Monday, December 31, 2007

Come closer. Over here. I have a very important question for you. (whisper)....how's your colon?

It's New Years Eve and in a few hours it will be 2008. I know this isn't the best time to talk about heavy, serious issues, but I have to. As a responsible blogger, I sometimes need to ask the really tough questions, so here goes. How is your colon? When was the last time you thought about it? When was the last time that a medical professional looked at it? As we get older, guys (post-45) our colon becomes more important. That's why the first quarter of 2008 might be an ideal time to consider a colon cleanse. I'm doing one right around midnight. Care to join me?

Friday, December 28, 2007

This Week's Restaurant Review: Ristorante Venticello in SF


I am half Italian and half Irish, which means I can never be in the Mafia. It also means that I love great Italian food. I don’t want to diss Irish food, but let’s put it this way. Comparing the two cuisines is like comparing the Italian Painter Da Vinci to his Irish counterpart, a guy named Paul Henry. Paul who, you ask? Exactly.

And as I have written in many of my past reviews, I truly believe that Italy has produced the finest cuisine in the history of mankind. People can make arguments for each and every culture’s food -- Asian, Spanish, Mexican, German, British, American, Portuguese, Russian -- every country has some amazing traditional dishes that they have been passed down through the ages and each is arguably superior to the next.

We all have differing opinions based on what we grew up eating. But, when you talk about Italian food, you’re talking about the whole package – the passion, the preparation, the stories behind the cuisine – I have always said that there is only one thing Italians like to do as much as eat. And that’s talking about eating.

With that diatribe complete, I want to tell you about an Italian restaurant in San Francisco that represents everything that makes the food from this little boot-shaped peninsula the King of Cuisine. It’s called Venticello Ristorante (1257 Taylor Street @ Washington, SF, CA 94108; Phone: (415) 922-2545. Web site: http://www.venticello.com/) We were there the other night and I’m still salivating.

Tucked away atop Nob Hill, Venticello Ristorante is a quaint little spot with a wood burning oven and fantastic views of the bay. The look that they’re going for, according to the server we talked to, is Tuscan farmhouse. And since I’ve never been to Tuscany, I’ll have to take their word for it. You’ll get a warm, intimate feeling from the minute you walk through the door. If you’re looking for a romantic place, Venticello fits the bill.

The menu is varied and features primarily Northern Italian cuisine. For our antipasti, we had the Melanzane Ripiene ($9), two grilled eggplant rolls with ricotta and mascarpone in a marinara sauce; and the Portobello Con Polenta ($7), a wood oven roasted whole Italian field mushroom over soft polenta. The eggplant rolls were fresh and rich while the Portobello mushroom was earthy and hearty. Both were highly memorable and kicked off our meal magnificently.

For our main courses we ordered Gnocchi Ai Funghi ($17), potato dumplings in a mushroom sauce with gorgonzola; and the Maiale E Balsamico ($23), grilled pork tenderloin medallions with balsamic rum syrup. The gnocchi was homemade and divine and the sauce that accompanied the pork was like nothing we’d ever had. Unbelievable!

Other items we want to try the next time we visit Venticello include the Fettucine Con Salsiccia ($17), fettucine in a creamy fennel seed and sausage meat sauce; Agnello Ai Ferri Con Salsa Di Funghi ($25), rosemary marinated grilled lamb tenderloins with a sweet mushroom Chianti sauce; and Risotto Alla Zafferano Con Scampi ($19), a saffron risotto with basil and tiger shrimp.

Venticello has an extensive wine list. They know their vino, so ask them what will go well with your meal and they’ll be happy suggest wines from different price ranges. Speaking of prices, the food here is very reasonably priced, when compared to other great restaurants in San Francisco offering comparable faire. And the staff at Venticello is professional and the service is excellent.

I love everything about Italian food and Venticello has some of the best in town. Go there soon and you won’t be disappointed. That I can guarantee.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Tiger That Stole Christmas

We were going to visit the San Francisco Zoo yesterday. I’m not kidding. We’re members of the zoo and pay an annual membership fee so that we can go there whenever we want. Christmas is normally a perfect day to go there, because the place is usually empty.
San Francisco has a great zoo, not as good as the Central Park Zoo in New York City or the San Diego Zoo, but it’s still a decent zoo that has been improving its appearance and adding new exhibits over the last decade.
Well, I am happy we decided to stay home yesterday. Otherwise, I could have ended up as Christmas dinner for a Tiger. What a way to go.
Here’s the story, compliments of SFgate.com:
The same tiger that attacked and mauled a trainer at the San Francisco Zoo last year, attacked and killed one man and seriously injured two more after escaping its pen on Christmas Day.
“Tatiana,” the 350-pound Siberian tiger, managed to escape its cage shortly after 5:00 p.m. and then attacked a man in his 20s who was standing near the tiger exhibit.
The tiger then attacked at least two other visitors to the San Francisco Zoo before being shot and killed by police.
The zoo is closed today as officials try to figure out what went wrong. They also want to conduct a thorough sweep of the grounds during daylight. They said additional victims aren’t likely. They are still uncertain how long the tiger was loose before she was killed by police.
The zoo had five tigers at the zoo – three Sumatrans and two Siberians. Officials initially worried that four tigers had escaped, but found out quickly that Tatiana was the only tiger on the loose.
The three men who were attacked by Tatiana suffered “pretty aggressive marks” SF Police spokesman Steve Mannina said. The two injured men are in critical but stable condition at San Francisco General Hospital after undergoing surgery to have their wounds cleaned and closed, authorities said. They suffered deep bites and claw cuts on their heads, necks, arms and legs.
The zoo’s director of animal care and conservation, Robert Jenkins, could not explain how Tatiana escaped. The tiger’s enclosure is surrounded by a 15-foor-wide and 20-foot-high-walls, and the big cat did not exit through an open door, he said.
“There is no way out through the door,” Jenkins said. “The animal appears to have climbed or otherwise leaped out of the enclosure.”
This incident opens up a whole controversial can of worms. Many people are mourning more for the tiger than for the man who was killed. The whole moral dilemma surrounding the entire concept of keeping animals captive in zoos is up for discussion.
My take on it is this – we risk incidents like these when we take animals out of the wild and put them in a zoo. I feel equally bad for both Tatiana and for the man who was killed. It is a horrific incident, especially on Christmas.
But, I don’t think zoos are to blame here. The San Francisco Zoo, for instance, does an enormous amount of conservation work and raises tons of money for the protection of endangered species and for helping to save their environments. When people see these animals in zoos, they’re more likely to become involved in efforts to save and protect them. Where else can they go to see these exotic animals? Last time I was in the Castro, I didn’t see any tigers. (I did spot a couple of bears, but that’s a whole different story.)
So, don’t blame the zoo. And you surely can’t blame the tiger. It’s just a very unfortunate incident that ruined Christmas for a lot of people.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Wow! Wetpaint is Wiki Wonderful!

There is a new cutting edge web site that I recently discovered that allows users to create and contribute to a wiki. It’s called www.wetpaint.com, and it is gaining huge attention from the media and online users alike. Created in 2005, this Seattle-based company is backed by big names – Trinity Ventures and Frazier Technology Ventures – so you know that there must be some viable reason for all the big-time buzz. In three easy steps, anyone with even limited tech knowledge can create a wiki in no time. The service has a lot of the identical features that you’ll find on message boards, social networks and blogs. The idea is that blogs are good (and extremely popular right now), but they’re limiting, primarily because they’re too hard to search. And wikis are proven to be great, but the problem with them is that even though the reader can become the editor, writer and fact-checker, the cold hard truth is that they’re too technical and involved for the non-high-tech people of the world. Let’s say you want to find out everything you can about Koi. You know, the beautiful gold fish-looking carp who reside in beautiful Japanese ponds? Sure, there are a ton of different blogs with information about Koi, but unless you can effectively do a search of blogs (which is tough), you are not going to be able to access the information you need. If you have a lot of very specific questions, like what is the best food to feed Koi during the Winter, or where can the very finest Koi be found, you’re going to have a hard time navigating through the world wide web and accessing the appropriate information that you are in need of in order to answer your very targeted and specific questions. But, with a wiki, you can get those specific answers and with Wetpaint you can find those wikis that will take you where you need to be. There’s nothing like Wetpaint! Wetpaint allows anyone with a hobby or interest – whether it be the arts, entertainment, education, gaming, hobbyist, games, lifestyles, music – you name it and you can do a wiki for it, and Wetpaint will help take you exactly where you want to be. You can build a brand new web site and tap into the Wikipedia universe with Wetpaint. Adding to a Wetpaint site is as easy as clicking and typing. It makes it simpler than ever to share ideas, solve problems and find individuals out three who share your passions and interests in a wide variety of different subjects.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Amazing New World of Condos

You would not believe all of the offers that are out there right now for condos for sale. There is a web site that I found called http://www.prodigynetwork.com/. They feature condo hotels, regular condos, resales and purchases of some of the finest condos in places like New York, Panama, Mexico and Florida. These are great investments because they will always be coveted. They're also ideal for people who don't want to have large yards and big houses to take care of. With spectacular views, all of the finest luxuries and amenities in the world, condos are HOTTER than ever!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's His Birthday, for Christ's Sake!


