Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Now to the wine...

On Saturday we went to the SF Chronicle's Wine Competition Public Tasting. The official tasting competition took place over 3 days in January, and the entrants are all invited to appear here, at the public tasting, at Ft. Mason. It's an amazing day of wine and food, shared with hundreds of other wine lovers. I was truly surprised at the numbers of young people there... sometimes I wondered if they checked ID's at all. But I understand that students from the various programs, from Santa Rosa Jr. College to Cal Poly. It was super crowed, but everyone was pretty nice and in a good mood, so that helped.
At first we tried to stay together, but that was a nutsy idea, because one of us would be talking to the vendor, and the rest would be bored, so we soon wandered off in our own directions, letting our tastebuds and curiosity lead the way. At first I was going for the Pinots, but soon changed my tactics and began to seek out anything that wasn't a Pinot. That made the trek quite an adventure!
My usual mind set is to try to taste all the wines that are too expensive for me, all the stuff I would never ordinarily be able to afford. But then you feel like you might be missing some real finds that you actually could go out and buy. In the end, no matter what your plan, be open to surprises and there's no way to lose!
Out of the 300 or so wines available for tasting, I got maybe 50, That's enough, as I learned last time, if you try to sample everything you end up too wasted and you have a hard time getting home! Spit, spit, spit... that's the secret.
Here are the wines that I would recommend (my favorites being starred):
listed by:
the winery, the appellation or vineyard, price, award won
Handley Cellars, Anderson Valley, $28 -Double Gold
Row 11, Russian Hill, $32 --This winery is making some amazing pinots. Highly recommended.
*Row 11, Santa Maria Valley, $36, Gold
*Mac Murray Ranch, Sonoma Coast -We pruned vines on this ranch- the wine is outstanding!
Phillips Hill, Anderson Valley Toulouse Vineyard, $40, Gold
*Adamo- still a fav
*McKenzie Mueller- still a fav

The Gold winner, Best of Class, Flying Goat, didn't blow my socks off, so I'm not recommending it for the price.

*Macchia, Old Vine, Lodi, $18, Double Gold-- A fantastic value!
*Mazzocco, Stone Ranch, Anderson Valley, $24, Gold
Mazzocco, the other 2 vineyards were just as good!
Passalacqua, Dry Creek, $29, Gold
*Cycles Gladiator, Central Coast, $11, Gold --Not the greatest ever, but a good value for the price.

Petit Syrah:
*Gold Note, Fair Play, CA, $50, Gold, Best of Class - Loved this one!!!!!!
Wolff Vineyards, $22, Gold

Sauv Blanc:
Handley Cellars
For some reason I didn't like many of the SB's. It's hard to taste them after going red, so I guess it would be best to just stick to whites, if you want a good tasting of SB's. Besides, I'm stuck on the fruit forward NZ SB's, and the flat California SB's disappoint me. I'm prejudiced, I admit it.

*Zaca Mesa Winery, Santa Ynez Valley Estate Grown, $17, Gold- I very highly recommend this one!

Wattle Creek, Alnderson Valley, $50, Gold -- A tasty wine, but the Niner was more exceptional...
Niner Wine Estates, Paso Robles, $25, Double Gold I can't recommend this one enough! And I don't really go for cab's, so I guess it's a good time to start exploring this grape again..

*Council Tree, Edna Valley Ranch Estate Grown, $25 --Yummy! And a really nice winemaker too!

Rhone Style Blends:
*Epiphany, Santa Ynez Valley Revelation Vineyard, $32, Gold, Best of Class -an excellent wine, well worth the price.

Prager Portworks
Alapay, $25, Gold

The reason I don't include the year is that many of these wines will be already sold out and not available for sale by now. But with a reliable reputation of putting out an award winning wine, you can probably be assured of getting something delicious in the bottle.

The biggest surprise to me was the number of very good California ports that are becoming available.

It seems hard to imagine how many things I missed in 3 hours, but there were a lot of folks there, and sometimes I avoided the tables which were swamped (the double gold winners) and tried the less populated stands. I always feel bad for the one's who are just standing there with no one around, just because they don't have the "big" name.
And although everyone who was there, from pourers to winemakers, were quite friendly and eager to discuss their wines, my favorite quote of the day was a brush-off I got from the folks at Volcano Winery:
I walked up to an empty table and asked of a taste. I love volcanos, so I was genuinely interested in the name. I asked if they got the name because they grew their grapes on volcanic fields. (which is newest fad in viticulture at the moment) The guy pouring said he didn't know, he was just there helping out for the event, but he would ask the winemaker who was getting some stuff out of a box behind the table. As he listened to the question he got the look of "oh that stupid girl" on his face and walked up to me to deliver his rolling eyed proclamation "Heh, well, ALL soils are volcanic" with plenty of attitude. At that I felt like saying "Well, your wine sucks" but I just politely said "Umm, I don't think so," dumped my wine in the spittoon and turned away. I ran over to T (who is a geologist) and told him the story. We went on to our next discovery laughing all the way!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Who is the hero?

