long line of people waiting to get into KFOG Kaboom! at Piers 30-32. Cost this year: $15 each plus service charges. The sound system was better than years past when things were free. There were more porta-potties. I assume that's what all the money goes for. Wish it were still free. Howsomever. ...

The gates opened early and we found a great spot right at the edge of Pier 30. Mellow people abounded. We ate roasted corn and Philly cheesesteak and crabcake and all sorts of the equivalent of stuff on a stick while listening to Matt Nathanson, Collective Soul and Los Lobos through the afternoon. As dusk drifted in, so did the fog. Trails and trickles, ohpleasedon'tgetanythicker fog. We watched the tugs pull FIVE BARGES FULL OF FIREWORKS into place. If you click on the Kaboom! link above, you'll see video of the fireworks. Unfortunately, a bit diluted by a bit of fog. Next year!

Sunday, we drove over to Aptos and had lunch with the older younger guy and his partner. After lunch we all piled into the Honda with 105K miles on it and drove to Santa Cruz with gifties for the matriarch in honor of Mother's Day. We drove the guys back to Aptos where I got my MD's present (a box of delish chocolates from Richard Donnelly Chocolates in Santa Cruz. Sweet!)

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From there we drove south to see what wildflowers were still left to see, to Carmel and east over the hills to King City where we checked into the Motel 6 (they'll keep the light on for you.) Big spenders: $46.03 including taxes and all =and= a senior discount.

We had dinner at Alexander's, which was suffering pains with new management. Staff all seemed new. No liquor license yet. Uproar. Not staffed up for all the folks showing up for Mother's Day dinner. Loads of patrons. Few staff. (We'd forgotten it was Mother's Day dinner time when we decided to head over there for dinner. ...) Was this the =first= day under new management? Might've been. It was =that= discombobulated. I won't list the woes, but that meal was in the Top Five Woeful Dinners we've had in the past thirty years. Here's hoping things shake out as they get settled in.

Next morning we had breakfast at V's Diner, the little diner next to the Motel 6, where you couldn't just ask for corned beef hash, you had to order breakfast, which meant two eggs anywayyouwantem, corned beef hash, hash browns or fruit, toast or muffin or pancakes. ... well, you get the idea. The corned beef hash was excellent. There was too much food to finish.

We checked out and headed off, first to Mission San Antonio de Padua, the very cool mission in the middle of Fort Hunter Liggett, on the old Hearst Ranch property that the Hearsts sold to the military in 1940. Mission San Antonio is the best mission I've ever visited. We first visited back in 1990 when the older younger guy was in fourth grade and studying California missions. The mission is still stuck out in the middle of nowhere because it's surrounded by Hunter Liggett, and so seems to be closest to what it might've been when his nibs' great-great-great whatever came up with the DeAnza expedition in 1776, tugging on his mom's skirt hem, asking, "Are we there yet?" Lovely spot.

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From the mission, we headed back to King City and then east to Bitterwater where we caught Airline Highway and wandered through places and off to the end of Willow Creek Road


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and back onto the highway and on to Paicines, up Panoche Road toward New Idria. We turned around before we reached the mines but gosh, it's lovely country out there.

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The last time we were here, we came a different route and earlier in the year.

This year we had to cut out earlier than we would've liked because we had to get to the outlet shops in Gilroy before they closed because I needed some new walking shoes. (My current pair are worn to the nub and the outlet shops are too far from home to justify a special trip, but if we happen to swing by on the way home from the far southlands ...)

Home again, home again and a lovely time we had. Next time we will head out earlier in the spring for our wildflower trek. Although there were still some blooming, the spectacular shows that look like someone spilt watercolor paints over the hillsides were weeks gone past. We hadn't had a spare duo of days to make the trip earlier this year, but what we found was beautiful too.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007
Full Moon Over Berkeley
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Away, back, and what we did there.
We've been gone on a short run-away that started Sunday morning when we left for an AIWF crab feed at the Silverado Brewing Company, outside St. Helena.

The menu consisted of wine, beer, bubbly, and a plate each with salad, bread, and pasta plus a portion of hot Dungeness crab, followed by another piece of hot crab and another and another until they had to toss us out of there because another party had the banquet room booked. Cookies for dessert.

At some point when we were wrist deep in cracked crab, Michael Fradelizio, owner and operator, gave his impassioned pitch about how for seven years he's been running the brewing company, a restaurant that eschews hydrogenated fat and serves free-range chicken and Niman Ranch all-natural meats, how he spent time and effort to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from the premises (including having to find substitutes for bottled catsup and the like) and how he wouldn't serve his patrons anything that he wouldn't serve his family.

