Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Is it New Year's Yet?

Wow, this Christmas sure flew right by didn't it? Edward, Antonella, Mila, Rita, Hamish, Antonella's brothers, mother and girlfriends' were all there to celebrate. We had a serious game of Monopoly ate a great dinner of Cabbage Rolls, Mashed Potatoes and salad with Egg Nog pie for dessert. When it came time for the presents, we all gathered around as Ed distributed the gifts in a very Diplomatic and Democratic way. Everyone got some nice things to take home.Today, the weather is sunny and cold. The wind has picked up a little and it is supposed to rain on Friday. No one is here today at the CIA except for staff and a trickle of tourists.The maintenance department are upstairs in the Teaching Kitchen, polishing all the brass fittings on the French Bonnett Cooking Islands and blasting Mexican Ballads from Banda de Fiesta Radio.Some tunes are alright, but when the men start singing along, I want to lose it. The restaurant manager is walking around making sure that her customers are acknowledged. She is new, and I've noticed that most new employees ( managers or not ) are hyper-vigilant about their roles.One positive thing can be said about adhering to a facist regime... Trains run on time and stuff gets done.Now my question is, How much web surfing can one do in a day?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

it is Christmas

...and I just got off the phone to my brother, John. He has been playing Santa Claus for many years now and I suppose he is looking forward to tomorrow when he can hang the hat and red pajamas up in the closet for another year. His beard is the real deal however, and it seems to get longer and bushier all the time. He tells me he has given up trying to weed out any new crop of stray hairs that have appeared on his face. Next year,with a full white beard, moustache and eyebrows you won't be able to tell if he is pissed off ...even as he goes, " Ho, Ho, Ho... Merry Christmas! We had a nice chat reminiscing about adventures from another era.

This past birthday marked my fifth year at the Culinary Institute of America where I am the Concierge ( a French word for slave ). I stay on the job for two basic reasons... the insurance benefits are good, and it keeps a roof over my head. Most days I have only a minimum of crap to put up with; and as always, the food is great. When the weather is nice, I still ride my scooter to work and when it is cold, I drive my little Ford Potato . Hey, can it get any better than this?

I still like to draw, take pictures and make little movies. Usually on the days that are not that busy, I will end up doodling at my desk using a ballpoint or pencil. I have scanned a bunch of these doodles and have colorized some of them. When I get home, I upload them onto this here blog, and it makes me feel like I am at least using some of my creative abilities.

When I purchased my first Mac back in 97' I thought that I was going to be a lot more prolific, and have a lot more to show in terms of my Art work than what I've actually produced. Mostly, I have ended up buying more Mac stuff... l like Ipods, printers, scanners, external hard drives, ink cartridges, digital cameras and the like. It is fun, but I have spent a lot more digital "Stuff" than I thought needed since the time when I first ordered the old Power Computing Power Center 132 Mac Clone. Thankfully I have given away much of the old SCSSI based equipment to my friend Nick Towne, who is just getting into the game. My apartment is still so filled with computers and peripherals that my neighbors have taken to calling this place "Mac World".

My tenure as president of the Men’s Club at Our Lady of Perpetual Help ended in September and now I am secretary. It was a challenging position trying to organize and execute Parish Festivals, St. Patty’s Day Dinners, Crab Feeds, Monthly pot - lucks, but I am proud of myself for rising to the challenge. I only hope that we get some new blood there at the meetings because it looks like the same 15 guys do everything !!

Speaking of volunteering, I still assist with the Napa Valley Food Bank during the monthly pickup and distribution process. They let me have a couple of bags of groceries and I get to supervise the breakdown of the boxes each month before the locals come to get a few extra groceries to tide them over the tough times. I am truly glad that this was here for me when I was unemployed and finding few resources to keep me in the chips.

Now as 2008 approaches, I am looking at ways to improve my lot in life and make a contribution at the same time. Granted, sometimes "failing to plan" is "planning to fail," but little has served me better than just being still and affirming the values that have kept me happy from year to year. I still consider myself to be a work in progress, with plenty of room for improvement. So, here's to you my friends... praying that each and every one of you come to enjoy Peace and Happiness... everyday in every way.

Love and hugs

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Holiday Party

Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle bell... Rock ! Yes, it was a happy festive affair that took place in our barrel room here at the CIA. We had a variety of food stations to choose from ( Mexican, Japanese, American, Italian etc.) and there was a Martini bar and a wine bar for those that cared to imbibe. I stuck with my virgin fruit drink and seven up and watched as others sipped and swirled.We had a raffle for an assortment of prizes that included wine, some weekend resort packages,gift certificates and a grand prize of an IPhone and Ipod Nano! I wanted to win that, but my luck was not with me. I did go dancing, however. When I first got there I took a boat-load of pictures that will be turned into a slide show for the employees later on this month. Then I ate all the yummy food I could stomach.After that, I boogied till the cows cames came home, which was around 10PM. I danced with a lot women who really knew how to shake a tail feather ( whatever the heck that is supposed to mean ). Then I mosied (?) on down to my car in the freezing cold weather and drove home to my freezing cold apartment, and hopped into my freezing cold bed that did not get warm until my body heated up the freezing cold down comforters.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


I've told this story before, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people haven't heard it. So brace yourself. My good buddy Banteron from Boca Raton is about to tell it in his own unique way. Granted this guy is a little obnoxious, but try not to judge a book by it's cover. Certainly the good lord will hold a nice seat for you in the hereafter,if you don't mess up too much in the present. Ya hear?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ipod and Iphone Pranks

Okay, So you are stuck in traffic and the guy in the car next to you is yammering away on his new Iphone. You only have an Itouch, so how do you show him who is in control of the situation? There is a little application at that can take a sentence that you type in and make the text big enough for him to read... right off of your Ipod ! Maybe a sweet reminder to "Shut up and drive!" would be what you have in mind for this unconcious oaf. It may also be nice to have a few stored messages for flirtation purposes, if you happen to notice a nice young hostess who quickly assesses how cool you look... plunking out sweet nothings to flash at her from across the room.Of course now that you know about this gem,you have stolen my only pick-up manuever I had honed for the holidays.Oh well,you will thank me as you steer her away from that dweeb with the Iphone (even though he can use the same tatic ! )

Ain't Technology Grand?

