Monthly Archives: September 2011

Surprise & Commendation

A man of surprises.

Twice in one month!  That is, two unexpected yet impressive quotes out of the often-unpredictable mouth of California Governor Jerry Brown.

A few weeks ago, upon vetoing a bill to require skiers under 18 to wear helmets, the third-term Democrat stated:  “Not every human problem deserves a law.”

Then this week, in expediting the process for construction of a new stadium in Los Angeles despite legal and environmental challenges, Brown declared:  “But there are too many damn regulations… Let’s cut the barriers and regulations and move ahead.”

It sounds to me like this historically big-government career politician is undergoing a left-to-center shift in his return to the job he held three decades ago.  Perhaps this is precisely Brown’s strategy, appealing to a more centrist and even right-leaning audience in his now golden political years.  Let’s just hope it’s not the old “bait-and-switch” routine, distracting us with attractive less-government rhetoric while seeking a way to circumvent Prop 13 and raise property taxes.  Since thankfully he cannot do such a thing quickly or alone, I’ll keep my suspicion in check for now — if not my cynicism — and rest simply on his most recent and refreshing quotes.

Words like the above from Governor Jerry Brown capture my attention and earn my praise.  To my own surprise, on this, I commend him.  And I know I’m not alone, in either surprise or commendation.

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Posted by on September 30, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Famous People, Politics


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Momentarily Mistaken…

“What brand new car is this I’m approaching on my street?  I think it’s an Infiniti G Convertible, or — wait — perhaps a Lexus IS C.  It’s dark outside, so I’ll just keep walking closer for a better look.”

My inquisitive mental dialogue continued until I was upon the car with my certain answer.  I was looking, for my first time, at a 2012 BMW 650i Convertible.  While of course this grand machine is larger in every way than the Infiniti and the Lexus for which it was momentarily mistaken, I couldn’t help but lament the possibility of the all-new 6 Series being — well — mistaken for an Infiniti or a Lexus.

Engine enhancement, technical improvements and new luxury appointments notwithstanding, the third-generation 6 is looking like too many of its close relatives, namely a 3 on steroids or a 5 missing a top.  The now “old” model that lived through 2011 was far more distinctive and unmistakable in its styling; no other BMW looked like it, especially from rear view.  The newest incarnation does not demonstrate the same uniqueness, I’m sorry to say, at least not on first glance.

Still, whether momentarily mistaken for a related model — or worse, for something of a rival manufacturer — the 2012 BMW 6 Series seems altogether poised to once again prove itself the automotive marvel it’s always been.

And that’s my opinion.  What do you think?



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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, BMW, Cars


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Room for Improvement

My first meal was average.  My second one was passable at best.  Suffice to say, after two dinners involving two very different menu selections, I’m sorry to say I remain unimpressed.  Plus, eyeballing some other plates around me, I saw nothing else I’d rather have chosen.

The patio is pretty and pleasant, while the cocktail choices are creative, attractive and ample.  The food however, involving dry and fatty meat among all else, holds significant room for improvement.  While quantity is generous, quality comes up short.

Still, don’t rest solely on my opinion.  Give Nirvana a try for yourself the next time you’re in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco.  The setting is inviting and relaxing, and you can certainly enjoy those cocktails under some mature, tropical-like outdoor foliage that, to me, channels Waikiki’s long-gone Tahitian Lanai.  As far as food is concerned, as long as you keep your expectations low, you just might be satisfied.

I may or may not go for round three.  We’ll see.

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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, Restaurants, Reviews


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J.R. Lives!

He made it!  J.R. Ewing has hit his latest milestone, as Larry Hagman today turns 80 years old.

Now 16 years since Hagman’s well-publicized liver transplant, and 31 years after his character Ewing’s world-famous (though of course fictitious) gunshot wounds, the TV icon enters his new decade in the midst of reprising his infamous role.  That is, a new version of “Dallas” is coming our way in 2012, as Hagman celebrates a big day he once thought he’d never see.  I’m certainly thrilled that he is indeed here for it.

The eldest Ewing brother lives, in more ways than one.  Happy 80th J.R.!

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Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Dallas, Famous People, Media, News


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A Refreshing Pair

The signature fried chicken, which is always on the menu, features California poussin with a perfectly salty, crispy buttermilk batter. Another must-try is the macaroni and cheese, which comes topped with a huge stack of onion rings… (Lily Ko,

A surprisingly refreshing partnership

These sound delicious, and I’ll gladly give them a try on my next visit.  On my first encounter this past weekend, however, I opted for the light, refreshing and healthy watermelon/tomato salad.  While no doubt this pairing is well-known in the culinary world, it’s not one I’ve contemplated before now.  Impressive and satisfying as my selection was, I just might have to creatively combine these two ingredients at home.

In the meantime, give the watermelon salad a whirl for yourself, as an appropriate palette-starter to that fried chicken.  Oh, and where?  The NE corner of 8th and Folsom, at Citizen’s Band.

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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Food, Restaurants


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On Grizzly Peak

For the curving ascents and descents amid terrific views and less-than-terrific pavement, I’m immediately reminded of Mulholland Drive.  After various recent moments of watching cyclists pass by my friends’ home, plus one occasion of exploring the route by motorcycle, finally this weekend I pedaled my way along a significant stretch of Grizzly Peak Boulevard through the hills of Berkeley.

