Tuesday, July 31, 2007

il Postale in Sunnyvale is Bellissimo

When you go to some select restaurants, it’s immediately apparent that you’re in experienced, professional hands almost the minute you enter. You can instantly sense from the way they do things that they’ve been serving food and drink for a long time. Too many places are inconsistent and offer a hit-or-miss dining experience. That’s why I love Il Postale in Sunnyvale.
The minute you walk through the doors at Il Postale, it’s a great experience. With its brick walls and oak floors, the place just feels warm and comfortable. Located in a building that once housed Sunnyvale’s original post office, Il Postale features Italian-American food that is expertly prepared, beautifully presented and professionally served.

You will never have a bad or even so-so meal at Il Postale. I know, because I’ve eaten there at least 30 times, and every visit has been a memorable one. Sunnyvale has seen a significant resurgence in its restaurant scene. And Il Postale has led the way, with a scene that local high-tech workers gravitate to for both lunch and dinner.

This is authentic Italian faire. You’ll never eat anything out of a can or from a package and they’ll never serve you anything that isn’t top-of-the-line. Freshness reigns supreme at Il Postale. From the wonderful bread that hits the table as soon as you sit down -- to the appetizers, salads, pizzas and pasta dishes -- Il Postale does it all well.

Last time I was there, we started out our meal with Il Postale’s legendary Grilled Marinated Artichoke ($10.95) featured on a bed of spring mixed greens and accompanied by a Dijon mustard aioli. We also had the Carpaccio ($11.95), made with filet mignon and capers, marinated red onion, lemon Dijon mustard and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. For dinner, we had the Beef Braciola ($19.25), a thin beef steak rolled and stuffed with prosciutto, provolone cheese, spinach and Italian herbs with a red sauce and served with soft herb polenta and vegetables; and Blackened Fresh Halibut ($19.95), topped with a fresh avocado, shrimp salsa on a pool of lemon white wine sauce and served with risotto and vegetables.

My absolute favorite at Il Postale is the Seafood Risotto ($17.25), a cornucopia of clams, mussels, prawns, baby shrimp scallops and peas, topped with grilled salmon and a light saffron cream sauce. Fresh, rich, creamy and perfectly balanced and seasoned -- I am drooling all over my computer keyboard just thinking about it. It’s a lot of work making a good risotto and this one is to die for.

Il Postale also has a great selection of pizzas (large for $17.95) and calzones ($13.95-$15.95). I would definitely recommend the Pizza Margherita and/or the Sicilian Calzone, with sausage, pepperoni, kalamata olives, mozzarella and ricotta cheese. Unbelievable! Calzones seem like they would be easy to make, but it’s actually very difficult to make a good one. And Il Postale has a great one!

Il Postale is at 127 West Washington Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94086. Their phone number is: (408) 733-9600. Reservations are recommended.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Bonds HR Tour Goes South

Now that the Bonds Home Run Tour moves down the coast to Los Angeles, and then on to San Diego, sportswriters and fans are all asking the same question – how will Barry be treated by the fans in both cities? Bonds still needs one dinger to tie Henry Aaron, and then another one to claim the record as his very own.

"This is going to be a test," said Giants outfielder Dave Roberts, who spent about 2½ seasons with the Dodgers, "whether they're going to show their knowledge, appreciation and love for the game -- like they are passionate for the game -- or are they going to go the other way?"

I'm guessing Bonds and Dodger Stadium security personnel had better be prepared for "the other way." Dodgers’ fans aren't real fond of the Giants, with or without Bonds. The home run quest only adds more tension to an already heated rivalry.

Roberts really surprises me with his ignorant comments. The man has played for both the Giants and the Dodgers, so he must know that Dodger fans are a class act compared to the Giants fans. SF fans are boorish, rude, obnoxious and really offensive when it comes to the SF-LA rivalry. Dodger fans are much more laid-back and reserved. They enjoy their baseball, but they’re not willing to get into a fist fight over it and possibly mess up some really expensive plastic surgery.

Roberts knows this, but he’s just trying to put a pro-SF spin on it.

My question is – how do you think Giants fans would act if the situation were reversed? If say, Jeff Kent was going for the record, how would SF fans react? Well, I’ll tell you – they’d boo the man from the first inning on, without mercy. Extra security would probably have to be hired, because Kent’s life would be in danger.

Bonds should be grateful that he’s not traveling to New York or Philadelphia to try and break the record. Those fans are hard core. LA and SD fans act like little kittens compared to those in the Big Apple and the City of Love.

Do you think Dodger fans will remember when the SF fans booed every one of the Dodgers all-star players just a few short weeks ago? Have they forgotten all of the “Beat LA” chants or all of the “Dodgers Suck” or “F the Dodgers” t-shirts and signs? I personally hope not.

"Be a part of history, but make it the great moment it is and don't tarnish it by acts of cruelty, or however you want to word it -- you know what I'm saying -- by throwing things, whatever they want to do, if they choose to go that way," said Roberts, sounding like a public service announcement. "Be above that. [The home run record is] bigger than being a Dodger fan. It's bigger than rooting against a divisional rival. It's the game of baseball. It's the history of baseball, so be above that. That's what I would do."

That's what Roberts the teammate, Roberts the friend and Roberts the professional peer would do. But that's not what a lot of people at Chavez Ravine are going to do Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. Too many cynics. Too many skeptical fans who consider Aaron's record their record too.

Maybe Bonds doesn't understand this, but Roberts does. He doesn't criticize those who doubt the legitimacy of Bonds' home run numbers. How could he?

"But you can't take away the fact that he's one of the greatest players ever to put on a baseball uniform," Roberts said. "He's had a 20-year career which is a Hall of Fame career and ... when I see kids in the stands booing and holding signs, and [they] really have no idea what they're booing or holding signs for, it breaks my heart. As a father, I would never bring that upon my kids. I would say, 'Son, watch this guy. He's one of the best players of all time.'

I predict that fans in both LA and San Diego will boo Bonds lustily and often. And, in my opinion, he deserves it. He’s been treating fans and writers like second-class citizens from day one, and now it’s pay back time, baby!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

2007 Arena Bowl Happening Today

Today is the Arena Bowl and the San Jose SaberCats are going for their third straight Arena Football Championship. It’s been a great season for San Jose, but the SaberCats know the regular season won't mean anything when they face the Columbus Destroyers in the Arena Bowl on Sunday.

Columbus has been a different team since barely qualifying for the playoffs with a 7-9 regular-season record. The Destroyers come into the game averaging 63 points in the postseason — an improvement of 13-points over their regular-season average — and with playoff victories over Dallas and Georgia, the teams with the best regular-season records.
"You can't help but have respect for the road that they've gone down," San Jose quarterback Mark Grieb said. "... They've just played gritty football. They've been very opportunistic, and their offense has just gotten it done."
The SaberCats haven't lost in 3 1/2 months and have won two of the last five AFL titles. The Destroyers, seeking their first championship, hope to become the second straight team to win the Arena Bowl after a 7-9 regular season. Chicago did it last season.
During the playoffs, Columbus quarterback Matt Nagy has completed 67 percent of his passes and thrown 14 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Destroyers' wide receiver Damien Groce said it took time for the team to "get in sync" with new players and a new offensive coordinator this season.
"It happened late, but it happened," said Groce, who has scored five touchdowns in the playoffs.
Columbus lost five of its last six regular-season games, including a close game at Philadelphia, before winning their last game, 74-43 over New York.
"We came out of the Philly game and finally started believing," Columbus coach Doug Kay said. The New York game was "probably the thing that put the swagger back a little bit and made them believe they could still be a good football team."
San Jose was 3-3 before winning its last 10 regular-season games and beating Colorado and Chicago in the playoffs.
"You just take your lumps to a certain extent in the early part of the season, but know that by the end of the season you're going to be playing your best football," said Grieb, who has completed 73 percent of his passes this postseason and thrown for 15 touchdowns and one interception.
Receivers James Roe, Rodney Wright and Ben Nelson have combined for 54 catches and 13 touchdowns in San Jose's two playoff victories.
The Arena Bowl is being played in New Orleans, where San Jose and Columbus each posted regular-season losses to the hometown VooDoo this year.

I believe that the SaberCats are just too tough and talented for Columbus, although the Destroyers are hungry and should be ready to play.

My final score prediction: SAN JOSE: 62 COLUMBUS: 52.

Lost Images Found in Da Vinci's "Last Supper"

A new theory that Leonardo's "Last Supper" might hide within it a depiction of Christ blessing the bread and wine has triggered so much interest that Web sites connected to the picture have repeatedly crashed.