George Hincapie was involved in a crash just 3 miles into the race yesterday (Saturday). He got back on his bike, dropped back to have a visit with the doctor in the team car, and caught back up to the peloton. We can only imagine that he was either full of endorphins, adrenalin, pissed off that the timeout was ignored, or all of the above because he gave a big "fuck you" to the other teams as he pumped it up to lead the recapture of the breakaway group and assure the defense of the yellow jersey. Stuart O'Grady had taken the jersey for most of the stage, but in the end had to give it back as Discovery Team successfully kept Levi in yellow.

This morning it was revealed that big Georgie broke his wrist in that fall and went under the knife earlier today to put a plate and screws in his wrist. For this act of completely unselfish bravery and determination, he is the absolute hero of the tour!

Here's hoping for a speedy mending so he can participate in his beloved Paris-Roubaix this year.

Today's circuit race in Long Beach was perhaps a bit anti-climatic. I'm sure, as the eighth day of racing got underway, the riders were grateful not to face anymore mountains! But gawd, it's not very scenic, kind-of ugly actually, and I can't help but believe that if it were someplace else, more folks would have turned out. Bit alas, it was all about the sprinters, and at the end Graeme Brown made the big lunge a split second too early, causing him to lose his chance at the stage win.

I'm thrilled that Ivan Domingues, the Cuban from Toyota United, a non-pro team, grabbed the victory in the end.

Here are the three GC winners- Jason, Levi and Jens

The team winners enjoying themselves- CSC

Vive la Tour of California! I'll miss the daily excitement, but I know all things pass and there's so much more cycling coming up now. There are rumors that it might be expanded into 10 days next year, which would allow for some time perhaps in the Sierra or desert areas. It's exciting to see so many folks get turned on to cycling. And now that teams are taking the lead in anti-doping, I think it will only get more respected in the public eye. (I wish baseball would do the same)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Time Trial results

While we are waiting for results... some yummy yum pics for you!
Ivan Basso

Paolo Bettini

Tom Danielson- OMG I'm gonna faint!

the above pics thanks to Coda2
the following pics thanks to KWC
Georgie and Lance

OK we just had an earthquake....but it wasn't very big...
So now to the official results:
Stage individual results:
1. Levi DSC

2. Jens CSC

3. Jason McCartney DSC

4. Cancellera CSC
5. Georgie DSC
6. Julich CSC
9. Basso DSC
14. Danielson DSC

Overall GC Standings:
1. Levi DSC
2. Jens CSC
3. Jason DSC
4. Bobby CSC
5. Van de Velde CSC
6. O'Grady CSC

Overall Team Standings:
1. CSC
2. DSC
3. TMO

Race leaders:
KOM- Christophe Laurent CA
Sprint- JJ Haedo CSC
GC Leader- Levi Leipheimer DSC
Best young rider- Robert Gesink RAB

Jens and Levi beat everyone else by a huge margin! It's all out war between these 2 now for the yellow jersey. But Jens is a full 21 seconds behind, so it's not so easy. Discovery team finished strong! See ya tomorrow!

Solvang Time Trial

It's a gorgeous day in Solvang and this is the day Levi could lose the lead...
With the top of the standings crowded with guys within seconds from Levi in the overall GC classification, today's individual time trials could upset the field considerably.
Jens Voight and Chris Horner will be looking to make their way to first place....
World time trial champion Fabian Cancellera is the favored rider to win the stage.
Usual time trial fav David Zabrinske is out of the race, having been caught in the disastrous crash-up in Santa Rosa on Monday.
Updates as they come...

BTW, Google and Adobe has provided an amazing coverage of the race online... otherwise you can catch an edited replay on the Versus cable channel at 8PM.

And meanwhile.... can I just say word about Discovery Channel? Last year they pretty much sucked in the Tour de France. Maybe it was the loss of Lance, their formidable leader for so many years, maybe it was the drug allegations. This year they have reassembled a strong and very disciplined team. No one does strategy like Bruyneel's team. This year, in the Tour of California, here at the very beginning of the cycling season, they are making their re-emergence known.
Right now the team is in 8th place, but really they can't really do much except protect the yellow jersey. Things could change with the time trial.
Jason McCartney is only 17 seconds behind Levi, and he's 6th in the KOM race. After a bout with food poisoning on Monday, he's back proving himself to the team.
Hincapie is the current American Road Racing champion, and is focused on the Paris-Roubaix in April.
Basso, who returns to racing after being cleared of the Spanish drug scandal last year, will defend his Tour of Italy title in May. His leg got banged in the crash on Monday, so he's lagging a bit lately.
Tom Danielson, a young American rider, won the Tour of Austria last year and will lead Discovery in this year's Tour of Georgia in April.