Santa Claus has stolen the limelight from Jesus on his birthday and it's just not cool!
Christmas is all about gift giving, Santa Claus and caroling; overeating and sleeping in; egg nog and mistletoe; wild office parties and designated drivers.

It’s about getting together with relatives you can’t stand and sitting in airports for hours on end; driving around mall parking lots and dealing with screaming brats and teetering seniors.

It’s about putting lights on the house without falling off the roof; killing a perfectly nice evergreen tree and keeping it alive in your living room with sugar water until December 26th, when you dump it on the corner like an unwanted stepchild.

It’s your Aunt Irene’s terrible Jello fruit mold and Grandma Victoria's “Armageddon survivor’s” fruitcake.

My question is -- before we get totally lost in all the hoopla -- what the heck happened to Jesus? I mean, isn’t Christmas supposed to His birthday? How and why did Santa Claus and his entourage push Our Savior to the back pages of the newspaper, across from the Suduko, Word Jumble and obituaries? How on earth did the Big Guy from Heaven fall so fast? And how can He make a comeback? I mean, if John Travolta and Mariah Carey did it, surely Jesus can figure out how to get back on the front page, without killing someone or entering rehab.

There’s no doubt about it -- Jesus needs a complete makeover. My advice to Our Lord is to hire a new, hip publicist and start appealing to the teenagers and 20-somethings of the world. Change water into Red Bull. Get a newer robe with a higher thread count. Put pictures in the Bible. Better yet, make it a pop-up book. Did you know that they have Grecian Formula for beards now? Do some 8-minute abs. Get on myspace or facebook. Write for BrooWaha. Go on Springer or Ellen. Get your own video game.

And Jeez, change your back story. The whole part about the crucifixion needs to be spun a little differently. No one likes to hear about a guy getting strung up on a cross and being left to die. It’s not warm and fuzzy. It’s dark and bloody. It scares kids and grosses people out. Tell folks you got hit by a chariot or abducted by aliens or snatched up by some cult, I don’t know.

I do like the swaddling clothes in the manger part of the story, however. Stick with that and maybe expand on it a little. Everyone’s encountered an overbooked hotel and people will always gravitate toward the “local kid makes good” /”rags to riches” type of thing.

And spruce up the three wise men bearing gifts concept. Alter the story to where they’re the three “baby daddy’s” -- it’s more contemporary. Maybe change their presents to an iPhone, a Nintendo Wii and some Viagra. I mean, who evens knows what frankincense and myrrh are anyway? No one from this century, that’s for sure.

I’m not trying to be sacrilegious here. I believe in God and I’m a big fan of Jesus. I was raised Catholic. I saw “Hair” twice and actually sat through "The Passion” even though I knew the ending. People will be upset over this article, because religion is a very sensitive subject. I know enough to avoid the topic at parties, believe me.

Many of my friends are Jews, Scientologists, Atheists, Buddhists, Amway Sales People, Members of the Raider Nation -- even Ignostics (that’s the religion where you think there’s a higher power but are too ignorant or apathetic to bother figuring out what you believe).

I respect your religion, whatever it is. I have no problem with your God, whoever he or she may be. Just don’t try to convert me or ask me to go to bake sales or buy raffle tickets.

I just feel like The Most Holy One deserves more press than He’s getting, especially on His birthday. If it weren’t for Jesus, we’d be spending the holiday season waiting for "Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve Special" and watching over-hyped college bowl games.

Without Jesus, there would be no Santa. There would be no Christmas tree. There would be no Uncle Jack to fall asleep after dinner and drool all over your parent’s loveseat. There would be no teeth shattering fruit cake. And there would surely be no reason to run up your credit card bill buying useless stuff that will all eventually end up as ancient landfill long after mankind is a painful afterthought.

So, let’s put Christ back in Christmas and put a big “X” over Xmas. Let’s throw Him the 34th birthday bash he never resurrected Himself in time to enjoy. For Christ’s sake – it’s the right thing to do. After all, He did die for our sins. (Question: Does that include the ones we haven’t committed yet?)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mr. & Mrs. Joker


This photo of the new Joker was revealed recently. The Joker is my favorite villain. Jack Nicholsen was the best Joker, with Cesar Romero finishing a close second. The newest Joker is being played by Heath Ledger. He looks really strange -- and mean.

Too bad Leona Helmsley isn't around anymore, because she would have made a great Mrs. Joker.

I Dream About Plumbing Fixtures

Lately, plumbing fixtures have been showing up in my dreams, especially faucets and sinks. Maybe I was a plumber in another life, I don't know. Faucets, sinks, shower heads, toilets, bathtubs -- they circle around in my mind while I'm fast asleep. Maybe the spirits are trying to tell me that I need to remodel our bathroom -- I'm not certain. It's the weirdest thing. Yesterday I even started looking at web sites that sell plumbing fixtures, and I found a great site named www.faucet.com. What a great web site. They have a wide selection, a low price gaurantee and they'll ship to you for free if you order more than $99 worth of stuff from them.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cover It When You're Done Playing With It!

If you have an expensive car like this one here (a Maybach Exelero, worth $8 million and change), you should really think about putting a car cover over it. It's a fact that car covers will help your vehicle last longer. They protect the paint and the finish and will ass years to the life of the car. I found a great site called http://www.bigskycarcovers.com/ and these people are the Boston Red Sox of car covers. Which means (to all you non-baseball fans) that they're the very best in the business. They're the World Champs of car covers!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Vacuum Cleaners Make a Practical Gift

Some people give you frivolous things for Christmas -- like stocking stuffers, funny gag gifts and things you will never really need. Then, there are those other folks (who you are probably related to) who give you presents that you can use. This is where vacuum cleaners come into the picture. Vacuum cleaners are something you will always find a good use for. We have three, actually. A really high-quality vacuum cleaner is great to have. So, think about it as a gift if you know somebody who needs one.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

10 Rules for Fledgling Santas



Every holiday season, I volunteer to be Santa Claus at local charity fundraisers, friends’ parties and a host of other events. I love being Santa, for a variety of reasons. I love the look of amazement in a young child’s eyes (usually between 2-8) when you know he or she still believes. I even like the skeptical “whatever” stare I get from teenagers when I can plainly see that the magic of the big guy is no longer in their lives. And I even enjoy the lustful look that 40-something thrice-divorced women who are into fat guys give me as they insist on sitting on my lap.

Over the years, I have developed a 10-point plan for being a believable Santa Claus. If you ever have to don the costume and play the role, you should really read these.

1. Play the part 100%
As my acting coach used to say -- “Go all out or don’t go.” If you believe you’re really Santa then everyone else will buy into it. Wearing the costume is a privilege, so don’t do anything that might spoil the big man’s image – like smoke, swear, spit, hit on women or break loud wind.

2. Learn your ho’s
A weak “ho, ho, ho!” greeting is the quickest way to be labeled a weak, panty-waist Santa Claus and nobody wants a wimpy St. Nick in their presence. Practice your delivery before the gig, and make sure you use a loud, deep, bass-heavy voice with just the correct amount of pacing. Think jolly, yet confident. Assured and comforting, with a twinkle on the side. Project your voice and shake the rafters!