The famous fresco is already the focus of mythical speculation after author Dan Brown based his "The Da Vinci Code" book around the painting, arguing in the novel that Jesus married his follower, Mary Magdelene, and fathered a child.

Now Slavisa Pesci, an information technologist, pool cleaner and amateur scholar, says superimposing the "Last Supper" with its mirror-image throws up another picture containing a figure that looks like a Templar knight and another holding a small baby.

"I came across it by accident, from some of the details you can infer that we are not talking about chance but about a precise calculation," Pesci told journalists when he unveiled the theory earlier this week.

Pesci has also found other images in the painting, including one that looks eerily similar to the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Another seems to depict the Geico lizard whispering in Jesus Christ’s ear, possibly attempting to persuade him to consider switching insurance carriers.

Websites www.leonardodavinci.tv, www.codicedavinci.tv, www.cenacolo.biz and www.leonardo2007.com had 15 million hits on Thursday morning alone, organizers said, adding they were trying to provide a more powerful server for the sites.

In the superimposed version, a figure on Christ's left appears to be cradling a baby in its arms, Pesci said, but he made no suggestion this could be Christ's child. It is implied here that somebody in His entourage may have been earning extra cash by baby sitting part-time.

Judas, whose imminent betrayal of Christ is the force breaking the right-hand line of the original fresco, appears in an empty space on the left in the reverse image version. This suggests that Judas was two-faced and/or had a twin brother.

And Pesci also suggests that the superimposed version shows a goblet before Christ and illustrates when Christ blessed bread and wine at a supper with his disciples for the first Eucharist. The goblet seems to contain ice as well, offering us a clue that Christ could have possibly been a big fan of wine coolers.

(Some of this article is fictional and for entertainment purposes only. Portions were taken from msn.com and aol.com)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Critical Mass Has Become a Pain in SF's A--!

The monthly Critical Mass bike ride will take place today beginning at 6 p.m., according to San Francisco police.
Critical Mass is a bunch of idiots who feel like they’re making a difference by riding their bikes recklessly, clogging up traffic, antagonizing drivers and pedestrians and basically acting like obnoxious a-holes. For some reason, they think they’re making some type of statement about freedom and independence and the supposed rights of cyclists. But, in the end, all they’re doing is pissing people off.
I have witnessed at least half a dozen Critical Mass rides and I’ve seen how the event has changed. I love to ride my bike as much as the next person. And I agree that drivers in this city treat cyclists like second class citizens. But, when you block traffic and threaten people, you’re not making a statement. You’re just giving drivers more excuses to treat you poorly. Critical Mass participants truly believe that they’re helping their cause, and I don’t doubt that many of them have admirable intentions. But, in the end, Critical Mass is looked upon by the general public as a critical pain in the ass.
What started as a noble experiment has deteriorated into an excuse for people to do stupid things under the guise of a protest. It’s become a dangerous spectacle and has achieved absolutely nothing.
The loosely coordinated ride, generally a monthly event for the past 15 years, will begin at Justin Herman Plaza at the end of Market Street. Motorists should expect some delays, police said, particularly in the downtown area.
The route is not announced ahead of time and is chosen at the start of the ride by consensus.
Police are now sending out alerts about the ride because of a situation that turned violent in March. As the bike ride came to a close around 9 p.m. on March 30, cyclists got into an argument with the driver of a minivan. The vehicle's back window ended up smashed; cyclists said the driver was driving recklessly and hit one of the bikers.
Critical Mass is an event typically held on the last Friday of every month in cities around the world where bicyclists and, less frequently, skateboarders, inline skaters, roller skaters and other self-propelled commuters take to the streets en masse. While the ride was originally founded with the idea of drawing attention to how unfriendly the city was to bicyclists, the leaderless structure of Critical Mass makes it impossible to assign it any one specific goal. In fact, the purpose of Critical Mass is not formalized beyond the direct action of meeting at a set location and time and traveling as a group through city streets.
Because Critical Mass takes place without an official route or sanction, participants practice a tactic known as "corking" in order to maintain the cohesion of the group. This tactic consists of a few riders blocking traffic from side roads so that the mass can freely proceed through red lights without motor vehicles becoming embedded in the body of riders, allowing the mass to act as a single large (or very large) vehicle. Corking allows the mass to engage in a variety of activities, such as circling in an intersection, or lifting their bikes in a tradition known as a Chicago hold-up. The 'Corks' sometimes take advantage of their time corking to distribute flyers.
Critics argue that the practice of corking roads in order to pass through red lights as a group is contrary to Critical Mass' claim that "we are traffic", since ordinary traffic (including bicycle traffic) does not usually have the right to go through intersections once the traffic signal has changed to red, unless issued with a specific permit or residing in jurisdictions where bicyclists have this right. Corking has sometimes translated into hostility between motorists and riders, even erupting into violence and arrests during Critical Mass rides.
Critical Mass has been the subject of criticism from authorities and motorists in the various cities in which it takes place.
Critics have claimed that Critical Mass is a deliberate attempt to obstruct automotive traffic and cause a disruption of normal city functions, asserting that individuals taking part in Critical Mass refuse to obey the vehicular traffic laws that apply to cyclists the same as they do to drivers of other vehicles.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, there have been several incidents of violence during Critical Mass events.
On the evening of March 30, 2007 in San Francisco, toward the end of Critical Mass, Susan Ferrando of Redwood City, CA claimed to have found herself in the middle of a group of bicyclists and tried to drive through them resulting in hundreds of bicyclists surrounding her minivan while her 11 and 13 year old daughters watched from inside. Ferrando denies striking a cyclist but claims they banged on the sides of her car, "keyed" the paint, and threw a bicycle through the rear window of the vehicle, causing $5,300 in damage.
On May 11, 2007, a similar incident occurred in Berkeley, Calfornia. According to a Bicycle Civil Liberites Union press release, a "motorist with his wife deliberately ran into the side of the monthly Berkeley Critical Mass bicycle demonstration" and caused approximately $3,000 worth of damage to bicycles. However, the driver and two third-party witnesses told police that the bikers threw their bicycles under the vehicle. Subsequently, Critical Mass participants pounded on the hood and windows of the car and the windshield of the vehicle was shattered.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, in April 2007, requested that Critical Mass riders "police themselves." "It does the bicycle-advocacy community no good to have people that are aggressive and dispirit the entire movement,” Newsom said. “I would encourage the bicycle coalition to say, ‘Look, we don’t put up with this, enough is enough.’”
Police in Oregon and New York have cited concerns that Critical Mass may delay emergency vehicles, such as ambulances, due to the traffic disruption. An expert retained by bicyclists suing New York City gave the opinion that such claims are without merit.
Some bicycling advocacy groups have expressed concern that the controversial nature of Critical Mass and altercations with motorists could weaken public support for bicyclists. Though it does not condone incidents of violence and rudeness, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition credits Critical Mass with spotlighting bicycle issues and aiding their efforts in advocating for cyclists.
In San Francisco, a splinter event known as "Critical Manners," was created as a response to Critical Mass. Critical Manners also rides through the city on the last Friday of the month, but in contrast with Critical Mass, the riders obey all traffic laws, such as stopping at red lights and signaling.
(Portions of this article were taken from Wikipedia.)

Branson Real Estate is Hot Right Now!

There is a beautiful place in Branson, Missouri called Stonebridge Village. They say it’s nicer than Tahoe, Yosemite, Lake Shasta, and Yellowstone Park – places like that. Branson real estate has really taken off within the last few years – it’s a great investment, unlike much of the real estate here in Northern California, which is overpriced big time. Stonebridge Village has a professional level golf course, nearby streams, lakes and is conveniently close to the Silver Dollar Theme Park on Highway 76. It was recently voted one of America’s Best Master Planned Communities. For the great mountain air and a wonderful place to be – think of Branson and think of Stonebridge Village.

It's Just a Matter of Time...For all of Us

I am going on my annual houseboat trip next week. This year it’s also kind of my 30-year high school reunion. Today I’ll be getting all the things I need to bring on my trip – sun block, lotions, sunglasses, snacks, and, of course, incontinence supplies. That’s right – don’t be shocked. Sometimes when you get out on that lake and have a few beers, incontinence supplies can really come in handy. I especially like the tranquility protective overnight underwear and the fresh again incontinence spray. These are outstanding products that I would very highly recommend. One day I’m probably going to have to use incontinence supplies every day. So I might as well get used to using them now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pit Bulls Get a Bad Rap

I have a 7-year-old pit bull named Shelly, and she is the most wonderful, gentle animal I have ever owned. She has never attacked anyone and doesn’t show any signs of aggression. I am so tired of people treating her like a vicious beast. The misconceptions about pit bulls are totally unfounded and most people buy into them without doing any research on their own.