Rainy day races

What started as a very stormy day...

Ended up being an amazing race!

It was a day for the GC leaders to remain safe, and rested during the 131 mile, 5 hour ride down the Pacific Coast Highway. And a day for some guys with no chance of winning the GC to jump forward and capture a King of the Mountain, Sprint or Stage victory to take home. All photos courtesy of the San Luis Obispo Tribune

Here are the boys riding to the finish in SLO. What a great turnout to welcome them in!

There was another long breakaway, that eventually, right at the last minute, got swallowed up and the World Champion Paolo Bettini lunged his bike forward to win by, what I believe must have been an inch, and take home his first ever win in America. Poor Gerald Cioleck, the T-Mobile rider who lost by such a close margin. Such is the world of cycling- where one guy can work hard to get at the front of the pack,only to have victory ripped from his hands in the last millisecond by a rider waiting in the slipstream to lunge out at the last moment! It's very exciting.

Speaking of Slipstream, they win for the most "styley" outfits and for singlehandedly bringing argyle back into fashion...

Here's a nice story from CA Slipstream rider, Lucas Euser, currently in 4th place for the KOM jersey.

So the day ended, Levi stayed safe with no accidents and his Discovery team protected him well. He is thinking of nothing but Friday's time trial, I'm sure.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tour updates...

How exciting can it get? It makes me feel lucky that I got up close to the stage winners on the very first day!
Let's see- Graeme Brown won stage 1 and

Jens Voight won stage 3! Look at him on that low rider! Heeheeheehee

I didn't get any pics of JJ Haedo, who won stage 2. But I saw him win stage 1 last year, and that was cool for him to win a stage two years in a row!
Today, Stage 3, was the most exciting yet. Spoiler ahead...

So I haven't been following cycling but 3 years now, and I haven't had the fortune to see an early breakaway succeed like it did today. And the amazing thing is that, after absolutely no-one would help Levi move the peloton up to catch the breakaway, he did it all by himself. He had to prove to the others that he really did deserve the yellow (gold/mustard/whatever) jersey after the rules were changed yesterday.
For a while there I really thought that Levi was going to be stuck in the peloton and lose the lead. BTW, what's up with Mr. Sexy Ivan Basso? Where is he? Being a good teammate, I guess. I was wondering who Team Discovery was going to get behind, and I guess we have our answer now. LEVI! Maybe Basso's saving up for later in the season.
Levi's performance was brilliant. It really comes down to mental toughness, strategy, training and absolute hunger for the win. Unless he stuck a testosterone patch on his balls... well, he was tested right away, so we'll see.
Congrats to our man Chris Horner for being right up front to the very finish! And to Jens Voight for the win. He deserves it!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Don't forget the frogs...

Frogs are disappearing due to the chytrid fungus. I love frogs and this is very alarming. Scientists are setting up a project called the Amphibian Ark and are beginning to collect frogs in attempt to both study the fungus and future re-population.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tour De California

Today was a fun, fun morning and afternoon spent at the starting area of the Amgen Tour De California bicycle race. We got there early to visit all the booths, get a bunch of free swag, and watch the guys warming up. Once the race started we rang our cowbells and cheered the racers on. The predicted rain stayed at bay in San Francisco, and it turned out to be a great start to what should be and exciting week of cycling.

Try to ignore the guy's head, (I'm short, what can I say) and you can see what a gorgeous day it was.

BMX exhibition area...

It's a bird.... it's a plane....

Whaddya know? I happened to snap a pic of Monday's Stage winner, Graeme Brown!

Jelly Belly team bike trailer- interesting to see all the unassembled bikes-

Christophe Le Mevel and guys of Credit Agricole...

Yum yuuuuuummmmy Ivan Basso...

The venerable Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin

And Bob "tour day france" Roll

Jens Voight of CSC, one the most famous cyclists entered in the race, at the starting gate-

Who's the most important guy? The Mechanic!!! Look at that dreamy frame!

Jacob Piil of Team T Mobile warming up-

Georgie Hincapie!!!!! I always cheer for him-

Paolo Bettini- World Road Race Champion

Jens Voight- Team CSC, excitedly explaining the course to a teammate-

Like a good horror story?

try reading this...

What's so funny George?

At a farewell reception at Blair House for the retiring chief of protocol, Don Ensenat, who was President Bush's Yale roommate, the president shook hands with Washington Life Magazine's Soroush Shehabi. "I'm the grandson of one of the late Shah's ministers," said Soroush, "and I simply want to say one U.S. bomb on Iran and the regime we all despise will remain in power for another 20 or 30 years and 70 million Iranians will become radicalized."