His food was great. I loved his attitude. The crab was delish with a peppery finish.

From Silverado Brewing, we headed a short piece north to Calistoga, and checked into our room. Later, we walked down Lincoln Avenue as we browsed on our way to dinner, sticking our noses into shops, checking menus posted outside restaurants, staying a spell at Copperfield's, where we bought a book, natch.

We wanted to eat somewhere we hadn't before. We chose Pacifico Restaurante Mexicano (1237 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga) because his nibs wanted a light supper after all the crab. Hah. His chicken mole included half a chicken under the mole sauce. My chile rellenos was also a healthy, tasty dish. We were ready to snooze.

Next morning we headed off to Santa Rosa to meet up with old friends for lunch at Monti's (prime rib sandwich, yum!) after which we off-loaded sixteen boxes of books from our car into their van for delivery to the Point Arena Library.

Book exchange complete, we headed upland to Fort Bragg. (101 to Dry Creek Road, past Lake Sonoma

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to Stewarts Point and then up 1 to Fort Bragg) The weather was windy and rainy. The road was windy. At one point on Skaggs Spring Rd/Stewarts Point Rd we stopped the car and his nibs got out to help some locals who were using their chain saw to take a fallen tree out of the road.

"Those County guys just sitting up there in their truck with their flashers on?"

The "County guys" eventually joined the group that was busy dragging branches and stumps off the road. One of them stood and watched. The other dragged a couple branches then stood and watched as well. They claimed to have no chain saw themselves. Said they were waiting for another County truck to arrive with a chain saw. ... Eventually, the guy with the chain saw busted his saw as the fallen tree slipped down the bank. Luckily a lane's-width of the road was clear and with an "after you" "no, after you" the cars and trucks made their ways through the gap and off to their destinations.

We arrived at our B&B (The Country Inn Bed and Breakfast) on Main Street in Fort Bragg in the pouring rain, after five. We carried our bag in and settled in for a bit before heading off to dinner at Mendo Bistro, our reason for going to Fort Bragg in the first place. We drove to dinner even though the distance was only about four blocks because the rain was savage and we didn't want to get soaked.

Mendo Bistro is open seven days a week from 5-9 p.m. upstairs at the Company Store, Main and Redwood. We showed up some time after six and ordered. When we saw Nicholas Petti come up the stairs, we asked our server to tell him we wanted to talk with him.

"Hi," he said.
"Hi, I'm Sal," I said just as Nicholas was saying, "You're Sal."

I'd warned him we were coming back again and had promised we'd snag him this time so he'd know the face of the person he'd exchanged e-mails with. We chatted for a bit as we were scarfing up his crab cakes. Oh, those crab cakes ...

Turned out we'd lucked into the first evening Nicholas'crab cakes had been on his menu this season.

Delish, delish, delish. Fat, soft, 99% crab, served with a light tarragon aioli and a vinegary tart cabbage salad. The crab cake ingredients are simply crab, a bit of bread crumbs (not much) and finely-chopped green onions with the tarragon aioli to hold everything together. We both started with crab cakes.

His nibs had Grilled Venison Leg with Chestnut Spaetzle and Cranberry Sauce. The spaetzle reminded me that I make spaetzle far too seldom. Spaetzle is comfort food for his nibs. The cranberry sauce was a smooth, not chunky, sauce with what might have been five-spice seasoning. Tasty. I had the special which was chicken stuffed with wild mushroms with a wild mushroom sauce. The chicken was juicy and flavorful. Delish. Both entrees came with seasonal vegetables. Mine had mashed potatoes. Takes a brave chef to put brussel sprouts on a plate. We happen to love brussel sprouts. We had a bottle of the Costa Vineyards Pinot Noir (MB serves only local county wines) with dinner.

For dessert, I chose a small glass of Esterlina port because I tend to get headaches if I eat sweet desserts after having wine with dinner. His nibs opted, with my encouragement, for the Candy Cap Mushroom Creme Brulee with Spicy Chocolate Bark. After one snitched taste from his serving, I kicked myself for deciding to have port instead of ordering the creme brulee. The dessert was perfect -- a rich, smooth custard topped with burnt sugar, which you'd expect, but the addition of the Candy Cap mushrooms gave the dessert a subtle mapley-wintery-earthy taste that's hard to describe.