I am so tired of all the frowns and negative energy that I get from people when they see me with my dog. Landlords and insurance companies are also prejudiced against pit bulls. Good luck renting an apartment/house or getting homeowners insurance if you own a pit bull. In Denver, you cannot even own a pit bull if you live within the city limits. If they catch you with one, they’ll put it to sleep, no questions asked.

The way a dog behaves, regardless of what type it is, depends on how the animal is trained. Responsible dog owners will spend the time and money to train their pit bull and will act responsibly in raising and caring for the dog. If you train your dog (it does not matter what breed) to be aggressive and a fighter, that’s what you’ll end up with. Just ask Michael Vick.

Here are a few of the most common misconceptions about pit bulls:

The locking jaw. The pit bull's ability to grab hold of a target and not let go dates back to its role as a Butcher's Dog controlling cattle by grabbing cows by the nose. This talent gave rise to the myth that these dogs have a specially engineered jaw structure that "locks" onto an object. There is no scientific evidence that pit bulls have greater bite power than many other large-breed dogs.

Fighters make good guards. If a menacing reputation can help keep a person safe, then pit bulls are a shoo-in. But historically they've been bred as human-friendly and aggressive to cows and other dogs only. They are not bred to hurt people!

Unfortunately, backyard breeding and hybridizing of pit bulls with large guardian breeds such as bull mastiffs and Rhodesian Ridgebacks may result in oversized dogs with the fighting skills of a pit bull and the aggressiveness of a guard dog.

Bad to the bone. There is no evidence that pit pulls are any more vicious than any other breed. In fact, in temperament tests on pit bulls for unprovoked aggression administered by the American Temperament Test Association pit bulls passed 83 percent of the time, which is above average.

A Jekyll-Hyde gene. When Seattle resident Heather Bauer was looking to adopt a dog last year, she was warned that a pit bull can "turn bad" at around 2 years old. Bauer decided on a Boston terrier. Like many myths, the warning is half-true. Pit bulls are extremely faithful and will not turn on anyone unless provoked, which is no different from any other dog.

"Most dogs begin to challenge for social position" at around 2 years old, says Dr. James Ha, an associate research professor in animal behavior at the University of Washington. "If behavioral challenges are anticipated and dealt with appropriately from the beginning, the dog quickly figures out their position and relationships and settles right down."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Outer Banks Vacation Rentals Are Tops!

Have you ever been to Outer Banks? I’ve had friends who have vacationed there and they have told me that the place is paradise. www.carolinadesigns.com has been providing vacation rentals for Outer Banks for more than 18 years! They represent only the very best, top-notch luxury beach homes for rent on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Their Outer Banks vacation rentals are in Corolla, Duck, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Nags Head & Southern Shores. On this You will find thousands of vacation home images, views, floor plans and much more when you visit their web site. Check them out and learn about one of the best-kept secrets in vacation rentals – it’s called Outer Banks!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Giada De Laurentiis: Cooking with Cleavage

There are some really great chefs hosting some amazing cooking shows on TV right now. They make great food and some of them aren’t too hard on the eyes. My fiancĂ©e won’t admit it, but I know she has a crush on Tyler Florence, who used to do a show called Food 911 on the Food Network and now hosts Tyler’s Ultimate. Whenever she watches his show, she starts to drool. And I have a feeling she’s not drooling over the recipes.

My personal favorite is Giada De Laurentiis. She makes wonderful dishes, primarily Italian cuisine, but she’s also really hot. One thing you’ll notice when you see her show is that she’s always wearing something featuring a plunging neckline. I’ve also noticed that they shoot her from above. Her producers aren’t stupid – they know that sex sells. That’s why you’ll never see Giada cooking in a turtleneck. Cleavage with a cleaver – it’s a winning combination.

I don’t understand why De Laurentiis isn’t as popular as Rachel Ray. Giada makes better dishes; her recipes are much more sophisticated, and she’s ten times better looking. Ray makes me ill with her corny lines and perky smile. Her 30-minute meals may appeal to housewives who don’t have time to cook, but any legitimate foodie won’t even eat that stuff, let alone cook it.

De Laurentiis has become a household name, and it's really not surprising. With an impressive background of culinary training combined with a unique personable charm, she has become a globally revered celebrity chef who continues to prove her skill and accessibility not only with her show on the Food Network but also with the great success of her cookbooks, "Everyday Italian" and "Giada's Family Dinners."

A multi-faceted personality, De Laurentiis has been a spokesperson for Barilla pasta for the past two years and recently forged an unprecedented alliance with the Pyrex Glassware brand, broadening the appeal of the brand to a younger generation. With much anticipation, De Laurentiis debuted her third cookbook, "Everyday Pasta" on April 3rd. This edition features family-favorite pasta recipes as well as inventive dishes using a variety of pastas.

De Laurentiis' first book, "Everyday Italian," showcases many of the delicious recipes from her cooking show of the same title on Food Network. As a follow-up to "Everyday Italian," Giada's second book entitled, "Giada's Family Dinners," quickly became a #1 New York Times best-seller. All three books are published by Random House/Clarkson Potter. Born in Rome, Giada grew up in a large Italian family where the culture of food was a staple in and of itself. As the granddaughter of film producer Dino De Laurentiis, Giada learned how to prepare many of the family's recipes, which were often made for festive gatherings.

After graduating from the University of California in Los Angeles with a degree in anthropology, Giada's passion for cooking remained. She eventually made the decision to commence a culinary career and began her professional training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, specializing in both cuisine and pastry. Following, she returned to Los Angeles, where her training included positions at the prestigious Ritz Carlton Fine Dining Room and Wolfgang Puck's Spago in Beverly Hills. She also founded GDL Foods, a catering company in Los Angeles. Giada is one of Food Network's most recognizable faces.

Her half-hour daytime cooking show, "Everyday Italian," features quick, healthy and satisfying dishes using traditional Italian ingredients and techniques. "Everyday Italian" airs on Food Network twelve times a week at both 11:00 AM and 4:30 PM. This January, De Laurentiis successfully launched her new primetime television series, "Giada's Weekend Getaways." For thirteen episodes, De Laurentiis explores the various cultures within popular cities in and around the United States, such as Charleston, Santa Fe, Cabo San Lucas and Austin.

In June 2007, De Laurentiis will take her viewers on a journey abroad to dream locations, Santorini and Capri in a two-part special entitled "Giada in Paradise." De Laurentiis will explore the culture, food, and mesmerizing sights to these popular tourist spots. De Laurentiis also contributes as a judge on the wildly popular, "Next Food Network Star" and has the distinction of participating in a special 90-minute "Iron Chef America," competing with fellow chef Bobby Flay (marking the highest ratings the Food Network has ever received in the 18-35 demographic).

Giada's overall success and notoriety yielded her a role as spokesperson for Barilla, the world's largest producer and manufacturer of pasta. The relationship is an obvious one, combining Giada's love of traditional Italian cooking with the best products and ingredients available. Additionally, in a two-year product endorsement contract, De Laurentiis will partner with Pyrex Glassware, which shares a common appreciation for gourmet food and entertaining. This will mark the first time in Pyrex's 100-year history that it has contracted with a high profile celebrity to represent their brand. Following a guest stint as the "Today Show" correspondent during the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Giada secured a role as a contributing correspondent for the "Today Show."

Giada currently makes regular appearances on the nation's #1 morning show to highlight current trends in travel, cuisine and lifestyle. Giada currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

More Parrots

The parrots keep showing up 3-5 times a day across the street. It's become a neighborhood event. As soon as we spot them, we drop whatever we're doing and go out to see them. We've met a bunch of our neighbors who do the same thing. It's going to be sad when they stop coming by, probably within the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

San Francisco is Going Bonkers for Bonds

The balls are being marked, City Hall is emblazoned in orange (see photo) and every move Barry Bonds makes is being chronicled throughout the world. Baseball fans, souvenir hunters and those who just want to be around baseball history will flock to San Francisco next week hoping to see Barry Bonds hit the big one.

The Giants slugger is only two more homers away from tying Hank Aaron's career mark of 755, perhaps the most well-known record in the world of sports. There’s a very good chance that he could break the record during a seven-game homestand starting Monday against the Atlanta Braves, Aaron's former team, and the jockeying for position to catch the home run ball at AT&T Park has already started.

The games next week against the Braves and the Florida Marlins are within a few hundred seats of being sold out, leaving fans with a hankering for history little choice but to wade into the online resale market or deal with scalpers on the street.

I hope Bonds breaks the record in San Francisco. Not because I’m, enamored with the guy, but because I believe it will be better for baseball. If he hits it in another city, it could be a very embarrassing situation. The fans will likely boo and it could get ugly. Bonds is a god in SF, but he’s not particularly liked by fans anywhere else in the country.

