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December 2008

Rubicon Estate Winery


When in northern California always good to take a day to go to Napa and visit a winery: Francis Ford Coppola's Rubicon Estate Winery.

A bit of background: this is one of two wineries Coppola owns. The other one, a bit away, makes all the Coppola wines that retail everywhere. Rubicon Estate is a small, almost boutique, winery that specializes in high-end wines... the 2006 Cabernet Franc, the 2005 CASK Cabernet Sauvignon and 2004 Rubicon are three of the best Reds I have ever had! The estate has a long history, starting in the late 1800's with a Sea Captain named Gustave Niebaum and includes being broken up as part of the Inglenook/ Heublein conglomerate. All that before Mr. Coppola took some of the money from his "other career" to bind the Estate back together and start producing superb wine again. His personal residence is hidden away in the back of the property, unseen by us interlopers.

The restored Inglenook Chateau (main Estate building)11_08 rubicon winery bldg

Stained glass honoring Niebaum and Coppola joining
11_08 rubicon winery stain glass2

11_08 rubicon scenic away from winery

Back of estate looking towards Coppola residence
11_08 rubicon winery back of winery scenic

Reflecting Pond and Fountain at entrance: sunset
11_08 rubicon winery pool and fountain

11_08 rubicon winery water leaf and grapes

11_08 rubicon winery rose 1

Wine storage area in Chateau
11_08 rubicon winery wine cellar

11_08 rubicon winery water feature close

Looking out over winery through second story window
11_08 rubicon winery view through a window

Glimpses of a Thanksgiving Dinner

November 27, 2008; Benicia, California; on into the evening:

The Traditional Making of the Monkey Bread
1-11_08 making monkey bread

Preparing the table
2- 11_08 preparing the table

Waiting for Dinner
3. 11_08 waiting for dinner

Slicing of the Bird, with Observer
4- 11_08 slicing the bird with supervision

Waiting for Dinner
Subtitle 1: A Nice Portrait
Subtitle 2: Enough already, put down the stupid camera so we can get to the eating! 
5- 11_08 waiting for dinner2

After Dinner Recap
("And I cannot believe, right in the middle of dinner
and with everyone sitting there, he said...")
6- 11_08 recap call  

A Day at the Embarcadero

The Embarcadero at San Diego.

OK, let's start with a definition, I mean what the heck is an Embarcadero? There is one in San Francisco, there is one in San Diego... is it a Spanish term, is it a word fraught with great meaning? No, actually it is merely "a pier or wharf, especially a waterfront section that's been commercially developed." Big Deal.

So my day at the Embarcadero started out the way all the other days in San Diego have started: gray. The fog rolled in, bringing a grayness to everything it touched. Eventually the fog burned off but remnants still hung around.

There is a great big ship behind that little boat, lost in the fog...

11_08 boat in gray harbor

Buildings disappeared into the fog.

11_08 buidling disappearing in fog

It didn't help that a majority of the ships are US Navy... battleship gray. Even the ever- present gulls took on a gray tint.

11-08 seagull

A boat named Walk? Or maybe it means you would be better off walking.

11_08 boat walk

Rush Hour in San Diego...

11_08 rush hour

What would a waterfront be without couples necking?
(the statue is actually about 30' high)

11_08 necking on the beach

On into the evening, and the obligatory sunset over water image.

11_08 harbor sunset

Very strange.
 11_08 kaliedescope 1 11_08 kaliedescope 2

(A bit of explanation: all along the embarcadero are works of art, mostly stylized creations standing 7 or more feet high. One is an interactive piece: a giant kaleidoscope that has several knobs that can adjust the image. These were shot through it.)

Across the water, in the Naval shipyard, a modern-day super carrier, CVN-68, USS Nimitz, is moored.11_08 number 68

Charging into San Diego

'Flew to San Diego today to work with a new Manager and District Manager, teaching them to love our technology, or at least tolerate it. Up at 3:30am, leave for the airport at 4:30, get through security and to the gate... only to find out that the San Diego airport is closed due to fog. Evidently commercial pilots can't land when visibility is down to 1/8 mile.

Sat, and stood and paced and yawned, around the Phoenix airport for a tick over three hours waiting for San Diego to stop being foggy. Finally got on the 50 minute flight to San Diego... extended by 15 minutes because we had to circle waiting for other traffic to clear.

The city could best be described as a universal bright chrome gray: the sun was shining but everything had a grayish tint (instead of the normal San Diego brown). Some of the locals said it was fog, some said it was smoke from big brother burning up north. A happy offshot was a really nice sunset this evening.

Otay Mesa Sunset 1

Otay Mesa Sunset 2

The Holiday Inn Express I am at is in the oddly named town of Otay Mesa (sounds like something from the Little Rascals... "Otay, Buckwheat") that is also distinguished by being, literally, at the Mexican- US border. So here is a picture of a foreign country:
Mexico at the border   


Last Election humor, I swear. I heard this on TV last night.

John McCain says he has been sleeping like a baby since the election:

Sleep 2 hours
Wake up and cry
Sleep 2 hours
Wake up and cry
Sleep two hours
Wake up and cry

Talk about bad timing...

A little background: we did a lot of business with DHL, shipping stuff hither and yon around the country until just last Friday switching to UPS. 

Here is the story:

As a heavy DHL user, I got an e-mail from DHL yesterday afternoon entitled  "Come and find out what's really going on." It directed me to the website Going there gets you to a nicely done site that talks about all the improvements DHL is making, including improving their services. Obviously an attempt to counteract negative press from their 18% cutback a while back and the John McCain debacle about the DHL airport in Ohio.

Here is a quote from the website:

The restructuring of the DHL operation in the U.S. will enable us to provide a greater range of valuable international services within the country. These are improvements that will come online immediately or within the 1st quarter of 2009.

  • We will now be able to promise the earliest delivery and latest pick up times of any international courier to and from the 16 key metros in the States.
  • With the launch of Economy Select International we will introduce our first deferred international product for global customers.
  • New Time Definite international products are to be unveiled including 9 am and 12 pm overnight services to the U.S.

As we look to the future in the U.S. our goal is to deliver, in time, an enhanced international portfolio of products.

Sounds good, right? You think they may have forgotten one little detail, that is buried in the back of the website?

Here is the headline in this morning's Business section of the Arizona Republic, less than 24 hours later:

DHL to cut U.S. service, jobs by the end of January

DHL surrenders to rivals, will end most U.S. service and lay off 9,500, including 736 in Scottsdale.

Look's like someone forgot to tell the web builders that they might want to mention, in a slightly more obvious way, that they were cutting out almost all domestic services!!

First Fire!


FINALLY... a chill in the air made for the first fire of the season last night.

It got downright cool (for Phoenix): all the way down to 50 degrees!! The chill brought on the renewal of a grand tradition: sitting around the chimenea and talking late into the evening, interspersed with polite arguments about who is going to poke the fire when and how vigorously.

After an unusual warm spell, things are finally starting to cool off. In a month we will all be complaining about how cool it is at night and wishing for a return of warm evenings, forgetting how miserable Arizona can be in the summer!