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I have learned to Jott, Twitter and Blog and make QT movies and all that stuff, but it's usefulness still eludes me.Today I am trying to get my friend Dave to sign up for Jott so that he can use his new Iphone to blog. He probably has little interest in it, but at least I put it out there as an option for him. Information about us is floating around everywhere on the web and it will probably be with us long after we die. I said it before and I will say it again, " This is the most documented time there ever was in History". Who knows how long it will last? It scares me to think of the volumes of Drek that has been passed off as information. If you have a computer, cell phone or digital camera... You are a citizen journalist whether you want to admit it or not. This is the information age, and we keep pushing ahead at the speed of light.

Hey Dave, this is Chris....

Hey Dave, this is Chris. I am calling from my cell phone and I am calling to Jott. Jott will transcribe the message after it receives my voice mail, they will put it on website or rather my blog. It's a cool thing I think you should use it on your new iPhone, your cell phone. So, I hope you like it and pay attention to the video. Bye. listen

Powered by Jott

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fun with QT

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Quicktime Pro® and Photobooth® have a number of features that will allow you to tweak the videos you create... on the fly! I've used filters and distortion tools to add special effects that are easy and fun to use. Any kid with a web cam and some time on their hands can learn them fast and once they do... look out! It is a lot of fun to watch someone express their creative genius. Thankfully, we can also upload these quick flicks to sites like blip, blogger and youtube to showcase the many talents that are going to eventually be seen by people everywhere. More power to the videobloggers everywhere !

This is so slick

I am actually blogging from my Ipod touch. People complained
when these things first came out that you would not be able to
e-mail or post data to the web using this device. Au Contrare'
my friend. Although it may take a little longer to type and post the
message,it is indeed possible . I am beginning to wonder why I
bought a new Macbook , when all I really need to carry along with
me is my Itouch ... Sweet! Also, If you have a minute, Check out the
cute little video I have attached.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Drill Sargent

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Using Photobooth, I created a cartoon like video of a sargent in the army barking an order.Don't ask me why I have the little picture of a crow with a top hat there. I am just posting content as I create it.What does it all mean? I dunno. Anyway, although this blog has been going on for two plus years, I still don't know if there is a rhyme or reason to it. I just like to post stuff. The crow was probably posted before anyway.Repetition and consistency. Those seem to be themes that people adhere to after their fifties. You try to hang on because you are not sure what you should let go of..."Hear that soldier!?"

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dreading Winter

Right around the middle or late August, I start to think about the upcoming winter and how I am going to prepare for it. My car is on it's last legs and my only means of transport other than the local bus service and my bicycle is my motorscooter. So, when it rains, I take my car to work. Getting wet and cold is not my idea of a good time. I don't have the heat turned on in my apartment because of the cost. I have 2 down comforters on my bed to stay warm at night. I wear a knit cap to keep the heat from escaping my head at night. I purchased 2 pairs of long johns for the winter to keep my legs warm while driving my scooter on sunny days.So-d you get the ideathat when it comes to getting through the winter here,an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.My former girlfriend would tell me that it isn't the cold that causes flu symptoms and congestion.It's that the weather will predispose us to germs and infection. Go figure. I have been trying to ward off the stress that these winter months bring. Gee, I can hardly wait until daylight savings time !

Friday, November 23, 2007

Feeling Funky

Today is the day after Thanksgiving and I have been sick with a chest cold now for around 2 weeks. I cannot laugh or I am thrown into a coughing fit. My head and chest will ache if I could too much. I have taken expectorant and cough medicine now for around a week and it has only improved slightly. I just don't like bronchitis. It has been hanging on and hanging on. I got a flu shot at the end of October and thought that I would be protected to some degree.I have not taken any time off from work because I wouldn't know how to best spend my time, and would be spinning my wheels wondering what was going on at work.I have been trying to get more rest but it seems like the more rest I get the more I need. Hmmmm... I am going to stop by Cal-Mart and get some more medicine before I go home tonight. This sucks.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gratitude Day

As Thanksgiving approaches this year, I think about all the things that I have to be grateful for... all the help people have offered me over the years. People like Eric Swenson, Reid Bennett, Dave Keegan and Don Freeland. Without these guys I don't know where I would be. There have been many others too, who have assisted me when I didn't know where else to turn. My sisters Martha and Rita, my nephew Edward and my brother John. Family has always been there for me. I try to help others as much as I can, and lend a hand where it is most needed. Now is the time of year to reflect on all of these blessings. I hope to continue to learn to be of service to others, to give what I can, when I can. If you are reading this and you have made a difference in someone's life, count yourself among those who matter very much to me and those you have helped.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

November has arrived

Here it is the seventh already and it seems like I just looked at the calendar and seven days have already gone by ! Life happens as you are making other plans... for sure! I suspect that this is the bane of modern society and the internet, but that is another matter. The W.O.F. has packed up and and moved on for another year.It is like the circus came to town and in a New York second, moved on to to San Antonio.It is so peaceful right now, I can actually stand it! Standard Time ( or is it Daylight Savings ) has begun and it starts to get dark just after four pm. The days are growing shorter, the nights longer. Pretty soon it will be December 21st and we will be longing for the Spring Equinox. Tonight I am having dinner with Dieter Dopplefield CMC. He is a Master Chef and quite a character. We have made the reservations under the name Dr. Deiter Dopplefield so we hope that holds sway. Over the past two days, I have met with friends, purchased a new MacBook, saw "Into the Wild" and finished some rudimentary domestic chores like laundry. Yes, there is always laundry to do.Zen and the art of doing laundry

