Friday, April 30, 2010

Max Brenner

I finally got to go to Max Brenner in New York.  It is the outrageous chocolate restaurant I described previously, but had not yet tried.  Here's their slogan:

I had crispy chocolate egg rolls, filled with hot melted chocolate, nuts and bananas, and served with two types of sauce: chocolate and salted caramel.  Amazing.

One of my friends ordered the dark chocolate shot, shown below:

The cup on the left is over a flame.  You add milk from the right, then chopped chocolate from the middle and stir it together.  Luckily, the stirring spoon has a straw in it, so you can sip the warm drink.

I think this is how all hot chocolate should be served.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sunset on the Hudson River

I snapped this shot at the Chelsea Piers on 23rd Street in Manhattan:

Was there for a very nice party - plenty of fun in NYC!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Karen is a big fan of leaves and twigs and other things cast in bronze.  So you can imagine how happy she was to find this birdbath for our yard:

The birds seem to like it - we see them washing in it and drinking from it.

Today we wondered how hot it might get (it is made of metal) in the middle of the summer.  Not good to cook the birds.  We'll have to watch that.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More (animal) naps

So it is not only Daisy and Milo that take naps around here.  Snow was also able to find a very cozy spot:

Pretty good way to spend an afternoon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Funniest. Play. Ever.

Abby and I went to see Noises Off in Walnut Creek over the weekend.  It is a British farce (one reviewer described a British farce as being like a French farce, only funny).  Well, this was the funniest, most wacky, most hysterical play I have ever seen.  It is based on perfectly-timed slapstick, great character acting, and a very silly story about a group of not-very-good actors trying to put on a show amidst general mayhem.

The cast was superb, the set even better - a full living room in an English country home, with stairs to an upstairs landing and 6 or 7 doors with so many entries and exits you lose track. But the key is that the first act shows the actors putting on the show from this set, while much of the second act is shown from backstage - because the set brilliantly rotates 180 degrees.  And, of course, backstage you have to be quiet, so there is a great deal of acting via pantomime.  Just terrific.

Another suggestion from Abby for a great show I had never seen.  I liked this so much I may go see it again.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Herbs (and a little fruit)

Beautiful springtime weather means more planting for the new farm.  Today it was herbs - Karen and I went to the local nursery, and made some choices of items we use a lot:

Top shelf - basil, rosemary and basil
Middle shelf - sage, thyme and oregano
Bottom shelf - strawberries

We also got a new lemon tree, but it is not planted yet, so more on that later.  This should bring a tasty harvest!

UPDATE:  Substantial improvements today:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thunder Road

This is my favorite Bruce Springsteen song, and this recording, from his 1992 MTV Unplugged appearance, is the best version I have ever heard:

Friday, April 23, 2010

A battle lost, but a life well lived

A writer is gone.  Alicia Parlette died yesterday at the age of 28.  She had been suffering from cancer and now, at least, is at peace.

She told her own story through a series of incredibly moving articles, published by the SF Chronicle.  They can be found online here - well worth reading for the quality and grace of her writing.

I was very taken by the way she described herself as a writer early on in the stories:

"If I get through this, this story will help me remember the important moments along the way, the details, the dizzying emotions. And, in the worst of all circumstances, if I go through this life-changing ordeal and my body just wears out and I die, I will die a writer. The one thing I've always wanted to be."
She succeeded at her dream.

Our family has been touched a lot by cancer, unfortunately, and it is continuing today, for my sister-in-law Susan and her mother.  Our hopes and prayers are with both of them.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Nissan Leaf is reserved!

I managed to submit my reservation this week for a new, all-electric Nissan Leaf.  The process was simple - I chose a blue one, with the option package (though the base model comes pretty fully loaded).  Nissan says I will hear more in June, with firm orders in August and delivery (maybe) in December.

Here is an excellent video review:

I am excited about this car.  Something about a fully electric vehicle is just appealing.  Now I have to wait.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A zip line in San Francisco

We came across the "British Columbia Experience" in San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza while visiting the City the other day:

The highlight was a zip line they had built across the plaza.  In order to ride it, you had to climb up a big tower and then jump off:

None of us was quite game enough for this, but it was fun to watch:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

College choices

We were delighted to host our niece Emily for the weekend.  She has narrowed her college choices and Cal is one of her top remaining possibilities.  So she flew out from Baltimore on Saturday and we spent a couple of days showing her Berkeley and San Francisco.  