It really is the Bay Area’s Mulholland equivalent, as far as I’m concerned.  As such, like Mulholland for its winding and challenging terrain, I see why Grizzly Peak is so popular among cyclists.  A simple Google search for “Grizzly Peak Cycling” instantly reveals how well established this thoroughfare is on two wheels.

While my first relatively short-distance ride was certainly a good workout, my next will be an even better one, thanks to additional miles in store.  Like other terrific Bay Area cycling roads, I highly recommend this one!

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Posted by on September 18, 2011 in Cycling, Daily Activities


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Like The Rest of Us

The editorials are pouring in, as predicted.  Plenty of journalists, bloggers and assorted voices have an opinion on the opinions of Jacqueline Kennedy (pre-Onassis).  I don’t blame them, as I’m one among them after all.  Jackie is, to say the least, an immortal icon of unmatched mystique.

She was also, may I say again, human.  First Lady Kennedy held outlooks and impressions of everything and everyone, not from the same viewpoint as the rest of us, but still– just like the rest of us.  As such, nothing revealed this week via the release of her 1964 audio recordings strikes me as “shocking.”  On the contrary, I find her words refreshing, though-provoking and of course, amusing!

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis lived on for 30 years after making these tapes, moving through three decades of life in which her positions grew and evolved, again not like the rest of us, but– just like the rest of us.  While she may well be disagreed with, I see no reason for outright criticism.

For all the “grace, fortitude and civility” afforded to her over the past 50 years, Jackie is now, posthumously, more human than ever before.  After decades of her self-imposed guardedness that lasted well beyond her death, we’re now hearing from her directly and candidly.  While this may be “shocking” to some– or worse yet, “less than flattering,” we finally have a more complete picture of a beautiful, captivating– and imperfect– human being, just like the rest of us, but not.

Thank you, Jackie.  And that’s my opinion.


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A Woman of Opinions

She was soft-spoken and never granted interviews.  This doesn’t mean she lacked opinions, however, because as we are soon about to see, she most certainly did!  The late great Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is posthumously making headlines 17 years after her death and a half century after becoming first lady.

The privilege of hearing some of her more candid remarks is finally coming to us, in the form of 1964 audio tape recordings that are now becoming available to the public for the first time in history.  While naturally I can’t wait to hear them, a few humorous tidbits have already leaked out.  And to think I already own a Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis quote book, which apparently will need a new edition!

A figure of extraordinary allure and unparalleled style speaks to us “now” from a time long past, revealing her refreshing humanity in the face of the often seemingly unrefreshing position she held.  As much as I’ve always admired her, Jackie has just earned a big fresh dose of my respect.  And although I’ve never thought of her as snarky, this is not hard to believe.  This understandable personality trait was simply well-concealed under the obligatory “nice” veneer of her White House years, making her all the more fascinating to us today.  Suffice to say, when Jackie speaks, I readily listen.  It appears I’m not alone.

Here’s to a unique and unmatched woman of opinions!

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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Current Events, Famous People, News, Politics, Presidential


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Keep ’em On!

I won’t hold my breath.  Still, whenever the day does come– hopefully sooner than later– we can celebrate one significant step in the direction of not only ease and efficiency, but overall sense and sanity.

“Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently offered some good news for air travelers: The days of marching through airport security checkpoints in your stocking feet may soon be over.”  (LA Times)  Read the full article here.

In other words, our footwear will remain on our feet, allegedly, thanks to improvements in TSA screening technology.  Trust me, you’ll welcome this change the next time you’re wearing tall boots!

Now about those liquids…

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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in And That's My Opinion, News, Travel


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On The Map…

Some groovy original signage, complete with martini!

From Downieville to Mineral via Quincy, on through Red Bluff and Redding to Shingletown and seemingly forever beyond, my motorcycle carried me some 800 miles this past Labor Day weekend, in the company of three motorcycling friends.  In addition to the undeniable fact this was one long and exhausting journey, pockets of California appeared before me that never before had, some I never knew existed!

Our location remained a mystery to me much of the time, meaning… I really had no idea where we were!   Still, I always love an adventure, especially one in which the planning is done for me.  Had I looked at our route map ahead of time, I might have been tempted to try to alter our ambitious mountain journey.  Silly me to think the four of us were riding straight to Redding.  Suffice to say, the element of surprise ultimately worked in my psychological favor.  Tired?  Yes.  Sorry?  No.

My favorite stretch of road had to be Highway 36, heading west from Mineral down into Red Bluff.  It’s here I took notice of the highest number I’ve ever seen on my SV’s digital speedometer… and I suppose that’s all we’ll say about that.  Lassen Volcanic National Park is stunning and well worth the visit, while there’s no doubt far more surrounding terrain remaining for me to explore.  With a tinge of regret, after 400 miles of riding on Saturday I opted out of Sunday’s jaunt to Klamath Falls, Oregon, a city I memorably visited in 1998 and to which I’d be curious to return.  Instead, Redding’s Hilton Garden Inn satisfactorily relaxed me throughout the hot late afternoon.  This, before a festive and filling group dinner followed by the enjoyment of some “local color” on the eve of another 250 miles of throttle to get us home.  Monday’s dinner stop in Napa topped off the long weekend quite nicely.

I’m reminded of the enjoyment of motorcycle use for more than just daily stop-and-go city commuting.  Such a two-wheeled journey does not come often for me, nor will it.  When it does, however, I’m generally pleased.  And in this case, I’m happy to say Northeastern California is now on the map… mine, that is!

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Posted by on September 6, 2011 in Motorcycle, Travel


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