3. Control your beard
The most important part of the outfit is the hair and beard. Too many times a cheap or poorly attached beard will ruin the illusion. First off, purchase or rent a high-quality beard. Use safety pins or small two-sided adhesive strips to make sure the beard doesn’t shift. One time a 10-year-old girl said to me, “Santa, your beard is falling off. I know there is no such thing as Santa, but I don’t want to ruin it for the little kids who still believe in you.” She then re-adjusted my beard.

4. Don’t skimp on the costume
Get the high-end suit, not the Walgreen’s one. It may cost a little more money, but it’s worth it. Kids aren’t stupid and they’ll know you’re not Kris Kringle right away if you skimp on the costume.

5. Don’t get hammered
This can be embarrassing. On one particular holiday evening I over-imbibed on some cheap red wine. One little kid who was sitting on my lap looked as his mother and said, “Hey mom – Santa smells just like daddy – like Gallo.” I corrected the child and told him that it was actually Kenwood. That was bad. Lay off the sauce when you’re Santa. There will be plenty of time to hit the egg nog later at the after-party.

6. No lap dances
Keep adults off your lap. It’s unnatural and unhealthy and can lead to sexual harassment charges if and when a party gets out of hand.

7. Do your research
Children will invariably ask a lot of specific questions. “What’s your definition of ‘bad’?”; “Why do you go down chimneys instead of through the front door?” and “Why are there Santa Clauses on every street corner downtown?” They’re interrogating you to see if you’re the genuine article. My advice is, if you’re going to be Santa Claus, do a little research beforehand. Check out Wikipedia. Work on your background story. Learn a few interesting facts that you can impress tots and tykes with. (For instance, did you know that Santa started appearing in red and white in the mid-to-late 19th century when he appeared in Coca Cola advertisements? Until then, Santa wore all-white, green or other assorted colors.)

8. Bring a towel
I have had many a two-year-old (those who aren’t scared to death of Santa) deposit all kinds of things in my lap. Need I elaborate? There’s nothing worse than a stinky Santa!

9. Have a Mrs. Claus to help you
Make your job a lot easier and bring an assistant. I used to hire a little person to help me, but he kept grabbing soccer moms and I had to let him go. Now my fiancée plays Mrs. Claus and it works out well. She can get the kids’ names and find out what they want before they hit your lap or warn you about a brat before you get kicked in the shin or smacked in the juevos.

10. Go tough love when necessary
A lot of teenagers will try to insult you to make themselves look cool in front of their friends. Maybe some of you did stuff like this when you were that age. I remember kicking Mickey Mouse in the butt at Disneyland one time when I was 11. That’s why they call it adolescent behavior. In these instances, I will lean over and whisper a word of useful advice into the offending party’s ear, something like, “Don’t make Santa go medieval on your ass.” or “I snapped an elf’s neck last week and he was just about your size.” You know, something to get their attention.

Bad Credit? Fear Not!

Bad credit can really limit what you can do in this world. Believe me, I know. I was very irresponsible with my credit when I was in college and it took me almost 15 years to get back to where I am today (740 credit rating). Things can happen that are beyond our control. Financial fortunes can be altered when layoffs occur, people get divorced or have to move. That's why BadCreditOffers.com is so great. It's a Web site that allows you to compare dozens of "bad credit" offers from major providers -- rather than just having one choice, you can pick the one that is best for you. This is a great chance for you shop for bad credit loans to rebuild your credit and get back to where you once belonged!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Digital Camera Batteries

It might be a romantic or "warm and fuzzy" Christmas gift, but it sure is practical. What I am talking about is a digital camera battery. If you own a digital camera (we have 3) than you know that a battery is essential to be able to take pictures when you need or want to, especially when you're out on location somewhere and need one in a pinch. You can spend too much on a digital camera battery, so make sure you shop carefully. Sometimes it's better to give someone an Xmas gift that someone NEEDS rather than WANTS (socks also fall into thay category.)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Yuletide Yuckfest 2007 A Success!





It was the largest crowd ever at a Fest. The comics were outstanding. We raised a ton of toys and money. And Chubby's All-Stars never sounded better. Yes, the Yuletide Yuckfest, in its 10th year, was a huge success! Thanks to everyone for making it a really special event!

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Tainted 11: The Mitchell Report Looms

The Mitchell Report, the findings of former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell's 20-month investigation into performance-enhancing drug use that has tarnished some of the game's greatest stars and records is going to be released to the public next week.
What will it tell us? Whose baseball careers, if any, will be ruined? How will it change the American pastime? And maybe most importantly, what will MLB do in response to the report?
Early leaks tell us that the report will reveal the names of 11 current free agents who took steroids.
Critics of the report are already lining up, denouncing the report as being one-sided and outdated, but one thing is for sure – major league players from across the continent are more than just a little concerned about what the document contains.
"Well, it ain't Merry Christmas or Happy New Year for somebody," Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
One question that a lot of people are asking is -- who is George Mitchell? The 74-year-old former chairman of The Walt Disney Company was once offered a spot on the Supreme Court by President Clinton and famously challenged Lt. Col. Oliver North during the Iran-Contra hearings. He is a political veteran with an impressive pedigree.
But, what’s his agenda? Every politician has one. Will the report be objective? Is this thing going to be honest and candid, or are we looking at another Warren Report?
One thing that may taint Mitchell’s background is the fact that he is also a director with the World Series champion Red Sox, a role players say makes him hopelessly conflicted and a pawn of Commissioner Bud Selig, who appointed him. Players also claim Mitchell refused to show those accused the evidence he had against them, denying them a chance to refute the allegations.
For now, Selig claims not to know what's inside the report. Suffice to say, midway between Boston wrapping up the Fall Classic and the start of spring training, there are plenty of jittery people around the majors.
"Obviously, it can't be really good," New York Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "If there's some really, really big names I'm sure it's going to be a real impact in some ways."
Outfielders Jose Guillen and Jay Gibbons, linked in media reports to receiving human growth hormone, were suspended Thursday for the first 15 days of next season. The penalties are an indication how baseball might treat any players named by Mitchell.
Although some say Bonds' home run record -- and milestone ball -- should be marked with an asterisk, Mitchell noted the Hall of Fame vote in which Mark McGwire was picked on just 23.5 percent of ballots, nowhere near the 75 percent needed for induction.
That election in January was considered the first test on how history will view a period when bulked-up stars amassed bulked-up stats.
"If nothing else, the results of the Hall of Fame voting last week, and the reaction to it, offer fresh evidence that this issue will not just fade away," Mitchell said then. "Whether you think it fair or not, whether you think it justified or not, Major League Baseball has a cloud over its head, and that cloud will not just go away."
To some, the drumbeat of suspicion is falling on deaf ears. A lot of people no longer care about this subject.
"Now when it comes out, more people seem to be numb to it," said former Milwaukee manager Ned Yost: "I don't care one way or the other, to be honest with you."
Hired by Selig in March 2006, Mitchell and his staff spent millions of dollars interviewing people and collecting evidence. Their task: Provide a history of what happened off the diamond during a time when home run marks that had lasted for decades fell as suddenly strong sluggers changed the balance between pitchers and hitters.
Previously undisclosed names could be tied to steroids and HGH, thanks to the cooperation of former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski. A national investigation led by the Albany, N.Y., district attorney's office also is believed to have provided evidence to Mitchell.
Active players largely have resisted cooperating -- the Yankees' Jason Giambi is the only one known to have spoken to the inquiry. Although this wasn't exactly Sing Along with Mitch, retired players have spoken with Mitchell, who did not have subpoena power.
Selig's decision to launch an official investigation followed the release of "Game of Shadows," in which San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams said Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs for at least five seasons beginning in 1998.
Bonds, who broke Hank Aaron's career home run record in August, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges he lied to federal investigators about using performance-enhancing drugs.
The home run king was arraigned in U.S. District Court on four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice stemming from a Nov. 15 indictment. If convicted, he could spend more than two years in prison.
Bonds, currently a free agent who hopes to play in 2008, has denied knowingly using illegal performance enhancers. He nonetheless became the face of steroid allegations while dozens of other major and minor leaguers tested positive.
"I think we're all eager to get this era behind us and to get steroids out of this game, growth hormone out of the game, get things that change the competitive balance other than hard work and a desire to be the best ballplayer you can be," Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
To former World Anti-Doping Agency leader Dick Pound, baseball is an outlaw sport, refusing to agree to WADA's standards for testing and discipline.
But athletes in U.S. team sports, protected by collective bargaining agreements and American labor laws, have no interest in international standards.
"I think if you look at attendance, if you look at the health of the game right now, that would suggest that fans have digested what information exists and perhaps assumed that the problem has been addressed, at least for the moment," San Diego Padres chief executive officer Sandy Alderson said.