This Is A Dessert Worthy Of Five Stars.

And Nicholas Petti was even nicer than he needed to be.

Next morning, our innkeeper served us coffee, squeezed orange juice and a breakfast frittata with slices of cantaloupe alongside. The frittata was excellent, a nice blend of bread, egg, sausage, apple and cinnamon. She served the frittata with a small jug of maple syrup, but honestly, it was sweet enough all on its own.

After breakfast, we headed north in the fog with me freaking out as we rounded curves on the highway at the edge of the coast. As the road got narrower, we turned around and came back to Fort Bragg through Inglenook and Cleone and then on to Caspar and Caspar South and the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse where we stopped a spell

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and walked down to the restored Point Cabrillo lighthouse

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and chatted with the volunteer there, then up to the museum in a former assistant lightkeeper's house.

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The folks who restored and run the lighthouse and museum rent out one of the lightkeeper's houses if you want to be away from it all. Not cheap, but what a getaway that would be!

From Point Cabrillo, we carried on to the Mendocino Headlands and Little River Beach and Big River Beach, then circled back to Mendocino for some holiday shopping. I found the perfect gift for one of our giftees.

We rested up a bit at the Country Inn before we headed out to dinner. The question was, did we want to eat elsewhere or were the crab cakes and Candy Cap mushroom creme brulee calling too loudly?

We walked into town, stopping in at the North Coast Brewing Company to sample some of their wares. Tuesday was $1 taco night and the tacos did smell yummy. The place was full of locals -- a gang of six guys who seemed to be grabbing a dinner after work, two older couples, a couple sets of young couples. A guy at the bar had three glasses of Old Rasputin in front of him as he read MERCHANT OF DEATH. (Three glasses isn't really =that= many as 10 oz is the largest glass of Old Rasputin they'll serve.)

But in the end we couldn't resist returning to Mendo Bistro. We both, again, had crab cakes for an appetizer. We both had the Candy Cap mushroom creme brulee for dessert. This evening, though, his nibs opted for the fish of the evening (yellowfin, iirc), grilled, with Dijon-Tarragon Cream. I had the Braised Short Ribs served with Root Vegetable Hash and brussel sprouts. We shared a bottle of Navarro Pinot Noir. Neither of us was disappointed with our choices. Far from it. We have not had anything but tasty food at Mendo Bistro and Nicholas serves up healthy portions as well. Yummy. Good value. Worth a trip north.

The next morning at the Country Inn, our innkeeper served baked eggs on a bed of artichoke hearts with sourdough toast and garlic-rosemary country-fried potatoes with coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice.

I heartily recommend the Country Inn. Our room was comfortable and clean. If we'd wanted to indulge, there's a hot tub out on the deck. It's a short walk to the center of town and (of course) Mendo Bistro. The breakfasts were superb. We took advantage of the Inn's special which we found on the Web: book two nights Sunday through Thursday and your room (without a fireplace) is $50/night. Wow.

We drove straight home on Wednesday because we had to be somewhere at 4:30p. -- straight across 20 to Willits and then down 101 to San Francisco. Total time, including a stop for gasoline, three and a half hours.

Why don't we do this more often?

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Saturday, July 07, 2007
For Villaraigosa: Sex, lies and eyes that pry
For Villaraigosa: Sex, lies and eyes that pry - commentary by Timothy Rutten in the LA Times.

Is this affair a newsworthy tidbit? Is it any business of ours? Is it the business of people who watch Salinas on Telemundo or who live in the city for which Villaraigosa is mayor?

Is it newsworthy only as relates to whether Salinas should've kept covering the news? Had she told her bosses about the relationship? Does it matter whether Salinas and Villaraigosa were "just friends" or lovers? If she told her bosses "just friends" and not "lovers," should that have affected the limits her bosses put on her reportage?

Oh, the questions, the reckless behavior, the conflict-of-interest.

Does it even matter except as a way of selling the news in an industry where the more news sold the better?

My favorite part of Rutten's commentary is his reprise of the late Abe Rosenthal's standard in such cases:

It doesn't matter if a reporter sleeps with elephants, so long as they don't cover the circus.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Paris Hilton's Prosecutor Under Scrutiny
Paris Hilton's Prosecutor Under Scrutiny

"He was living in somewhat of a glass house," said Raphael Sonenshein, a political scientist at California State University, Fullerton.

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Friday, June 01, 2007
Mount Madonna School Dream House Raffle
Tomorrow's the big day: the drawing for the Mount Madonna School Dream House Raffle.