People are clamoring for these tickets for some simple reason – to see Bonds make baseball history. That has to be the one and only reason. After all, the Giants are in last place in the NL West.

"This is the hottest ticket sales have been since the All-Star Game," said Jennifer Swanson, spokeswoman for TicketsNow, which resells tickets to the public from licensed brokers. "It's reaching a fever pitch."

Seats in the arcade section behind the right field wall -- a common location for Bonds homers to land -- usually go for between $29 and $33, but they were being peddled online Friday for as much as $500.

The Giants still have standing-room-only seats available for some games for $10, team spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said, but those too are expected to turn into gold as soon as the Giants head home from their series this weekend in Milwaukee.

Tickets for games next week are selling for an average of about $80 at the various online sites, including the Giants' own Double Play Ticket Window, which allows season ticket holders to squeeze the ticketless masses for all they are worth.

Home run fever officially started Thursday when Bonds whacked two dingers into the ferocious winds at Wrigley Field during the Giants' 9-8 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
The blasts were his first in 16 days, and they awakened the slumbering national media.

"We definitely noticed an uptick in ticket sales after he hit the home runs," Slaughter said. "Everything kind of calmed down after the All-Star Game, and then he hit the two home runs, and my phone has been ringing off the hook."

Sean Pate, spokesman for StubHub, which charges a 10 percent fee to buy and a 15 percent fee to sell tickets on its Web site, said prime seats for next week's games are selling for upward of $300. He figures that's just the beginning.

"It's going to be very crazy," he said. "People are going to want to be there for the tying or record-breaking home run. When he's on 754, each game is going to be a premium game."
The Giants, San Francisco police and the Coast Guard are preparing for the craziness by beefing up security in and around AT&T Park.

The Giants normally sell several hundred standing-room-only tickets for big games, and many of those ticket-holders congregate in the arcade section. That's going to be harder to do this homestand, Slaughter said.

"We will be checking tickets for people with seats in that area and allowing in a limited number of standing-room tickets," Slaughter said.

All the baseballs pitched to Bonds now are stamped with a special logo for authentication. The fan who emerges from the inevitable scramble for the record-setting ball will be hustled away by security guards, Slaughter said.

"We want to make sure they are in a safe spot," she said. "If they want to watch the rest of the game, we will put the ball in a safe for them. It's really up to the person who catches the ball to determine what he wants to do with it. We usually meet with them and try to figure out if there is anything they would be interested in to trade for the ball, but this is going to be a pretty valuable ball."

Outside the park, people will be able to watch the game through the right field knothole fence for three innings at a time, the usual limit at big games.

The Coast Guard will keep an eye on the regatta of rafts, canoes, kayaks and other watercraft expected to congregate in McCovey Cove in case the record-breaking tater is a "Splash Hit." Bonds has hit 34 of those in his career.

There is no plan to have boaters preregister or to limit their numbers, as was done during the All-Star Game, said Lt. Anya Hunter, the spokeswoman for Coast Guard San Francisco.

Hunter said the Coast Guard's primary concern is the barge outside AT&T Park loaded with fireworks for the moment when Bonds hits No. 756. She said boats will be kept 1,000 feet from the barge.

"The problem with this event is we don't know when it is going to happen," Hunter said. "All of our crews out there are on alert, and everyone knows that this is pending, but they can't sit out and wait for days at a time. As soon we know that the fireworks show is going off or if there is a safety concern because of a large number of boats, then we will respond."

The record-setting home run will be a spectacular conundrum for a nation in which many people view Bonds as a cheater whose home run power is tainted by the use of performance-enhancing drugs, something the Giants slugger has denied doing knowingly.

Aaron isn't planning to show up for any of the games or, it seems, even acknowledge the record. But it still amounts to big business in the city by the bay.

"Just like the stock market, these games are hot, so people are going to start asking higher prices," Pate said. "It is going to be pretty busy around here for the next week or 10 days."

(Thanks to http://www.sfgate.com/ for some of the quotes in this article.)

Friday, July 20, 2007

A New Hoodia Diet Patch Will Suppress Your Hunger

I’ve tried all the diets. I was on the Isagenix program for a while, and it was actually very good. The one thing Isagenix could not do, however, was help suppress my hunger. I’m hungry all the time. I wake up hungry and I go to bed hungry. I’m hungry five minutes after eating. And it doesn't help that my fiancee Angelina is training to be a chef and makes all these great dishes all the time! So, I’ve decided to try something that has really worked well for many of my friends. It’s called a Hoodia diet patch and from what I’ve heard – it really works! It takes away your appetite so that you aren’t always thinking about food all the time. I’m going to give it a try and I’ll let you know how it works. Wish me luck. I know if I’m not hungry that I can lose what I need to drop (around 70 lbs.)

Yang Wins the Whole Ying

Jerry Yang, a 39-year-old psychologist who uses his professional training in his card-playing arsenal, won the $8.25 million top prize Wednesday at the World Series of Poker.

Hats off to Jerry Yang, the 2007 World Series of Poker champion. He beat the odds as one of the low-money participants entering the final table and took home a mess o’ cash. Anyone who has ever played poker knows how hard it is to win a tournament like this, and Yang did it in spectacular fashion.

The fact that he got into the WSOP by winning a $225 satellite tournament shows that anyone can gain the top spot in a sport where the common man is on the same footing with the established pros. Eat your heart out -- Hellmuth, Brunson, Chan and the rest of the clan!

Here’s how the Associated Press reported it:

Yang vaulted quickly from eighth to the chip lead soon after play began Tuesday afternoon.He knocked out seven of the eight other players at the final table, reminiscent of last year when Jamie Gold ran over his opponents. The main difference, Yang did it from the back of the pack."The only way I would win this tournament is to be aggressive from the very beginning and that's exactly what I did," he said.An ethnic Hmong who grew up poor in Laos, Yang said before the final table began that he would donate 10 percent of his winnings to charity, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Feed the Children, the Ronald McDonald House and his alma mater, Loma Linda University.He won his way into the main event from a $225 satellite tournament at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula and only began playing poker two years ago.Despite his 5-foot-3 stature - often standing up from his seat to move chips or stare down opponents - Yang was an intimidating force at the table from the beginning.He aggressively raised pots and became the first player at the table to go all-in. On the ninth hand, he forced Lee Childs, a 35-year-old software engineer from Reston, Va., to fold pocket queens, face up, on a board with a seven, four and deuce.Yang began heads up play with a giant chip lead against Tuan Lam, a 40-year-old professional online poker player from Mississauga, Ontario. Yang had 104.5 million in chips to Lam's 23.0 million.On the last hand, with a huge mound of cash deposited on the felt, Lam moved all-in with an ace and queen of diamonds and Yang called with pocket eights.When a queen, five and nine came on the flop, it looked like Lam, waving a Canadian flag, would be on the verge of a miracle comeback, making a pair of queens for the lead.But a seven on the turn and a six on the river gave Yang a straight, sealing a win in which he dominated the final table from the moment the nine finalists sat down."I've seen the miracles of God with my own eyes," Yang said. "I did a lot of bluffing, also."Lam, who earned $4,840,981 for his second place finish, was also a refugee who found his way to Canada from Vietnam. He said he'd be returning to his village, Bao Trinh, to help those who need it."I was patient and waited for the big hand, but the cards came out different," Lam said. "I have been through a hard life. And I will be going back to Vietnam and giving back."Play at the final table began at noon in Las Vegas and didn't finish till nearly 4 a.m.The finalists ranged in age from 22 to 62, and hailed from five nations: the U.S., Canada, Russia, England and South Africa. By birthplace, players also were from Laos, Vietnam and Denmark.Each had their section of fans in the audience, and the arena took on the air of the Olympics as supporters broke out into national songs every time their player won a big hand."The final table says a lot about the globality of poker and the globality of our fans," said Jeffrey Pollack, World Series of Poker commissioner for event owner Harrah's Entertainment Inc.Yang burst out of the blocks shortly after play began. But 31-year-old Dane Philip Hilm made a stand with a flush draw and a pair of fives on the flop, pushing all-in against Yang. Yang made the call holding an ace and king for a pair of kings and Hilm never improved, finishing ninth for $525,934.Lee Watkinson, a 40-year-old poker pro from Cheney, Wash., pushed all-in before the flop with an ace and seven, but Yang read through the show of strength by calling with an ace and nine and Watkinson fell in eighth for a $585,699 payday."I was playing for the bracelet," Watkinson said. "I wasn't going for third, fourth or even second. I wanted to make a play and be a contender."Childs, who quit his job a month ago to play poker for a living, finished seventh with $705,229 when he went all-in with a king and jack against Yang, with a jack and eight. Childs lost when an eight came on the turn.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

San Jose Sharks Have a New Logo

The new San Jose Sharks logo wasn't supposed to be revelaed yet, but my inside connections got me a copy of it. What do you think? I think it looks cool. It's a little tougher looking that the other shark. Does that mean the team will be tougher next season? I hope so? It would be nice to get a shot at the Stanley Cup one of these years!