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Worlds of Flavor 07

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I am embarrassed by the fact that I did not get any pics or vids from the W.O.F. that were worth a crap. My camera lacks image stabilization and decent video capture capability.Truth be told, I was VERY busy and had to make myself available to the attendees of the conference so I had little or no time to take pictures. We had the top chefs from around Asia, who showcased thier recipes as many vendors provided the exotic and sublime ingredients that were prepared over the past couple of days. Martin Yan of " Yan can Cook" fame was there, as was Iron Chef Masahuru Mosimoto who flew across the country on a whirlwind familiarization/book signing tour. His KORIN knives were misplaced at one point back in BOSTON, but by the time he got to California he was ready to do what he does best. Steve Garfield ( of ) has a superb video of him being interviewed by Nina Simonds ( who is featured on her own podcast, "The Spices of Life" ). I know that ever since the advent of the food network that Culinary Art has entered another dimension. This past weekend was a testimony to that.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Only a test

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I would like to welcome Eric, Tara and my brother John to my Blogsite. This little journal was created about two years ago as a personal kvetching spot where I could post crap and blow off steam . Now it is easy to add video, audio and post pics as well. I am currently working at getting it to do special effects too. Today I plugged a in a dual port AV jack into my emac to create somewhat of an echo or radio voice. I bought it for three bucks at Radio Shack. Kinda cool, huh?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Back at Barneys

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It is Tuesday evening and I am here at my apartment in Calistoga, having gotten back from my sanctuary next to the St. Helena Library. The neat thing about this little picnic area is that it is also a hot spot where one is able to access the internet for free after hours.I've decided that I want to become some kind of citizen journalist using state of the art technology. I mean, I have enough know-how that I could teach this to others and start my own company. You know, how to take quicktime movies, how to over dub audio, how to add disk images and text to the presentations, how to do slide shows with special effects, etc. etc. This is what it means to be a "Mac-head". Anyway, Barneys is a nice little sanctuary for anyone wanting to have a clandestine type meeting that is off the beaten path a bit.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ana's Expose'

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Today was kind of rainy in the morning but soon cleared up a bit so that it was okay to keep the front door open with some fresh air coming into the building. My co- worker Ana, came through the Atrium to talk to me about her upcoming trip to Chile. Somehow the conversation came around to cameras and I was showing her the microphone that recorded voice when I took short Quicktime® movies. She and I both have Fuju FInepix® cameras. I think hers maybe something different than the # 3800 model that I have, even though the cameras look identical. She told me that she would bring hers in to compare. Anyway, I took a short movie of her to test the sound quality which is not all that great, but at least it records SOME audio. I modified the Quicktime® movie in Quicktime Pro® so that it does not appear as dark as it actually was inside the building. I cannot wait to have her see what I have posted to my blog when she stops by my desk tommorow... tee hee.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Something about the Beatles

Today is Monday and it usually means I sleep in because it is my day off. Today, I was awakened by the kids next door heading off to school. I recall how even on a Monday, I was alive and looking forward to what was coming that day as these kids were. I recall when the Beatles first hit the scene in 1964, I was Thirteen. They were quite foreign, but a very interesting phenomenon to behold watching the Ed Sullivan Show during those first "Live" broadcasts. My sisters liked them, but there were some girls that went absolutely bonkers for them. Beatlemania lasted well into our late teens with each album marking another stage of our development as a generation and as a culture. Today, I watched a video clip of them performing " You can't do that" on Ed Sullivan. It was quite emotional for me.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A Beautiful Fall Day

Today, I got off to a good start. I said my prayers and asked God for guidance and direction. I really wanted to be of service today and not just go on "automatic pilot" when meeting people who are visiting the Culinary Institute of America for the first time. I got along well with my co-workers as they prepared for the Conference that will be starting tommorow. The lunch today in our teaching kitchen was absolutely delicious, and everyone seemed to be on their game so to speak. At the end of the day I ended up drawing a picture that was a practice sketch for a tattoo I am designing for a friend. I am starting to get the hang of doing these type of designs and will probably to quite a few more of these rough drafts before I release one to be etched into someone's back.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

My new Ipod Touch

Okay, I shelled out $323. for my Ipod Touch, which I got mainly because of the WiFi aspect. I found out that I can go to the library after hours and surf to my heart's content from a bench outside.If I visit the Coffee Roastery in St. Helena I can do the same... all for Free ! and don't have to lug my laptop around (even though I love the mobility and versatility of that). Call me a gadget freak if you must, but having four Ipods that all work just fine makes me feel whole and complete. The music,movies and podcasts I download are all things that interest me personally and I listen to them on the road as I ride my scooter up and down the Napa Valley.My Etymotic earphones work so well because they fit snug, and yet I can still hear what may be going on around me. It is so much fun.Digital living has presented challenges to my consumption of traditional media content.Since my neighbors moved to another area, I can't get free cable TV anymore (Shhhhh !! ) So I pay for wireless internet access through an Earthlink DSL connection and download the shows I want to watch after work. All my Power Mac G4's are part of a network using the most recent 801.11n protocol. An airport express unit connected to my stereo allows me to play a list of songs and podcasts in Itunes on my stereo ! Soon, I will have a MacBook Pro with the new Leopard operating system.When this computer arrives, I will use it for my Photography,Scanning,Printing,CD/DVD,Quicktime Audio and Video projects.Hey,I love that I know how to use this technology to further expand my mind and creative ability.I finally have a life... an ILife !