Here we are in front of Sather Gate on the Cal campus:

It was a very nice visit, with pretty good weather, and I hope she got a good sense of the Bay area.  It's quite a ways from her family, though, so she will have to think pretty hard about this school and her other (more East coast) choices.  Given how well she did in getting into top schools, any choice she makes is going to be a good one.

On a side note, we took Emily to dinner at Green's in San Francisco, the world-class vegetarian restaurant.  It was, of course, delicious.  Just by luck, I managed to take this photo of the Golden Gate Bridge from our table:

Click it to see full size.  Quite a spectacular vista..

Monday, April 19, 2010

More urban farming

On Saturday we went over to see one of our compatriots in the Urban Farmers initiative.  Their farm is moving along a bit faster than ours, since they put in raised beds.  We were intrigued to see how the their crops are starting.  Here is one of the first - heirloom potatoes:

We met with most of the 20 families in the program and talked about lots of issues.  We also made some choices about what we want to plant.  I think we'll start putting in some raised beds of our own soon, and then get to some real planting!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I like this name.  Daniel Patterson, the chef/owner of Coi in San Francisco (which we have been wanting to try), is opening a new restaurant in Oakland.  It is called "Plum," from the poem "This is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams:

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

From the story in SFGate:

The four-star chef - an Oakland resident - has taken over a fried chicken joint in the Uptown district (2214 Broadway) with plans to open by early summer. But whereas Bracina will slant toward rustic, open-hearth cuisine, Plum will be more like a younger sibling of Coi, albeit with lower prices. With modern, ingredient-driven dishes falling in the $9-$19 range, it'll resemble Coi's lounge menu, but better, according to Patterson.
"This will be Coi as a neighborhood restaurant," he says, "high-energy, bustling and much more approachable."
The 45-seater will feature an open kitchen and 11-seat counter, with hours from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and 1 a.m. Friday-Saturday. Il Cane Rosso's Lauren Kiino will be the opening chef, staying in place until Bracina premieres.
But that's not all. A few months post-opening, Patterson will take over the adjacent storefront, extending Plum to include a bar area. When that opens (hopefully by winter), consultant Scott Beattie - the maestro best known for his cocktail program at Cyrus - will run the show.
It's the latest in a restaurant boom for Oakland's Uptown, which later this month will welcome the second, bigger location of cult favorite Bakesale Betty (2228 Broadway).
Sounds like a very nice addition to the Oakland restaurant scene, which we just liked so much with our recent visit to Camino.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Big Sharks win!

Do or die in game 2 of the first round series against Colorado, but what a finish! The Sharks scored with 31 seconds left in regulation to tie a wild game at 5-5, then won it in overtime on sheer determination.

On to Denver!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cloud printing

I think this is interesting:  Google today announced plans for "cloud printing" as part of the Chrome OS rollout coming later this year.  Under this new concept, any web app could print to any printer that is connected to the Internet.  Current ("legacy") printers would have to use an existing computer connection, but the concept anticipates creation of "cloud-aware" connected printers.

Here's a good representation:
Seems like a simple and very smart idea.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Poulet Grand-Mere

Karen made a classic French dish last night - a variation on Grandmother's Chicken.  The recipe is from Sunset magazine.  It included chunky potatoes, mushrooms, onions, some tasty bacon, and unpeeled garlic cloves (said to be "rustic").

Here is how my plate turned out:

Absolutely delicious!!  Yum, yum, yum!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Augusta National (actually playing the course)

In case you wondered what it is like to play Augusta National on the day after the Masters, here is my tee shot on the 2nd hole.

You should note that this is about 14 hours after the tournament ended - there is no sign that the tournament even occurred or that there were 30,000 people there the day before.

And this is Barry and me on the famous 12th tee:

I ended up with an 84 - all around not bad, and quite a place to play golf.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A great performance

This is truly amazing - from the Japanese equivalent of American Idol:

Monday, April 12, 2010

More Augusta National (tired yet?)

Well, the Masters turned out to be as exciting as it could be, until Phil Mickelson took control at the end.  We saw some terrific play today, including very impressive eagles at 15 by Anthony Kim and Tiger Woods, and then a terrific birdie by Phil at the same hole that really put it away. 