If all 32K tickets had been sold (or even if 26,500 tickets had been sold), the Grand Prize winner would have had to make the choice of either a home (appraised value $1.8m) in Santa Cruz, CA, or $1.5m cash.

TPTB just got back to me to say that the school sold over 19K tickets (at $150 a pop) and so, didn't meet the minimum for the house prize. Instead the lesser cash prizes will be awarded tomorrow, starting at 2 p.m., and at 4 p.m. the Grand Prize winner will be awarded half the net proceeds. My correspondent estimated that, after expenses and lesser prizes, the Grand Prize winner will walk away with approximately $1 million (before taxes).

Which means, of course, that the school gets the other half -- $1 million -- to help pay off the debt owed on their new campus and to use for expanding the "educational opportunities for students."

Sure beats a bake sale.

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Friday, April 27, 2007
Bye, bye, incandescents. Sorta
I don't have much influence in Sacramento so when the news came out the other day that AB 722 (introduced by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys) had emerged from the Utilities and Commerce Committee and was on its way to the Appropriations Committee, I didn't yack about it one way or the other.

Earlier this week, though, Don yacked about it and when I went off to track down what the bill really says (rather than what blogville and media meisters tell me), I found that the bill is more sensible than it's been given credit for and isn't really quite so precious and idiotic as some folks have opined.

Text of AB 722

(1) 2012 is five years away. People will have time to get used to it.

(2) General Electric says they can produce incandescents that use far less electricity. Mandate energy use, GE says. Don't ban incandescents. Q for GE: If you could do it, why haven't you?

(3) The bill doesn't affect bulbs less than 25 watts or greater than 150 watts.

(4) And just look at the exceptions!

A general service incandescent lamp does not include an
appliance lamp, black light lamp, bug lamp, colored lamp, enhanced
spectrum lamp, infrared lamp, left-hand tread
[sic] lamp, marine lamp,
marine signal service lamp, mine service lamp, plant light, reflector
lamp, rough service lamp, shatter resistant lamp, sign service lamp,
silver bowl lamp, showcase lamp, three-way lamp, traffic signal
lamp, or vibration service or vibration resistant lamp.

No worries about the light in your oven, folks. You people, and you know who you are, who um. use plant lights? No worries.

Don't know what kinds of lights some of those are? I tracked down a nice little publication on Appliance Efficiency Regulations from the California Energy Commission (the outfit that defined general service incandescent lamp) that explains (among other things) what all these different sorts of lamps are.

The left-handed tread lamp? Well, turns out "Left-handed thread lamp" means a lamp on which the base screws into a lamp socket in a counter-clockwise direction, and screws out of a lamp socket in a clockwise direction.

So when all's said and done, I'm not griping about this legislation. Turn in those bulbs. Fluorescents work better these days and light up fast enough to be used with motion sensors. Certain new fluorescents can even be used with dimmer switches.

There's a new world coming.

More info here.

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Monday, January 08, 2007
The Great Thirst
Yesterday's Chronicle Sunday magazine (07 Jan 2007) had a great fictionalized look at what may happen in California's future:

The Great Thirst: Looking ahead to a post-global warming life in California, 60 years hence by Glen Martin

The following extrapolation presents a worst-case scenario of California's water situation in the coming decades, but not necessarily an unlikely one. It is based on a variety of sources, including interviews and conversations over the past several years with scientists and government agency staffers, such as those associated with the University of California, the California Department of Water Resources and the Bay Institute. (The observations of Jeffrey Mount of UC Davis and John Harte of UC Berkeley were particularly enlightening.)

The story starts thusly:

It is a sign of the flexibility of the human spirit that a certain nostalgia has begun to pervade our memories of the Great Thirst. With it immured safely 30 years in the past, we can afford such revisionism. Today, in 2062, we delight in recalling the heroic incidents it kindled, the ingenious responses to catastrophe, the shared privations. Now that we have squeezed through the bottleneck with our institutions more or less intact, we can savor the simple and glorious fact that we endured.


Don's little dam is mentioned.

I wish the story was only catastrophic wild-making woo woo, but some of the scenarios mentioned are far too possible. Worst case scenario, maybe. But worst case scenarios sometimes come true.

Update: [OK, yeah. I'm fiddling with Google labels ...]

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: views from the Hill

Bertold Brecht:   
Everything changes. You can make
A fresh start with your final breath.
But what has happened has happened. And the water
You once poured into the wine cannot be
Drained off again.

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