Thursday is the New Friday

I understand how it happened, but I think it’s time for a change. Why is it that Friday gets all the kudos when people in this country talk about the days of the American work week?

I realize that at one point, Friday was the big day. It was the end of the week, the start of the weekend, and working folks all over the country couldn’t help but to start waxing poetic about it. Thus, Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF) became a huge part of the American vernacular. They even named a chain of restaurants after it.

Well, I would like to make an argument for my favorite day of the work week – Thursday. It’s the new Friday, and I’ll tell you why.

I read somewhere that many Americans don’t even work on Fridays anymore. The 10-hour day, 4-day work week is more popular now than ever, especially when it comes to production jobs. People like the new working schedule, because it means that they can enjoy three-day weekends, spending more quality time with their families and cutting one entire day out of their commute. So, in a way, it’s good for the environment as well.

Plus, even people who do work on Fridays aren’t working all that hard. American workers take longer lunches (usually in a group), dress casually, eat donuts, have parties and take more breaks on Fridays, as a rule. In addition, they come up with every excuse to get out of work early and hit the road home before commute traffic clogs the roadways. Friday isn’t really a legitimate a work day anymore – for many, it’s the first day of the weekend.

Thursdays are all about anticipation. The work week is more than half way over and the weekend is on the way. But, it’s not quite there yet. Remember your childhood, when you anticipated things like Christmas and your birthday? Back then you were convinced that the big day would never come. But, it always did.

As you get older, you realize that the anticipation of something is almost as good as the thing itself. Thursday is that way.

So with this in mind, I am currently working with some top advertising and public relations executives throughout the country to start a campaign touting Thursday. We’ve even come up with a great new slogan, “So Happy It’s Thursday.” We’re also working on new calendars, t-shirts and watches, all of which we hope will change America’s feelings about Thursday.

I truly believe that the time is right for Thursday to get its due. To have its day in the sun, so to speak. Move over Friday, because here comes Thursday!

Grand Jury Throws Michael Vick to the Dogs

Well, it finally happened Tuesday. INDICTED in big bold letters. Michael Vick will now have to turn himself into authorities and face the music. I guess the grand jury didn’t buy his lame excuse that he didn’t live in the house where all of the alleged dog fighting took place.

I caught a lot of heat from Vick fans for my BrooWaha article, “Message to Michael Vick: Dog Fighting is Dog----!” I also got a lot of views. It’s a very hot topic right now, and with Vick’s indictment, it’s going to get even hotter.

On July 7th, ESPN.com reported that is was very unlikely that Vick would get indicted on this case. Well, guess what? Even the big boys get it wrong sometimes.

I will never convict a person until the evidence is presented and until that individual is tried in a court of law. But, a grand jury isn’t going to go to all the trouble of indicting someone -- especially someone as high profile as Michael Vick – without some sort of hard evidence. All I can say to Mike is good luck!

This appeared Tuesday on http://www.msn.com/:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to illegal dog fighting.
Vick and three others were charged with violating federal laws against competitive dog fighting, procuring and training pit bulls for fighting and conducting the enterprise across state lines.
The indictment alleges that Vick and his co-defendants began sponsoring dog fighting in early 2001, the former Virginia Tech star's rookie year with the Falcons.
It accuses Vick, Purnell A. Peace, Quanis L. Phillips and Tony Taylor of "knowingly sponsoring and exhibiting an animal fighting venture," of conducting a business enterprise involving gambling, as well as buying, transporting and receiving dogs for the purposes of an animal fighting venture.
Telephone messages left at the offices and home of Vick's attorney, Larry Woodward, were not immediately returned.
A woman who answered the phone at the home of Vick's mother said the family knew nothing about the charges.
On July 7, federal authorities conducted a second search of the Surry, Va., property owned by Vick that is the center of the dog fighting investigation.
According to court documents filed by federal authorities earlier this month, dogfights have been sponsored by "Bad Newz Kennels" at the property since at least 2002. For the events, participants and dogs traveled from South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, Texas and other states.
Fifty-four pit bulls were recovered from the property during searches in April, along with a "rape stand," used to hold dogs in place for mating; an electric treadmill modified for dogs; and a bloodied piece of carpeting, the documents said.
During a June search of the property, investigators uncovered the graves of seven pit bulls that were killed by members of "Bad Newz Kennels" following sessions to test whether the dogs would be good fighters, the documents alleged.
Members of "Bad Newz Kennels" also sponsored and exhibited fights in other parts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey and other states, according to the filings.
On Vick's website, he lists his birthplace as Newport News, "a.k.a. BadNews."
The documents said the fights usually occurred late at night or in the early morning and would last several hours.
Before fights, participating dogs of the same sex would be weighed and bathed, according to the filings. Opposing dogs would be washed to remove any poison or narcotic placed on the dog's coat that could affect the other dog's performance.
Sometimes, dogs weren't fed to "make it more hungry for the other dog."
Fights would end when one dog died or with the surrender of the losing dog, which was sometimes put to death by drowning, strangulation, hanging, gun shot, electrocution or some other method, according to the documents.
Vick initially said he had no idea the property might have been used in a criminal enterprise and blamed family members for taking advantage of his generosity.
Vick has since declined to talk about the investigation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Make Your Next Move Easier With www.relocation.com

Everyone knows that moving can be an extremely stressful experience. Picking up and transporting all of your belongings to a new place can be a traumatic thing. So, if you’re moving, you need to know about www.relocation.com. This great web site can help you in every aspect of your move – from finding a mover (including international movers) all the way to auto shipping (hiring someone to help you move your car to your new location when you relocate.) They’ve got it all, and can hook you up with storage companies, international shipping, self-serve moving tips and products and more. They can also assist you with home purchase loans, refinance mortgages, home equity loans, home owner insurance, auto insurance, term-life insurance, home improvement contractors, architects, designers, apartments for rent and roommates. They even have a careers section if you’re looking for a new job when you get to your new destination. This amazing web site can help you in every way imaginable when it comes time to move. By browsing their extensive site you’ll find detailed guides that have been specifically designed to make your move a very successful, economical and completely stress free environment. Make the right decisions and make your move a positive experience. Everyone has to move. Why not do it right by using www.relocation.com.

Star Jones Looked Better Fat

Have you ever noticed that some people just look better with a little meat on their bones? They lose a bunch of weight and suddenly they look weird. I think Star Jones Reynolds is a good example. Hey, God bless her – she lost all that poundage and benefited her health, no doubt. I’m just saying that she looked better fat.

I’m sure she’s much happier. What will Kathy Griffin and Howard Stern have to joke about now? They can’t do fat jokes about Star anymore.

Actually, skinny or chubby, I find Star Jones to be very annoying. Fans of The View had to listen to her endless wedding plans for almost a year. When she finally did wed, people throughout the country sighed in unison. Then, they had to listen to the stories surrounding her honeymoon, her husband and the early days of marriage. On and on. Day after day. Talk about self-absorbed.

Ever since her dramatic weight loss, Star Jones Reynolds has refused to confirm or deny that she had gastric bypass surgery.

How did she do it? Everyone is wondering. Did she do Atkins? Slim Fast? Isagenix? Lean Cuisine? Jenny Craig? NutriSystems? Did she take diet pills? Drink a bunch of water? Eat nothing but pineapple? Grapefruit? Now Reynolds says she's written a story for Glamour magazine that will address speculation about her slimmed-down physique. Pretty soon, the entire world will know her secret.

"I wrote an article because I really wanted to go as in-depth as possible about the way I've changed physically over the last 10 years on the air," Reynolds, 45, said recently while promoting her new Court TV (soon to be truTV) talk show. "And I thought that that would be the most effective way to answer everybody's questions."Her article, "Getting Over Myself," will be featured in the September issue, on newsstands Aug. 7, a representative for Glamour said Monday.

Reynolds, who has said she lost more than 100 pounds through diet and exercise, said she has no qualms about viewing photos of when she was very heavy."I actually like seeing the old pictures because what it says to me is, `You never allow yourself to get there again,"' she told reporters, according to AP Radio News.