Looking for a Hotel Deal in Vegas?

If you're looking for a great deal on a Vegas hotel, there's a web site called http://www.i4vegas.com/ that kicks the heck out of high Las Vegas lodging prices. If you're headed to Sin City -- to gamble, see some shows, got clubbing, shopping or to some amazing restaurants, you need to visit http://www.i4vegas.com/ and check out some of the super lo lo prices on hotels. Why spend an arm and a leg on a Vegas hotel when you can use that money to play blackjack or good 'ol Texas Hold 'Em? Now, that's exactly what I am talkin' 'bout!

Monday, December 03, 2007

The BCS is B.S.!

This whole BCS thing is a big load B.S as far as I’m concerned. Why NCAA Div. I football won’t embrace the idea of a playoff system is beyond me and this season should be a prime example of why such a format is needed. The powers that be in college football should be ashamed of themselves – how long are you going to drag this sport down and hold fans throughout the country hostage? People want a clear-cut winner and it’s not rocket science to figure out how it should be done.
All of the lower-level divisions in college football have a playoff system. It works well and takes all of the guesswork out of the equation. You have one champion who got there by winning the tournament. You don’t need a computer to tell you who the best team is.
Besides, have you tried to figure out the method that this computer uses to determine who the two top teams are? Albert Einstein would have problems understanding it on his best day. It’s a mish mash of things like strength of schedule, opponents’ records – and a whole lot of other stuff that nerds at MIT would probably have difficulty grasping.
When the season started out, everybody was talking about USC. But, they lost to Stanford. Then it was LSU. Then THE Ohio State University. West Virginia got some recognition for a while there, as did Oregon and Arizona State. But, they all lost. After that, everybody got excited about Cinderella teams like Kansas and Missouri. All of them fell like dominos during the course of the season. But, in the end it will be Ohio State and LSU in the Finale – two teams that were in, out and now back in again.
And what about Hawaii? Why doesn't a legitimate star quarterback like Colt Brennan (see photo) deserve a chance to play on the big stage? Just like Boise State last year, Hawaii ran the table without losing a game, but don’t get to go to the Big Show because they play in what’s considered a weaker league and don’t merit a shot at the championship. That too, is B.S., in my opinion.
So, now that we have these big-wigs’ attention, how about a playoff system? I’ve heard all the objections to such a system and have a response for each.
Objection #1: The bowl games are traditional and sacred and cannot be jeopardized.
Response: A playoff system won’t hurt the bowl games. Use the bigger bowl games as playoff games and then create one Championship Game to be played in a different city each year, so that fans from all over the country can get a chance to see it.
Objection #2: The season will be too long if we have a playoff tournament at the end.
Response: You call yourself colleges? How hard is this to figure out? You shorten the season to nine games, eliminating the normally lopsided non-conference games that are stuck in there to fill out a schedule and are customarily blowouts (exception: Michigan vs. Appalachia State). A 16-team playoff would only add four more games to the schedule, with only two teams playing in the fourth and final one.
Objection #3: How would the playoff money be distributed?
Response: Well, now we’ve come to the real question. All along, it’s been all about the money. Every conference wants what they feel they deserve, and in the end – let’s admit it – they’re all greedy. So, what you do is take every conference in football – regardless of how many teams from each of them is in the playoffs – and you distribute it evenly. Sure the Pac 10 and the Big Ten will object. Who cares?
So, that’s my take on the concept. Select 16 teams and let them knock the crap out of each other. The last one standing wins. Let it be decided on the field and not by some passionless computer. This way, everybody wins.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Designer Inspired Jewelry

If you're looking for designer inspired jewelry -- I mean the real stuff, not the wannabe kind. Then, you should really visit www.quantabellajewelry.com. They have the finest rings, bracelets, broaches, necklaces -- if you want it, they have it at great prices. For a wide selection of jewelry that will really please your significant other, www.quantabellajewelry is the site to link up to. Christmas is now officially just 24 days away. It will be here before you know it. So, get online now and check these people out. You'll be happy that I told you about them and will come out smelling like a rose!

Flipping Homes

Everybody is doing it. It's the hottest new thing of the last five years. And no -- I am not talking about pilates or yoga or hybrid vehicles -- I am talking about real estate flipping. That's right! They have numerous books on it, seminars; they even have some reality shows about the subject. I have several friends in Nor Cal who are doing it right now and getting some really awesome results. Flipping homes can be profitable and very rewarding -- some people are doing it full-time and making buko bucks. But, if you don't know what you're doing, you might just end up flipping yourself into oblivion. But, if you have the money, the time and the smarts -- flipping real estate can be a great way to make a bunch 'o money!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The "C" Word

We recently found out that a very good friend of ours has cancer. It’s in her lungs and has spread to her spine. In an instant, her life has completely changed. Less than one month ago she was doing standup comedy, making people laugh. Now she can barely walk because of the medication she’s taking, she cannot drive, she has no appetite and needs someone to take care of her 24/7.

Cancer has probably affected everyone’s life in one form or another. My first encounter with the disease was when my mother died of breast cancer in 1966, when I was eight years old. They didn’t know much about how to cure it back then. She was in the hospital for at least two years before she died, and she wouldn’t let us visit her there. She didn’t want us to see her that way. I was so young I didn’t really know what it was. That was my first experience with the “c” word.

As we approach the big age of 50, more and more people in our immediate circle of friends and acquaintances are getting cancer. And the reaction is always the same. Everyone is hush-hush and doesn’t want to talk about it. It’s like the one who’s ailing is already dead. Friends cry and ask if there’s anything they can do, but in most cases there isn’t. And no one will say the actual word. They say things like “illness” and “disease” or stuff like “they’re battling it” or “going through some tough times health-wise.” No one wants to say the “c” word.

It changes the way you think about life when someone you know gets cancer. Since we found out about our friend getting lung cancer, I’ve thought a lot about my life. The other day, I felt a strong urge to tell my overbearing boss to kiss my butt. I have that urge almost every time we talk, but this time I almost did it. Yesterday I told someone the truth about something when in the past I would have avoided it or sugar-coated it. I’m taking longer walks with my dogs. I’m watching more cartoons. I broke some rather loud wind at the grocery store this weekend. I yelled at a phone solicitor who calls me every other day. I jaywalked. I even took that little tag off of my mattress, risking considerable jail time and a substantial fine. I don’t care anymore about the stupid little things that used to concern me. Life is too short.

And why is it that only nice people get cancer? Have you ever noticed that? A-holes and jerks don’t get cancer. Why is that? Does a bad attitude and an evil personality help to fight off cancer?

And now I’m getting paranoid about getting cancer myself. What’s that lump on my neck? Why won’t that little rash on my arm go away? Sometimes I get a sore throat. I have a stomach ache right now, in fact – probably from worrying about whether or not I have cancer.

What’s amazing is that most people don’t really know what cancer is or what causes it. All they know about the “c” word is that it’s bad and they don’t want it. So, I looked it up in Wikipedia and this is what it said: “Cancer is a group of diseases in which cells are aggressive (grow and divide without respect to normal limits), invasive (invade and destroy adjacent tissues) and sometimes metastatic (spread to other locations in the body.)”

Cancer causes about 13% of all deaths. Things like tobacco smoke, radiation, chemicals or infectious agents can cause cancer. Men are most likely to get prostate cancer (33% of all cancer cases in males); lung cancer (13%); bladder cancer (7%) or cutaneous melanoma (5%). Women are more prone to getting breast cancer (32%); lung cancer (12%); colorectal cancer (11%); or ovarian cancer (6%). Obviously, cancer is not picky and will attack any organ or part of the body at any given time.