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Time gone by

Wow! it is already the middle of September, and I haven't updated this blog ! Well, part of the reason is that my mind has been on other things. After a short vacation ( one week ) I had a little extra cash saved up, so I put in and order for an Apple Itouch. It looks just like a new Iphone only it doesn't have a camera or a phone (neither which are something I need). This device reminds me that a few years ago of an incident.I was stranded waiting for triple "A" to show up after my car spun out on a turn in the rain. I was stuck in the mud there, and practically every third car to drive by, stopped to lend assitance. The driver would walk up to my window and say, " Do you want me to call a tow truck?" I have my cell right here ! I must say that it warms the cockles of my heart to know that there are so many good Samaritans out there with cell phones... but I only needed one call to triple "A". Now keep in mind that this was at a time when just a few had cell phones. Not having one, I didn't particulary think that I would need one then. I still don't, and yet there is one in the back of my motorscooter for emergencies like that. I also have an answering machine, several Ipods, three computers, a DSL connection,two digital cameras, three ipods and I don't think i really need any of this stuff. It is just fun to have ( My idea of fun has changed over the years). I just recently got rid of three Apple computers, a scanner, two Epson printers, an electronic drawing pad, a Zip drive , a Jazz drive , two external hard drives, a CD burner and an several computer speakers.

Now I no longer have a Floppy Drive, and somehow that worries me !

Monday, September 03, 2007

Sundays are the best

I like Sundays because they are so mellow and I feel more relaxed on this day than any other day of the week. I call it my Friday, but even it wasn't the day before my day off, I would still like it. Wednesday's are kind of awesome too though. Okay, I started my comparative religion class and it is gettng off to a slow start. I am not all that jazzed about it just yet. I do want to explore an learn about other religions but I need some help. In a way, people gravitate towards certain principles which keep them locked into certan behaviors. That is why I am exploring these different religions. But shit, there is a whole boatload of reading to do. Our teacher, Kitty Maquire is a Stanford Alum with a Master's Degree. I have a bachelor's degree in art and realize that education moves things forward in this culture and the world. So much has happened in the world since the new milleneum, that it is as if time is on warp speed as we find ourselves being throw faster and faster into the future. No time to take time. Just do what you have to do, then move on...

What a life I tell you !

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Easy Street

It seems that Blogging is much easier than trying to post to my own website, although most of my art work can be found there. Luckily, I have linked my best photography and illustration work to the menu on the right.Recently, I have created designs that look good on t-shirts, posters, stickers, slideshows, wine bottles and other substrates.I am familiar enough with native graphic programs that I can now do pretty much anything digital, and burn it to a CD/DVD or upload it to a website. As the techonology improves, this process will get easier and easier as information refinement and transmission becomes more relevant.I absolutely love being in Communication with people, and to be part of a larger community. I am not one for isolation, except when what I want is Peace and Quiet. Admittedly, I do relish my privacy as I think most people do, but their has to be a balance. Tonight, I am attending my second class of " Comparative Religion" at the Napa Valley Junior College. We have to have a total of 10 enrolled students or the class gets dropped. My friend Dieter wants to go see the movie, " Hairspray "at the Cameo Theater. I may just join him in the event that the religion class doesn't fly.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Chips and Salsa after Barney's

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I started this blog behind the library in St. Helena, on Sunday evening after my date with Kitty Jackson. Now I am home trying to reflect on the week I have had off, and Today in particular. I started my vacation on August 20th by attending an "Insurance seminar" at the Culinary Institute which was a mandatory presentation about changes in our policy with regard to health maintenence.

The next day was the Train Town adventure which I already covered in my last blog. Earlier that day I helped stuff grocery bags and break boxes for the Food Bank which is a committment I have honored every third Tuesday for the past 5 years. I stopped volunteering after witnessng the chaos our local high school kids bring to the project, and I feel better working around mature adults, anyway.

Wednesday evening marked our monthly Men's Club dinner and meeting at Our lady of Perpetual Help Parish Hall. I am the current president and group leader. It is my job to call all the guys together and encourage their participation in maintaining and developing Church projects. We assure our local Catholic men unity and solidarity as we go forward building a healthy community. The meetings are every fourth wednesday of the month.This particular club meeting was all about coordinating volunteers for the Parish Festival which was held today (more about that later.)

Thursday morning, I went shopping at the Grocery Outlet ( bargain basement groceries), to keep myself well stocked with food during my time off. Later that day, I had lunch with my friend Reid who was back from working a trade show in Oklahoma where he promotes Flexiblocks, a building block toy he invented some years ago. He was happy to have a day off where we could just hang out together and go have lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant in western Santa Rosa. I sampled their Spring Rolls and Reid had a Rice and Beef Curry dish which did not agree with him later. Reid spent most of the time telling me about and operation he had to remove a blockage in his colon. Delightful lunchtime conversation wouldn't you say?

That night, I attended the first class of a Comparative Religion Class taught by my fellow parishoner and lector, Kitty Maguire. It is funny how these Kittys show up in my life. This one has an M.A. from Stanford, and is well-equipped to bring enlightenment and understanding to a broad subject.The discussions were so lively, that she drove off the campus leaving her coffee mug on top of her Chrysler ... which I help retrieve for extra credit points I am sure.

Yesterday, I went to the Les Amis Frerer picnic held every year up at Mt. La Salle to honor Christian Brothers and former Christian Brothers like myself. I brought my friend, Noreen Mulaney whose now-deceased brother, was a former religious in the Order. She enjoyed being introduced to most everyone and had a nice lunch and visit of the grounds . Later we took in the Mont La Salle Archives where we got to view memorabalia of the Western Provincilate. We saw old photographs of many Monks I have known over the years.Most all of these teachers have been buried in the cemetery there on the property.