"It was dangerous to me. Very dangerous. I was killing myself with a pork chop.”Reynolds, who married banker Al Reynolds in 2004, decided to use her maiden name as the title of her afternoon talk show, which premieres Aug. 20. Her husband, numb and unable to speak, had no comment.

Court TV has said Reynolds' show will be about criminal justice issues that intersect with the pop culture world. It's a return to her roots for Reynolds, a lawyer who began her TV career as a legal commentator on Court TV in 1991. She was an original co-host on ABC's "The View," starting in 1997, where she became acquainted with the glitz and glamour of show biz. She left the daytime talk show last year.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Free Online Dating Site That's REALLY Free!

There’s a great new free online dating web site out there that’s creating quite a buzz. There are a lot of free online dating sites out there that claim to be free but are far from it. Free dating sites are not always free, believe me. But, this site is completely free – no credit card is required. Find relationships that matter and meet thousands of fun, attractive men and women in your area. No gimmicks. No tricks. You’ll find the real thing at JustSayHi.com.

Waterbeds are Back in a Big Way!

Waterbed technology has come a long, long way. A lot of people think of the ‘70s and ‘80s when you talk about waterbeds. But, the truth is that waterbeds are coming back and are more popular then ever. The waterbed has changed considerably, with softside waterbeds, hardside waterbeds, high-quality, re-engineered and re-designed waterbed mattresses and all kinds of accessories, like special waterbed bedding, safety liners, water conditioners, repair kits, as well as fill and drain kits. They offer new features like dual waveless mattresses and thicker bladders, too. Yes, waterbeds have come along way since the ‘70s and ‘80s. But then again – haven’t we all?

This Week's Restaurant Review: Jeanty at Jack's in SF

Jeanty at Jack’s is an amazing restaurant, offering everything you could possibly want from a dining experience -- great food in a memorable place. The building alone is worth visiting. But, once you taste one of Jeanty at Jack’s incredible creations, you’ll know why you’re there.
Phillipe Jeanty, one of America’s finest chefs, has created a restaurant with an intimate atmosphere featuring classic French bistro cuisine that is expertly prepared and magnificently presented.

Located in a three-story building that was constructed in 1864, Jeanty at Jack’s has 14-foot high ceilings, lace curtains and a brass-railed spiraling staircase.

Signature dishes include an appetizer called Petit Sale, consisting of cured pork belly with a foie gras ragout; Jeanty’s famous Coqauvin, with chicken, mushrooms, bacon and red wine; Kobe beef ribs and an exquisitely tender Cote de Porc pork chop. Service is executed to perfection with a wait staff that is experienced and attentive. Jeanty at Jack’s provides an ideal setting for first dates, anniversaries and other affairs of the heart.

Here is what Phillipe Jeanty said about his vision for Jeanty and Jack’s. This was written before he even began the actual construction of the restaurant:

“When I first entered Jack's in the "heart" of old San Francisco, I felt transported back home as if I had entered a Parisian Maison Bourgeoise as, in Paris, many of these old buildings have been transformed into neighborhood brasseries. Combined with the history of Jack's, built in 1864, I immediately fell in love with the building and decided to be part of its history and to bring Jack's back to San Francisco.”

“My vision for the exterior of the building is to give it the welcoming brasserie ambiance with red colored wood paneling, lace curtains and brass lighting. As you enter the building, you immediately feel the history of the building. When you look up to the 14-foot high ceiling, you notice the sculpted relief on the ceiling and walls. The black and white checkered tile floor leads you towards the bar and the mezzanine located above. At the base of the spiraling staircase is a ten-foot tall bronze statue, which was originally in the lobby of an old Parisian hotel.”

“As you go up the brass-railed staircase to the second floor where the three private dining rooms are located, you step back into time to the era of the Parisian Maison Bourgeoise with its hand-painted folding doors and warm, homey feeling. At the top of the third floor staircase you see an authentic "Sidewalk Ice Cream Cart." You then enter a rooftop Parisian atrium with hand-painted vines on the walls and a greenhouse glass ceiling spanning the entire room.”

“The food at Jeanty at Jack's will be true to a Parisian brasserie, platters of shellfish, beet and mache salad, home-smoked trout and potato salad, steamed mussels with fries, sole meuniere, grilled ribeye steak with bearnaise, cassoulet with duck confit, flavorful cheeses and, to finish, tart tatin "a la mode," profiteroles, crepe suzettes and creme brulee - to name a few. I think the original French owners of Jack's from 1864 would be very proud!!!”

Well, the man has exceeded even his own goals with this restaurant. I give Jeanty at Jack’s the highest rating I can. It’s a must-visit for anyone who loves food even remotely.

JEANTY AT JACK’S is located at 615 Sacramento Street in San Francisco. Call them for reservations at: (415) 693-0941. Hours: (Mon-Fri) 11:30 am-10:30 pm; (Sat-Sun) 5:00 pm-10:30 pm

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dodgers Get Healthy. Barry Gets Huffy.

The Los Angeles Dodgers swept a three-game series from the San Francisco Giants this weekend and it was interesting to watch. I would compare it to the first stages of the sinking of the Titanic. When the ship hit the iceberg and sprung a leak. It took a while for the boat to sink, but it was only a matter of time. The Giants are dead, even though the body is still warm. Their demise is in sight and the team’s disastrous season will only get worse, I believe.

AT&T Park should change its name to Dodger Stadium, because when the Blue Crew plays there, it’s like a comfortable home. They’ve won 11 in a row at the Ballpark at the Bay. It seems as though there’s just something about clam chowder, sourdough bread and sea breezes that appeals to the guys from Southern California.

I thought it was classless when the San Francisco fans booed all three Dodger all-stars at the introductions prior to the MLB All-Star Game last week. The Mid-Season Classic should be a time when fans forget their rivalries and cheer for the game itself. The Giants fans even booed the LA Angels’ all-stars, evidently because the Halos defeated the Giants in the World Series of 2002. Talk about sore losers with long memories.

The Dodgers beating the Giants the way they did is something I like to call “karmatic snap-back.” It’s also called Just Desserts.

And then, to see Barry Bonds reacting the way he did during the series aftermath is even more satisfying to watch. If anyone has a karma reach around coming his way, it’s Barry. The man has a reservoir of bad karma that the Hoover Dam couldn’t prevent from overflowing.

This appeared yesterday on http://www.cbssportsline.com/:

Barry Bonds flipped a laundry cart to the ground yesterday and stalked away.

Calling himself an "embarrassment" and mired in one of the worst slumps of his career, it was his hardest hit of the day.

Bonds had a second straight 0-for-5 performance to extend his hitless stretch to a season-worst 20 at-bats, and his San Francisco Giants lost their 11th in a row at home to the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-3 on Sunday.

"It's an embarrassment for me to be wearing this (expletive deleted) uniform 'cause of the way I'm playing. There, that's it. Now go away," Bonds said at his locker.

Then he overturned the cart as he walked through the clubhouse, a rare public display of emotion with his chase of Hank Aaron's home run record at a standstill. He's been at 751 homers and four from tying the Hammer since July 3.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy suggested his star player might be too "pull conscious."

When asked about that, Bonds said, "That's not it."
Does he need a day off?

"That's not it, either."

Whatever it is, the Dodgers were happy his problems happened when they were in town.

"We didn't do much differently. We certainly caught him at a good time," Los Angeles manager Grady Little said. "He's at a point where he's really trying to get it done. He will eventually. But hopefully it will be against another team."

With Bonds searching for another long ball, the Dodgers won with small ball to hand their biggest NL West foe a fourth straight loss.

The Dodgers scored twice on squeeze bunts.

Bonds' legs are sore and it shows. This is the slugger's longest period without a hit since his record-breaking 2001 season.

"Everybody goes through it," Bochy said. "Barry, tough series for him, no getting around it. He knows it. We all know it. He's our go-to guy."

Matt Kemp had an RBI triple among his three hits and scored twice, including on Brett Tomko's safety squeeze in the fourth inning, to help the Dodgers continue their dominance in San Francisco's waterfront ballpark. Los Angeles' streak is the club's longest in any city since 13 straight wins at San Francisco's Candlestick Park from 1976-77.

A few Dodgers fans waved blue brooms during the seventh-inning stretch, calling for a sweep.
Bonds popped out in the first, flied out in the third, popped out to end the fifth, struck out swinging to end the seventh and popped up for the final out of the game. He was hitless for the sixth straight game and had consecutive 0-for-5 or worse performances for only the fourth time in his career.

"Barry Bonds, he's human," Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. "He's going to have times when he's not swinging the bat really well. We pretty much got lucky."

The way this weekend went for the Giants, their fans were forced to come down from the high of last week's All-Star Game in a hurry. San Francisco lost its fourth straight and is winless after the break -- at a time the team knows it must turn things around quickly.