Cancer can be treated by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, monoclonal antibody therapy or other methods, depending on the location and grade of the tumor and the stage of the disease.

The most important way to treat cancer is to catch it early. That’s why regular check-ups are so important. I hate going to the doctor just like everyone else – but, you gotta do it -- especially after age 40.

What’s my point? I don’t really know. I just think people should be more aware of this disease and not so deathly afraid of discussing it. They need to stop dancing around it. Opening up an ongoing dialogue about the “c” word is the healthiest way to deal with it, I believe. One day we’ll hopefully figure out how to beat it, but until then, it’s here and it’s real.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Looking for Real Estate in the United Kingdom?

If you’re looking to move to the United Kingdom, the beat place to find a new home in the UK is at Welcome Home. As you know, my fiancée Angelina is from the UK, and we have talked on many occasions about moving there. I have never been, but she talks all the time about what a great place it is. San Francisco is a nice city – don’t get me wrong – and I love the Bay Area, but the UK sounds wonderful. If you’re looking for flats to rent in Liverpool, Welcome Home has reviews of the area, an interactive map and a table about property prices in the area. If you’re searching for flats to rent in London, Welcome Home has a very useful technically advanced property finding service showing properties for sale and for rent in any region of the UK. And if you’re browsing for houses to rent in Bristol – well, look no further, blokes – Welcome Home has an enormous list of more than 12,000 UK real estate agents, all of whom are more than willing to sit down with you and talk real estate over a cup ‘o tea and maybe even some crumpets. Welcome Home is THE site to be checking out if you’re interested in buying or renting real estate in the good ‘ol UK. Jolly searching!

It's Almost Yuckfest Time!


The Yuletide Yuckfest is this Sunday and I'm psyched. Here is the press release about the show. I am looking forward to seeing all of you there! Featured here are two of the comedians that will be in the show -- Jeff Applebaum and Carla Clayy.

“Yuletide Yuckfest 2007, a Comedy Benefit, to be held on December 2nd at Rooster T. Feathers to Raise Funds for local Toys for Tots

On Sunday, December 2nd from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Rooster T. Feathers in Sunnyvale is hosting the 10th Annual “Yuletide Yuckfest 2007,” a comedy show benefiting Toys for Tots.

Comics Mickey Joseph, Brain Malow, Carla Clayy, Larry “Bubbles” Brown, Drennon Davis, Carla Clayy, Sandy Stec, David Van Avermaete, Beth Shuman, Jeff Applebaum, Host Hymie Laredo and many special guests will converge on the stage at Rooster T’s to make people laugh for a worthy cause.

Also featured will be music by the band “Chubby’s All-Stars,” with special guest Viv Savage, former keyboard player for the famous band, “Spinal Tap.” Admission is $10.00 and an unwrapped toy, or $15.00 without one. Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Hymie Laredo, whose real name is Ed Attanasio, will host the big event. He sees the show as a chance for comedians to give back to the community, by providing new toys for those less fortunate.

“There is just something about giving kids toys that makes me happy,” Attanasio/Laredo said. “My niece needs a storage locker just to keep all the toys I’ve given her over the years. It’s the little kid in me. It probably makes me feel better than it does the children. I guess Santa Claus must be somewhere down the line on my family tree.”

The comedians featured have been on Comedy Central, VH1, David Letterman, the Comedy Channel, Nickelodeon, the Tonight Show, and more.

Rooster T. Feathers is located at 157 West El Camino Real in Sunnyvale, next to Goodyear Tires. Ample free parking is available. Rooster T. Feathers’ phone number is (408) 736-0921.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

The New Home Theaters Rock!


The newest home theater phenomenon is just amazing. And as soon as I win the California Lottery I plan on installing one in my mansion. With all of the new cutting-edge electronics, Blu-Ray and the new HD plasmas and sound systems, home theaters have become almost better than real movie theaters, because they're more intimate, custom-built and designed, and you don't have to pay $8.00 for admission and take out a small business loan for a soft drink and some stale, over-salted popcorn. (Did you know that a lof of the movie theaters over-salt the popcorn, or actually put a little bit of salt into their drinks so that you'll stay thirsty and buy more -- it's true.) Check out some of the newest home theaters that are out there. You'll be hypnotized!

Oh, No Those Popups Got To Go! STOPzilla!

There's a great popup blocker out there called STOPzilla!, and it is the best of its kind on the market as far as I am concerned. I am SO TIRED of popups disturbing me and interrupting me when I am on the Internet. StopZilla does it all, because the people at STOPzilla! take security very seriously. STOPzilla! removes spyware; adware; popups -- it blocks fishing attacks; kills browser hijackers; erases history and they also provide FREE SUPPORT. Deal with those pesky popups and work on the Internet without any more worries. Check out the award-winning monsters of popup blockers. Check out STOPzilla! today!

Beware of the King of Non-Health Care: Kaiser Permanently

After watching Michael Moore’s film “SiCKO” recently, and reading a ton of stuff about Kaiser Permanente, I am quite frankly shocked and appalled at what I have learned. It’s not like I’m surprised. I have some first-hand experience with this HMO and it’s not pleasant.

A few years ago, my left knee started hurting. It was a dull pain at first, but then it got progressively worse, to the point where I was limping. I went to Kaiser, where I had my health insurance at the time, and after pleading with them, they agreed to take some x-rays. The doctor was really nice and advised me that if I wanted to get things like x-rays at Kaiser, that I would “have to fight for them.” She told me that she would help me navigate through the system so that I could get the care I might need. I was stupid enough to believe her because I was a rookie at the time and unaware of the ways of Kaiser.

After begrudgingly taking the x-rays, I got a call about a week later from Kaiser. My doctor told me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the knee and that I just needed to lose weight. She said that she could refer me to a nutritionist and gave me the whole speech about how being overweight is bad for my health, etc. What she didn’t mention was that going to Kaiser for my health care was just – maybe even more – harmful to my health.

My knee continued to hurt. I lost approximately 45 pounds over a three-month period in hopes of alleviating the pressure and pain on the knee, but it just kept hurting. I went to Kaiser a couple more times and told them about the increasing pain, and they refused to take any more x-rays. When I inquired about possibly getting an MRI, you would have thought I was threatening their children. They told me emphatically and repeatedly that an MRI was out of the question and that I should just stay away from the pizza and pasta and go to the gym more if I wanted my knee to feel better.

Well, about six months later I changed jobs and my new employer has health insurance through another health car provider named United. United Health Care, although very adept at denying care just like Kaiser, seems to be a much better alternative. When I told them about my knee, they didn’t start crying about it being a pre-existing condition and promptly sent me to an orthopedist here in San Francisco. These people really know what they’re doing. In fact, my doctor used to be the team physician for the San Francisco 49ers football team.

My new doctors looked at my knee and took x-rays immediately. I didn’t even have to ask. When they looked at the x-rays that same day, they could plainly see that there was no cartilage left in the knee. It’s what they call “bone-on-bone.” It’s so thrashed that they can’t even fix it as is – the knee will eventually have to be replaced.

When they showed me the x-ray I was shocked. Could Kaiser have somehow misinterpreted the x-ray? Could it have been an honest mistake, I asked my doctor? He laughed – a 4-year-old child could see that my knee was wasted, he said. A pre-med student with one good eye would be able to tell that my knee was basically shot.

Since then, I have heard so many horror stories about Kaiser that I can’t count them all.
The place is not too bad when it comes to maintenance, but when you need something fixed – something that is going to cost them money – Kaiser will do everything in their power to make sure you don’t get it.

Their motto is “Thrive,” which I think is do blatantly dishonest that it makes me ill just thinking about it. Their tagline should be: “Thrive. And then Just Die. Really Fast.” (Because if you get a lingering illness or go into a coma, we will Deny, Deny, Deny)

You buy health insurance or get it through your company and you think you’re safe. But, you’re not. Because there are HMO’s like Kaiser our there who specialize in not providing you with the health care you might need. They give their doctors bonuses for denying care – and that’s a proven, documented fact. When they do have to give people the proper care, they call it a “loss.” That’s how they look at it.