I ended the day by helping the men's club set up the tents for two hours for the Parish Festival. This event was to take place the next day from one to six PM. Four of us guys banged the job out without much fanfare and I was glad to be home early.

Sunday, I did not feel like being particularly sociable, but upon entering the church for the 8 am mass, I discovered that the primary lector was late, which sequestored my preparation to do the first reading.Eventually, the scheduled lector showed at the last minute, so I did not have to "pinch-hit" so to speak. Kitty Maguire was the other reader, and she and I will be doing the readings next week anyway, so it gave me a brief oppurtunity to rehearse for that. After mass, I got back home, and all I wanted to do was to get some good coffee in me, and explore the digital world wirelessly on my Mac laptop. As I left home to hop on my scooter to head off to the Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company in St. Helena , I did not want to see my next door neighbor who was sure to invite me to his son Ceasar's sixth birthday party. I had wisely bought by a gift of a train whistle that was purchased at Train town earlier in the week. This would help to asuage some of the guilt I was sure to feel for not attending. His father, Raphael made a point of making sure my car was out of the car port so that they could set up chairs and tables for the Festivities. I am really not into Mexican Celibrations anymore, to tell you the truth. I don't care how many Pinatas or Mariachi bands you have. I am just not into it. I would rather spend the whole day drinking Iced Coffee at the Roasting Company and chatting up my sister Rita online than attempting to speak pigeon Spanish with my neighbors' neighbors. It turned out that this was not that much of a better plan though. I stuck around there until a little after four.

Then I drove my scooter over to the St. Helena Library, just to see if I could get wireless access outside of the building itself. I found out that I could, only after several vain attempts at uploading a quicktime movie from "Barney's Backyard" which is a spot with a small picnic table by the back parking lot. It was then I began to wonder if Kitty would remember to come at five.

I used the cell phone she gave me to call her, and discovered that I had deleted the number. I called her home number figuring she may have called my number to say she had made other plans or just forgot. I was truly grateful when she walked through the door of the Roasting Company after going back there to meet her. She even brought gifts with her! We changed our plans a little, after realizing that the movie would be letting out too late for her. So we opted to visit the Amigos Mexican Restaurant further down the block from the Cameo Theater (instead of seeing the movie,Hairspray).There, we got to enjoy a little appetizer and some lemonade. It was a joy to spend time with her and to catch up on her life. She recently told me about a treatment she received from her "Anatomist' who was able to alleviate some of the pain she has had with her hip. I was happy to see her in such good spirits.

When I returned home, I correctly discovered that the Birthday party was still going on and the car port area was still set up with tables, chairs, food, balloons, etc. Immediately, Raphael invited me over to have a plate of meat with pasta, beans and other fillers. Of course, helping them break it down and have a plate full of grub was only the neighborly thing to do. Now it is five o' clock in the morning, My car and motorcycle have been left outside, I can't sleep because of acid relflux, heartburn and indigestion and I have two days left on my vacation. Ahhh, the joys of taking a little time off.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Train Town

Today I went ot visit " Train Town" in Sonoma with my neighborhood pal, Alejandro Sanchez. He will be going into third grade this fall and enjoys watching Wrestling on channel 12. His favorite wrestler is a guy named, "Rey Mysterio" . As far as I can tell, this guy looks like a stuffed sausage in a spiderman outfit, but Alejandro digs his action. When noontime arrived we discovered that my relatives who we were supposed to meet, had already taken the train ride and were somewhere in Sonoma Square having lunch... So Alejandro and I went on the train ride, fed some goats and when the train pulled into the minature station, there were my relatives! It was just like the movies, i tell ya. We all decided to head over to my nephew, Edward's house in Napa for awhile. So after having a quick bite to eat there, Alejandro had to make it to soccer practise at 4PM, so I jammed back to Calistoga on the Silverado Trail via my scooter. All in all... I hope that it was an enjoyable adventure for my little friend.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Razor's edge

It is Saturday morning and I am just getting myself ready to head off to work. Today is another oppurtunity to get it right. I had a nice conversation with my program pal, Alphonse (not his real name). He is twenty years my senior, but I have some years on him as far as "The Program" goes. He works at the Vets home, and he is a Veteran of the Korean war. I find it difficult to write this blog, because I am couching some remarks with thoughts that he might end up reading this stuff.

At times, I think these petty concerns border on paranoia. Anyway, AL is a counselor there and he is a very affable fellow. It is easy to chat with him, and we both come from large families. He and I both were the baby boys in our respective families.We talked about our backgrounds and things that might be bothering us lately. Mostly, that we have a hard time trusting women, and that this is reoccuring theme that keeps playing itself out the lives of recovering alcoholic men. Were we scolded by domineering mothers that keep reappearing in our lives? It is especially difficult to reframe situations where we can just as easily be ourselves, but end up stuffing our emotions. Why must this difficulty surfacing ? More will be revealled in time, I am sure.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Modern, undelivered communication

This is the beginning of August, and the days seem to blend together this time of the year. It also makes me feel a certain longing for summers past. In many ways, Summer has always been filled with fun and excitement. Lately though, the long hot days have become rather monotonous and uninteresting. Admittedly, I've been giving into self-pity and resentment a little. I haven't heard from any family member in weeks, and that really pushes my buttons. As I kid, if I felt left out I would fly into a tirade.

All the members of my immediate family are older then me. All except for our eldest sister, have children. She and I have not been blessed in this way. My question is...Has the internet brought families closer together? To me, the answer is clearly No. The internet has created more emotional distance. Having access to one another is not the same as being in Communication with one another.I am going to leave this blog at this point to ponder what I have just written...

I do not know what my siblings and relatives are thinking. I don't really know what they are doing unless I call and ask them! (duh!) With email, I have come to expect that they will report to me anything that I need to know that would involve me (i.e. if someone is planning an event like a family gathering). Other than this, they can reach me via phone, cell-phone, Instant message, blog or snail mail.So many devices, so little time.