Jeff Kent had a sacrifice fly against his former team and Tomko (2-7), another former Giant, pitched five innings for the win in his first start since May 21 against Milwaukee.

Jonathan Broxton struck out Dave Roberts to escape a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and the Dodgers won again after an 8-7 victory in 12 innings Saturday. Takashi Saito bounced back from consecutive blown saves for his 24th save in 27 chances.

Bonds' last homer -- his 17th this season -- came in the first inning July 3 at Cincinnati off Aaron Harang. Bonds has gone 23 at-bats without a homer since then.

The boats were out in force in McCovey Cove on the final day of a short homestand, hoping for a splash-hit souvenir. San Francisco now heads out for four games at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs starting Monday night, followed by three in Milwaukee.

Bonds was in an 0-for-17 funk this year before hitting his 746th homer against the Rockies on May 27. He had a hitless stretch of 21 at-bats from April 5-12, 2001 -- the year he broke the single-season home run record with 73 -- and had a career-worst 0-for-23 drought from July 6-20, 1986, during his rookie year.

"It's not just one guy," said Ray Durham, who bats before Bonds in the order. "We're a team. We're a family."

Bonds committed just his second error of the year in left field when he booted James Loney's single in the fourth. Kemp followed with his triple and scored when Noah Lowry interfered with him while trying to field a safety squeeze bunt by Tomko and was given an error.

Bonds' legs, feet and toes have been swollen in recent days and he's still tired from the All-Star Game festivities this past week in his city. He was selected to his 14th All-Star Game and first since 2004, and started in left field.

Lowry (9-7) had his winning streak snapped at three starts and saw the end of his seven-game unbeaten run at home. Bengie Molina’s two-run single put San Francisco ahead in the first and Durham hit a tying RBI triple in the fifth to make it 3-all.

Omar Vizquel, the Giants' 40-year-old 11-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop, turned a pretty, barehanded double play in the third when he fielded Kent's bouncer with his right hand.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

You're An Old Man, Charlie Brown

I grew up on Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. I remember how much I looked forward to the animated specials. When I was in Santa Rosa, Calif. on business recently, I drove by the Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center purely by accident. When I went in, I told them I was a freelance writer/blogger/BS Artist, and they gave me a complete tour FOR FREE! I am going to actually write an article about the Museum, but for now, here are some of the photos I took. (The second picture from the top is a collage of Lucy and Charlie made out of old Peanuts black & white comic strips.)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Truck Accessories Just Get it Done!

If you’re out there in the real world searching for mega high-quality, super well-built and masterfully designed truck accessories – well dudes and babes -- all I can tell you is you had better know what the hey you are doing! I mean, if you aren’t right on top of it, you could pay too much and get the wrong thing. Let’s say you’re looking for a Torza Ford Racing Tonneau cover, or a Lund Sun visor, or even some EGR Chrome Bug Shields. Or maybe a bed mat, or a bed rail, or a touch roll bar, something like that. All I can say, is it’s no time for amateur hour when you’re figuring out stuff related to truck accessories. If you didn’t come with the necessary knowledge, then you’re gonna be as lost as a Democrat at the Republican Convention!

I Found a Place for Dell Memory...

If you have a Dell computer and you need to purchase more memory, I found a place that has the very best selection and prices on Dell memory. There’s nothing more satisfying that knowing your computer has sufficient computer memory to run properly. There’s a web site called the memory store where you can get all of the best memory products out there on the computer cyber market today. You can compare name brand memory or take a long gander at one hundred per cent guaranteed compatible memory. They let you do the choosing, which I find very amusing and not the least bit confusing. Check out the memory store today. You’ll never forget the place!

Bull-Running is Bull----. But, It IS Fun to Watch!

Charging bulls gored seven people and seriously injured several others this week as this year's San Fermin festival in Pamplona served up its longest and most dangerous run of the bull-running season.
Fourteen people were hospitalized, seven for gorings, six for treatment of head and other injuries and one with a really bad hang nail, the local government announced. Three people are in very serious condition after undergoing operations.
Running with the bulls is a stupid tradition. A bunch of people (mostly drunk Spanish men) run alongside a herd of bulls, annoying and pestering them until they either complete the run or get injured in the process. The equivalent in this country would be running out into freeway traffic or playing chicken down on the railroad tracks. It’s a really dumb way to have a good time. But, I must admit, I enjoy watching it.
Bulls have been doing just fine for a long time running with each other. They don’t want to run with us. And with all the noise and people, I’m sure it’s no fun at all for them. I hear they do feed them well, though -- so maybe it’s a trade off.
Some folks reason that the tradition of running with the bulls has been devised by the Spanish as a way for the bulls to pay back the people for all the bull fighting that takes place throughout their country every year. If you look at it that way, it’s probably not so bad. Every time a bull gets a hold of some drunk, he’s essentially telling the poor sap, “And that’s for killing my dad!”
We don’t really do anything like that in this country. Florida doesn’t have a “swimming with the crocs” and Alaska doesn’t do a “skating with the polar bears” kind of thing. Most of our traditional animal-related festivals involve harmless stuff like watching frogs jump; groundhogs looking for their shadows, or waiting around to see a bunch swallows come home.
Here’s the rest of the most recent bull-running story, as it appeared in Bull Runners Monthly:
The herd of six 1,300-pound bulls, six steers and one really aggressive goat disintegrated shortly after the animals set off on the dash through the cobblestone streets of Pamplona in the sixth of eight planned runs.
One stray bull turned around and ran the wrong way. Herders with long sticks smacked it in the rump to get the animal pointed in the right direction.
The loose bull charged and tossed several runners—some of them clad in the traditional red-and-white garb of San Fermin—on its way to the bullring.
Several runners were trampled and seven runners were injured by bulls' horns. One 48-year-old man from Pamplona was gored in the chest and was reported to be in very serious condition. A 23-year-old Mexican was gored in the stomach and was also reported as very serious. And an 18-year-old kid got his feelings hurt when one of the bulls defecated on his brand-new Air Jordans.
The other runners who were gored were from Poland, Norway, Spain and Newark, with ages ranging from 23 to 50, officials said. They were all reported to be in serious condition.
The run lasted 6 minutes, 9 seconds, compared with the normal length of about 2 minutes, because the bulls separated—the most dangerous thing that can happen at Pamplona.
The festival in this northern town, renowned for its all-night street parties, dates back to the late 16th century. It gained worldwide fame in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises."
Since record-keeping began in 1924, 13 people have been killed during the runs, the most recent in 1995.

Friday, July 13, 2007

They're Baaaaaaaaaaaack!!

This is the time of year when the wild parrots of San Francisco eat juniper berries from the bushed right outside my window. I run down there whenever I see them to shoot photos. They are real hams and they seem to love the attention!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Your Mutt Will Love Paco Collars

Whenever I find a great company I always like to inform my readers about it. Well, I just discovered an awesome place that manufactures custom dog collars, belts and bracelets. They’re called Paco Collars. Everything they make is custom made, top quality and just beautiful. Made from the finest Latigo leather, Paco makes dog accessories that are handcrafted and guaranteed for life. Leather is by far the most natural material for your dog to wear, because if doesn’t irritate their skin or break the hair shafts. Check out Paco Collars. You and your dog will love their products!