And then, if they give you bad or inadequate care at Kaiser, you’d better not try to sue them. They will throw attorneys at you until you give up. That’s what Kaiser counts on – that most people will eventually give up. And the majority do.

The six children of Adam Wesley Arnold have not given up. When Kaiser euthanized their 70-year old father on September 11, 2000, they started a web site called www.kaiserpapers.info. Here you can read all the “Kaiser horror stories” that people who have been blocked from receiving quality health care (or any health care, for that matter) from Kaiser Permanente.

If you’re a member of Kaiser, or any other HMO that specializes in denying care, all I can say is pray that you don’t get really sick. Because you won’t thrive. You’ll just die.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The De Young Museum





I'm on vacation this week, so decided to finally visit the new De Young Museum. Whar a great building. Here are a few photos I took. They have a huge tower from which you can see the entire City.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Popcorn Machine in Your House? I'm in Heaven

With these new high-tech movie rooms and entertainment centers that people are putting in the homes, the movie theater has moved in the American residence. People have huge screens, theater seats and carpets, and popcorn machines. How great is that? You can make your own hot, fresh popcorn right in your living room or movie room. It's a good thin I don't have a popcorn machine in my house, because it I did, I would probably eat it day and night. There are some things in this world that make it worth living here -- and this is one of them!

Snowflake Decorations Can Make Your Christmas Tree Rock!!

Well, Christmas is almost here and next week we'll be buying a tree and decorating it. I finally got my wonderful fiancee Angelina to agree to let me get a nice Christmas tree this year. For the last two years, we've had this ugly, beat up Christmas tree that was so hideous that every time I looked at it, I got heartburn. We have a bunch of really great decorations, and I will surely get a few more, including some snowflake decorations. I love this time of season!

Friday, November 16, 2007

BONDS INDICTED! (finally.)

Barry Bonds was indicted on federal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice yesterday, striking a blow against baseball's all-time home run leader in his ongoing struggle against allegations of steroid use. The indictment, which many people felt was fading fast and would never happen, is finally here.
This is not just local or regional news, this is a report that has taken a spot on the worldwide stage. President Bush even issued a statement yesterday about the indictment. When was the last time you heard a U.S. President comment about a baseball-related incident? This is big, no doubt about it!
Bonds, 43, was charged with four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction by federal prosecutors at a California District Court in San Francisco. These are serious charges and even more severe than many people anticipated.
Each of the perjury charges carries a jail sentence of up to five years, while the obstruction charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. (Maybe he and O.J. will be sharing a cell in a prison’s “Hall of Shame” athlete’s wing.)
The charges mark the end of a four-year investigation into whether the former San Francisco Giants slugger lied under oath to a grand jury probing the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
It certainly constitutes a devastating end to what had been a magical year for Bonds, who passed Hank Aaron to become baseball's all-time home run scorer on August 7.
According to the indictment, Bonds allegedly lied when he claimed he did not knowingly take steroids issued to him by personal trainer Greg Anderson, who served three months in prison after pleading guilty to steroid distribution. Anderson, who’ll be forever remembered as a stand up guy for not ratting out his friend, was released from jail yesterday.
"During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances for Bonds and other professional athletes," the indictment read.
A seven-time National League MVP, Bonds is the most central figure linked with grand jury investigations launched in 2002 against Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative - known popularly as BALCO.
Allegations and speculation of steroid use have followed Bonds for the last five years, questioning the legitimacy of the all-time records he currently owns.
Aside from his career homer record of 762, Bonds also holds the single-season record of 73 - a mark he established in 2001.
"This is a very sad day," the Giants said in a statement.
"For many years, Barry Bonds was an important member of our team and is one of the most talented baseball players of his era.
These are serious charges.
Now that the judicial process has begun, we look forward to this matter being resolved in a court of law."
According to the indictment, Bonds allegedly lied when he claimed he did not knowingly take steroids issued to him by personal trainer Greg Anderson, who was sentenced to prison for contempt of court on refusing to testify against Bonds.
According to a report on ESPN on Thursday, a federal judge ordered Anderson released to prison.
"During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances for Bonds and other professional athletes," the indictment read.
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig issued a statement early Thursday evening regarding the federal prosecutors' decision.
"I have yet to see the details of this indictment and while everyone in America is considered innocent until proven guilty, I take this indictment very seriously and will follow its progress closely," the statement read.
"It is important that the facts regarding steroid use in baseball be known, which is why I asked Senator Mitchell to investigate the issue.
"I look forward to receiving his report and findings so that we can openly address any issue associated with past steroid use.
"We currently have a testing program that is as good as any in professional sports, and the program is working.
We continue to fund research to find an efficacious test for HGH and have banned amphetamines from our sport.
We will continue to work diligently to eradicate the use of all illegal performance-enhancing substances from the game."
MLB Players' Association executive director Donald Fehr also released a statement addressing the indictment.
"I was saddened to learn this afternoon of the indictment of Barry Bonds," Fehr said in the statement.
"However, we must remember, as the U.S. Attorney stated in his press release today, that an indictment contains only allegations, and in this country every defendant, including Barry Bonds, is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless and until such time as he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
Parts of this report were taken from cbssportsline.com and mlb.com.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

$168 Million? No One Wants to Be Like Mike Right Now!

Michael Jordan got taken to the hoop and slammed on like never before this week when his ex-wife Juanita scored a $168 million dollar settlement. Jordan made history on the basketball court and has now done it again in a different court. A winner in life but obviously a loser in the game of love, MJ erred when he evidently didn’t make Juanita sign a pre-nuptial agreement back when the couple tied the night in 1984.

What are these athletes and celebrities thinking about when they fail to get pre-nups? Are they crazy or just duped into thinking that their significant others won’t try to take them for everything they possibly can once the music stops? Haven’t they learned anything from the long list of victims?

And why on earth did this woman get so much? I never saw her playing for the Chicago Bulls, or doing all of the endorsements or making all the really bad animated films! I’m sorry – and I know a lot of women will disagree with me – but how is she in any way entitled to $168 million? To say that she helped him earn his money throughout the course of their marriage is laughable.

I’m not saying that Michael shouldn’t give her anything. Maybe $5 million and the house, that should be enough. But, $168 million? That’s ludicrous! And do you know who will be getting approximately 33% of that money? That’s right – the attorneys. What a joke.

Every man in the world is hurting for you right now, Michael. But, you brought this on yourself. Any chance of coming out of retirement or taking up baseball again, because I don’t think anyone is interested in making Space Jam II.

This appeared yesterday on Celebrity Stink at http://www.cinemablend.com/:

Considered to be one of basketball’s greatest players ever, NBA legend Michael Jordan has agreed to pay his ex-wife Juanita, over $168 million as part of their divorce settlement, the costliest on record. It outsizes the former record-setting $156 million settlement singer Neil Diamond paid to his ex and puts the potential $64 million payoff in the Paul McCartney-Heather Mills divorce stranded in the nosebleed seats. Jordan and his ex are still friends since separating in September 2006. The couple married in 1984 and had three children together. For such a potential financial bombshell, the couple kept their split relatively quiet. After attempting to reconcile, they finally agreed to divorce. She has custody of their children and continues to live on their estate outside Chicago. Even with this payoff, she is still only receiving about one third of Jordan’s entire wealth. Jordan has held the NBA record with 10 all-time scoring records, six NBA MVP awards and six NBA championships. Even though he has not held a basketball in over four years, he continues to wow marketers with his remarkable staying power as a selling icon, catapulting him into the financial stratosphere. Other astronomical divorce paydays have been Steven Speilberg’s divorce from actress Amy Irving with a $100 million settlement. Billionaire Revlon CEO Ron Perelman just keeps paying it out every time he changes wives: Wife No. 1 only got $8 million, but Wife No. 2, journalist Claudia Cohen $80 million, Wife No. 3 Patricia Duff $30 million and Wife No. 4, actress Ellen Barkin, $60 million. Actor Michael Douglas paid his –ex Diandra, $45 million and Titanic director James Cameron sunk Linda Hamilton with a $50 million settlement.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Playstation 3 is Amazing!