In the morning we even got to visit Butler Cabin, meet Jim Nantz and watch him rehearsing his upcoming broadcast later that afternoon. Fascinating, and he could not have been more friendly.  The weather for the whole tournament was spectacular and the sights and sounds will always be with me.  What a trip!

But today is another day, and at 9:40 am, Barry and I will tee off the first hole at Augusta National:

A lifelong dream of mine will be satisfied when I get to play this incredible course.  Just amazing.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

At the Masters!

Incredible day, incredible course, incredible setting.  It was a sheer treat just to get to walk the holes of Augusta National, but we also got to see some of the greatest golf play.  Very hard to describe what it is like - almost as if the course and the club were manufactured to specification, the way a golf course should be.

Phil Mickelson had back-to-back eagles at 13 and 14. The crowd roar was deafening!
Should be a great final round today.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wedding congratulations

My good friend Alice is getting married today, in beautiful New Orleans.  We were invited and I would happily have gone if I wasn't attending my first Masters today.  

I  told Alice it was not the best idea to get married during the third round of the Masters, to which she replied, "What's the Masters?"

Oh well.  Congrats to you and Dave!

Friday, April 9, 2010

In - flight update. I am at 30,000 feet, logged on via my iPod Touch and watching streaming coverage of the Masters. Amazing!

Georgia in the springtime (redux) . . .

On my way to Georgia this morning.  Tomorrow and Sunday I'll be attending the Masters, my first time ever, thanks to Barry.  

Here is the famed 12th hole:

I can hardly wait!  

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Seismic waves

Very amusing, especially to those of us in the Internet industry generally and working on the build-out of fiber networks specifically (not to mention my personal view of Twitter):

(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Really expensive Scrabble

This is pretty funny - you can play Scrabble on the iPad, and use your iPhone or iPod touch as the "holder" for your tiles:

On the other hand, this will set you back around $1,000.  It might be smarter to just buy the board game for $15.99.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Karen!

Today is Karen's b-day.  We'll have a nice dinner tonight, just the two of us, at a restaurant we haven't tried before.

Hope you have a great day! 

Love, me

Monday, April 5, 2010

A top-notch restaurant in Oakland

Saturday night we went with some friends to Camino in Oakland, a restaurant we had heard much about but not yet tried.  The result was superb - wonderful food, wonderful atmosphere.  Everything about this dinner was good, from watching the bartenders making elegant, classy drinks, to sitting close to the open kitchen with its roaring wood fire, to the perfect Acme bread with delicious butter and a little bowl of salt.

The menu changes daily - here is Saturday's:

We tried a lot of dishes from this menu and everything was delicious.  I had the grapefuit and radish salad to start - yum.  And then I went with the grilled sausage and pork loin, with savoy cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes and lentils.  Amazingly good.  We had similar results with all our other choices.

Yet the food is only half the success.  The ambience and the service were just right.  By the time we got to coffee and dessert, we were so pleased, we all decided that a return trip was well warranted.

It is no surprise that Camino is in the top 100 Bay area restaurants (just selected again for 2010).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to all!  

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A book recommendation

I've started a new book that is really, really well written.  The Surrendered, by Chang-Rae Lee, is a true character study, jumping between the Korean War and then into more modern times.  From what I have seen so far, it dives very deep into the ravages of war and how they last over a long period of time.

Lee is a very fine writer whom I have read a number of times before (Native Speaker, Aloft, A Gesture Life).  This latest book seems like it might be his best.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Two cars (no. 2)

If I don't get an all-electric car like the Nissan Leaf, I have found a good substitute.  I was stopped at a light the other day, right behind a very-sharp looking car.  On the back were the words "Qvale" and "Mangusta."  I had not heard of this, so I did a little research on this beauty:

The Mangusta was manufactured in Italy from 2000-2002, but sold primarily in the U.S.  Only about 275 were made, so they are quite a collector's item, but it turns out that used ones are fairly reasonably priced.  And best of all, they were made with a Ford Cobra engine, so they are easy to service.

I'm guessing the gas mileage on this V-8 is not too great, but it would really look good to drive.  Hmmm . . .. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Paris, here we come

It's nice to work for an international company.  I've just learned that I was selected for a 6-month rotation in Google's Paris office.  Karen and I will move there on June 1, staying until Christmas.  

One of the perks is getting to stay in the company's luxury apartment on the Champs Elysee.  

We are so excited!