San Francisco Was a Major League All-Star Host

San Francisco can be proud of the job it performed as the host of this year’s MLB All-Star Game. I personally got a chance to attend many of the festivities surrounding the event. Wherever I went, I talked to fans that had traveled from long distances (Japan, France, Holland, etc.) to be at the game, and all of them mentioned how much they loved San Francisco. Yes, the City by the Bay really rolled out the red carpet for this one and it showed.
Of course, I did everything I could to participate in All-Star Week, except for the most important thing (at least to me) which was actually being at the game itself. Who could afford it? Tickets were going for between $600 and $5,000 apiece and I’m just a low-paid freelance writer trying to survive in the most expensive city in the world. There are only a couple of events I would pay that kind of money to see. Maybe if Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin came back from the dead to do a concert. Or possibly the second coming of Jesus Christ. I’d pay five grand to see that, no doubt. Especially if the gift bag included a pass to heaven.
I had a great week hanging out with my fellow baseball fans, but the best thing was probably the parade before the game. All of the players drove by and threw stuff to the crowd assembled along the parade route – it was Mardi gras! It was a great opportunity to get very close to the players.
Then, I unexpectedly conned my way into the MLB All-Star Pre-Game Party. What a bash! They had so much amazing food, including sushi bars, oyster bars, chocolate fondue fountains and piles and piles of shrimp. I ate so much I thought I would burst. I also got to meet a lot of MLB officials and members of the media, which was a blast. For a moment I felt like I belonged and was momentarily able to forget that I had crashed the party.
Then, of course, there was the game, which I watched in the comfort of my home.
And what a great game it was! When Ichiro Suzuki (pictured above in a photo I took at the pre-game parade) raced around the bases as the ball bounced away from Ken Griffey Jr. for the first inside-the-park home run in All-Star Game history I was in heaven. It reminded me of a neighborhood softball game. What a wonderful fluke! On a night of confusing hops and some questionable calls, Suzuki and the American League came back to win – again.
Ichiro’s two-run homer in the fifth inning put the AL ahead, then Carl Crawford and Victor Martinez added a couple of over-the-fence shots and the Americans held on for a 5-4 victory over the Nationals. There was only one problem with Crawford’s blast – it wasn’t a home run. A fan caught the ball before it went over the wall. But, what the heck – it’s the All-Star Game. Bending the rules a little is permitted. It’s a friendly contest.
In a decade of absolute dominance, the AL has won 10 consecutive games played to a decision, with the notorious 2002 tie at Milwaukee interrupting the run.
There were other exciting moments as well. Alfonso Soriano hit a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth that made it 5-4, and the NL loaded the bases on three walks. Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez then retired Aaron Rowand on a routine fly to right for a save.
"I didn't enjoy it a bit," said AL manager Jim Leyland, so competitive that he screamed at an umpire in the ninth. The reason Leyland yelled at first-base umpire Charlie Reliford was because Derrek Lee of the Cubs checked his swing at a pitch that would have ended the game. The TV replay clearly showed that Lee swung. It should have been the end of the game. But, once again, MLB has its own interpretation of the rules during the All-Star Game.
Willie Mays, Bonds' godfather, was honored with a touching tribute before the game. In the Say Hey Kid's day, the NL ruled All-Star games but not anymore. The AL closed to 40-36-2 and improved to 5-0 since the All-Star winner received home-field advantage in the World Series.
Soriano, who joined Frank Robinson as the only player to hit All-Star homers with each league, connected off Seattle closer J.J. Putz, who then walked J.J. Hardy. Rodriguez relieved and walked Lee on a full count. A walk to Orlando Hudson loaded the bases before Rowand's fly ended it.
Suzuki, on the verge of a large contract extension from the Mariners, had been 3-for-15 in All-Star play coming in. He recorded three hits, was the game's MVP and will be remembered for his strange shot, unfamiliar even to ballpark regulars such as Bonds.
Fans had waited in kayaks out in McCovey Cove beyond right field in vain for some shots into the water -- no souvenirs found their way into the chilly bay.
Bonds, the center of attention in the days before the game, had a quiet night. He flied to right field in the first, hit an opposite-field shot to the warning track in left in the third, and then left the game at the top of the fourth.
He received a huge ovation after he came out on the red carpet during the pregame introductions and bowed three times to his adoring hometown fans. Hitting in the No. 2 spot -- his last regular-season appearance in that slot was 20 years ago -- he even faked a bunt on the first pitch of his second at-bat.
His chase for Hank Aaron's home run record resumes later this week, and the scrutiny will return. But for a night, the swirl of steroids speculation lifted along with the San Francisco fog.
Griffey drove in two runs for the NL with a first-inning single and a sixth-inning sacrifice fly.
Boston's Josh Beckett picked up the win, and San Diego's Chris Young -- who gave up Suzuki's homer -- was the loser.
Young entered to start the fifth and walked his first batter, Brian Roberts. One out later, Suzuki reached down and golfed a ball to right-center field. It hit off an All-Star ad in an area known as the arcade and instead of bouncing straight back, it kicked toward right field.
Young and the Padres should be embarrassed. The pitcher whined excessively about not being selected to the all-star squad, but was subsequently chosen by fans online. Then, he gives up a walk and a homer and essentially loses the game for the NL. Maybe La Russa knew what he was doing when he left Young off the team.
Before a ballpark record crowd of 43,965 on an overcast evening, Mays was honored for being perhaps the greatest five-tool player in the sport's history. After the All-Stars were introduced, he walked in from center field, flanked by Bonds and Derek Jeter, between two rows of the assembled players. The tribute was similar -- but less emotional -- than 1999's ceremony honoring Ted Williams at Boston's Fenway Park.
Griffey was the early star. He put the NL ahead with an RBI single in the first off Dan Haren, then threw out Alex Rodriguez trying to score from second in the fourth on Ivan Rodriguez's single.
Crawford homered with two outs in the sixth against Francisco Cordero to make it 3-1. The ball went a little to the center-field side of Suzuki's shot, about 20 feet from the sign that totals Bonds' homers, currently 751. A fan appeared to reach over the brick wall, about 19 feet high, and gather up the ball.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Katie Couric: This Anchor is Sinking

CBS executives are adamantly denying it, but there's a growing sentiment within the network that anchor woman Katie Couric is a very expensive, highly unfortunate and extremely embarrassing mistake. People just aren’t tuning in and Couric’s future on the network looks bleak.
Couric was a perfect fit for the Today Show on NBC. She was fun and perky, something folks covet early in the morning before they’ve had their coffee. She was really adept at talking to chefs doing recipes for gourmet macaroni and cheese or the guy who grew the biggest pumpkin each October. Her interviews with 13-year-old spelling bee champs and the latest Miss Universe were some of the best thing on morning television. But, when it comes to hard news, for some reason viewers don’t take Katie seriously.
The current situation has become so tenuous that Couric - the first woman to anchor a network nightly newscast by herself – could very likely flee from the CBS Evening News to assume another role at the network, probably after the 2008 presidential elections, CBS sources say.
Despite Couric’s A-list celebrity, her $15 million salary, and an enormous amount of promotion, the former star of NBC's Today has failed to improve the #3 Nielsen rating that the CBS Evening News had when she started nearly 11 months ago.
In a bottom-line business like television, that's a mortal sin. Already-low morale in the news division is dropping precipitously, according to a veteran correspondent at the network.
"It's a disaster. Everybody knows it's not working. CBS may not cut her loose, but I guarantee you, somebody's thinking about it. We're all hunkered down, waiting for the other shoe to drop."
Couric and CBS were a bad fit from the start.
"From the moment she walked in here, she held herself above everybody else," says a CBS staffer. "We had to live up to her standards. . . . CBS has never dealt in this realm of celebrity before."
Media experts predict Couric's ratings won't improve anytime soon, given that news viewers tend to be older and averse to change.
Couric, 50, draws fewer viewers than did avuncular "interim" anchor Bob Schieffer, 20 years her senior. Much of the feature-oriented format she debuted with is gone, as is her first executive producer, Rome Hartman.
"The broadcast is an abject failure, by any measure," says Rich Hanley, director of graduate programs at the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University.
"They gambled that viewers wanted a softer, less-dramatic presentation of the news, and they lost. It's not fair to blame Couric for everything, but she's certainly the centerpiece and deserves a fair share."
CBS Evening News this season averages 7.319 million total viewers, down 5 percent from the same period a year ago, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Couric's viewership has dropped nearly 30 percent since her Sept. 5 premiere week, when she averaged an inflated 10.2 million viewers and led CBS News to its first Nielsen win since June 2001.
In separate interviews, CBS News president Sean McManus and Evening News executive producer Rick Kaplan vehemently deny that Couric's future as anchor of the broadcast is in peril.
Couric "is the current anchor and the anchor of the future," McManus says. "Everyone at the network, from my boss [CBS Corp. president and chief executive Leslie Moonves] on down, is 100 percent behind her."
Others say CBS is in denial. "It's over. The only one who doesn't know it is CBS," says an executive at a rival network.
To bolster its argument, CBS points to Couric's attracting 6 percent more 18-to-49-year-old women than a year ago, while ABC and NBC are down sharply in those categories.
NBC Nightly News, with Brian Williams, is No. 1 this season with an average of 9.004 million total viewers (down 6 percent). Charlie Gibson's ABC World News has 8.739 million (up 2 percent).
Some predicted that Couric was destined to fail in her new position.
For starters, the 6:30 p.m. news and Today call for totally different skill sets. And those sets are not easily transferable.
Couric's effervescent personality and expertise with live interviews and ad-libs were perfect for morning TV, particularly over a leisurely two hours.
On a 30-minute evening newscast, however, what's required is the ability to read the TelePrompTer and not display too much emotion.
"I guess the evening news isn't ready for the morning news," quips Robert Lichter, president of Washington's Center for Media and Public Affairs.
Or, in the words of an NBC producer, "it's like asking a centerfielder to pitch. It's the same game, but requires totally different skills."