What if all of that were cut off ?

There have been long periods throughout modern history where family and friends have been kept separate from one another through no fault of their own. Without blaming someone for not being available, hasn't the occasional inaccessability of our loved-ones made us more irritated with modern communication devices? One can only imagine what the emotional climate would be if their ability to communicate was limited to a weekly post via pony express. Although I am holding out, I am still miffed that no one has bothered to call me.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Summer Highlight

I went to see the film "Ratatouille". I only wish that my friend Kitty would have gone with me to see it. I really loved how the film reached out to kids as well as adults. It was very accurate in it's depiction of chefs in the kitchen...especially a French Kitchen. I read that Thomas Keller actually was a consultant and advisor to some of the scripting. This helped maintain the film's authenticity. I learned a lot by watching this movie. Mostly, it confirmed what I have learned second-hand, by working at the C.I.A.

Today, I am back in the saddle so to speak.Even though it is Wednesday, It is my "Monday" and my spirits are up. The weather is beautiful outside. I look forward to meeting some of the new students from ACAP and Baking and Pastry. It looks like the parking lot is close to spilling over again.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Cool Summer Day

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It's Friday and I am ready to head off to work. It has been a little while since my last blog, so I figured that I could bang this one out in a hurry. My job has been lots of fun lately. I really like it when it gets busy with many visitors who come from all parts of the world. We are having a whole boatload of new students coming in this week too.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Trying and creating

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Creativity... what a concept. Some think of the computer as a tool for creativity. In many ways it has become something that asuages creativity. I am not saying that the creative process has to be hard, but when something/anything gets banged out in a short period of time, it makes me think that one has acquired a minimal return of satisfaction on the result produced.Something else is going on here. A quickening process that usurps the appreciation of the value created. It's a tough call. The picture I use as a thumbnail usually has little or nothing in common with the content of the videos. I am trying to pull all my creative pursuits together into one.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Romance to the core

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Lately, I have been looking at how much Apple has seduced me with their products. I am on a budget and have to be careful when it comes to making new purchases. As much as I have convinced myself that anything I acquire in the computer realm is an investment, I am sometimes deluding myself. After a third Ipod purchase, I realized that I don't need these things and am just lusting after something cool. The interesting thing though is that Apple products are superior, and it is a little scarey how much I desire them. Now with a week gone by after the IPhone's release, I am still haning on to my wallet and keeping my ear to the ground waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

July the third

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Ah yes... the day before independence day, 2007. It is hot and I am going shopping and then for a run with Don. Isn't that exciting? Anyway, I continue to do this blog because it is kind of like the diary I never kept as a kid. It would be nice to have a dialog with someone, however. Care to comment on this site? Don't be a chicken, I will probably respond !

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Fourth is coming !

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Oh, how I love a parade. Especially on my day off, which I will earn an extra one on Next Wednesday. This means that I will have my regular days off which will be Monday and Tuesday, and an extra day off on Wednesday! However, it is my guess is that a lot of people who have "weekends' off , will decide on an extra two days by taking Monday and Tuesday as vacation days. I can smell this one coming. Anyway, I don't mind. I really don't. There is no way to get screwed next week, so enjoy it !

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Nonsensical Day

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My mother would occasionally let us take a day off from school. She liked to call it a "nonsensical day". Usually, we would start out by faking that we were sick and for some reason, moms know when their kid is bluffing. I would produce a weak little cough and say, "Mom, I think I'm sick". She would tell us to go back to bed but after the other kids had left the house she would tell us to get dressed. She would then take us to a movie or on a drive to someplace we hadn't been before. I was always thankfull for these special day with her. She would not let us take advantage of them, but if we played our cards right we would get maybe one a year.She is gone now, but today I am taking a non-sensical day off. I will probably run with my friend, Don and then go soak in a hot tub. I may even produce some new art work . The day is beautiful and the world is my oyster.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Never Better !

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Today am actively choosing a positive mood. The video will attest to this. I am especially proud of the fact that I am able to put together a wireless home network. Although admittedly, It was a successful endeavor after only seven attempts this time. The computer is teaching me to be patient and methodical. Everything is step by step and then wait. I intend to reward myself with a new duo core Mac Mini for proving to myself that I can handle the technnology. Visual sequencing has never been an easy thing for me. I will jump ahead a step if I think I can get away with it. As absurd as this may seem to anyone ( myself included ) I will still get frustrated. I am only human.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Care to comment?

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Okay, I am not looking to see a top-ten list of our worst blunders as humans or even your favorite dish (although that might be nice). All I would like would be a short comment to let me know that you came by to visit this blog. I just want to see if this thing actually works. It won't let me comment on my own blog, and so far I think perhaps two of my friends have actually visited this blog, which may say something about my popularity quotient. But that being what it is, I still would love to see if ANYONE has come to visit this site. Thank you, and bless your pea pickn' heart !