I don’t play a lot of video games. For awhile, I was hooked on Tiger Woods Golf, but that was back in my bachelor days. If I played video games now, I think my lovely fiancée would be busting my balls on a regular basis. She already complains about the fact that I watch too much TV. But, the other day I saw some kids playing some games on the playstation 3 – and I was amazed and impressed by how far the video game technology has progressed. The graphics are amazing and the games are more sophisticated than ever.

A Great Web site for Contemporary Furniture

If you’re looking for contemporary furniture, there’s a web site called www.modernlinefurniture.com that you need to know about. We were looking for some furniture lately, and when we saw the stuff on this site, we got jazzed – their prices are awesome, the selection is huge and if you’re looking for contemporary furniture, take a look at what they have to offer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Need a College Essay Fast?

Okay, here’s the situation. You’re a student and you are loaded with homework. You have an essay or report due in a few days and you haven’t even started writing it. You need some custom writing right away, and you’re in a rush. Well, there’s a custom writing service out there that can help you out. They can write you a top-notch College Essay that will bail you out of your predicament. They will write if or you in 3-12 hours and give you 24/7 professional live support. These people are experienced UK writers. They also provide a free plagiarism report and unlimited revisions with each order. Get out of the tight spot you’re in and call them today!

Diamond Pendants Make Great Xmas Gifts for That Speical Little Lady in Your Life

If you’re thinking about a nice Christmas gift for your wife or girlfriend (or fiancée in my case), maybe you should consider diamond pendants. They make wonderful gifts, because they look very elegant and classy, but are really quite affordable. Rings, necklaces, earrings – sure, they’re all nice – but, most women have been there done that. Diamond pendants are different and will make your holiday season a gift-giving success!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Looking at a Luxury Home?

Now that the real estate market has leveled off a little, luxury homes may be more of a reality for you than ever before. A high-end luxury home like the one in this picture may be more easily attainable than you might ever imagine. You don’t have to be a rock star or a sports star to own a beautiful luxury home. A good real estate agent can help you explore the joy that a luxury home can bring you and your family.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Big Day in SF Politics: Newsom in Office. Jew in Trouble

Yesterday was quite a day for San Francisco politics. Gavin Newsom was re-elected as mayor and former Supervisor Ed Jew was hit with five more felony charges. One man’s political career is extended, while another’s is almost certain to end in disastrous fashion. Sometimes life is so ironic that it’s well…ironic!
Everyone expected that Newsom would win – pretty much because he ran unopposed. But, the news about Ed Jew is somewhat shocking. The allegations against him are extensive and far-reaching. The fact that this man was able to do what he did is astonishing. How on earth did he ever think that he could get away with it? Extortion? Bribery? Fraud? This is serious old-school corruption -- mafia-type stuff.
And to think it all started with stores that sell those bubble/tapioca drinks. I’ve been to the Quickly location in question and I love their smoothies and teas. Little did I know that the chain would be a launching pad for corruption and payoffs. There must be a ton of money in those drinks.
This article appeared this morning on sfchronicle.com:
A federal grand jury added new felony charges Tuesday to the legal burdens of suspended San Francisco Supervisor Ed Jew, issuing a five-count indictment that accuses him of trying to shake down Sunset District businesses for $84,000 in bribes.
The federal charges - two counts each of bribery and mail fraud and one count of extortion - are the most serious yet leveled at the first-term lawmaker, who also faces civil and criminal accusations from local authorities for allegedly lying about his residence.
The indictment replaces a single count of mail fraud issued by federal prosecutors on Sept. 21. The central allegation of both sets of charges is the same: that Jew solicited $80,000 in bribes from the Quickly chain of tapioca drink shops, telling the operators that they were in violation of a city permit ordinance and would have to pay him to help with the process.
He accepted $40,000 in cash from representatives of the chain in May as partial payment, the indictment said.
"Jew would and did tout his own official power as a San Francisco supervisor to persuade business owners to enter into a paying arrangement with him and/or his recommended 'consultant,' " the grand jury said.
He was also accused of accepting $4,000 in cash from the owner of Wonderful Desserts and Cafe in April in exchange for his support of a new permit for the cafe. The payment was made three days after the City Planning Commission approved the permit, the indictment said.
"When public servants betray the people's trust for the sake of personal gain, they deeply wound the democratic principles upon which this society is founded," Charlene Thornton, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Francisco office, said in a news release announcing the indictment.
Jew's lawyer, Steven Gruel, said the supervisor denies all the allegations and will plead not guilty at an arraignment today.
"An indictment is not evidence of anything. It's nothing more than one side of the story, the side that the government has presented to the grand jury," Gruel said. "I'm anxious to finally get this case in front of a jury."
San Francisco prosecutors also have filed criminal charges against Jew in Superior Court, accusing him of nine counts of perjury and fraud for claiming a Sunset District home as his residence for voting and running for office.
In separate proceedings related to his residency, Jew was suspended from office in September by Mayor Gavin Newsom, triggering an investigation by the city's Ethics Commission into whether he should be removed from office. City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed a civil suit seeking to oust Jew. A conviction on any of the felony charges also would be grounds to remove him.
On Tuesday, Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, a former deputy public defender, offered a resolution asking his colleagues to "adopt procedures which guarantee a fair proceeding" in the residency case. He said supervisors should refrain from making public comments about the case if the Ethics Commission agrees with Newsom that Jew committed misconduct, a finding that would leave Jew's status in the hands of the supervisors.
Gruel, who has complained about the simultaneous multiple proceedings against Jew, said Tuesday he would prefer to see the federal criminal case tried first.
Jew, the 47-year-old owner of a Chinatown flower shop, was elected to the Board of Supervisors from District 4 in the Sunset last November. Representing one of San Francisco's more conservative areas, he became a frequent dissenter in board votes and gained the nickname "Supervisor No" among City Hall staff. A former vice chairman of the County Republican Central Committee, he now is a registered Democrat.
The charges in the indictment, each punishable by federal prison sentences, are:
-- Soliciting $80,000 in bribes from the Quickly chain and accepting $40,000 in cash.
-- Soliciting and accepting $4,000 in bribes from the owner of Wonderful Cafe, who was not charged.
-- Using the U.S. mail to send documents related to both bribery schemes.
-- Extorting money from the Quickly chain "by wrongful use of fear and under color of official right."
The case surfaced publicly in May when FBI agents looking for evidence of bribery searched Jew's flower shop, his City Hall office, his declared San Francisco residence on 28th Avenue, and another home on Roosevelt Avenue in Burlingame.
Neighbors of the 28th Avenue house, where Jew was registered as a voter and a candidate, said the property had been vacant for years. City investigators who examined utility bills, insurance and bank loan applications and other records concluded that Jew lived in Burlingame with his wife and daughter and that his claim of San Francisco residency was a fabrication, an allegation he has denied.
In response to the federal search, Jew told The Chronicle at the time that agents were investigating $40,000 in cash he had accepted from the tapioca drink shop operators in the Sunset who had approached him for help with city permit problems. Jew said he accepted the money only because he believed it was to pay a legitimate fee to a consultant to whom he had referred the businessmen for help.
He identified the consultant as Robert Chan, a former City Hall legislative aide. In Tuesday's indictment, the grand jury said Jew told business owners their payments were intended for a consultant, who was not identified in the court documents.
The indictment said Jew extorted money from the Quickly tapioca drink chain by first telling an unnamed top city planning official in March about the chain's possible permit problems. After the planning official told him that the chain's stores appeared to be violating a permit ordinance, Jew told the store operators he would help them stay in business in exchange for cash payments of $10,000 for each of the eight businesses, the indictment said.
All Planning Commission decisions in the Sunset District "have to pass through me. This is my district," the grand jury quoted Jew as telling the store operators.
Jew accepted $40,000 of the money on May 7, the indictment said. An FBI investigator, in court papers, said the FBI had supplied the money. The investigator said Jew told agents at the time of the searches that he had accepted the $40,000 for someone else but acknowledged keeping $20,000 of it. The FBI search turned up $10,000 of that money at the Burlingame home, agents said.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

More MLB Players Added to "Unnaturals" List

The MLB steroids scandal is growing faster than Barry Bonds’ head. Now it has been revealed that other prominent major leaguers, who up to now weren’t suspected of any wrongdoing, took performance enhancing drugs as far back as 2002. The allegations keep coming to light as more and more of these steroid peddlers are getting caught.
I have a feeling that this situation is going to get worse before it gets better -- as we learn more about who took steroids and when they took them. It may finally reach a point where all baseball records broken between 1996 and 2005 (to be known throughout history as the “steroid era”) will be erased from the books, because no one can be sure which records are tainted and which ones are legitimate.
It’s a dark period in major league baseball, there’s no doubt about it. Pretty soon, the question won’t be about who took steroids, but rather about who didn’t. Baseball should take these most recent allegations to heart and start being even tougher on steroids. If the problem isn’t checked once and for all, it could surely ruin this great game forever.
This appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle this morning and was featured as a front page story:
Former major leaguers Matt Williams and Ismael Valdez also purchased performance-enhancing drugs, in 2002, from a Florida anti-aging clinic that was raided in February as part of an investigation by the Albany, N.Y., district attorney into alleged illegal drug sales, the newspaper said.
Major League Baseball began testing for steroids in 2003. HGH was banned in January 2005.
Power-hitting outfielder Jose Guillen bought nearly $20,000 worth of steroids and human growth hormone from 2003-05, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.
The Chronicle received details of the players' orders in records from a source the newspaper didn't identify. Those records contained shipping and purchase orders, payment information, Social Security numbers and customers' birthdates, the paper said.
Guillen, 31, spent last season with the Seattle Mariners, batting .290 with 23 homers and 99 RBI. He split the 2003 season between Cincinnati and Oakland, and the Chronicle said business records indicate he had some of the drugs shipped to the Oakland Coliseum that year. He played for the Anaheim Angels in 2004 and Washington Nationals in 2005. Attempts by the Associated Press to reach him via cell phone were unsuccessful Tuesday.
Last week, the Mariners declined their $9 million option on Guillen's contract for next season. He has until Wednesday to decide if he wants to exercise his part of the mutual option at $5 million. If he does, the club can void the deal and pay him a $500,000 buyout. That would make Guillen a free agent.
Mariners president Chuck Armstrong told the AP the team remains interested in keeping Guillen.
"We thought he was an outstanding teammate. We were happy to have him. We know nothing about what happened in the past," Armstrong said. "I continue to admire and respect him greatly.
"Before I feel anything negative about Jose, I need to see something tangible or real."
Armstrong also said if Guillen exercises his option, the Mariners would need to investigate the allegations.
"I for sure would have to talk to Jose about this," Armstrong said.
Guillen just completed his 11th season in the majors. Records show he ordered more than $19,000 worth of drugs -- three kinds of human growth hormone, two types of testosterone and the steroids stanozolol and nandrolone -- from the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center between May 2002 and June 2005, the Chronicle said.
Williams was a five-time All-Star during his 17-year major league career with San Francisco, Cleveland and Arizona. He was playing for the Diamondbacks in 2002 when records indicate he purchased $11,600 worth of growth hormone, steroids and other drugs, the Chronicle reported.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

This Week's Review: Siena Bistro in Willow Glen


There is a restaurant in Willow Glen that features some of the finest Italian cuisine that I have ever had. It’s called Siena Bistro and features Mediterranean food that is authentic and unique. We tried some of their signature dishes last night, and I can honestly say that everything we sampled was flavorful, well-prepared and expertly served. The place recently changed owners, and the new folks have really brought a positive energy and creative approach to the whole establishment. Siena’s new owner, David, is a seasoned chef/restaurateur who is well-known throughout the South Bay as a former co-owner of Hawg’s in Campbell, where he developed quite a following. At Siena, he has created an extensive menu of items that are equally pleasing to both the palate and the eyes. The restaurant is nestled slightly off the beaten path, on the backside of bustling Lincoln Avenue, but that makes it even more intimate and comfortable. With a beautifully enclosed patio and a spacious interior featuring earth tones and mirrored walls, Siena Bistro isn’t pretentious. It prides itself on being exactly what it is – a bistro with food that is prepared with passion. The other night when we visited Siena Bistro, we had the Scallops Salad (pan-seared sea scallops, orange segments, hazelnuts and mixed greens in a parmesan basket for $12.95/double scallops $17.50). The salad had a cornucopia of textures and flavors and was very fresh. The scallops were firm and slightly sweet. We also had the Cheese Tortellini with Smoked Chicken and Chantrelle Mushrooms in a Brandy Cream Sauce ($16.75). The tortellini was perfectly al dente and the cream sauce had a depth of flavor that was pleasing and memorable. Next up was the Herb Crusted Alaskan Salmon, which came topped with a Tuscan grape sauce ($21.75) and Warm Brie Salad, which consisted of mixed greens, candied pecans dressed with champagne vinaigrette ($12.75). I am so tired of the same old salads, so this one was a welcome change. I will surely order it during my next visit to Siena Bistro. Siena Bistro is located at 1359 Lincoln Avenue, in downtown Willow Glen. For reservations, call (408) 271-0837. They’re open for both lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday and for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Catering, bag lunches and take-out is always available.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dog the Bounty Hunter Hounded for using "N" Word

Dog the Bounty Hunter is the latest celebrity to fall victim to the “N” word. You would think that these racists would have learned their lesson after watching people like comedian Michael Richards and radio talk show host Don Imus bite the dust for using the word that can end careers and spark an enormous worldwide backlash in a millisecond.
Use of this six-letter word is an invitation to self-destruction. Now. A&E has taken Dog the Bounty Hunter off the air. Talks to bring it back any time soon aren’t underway. Duane “Dog” Chapman is in big trouble and all I can say is that racists eventually get what they deserve.
A lot of people had questioned some of Chapman’s behavior in the past. He presented himself as a devout Christian, yet swore like a longshoreman on many episodes of his show. He was also criticized for being too physical with many of the bail jumpers he captured.
Overall, I liked the guy, however. He took his job seriously, campaigned against drugs and volunteered a lot of his time talking at prisons and counseling inmates. He even won several awards for his outreach efforts and seemed to be a good family man.
Everything seemed to be going well for the bail bondsman/reality TV star until his son starting dating a black woman. Chapman made a phone call where he dropped several “N’ bombs and forbade his son to see the woman. Obviously upset over the whole incident, his son Tucker recorded the phone conversation and leaked it to the press.
Now he’s on the run himself, avoiding the media and devising a comeback strategy. Apologies are surely forthcoming, but will that be enough? One thing is for sure – this is one dog that has been neutered and lost his once-vicious bark.
This appeared yesterday on the Reuters web site:
A reality TV show starring celebrity bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman was pulled from the air indefinitely on Friday, two days after a private phone conversation in which he used a racial slur was posted online.
Cable channel A&E suspended production of the fifth series of Chapman's popular show, "Dog the Bounty Hunter," as the phone call was made public on Wednesday, but on Friday the network went a step further.
"In evaluating the circumstances of the last few days, A&E has decided to take 'Dog The Bounty Hunter' off the network's schedule for the foreseeable future," an A&E spokesman said.
"We hope that Mr. Chapman continues the healing process that he has begun."
He said no decision had been made to cancel the program, which is shown in more than 10 countries, and the network will review the situation again in a couple of weeks.
Honolulu-based Chapman, 54, who says he is a devout Christian, has apologized for using the epithet "n-----" to describe a black woman being dated by his son, Tucker, and vowed to do whatever he can to repair the damage.
Chapman's lawyer was quoted in various media reports on Friday as saying that the conversation posted on The National Enquirer tabloid's Web site had been leaked by Tucker Chapman -- one of the crime-fighter's 12 children.
Chapman, a burly ex-con with long blond hair and leather wardrobe, rose to fame after his 2003 tracking and capture of Max Factor heir and serial rapist Andrew Luster in Mexico.
Media attention over that case led to an offer for a reality TV show tracking Chapman and his "posse" as they chase down people who skip bail and fail to show up in court.