Thursday, May 31, 2007

...But seriously

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As much as we like to think that we are the center of our universe, there are a lot of other factors that may lead us to sense that it is just the opposite.Perhaps we are just a speck on the wide screen display of life. Today feels like the movie "Ground Hog Day" inasmuch as their is a certain deja vu quality that pervades the day. It seems like everyone is just going through the motions.Repeating patterns and expressions that have become so ingrained in their everyday lives.I went to the cafe at my regular time to fetch my standard cup of Major Dickenson's Blend of Peet's Coffee adding just the right amount of half and half to get that quasi-mocha look that is so appetizing.The illusion that eveything is going along so smoothly, gets me thinking that a major event is right around the corner.I will keep you posted as the anticipation builds!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Offending the Almighty

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Intellectually speaking, some people like to make a parlor game out of challenging the belief systems of others. I happen to think this is a dangerous and foolhearty. Although Socratic discourse would have it that we would question the position that others take in order to get at the truth of the matter. Any good attorney will tell you never to pose a question that you don't already know the answer to; without risking losing an argument. I would propose that there are things in this world that we really don't know the answer to, that are better left unchallenged.Things that are easily intellectualized and trivialized because there is little or no supporting evidence to their existence. "Somewhat sad are those that have knowledge that extends beyond question of daily bread." Gottfried Keller

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Haircut day

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Occasionally, I will cut my own hair. For some, this can be quite a traumatic experience. I recall giving myself my first haircut at the age of six. Since that time, I generally have gone to have a barber or stylist do the job. Last year, I purchased a set of clippers just to keep my hair trimmed. Since then I have taken it upon myself to cut my own hair. Given that the kit comes with three levels of trimmers, I stick to the tallest comb attachment so as to begin conservatively cutting the sides and back of my head. This procedure is a different approach than the "mangey-dog look " I gave myself as a six year old. Sometimes, I will take a piece of scotch tape and put it across the back of my neck to get a straight line to keep the look even as i trim along the back. The only downside to this whole exercise is that the hair particles end up everywhere except in the sink or toilet where I end up depositing all of the excess. Most of all, they end up down the back of my neck, and if I am wearing a t- shirt, I will have to take it off and toss it in the laundry. Otherwise, I turn into a thirteenth-century, penitent monk. I think you get my drift. ...Less

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Settling in...staying happy

Some would say that it is not a good idea to get too comfortable with your situation, whatever it is... because everything is subject to change.I recall how uneasy I was when I went away to boarding school in the sixth grade.It was only after three years did i actually feel safer and better known. In the meantime, I was too busy kissing up to the Christian Brothers, so that I wouldn't get yelled at; Or worse, swatted on the bottom with a two by four. I have been here at Greystone almost four and a half years, and I times it seems like the other shoe is about to drop. Is it a good idea to remain a little bit "paranoid" ? Today is Mother's day, and it went exceedingly well for myself and my co-workers. The cooking demo went without a hitch and everyone was pleased with the results of the Steam-Roasted Pork w/Ginger Miso and steamed asparagus w/sesame dressing that I was suprised at how well it was received. This month is Asian cuisine month. Next month we will be featuring Spain.Okay, now it is the following Wednesday, and it is around 4PM in the afternoon. The board of directors is here, so everyone is "high tone". I guess that means we get a raise if we happen to please somone walking by...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Banteron is back

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Yes, it is a vey hot May day here in Calistoga, but Banteron insisted that this weather is normal for folks down in the mouth of the Rat ( Boca Raton). He pretends to enjoy the great outdoors, but I think he is sensitive to the light which accounts for his sunglasses. His skin is very light, which makes me doubt his apparent Hispanic/Cubano accent. He seems ... oh so... "Street" so I would never question his authenticity. He might take issue with it , and call me a racist pig. But hey, aren't we all a little short-sided when it comes to other cultures? Anyway, we have a lot to learn in this age of mulitnational, multitasking, corporate automatons. Heck, if you are trying to be politically correct it is best to remember that charity begins at home.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day, May Day !

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Today, I discovered Jott. It was described on Rocketboom and it is free, and since I have the necessary cell phone that I should subscribe to it (watch the video to learn more ). Anyway, I promised that I would talk about Scooter Rosa, which took place on Sunday. I stayed around the apartment all day today however, drinking water and eating yogurt ( because I had a bad case of the Hershey squirts ). But the afterglow of Scooter Rosa is still alive. A group of about 60 scooters headed out on a ride around the whole perameter of the city and ended up back at Railroad Square for a picnic. A few bands played and there was plenty to do besides stand around talking about motor scooters. Kids played twirling hula hoops, tossing giant beach balls and playing with balloons. There was plenty of BBQ and cold drinks to be had too. The highlight of the day for me was the "Slow Scooter Race" where the winner was the finalist who could drive their scooter the slowest over a stretch of about 200 feet without touching thier feet to the ground. It was a challenge and a lot of fun to even participate. I lost at my heat, but glad I had such a great time overall.

Monday, April 30, 2007

oh my aching stomach !

I have been feeling nausea since I came back from the Scooter Rosa event in Santa Rosa. It wasn't the ride, it was something I ate. I think it may have been an artichoke or perhaps some bad cheese. I haven't been able to leave my apartment since I got together with Don and Pat today for lunch. I had a Mexican salad, but I was already feeling slightly nauseous when I went out to lunch with them, but I thought it would pass. I ate the salad just to be polite but I really wasn't hungry. They both enjoyed their meal at Miguels. It is a local restaurant that one of the CIA chefs recommended. In fact, Deiter who is a certified master chef took me there one night for dinner. It was great. But when I got back home today, I have been drinking water and going to the bathroom every five minutes. I hope this thing passes cause it is really horrible. Scooter Rosa was a blast. I will probably write more about it when I can get things back together. To be continued...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Thumb torque

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I don't know how i did it, but the base of my thumb joint is really sore. I am thinking it may be job related. I am going to buy a support brace to stabalize it and try not to aggravate it any worse than it is. This week is the Baking and Pastry Conference and I will need to be on my game. Usually Conference attendees can be pretty demanding, but we just kill them with kindness and offer them the best of our hospitality for which the CIA is well known. Yesterday was my sister Rita's birthday and I want to wish her a very happy one.My co-worker and supervisor, Desi has warned me "Never to question her authority". I think she was semi-serious but am not certain. If she was serious, I would have to counter that with " I will never question you authority if you agree not to doubt my intelligence !" too-shay, oh-tay !

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Yesterday I went and drove my scoot to the City to attend "Web 2.0" at the Moscone Center. I got lucky by finding a good parking place right across the street from the conference. I don' t know really what I was hoping to find, but it did sound kind of interesting. I listened to the keynote speakers that morning and got a free breakfast, basically. The speakers said that only 4% of the people using the internet contribute anything in the way of content. Most people are just satisfied surfing the net, really. I like to learn about contributing content because I like the idea that something I am writing is being documented even if only for myself. I can go back later and see what I have been up to as the months role by. Well the conference was going on most of the day, but I decided to cut out around 3pm and drive back across the Golden Gate all the back to Calistoga. That was the windiest and most difficult ride I have done yet. I was almost blown from lane to lane as I was hanging on for dear life. Someone almost ran me off the road when they got impatient and drove right past me... in the same lane ! I was pissed, but there was not really anything I could do. I don't think I will be going down to the city on my scooter anytime soon.Sometimes I wonder how many "legal" drivers we have in California.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


It has been said that " What you don't know, can't hurt you." I disagree... It's NOT what you don't know that can hurt you, it is what you DO know that I'SNT SO ! Besides, admitting that you don't know is like having "Beginner's mind" in Buddhist teaching.
But is not knowing ANYTHING, the same as knowing NOTHING? That last sentance reminds me of a joke that my sister Tara's husband, Michael told me a long time ago about a Buddhist priest that went up to a hot dog vendor in New York and when the vendor asked what he would like, the Buddhist priest said that he would like, " One with Everything"... Get it? One with EVERYTHING? Yea,right. Anyway, Bertrand Russell the philosopher, had it right. He said that "No- thing was a thing." Well if that doesn't beat all.Anyway, it is Friday and I am dog tired after a long week of working with people. Today is my "hump day" as I have two more days to go before I get to take two days off. This week was good news and bad news. The good news is that my friend Reid's wife, Jenny... had a baby boy... yet to be named. The bad news is that my friend Don's wife, Patricia has had a brain tumor removed and she won't ever be the same again. I pray for them both, as this is not going to be easy for them.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

My Wired Persona

I don't know what to make of myself. Here i have garnered some Hospitality,Computer and Artistic skills and I have no idea where I want to go with them. I do my best to be of service to people where I work, where I play and where I worship. I drink coffee (two cups a day) to regulate my energy level and to regulate... well, you know. So I guess you could say that I am a wired guy.To create this picture of me on the cover of WIRED magazine I went to a promotional site : uploaded a scarey picture of myself. Then I thought of some gag headlines and they did the rest. Pretty kewl, huh? Anyway, I thought this would be a dynamite pic for my blog.

Wake Up !

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It is Springtime 2007 and it has arrived early this year. Already I have renewed my allergy prescriptions ( i.e. eyedrops, nasal medicine and allegra ). With this global warming thing, the prediction is that the pollen count will be very heavy this year. Who knows what the future will bring, but I don't discount Al Gore's premise in " An Inconvenient Truth". It will be nice to ride my scooter around though, because the bugs haven't taken over quite yet. It is usually at dusk when they come out in droves. Nothing a wet washcloth wouldn't be able to clean up, however. It's fun tooling around the valley, breathing fresh air and listening to my Itunes all the while. This is definitely better than an "e-ride at Disneyland".

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sketching and reflecting

Today, I worked and sketched and worked and... it seams that so long as it stays rather quiet at the CIA, I will be able to upgrade my drawing skills. It is a wonderful therapy and people who come by the concierge desk will compliment me. Later on in the day we set up for a wedding. This means I have to take down the computer, put the phone away and stand out front and act like a host as the guests arrive. This is fun, because I like seeing people all dressed up with thier families and friends in a good mood. That is what working at the CIA is all about for me. Tomorrow i do the cameras at the cooking demo and generally have a nice mellow work day. I love coming to work and watching as the weeks go by. Time has never gone by as swiftly as it has since the new milleneum, but then again it has never gone by so smoothly. The changing seasons and what i choose to do with my life has been on a pretty even keil these last couple of years.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Corn Beef, Cabbage and Blarney

Last night was the annual Corn Beef and Cabbage Dinner at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church where I am currently president of the Men's Club who is sponsoring this event. I was very pleased at the turn out and participation of the members of not only the men's club, but women of the parish who came forward to assist in making this event a success. Most of the crowd was over 60, but more like "18" in vitality. The evening kicked off with a cocktail hour from 5:30 to 6:30 PM as many of the guests arrived on time to fellowship with their fellow parishoners. A beautiful rendition of "Danny Boy" was sung by Alice Costello, amazing stories and Jokes were told by Laverne and prizes were raffled off as the evening moved alone. Some terrific wine and cakes were won by a whole assortment of people who bought raffle tickets. The grand prize was an autographed picture of Joe Montana being inducted into the Football Hall of Fame which was donated by Joe Sr. Lenny and Sonia Murphy won that one, and Lenny informed us that he also has in his possession an autographed "baseball" of Joe Montana which in itself is quite a rarity. Millie Hunt was enjoying her dinner too, and happened to mention that her 93rd birthday would be celebrated on the following Saturday. The chefs and helpers should also be mentioned here... A Big Thank You goes out to Don Williams, Joe Birleffi, Ruben Garcia, Ron Mashburn, Marcia Stagnaro, Pat McBride, Patty and Bill McMahon, Kitty McGuire, Ray Davies, Rich Holston, Rosemary ( our favorite waitress ) and anyone else that made this a very happy event. One sad note though, at the end of the evening, Ricki, who had rode her bike to the event had taken a fall afterwards and ended up with some broken bones. A new parishoner by the name of Nicole, rode with her to the hospital to make sure she was cared for; This really was inspiring to have a newcomer take action like that, and we will keep them both in our best thoughts and prayers.