"I know," President Bush answered.

"But does Vice President Cheney know?" asked Soroush.

President Bush chuckled and walked away.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Please write your representatives!

I can't believe our fucking pres. has the nerve, the NERVE to demand more money...
billions wasted

and while fat cats are constructing swimming pools with gov. money, the troops stuck over there don't even have the supplies they need...
is this how we support our troops?
or this Washington Post article
care to discuss?

Is it really going to change? Are the Dems going to grow balls and stand against BushCo??? I want to see some real action of the opposition, not just meaningless words. Write your congressperson and tell them to reject Bush's budget. He wants to cut SS by 60%... 60%?????
Think this is a great place to raise your kids? think again.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Anyone know Palms?

Here are the 2 Palms in our backyard. They are much taller than our 3 story house, so what does that make them... 50 feet tall? I wonder how old they are...

For years they grew on their own in a mostly neglected back yard, their only competition being nasturtium, oxalis and a huge clump of crocosmia.

Now look at this... my landlord abhors any empty space, and has filled the yard with all kinds of plants that have to be watered ample and regular. He has planted many plants right up to the trunk, with no regard to the crown of the tree.

He is training passion flowers up the trunks.

It's hard to see, but he's planted a Callistemon citrinus right there, literally 2 feet from the trunk of the palm. Don't these Callistemon's have very invasive roots?

Anyway, I'm very worried that he has signed a death warrent for these Palms. The competition for water alone-- if he ever does stop watering the yard every freakin' day, it could get bad fast. Damage to the root crown from his constant digging and fussing about, and being that they are so tall, and perhaps old... it just worries me.

Am I over reacting???

Studying the elements...

For soils class we have to know many of the elements, and memorize parts of the Periodic Table. As I'm wandering about the elemental symbols, I notice 3 at the bottom in a row- Uranium, Neptonium and Plutonium. Hmmm, very interesting that these were named in order after the last 3 planets of our solar system, don't you think? There must be a story here....

In the ancient world, 7 elements were known, and seven planets. These first elements were associated with the planets- Gold/Sun, Silver/Moon, Mars/Iron, Mercury/Mercury, Jupiter/Tin, Venus/Copper, Saturn/Lead.

Turns out that Uranium, pictured above as Uranocircite crystal, was discovered from mined ore in Germany in the 1789. Martin Klaproth had already discovered another element, Tellurium, and with the first seven planets taken, he noticed no element was named after Earth. So he named the element with the Latin Tellus or "earth". When he discovered Uranium , at first he wanted to name this new element after himself, Klaprothium, but fortunately resisted the temptation and decided to name it after the next available planet, Uranus, which had been discovered just 8 years earlier by William Hershel. Hershel was a musician who was both the director of the orchestra in Bath, England and an accomplished astronomer. He named his planet after Urania, the muse of astronomy, according to some sources, or Uranus, the god of the sky. But whichever it was, it just so happens that both Uranus and Uranium were the last planet and element, respectively to be discovered for quite a few years.

Neptunium was made in 1940 at the Berkeley Laboratory (UC Berkeley) by the irradiation of Uranium with neutrons. Apparently between 1934 and 1938 many teams of scientists were trying the same experiment, and wherever it was successful, they gave the resulting substances names- Ausonium in Italy, after the ancient name for Italy, Bohemium for Bohemia in Germany and Sequanium in France, after the Latin name for the Seine. But all these "new" discoveries turned out to be false elements, in fact being only mostly Barium and Krypton. Finally Edwin M McMillan and Philip Abelsonmade the discovery in Berkeley, and named it after the next planet of the solar system. And as an aside, Neptune may be the Roman god of the sea, but the Greek god of the sea is Poseiden, and that's what the Greeks call it... Poseidonio!

Finally we come to Plutonium, first prepared in 1940-41 again at Berkeley Labs by bombarding Uranium with deutrons. Pluto, the planet, was discovered in 1930 and named after the Greek god of the underworld. About the naming, one of the original scientists, Glenn T. Seaborg said:
"In that first report we decided to name the element Plutonium, just like Urianium is named after Uranus... We should have named it "Plutium" but we liked Plutonium better. It just sounded better. And the symbol obviously should have been Pl, but we liked Pu better...." (heh heh)

Turns out that the report was held in secret until the end of WWII and finally published in 1948. This is when the names of both Neptunium and Plutonium were first revealed to the world.

So there ya go... maybe I'm the only person on earth who thinks this is facinating... lol... but somehow I don't think so...

Friday, February 9, 2007

Kites of DOTA

DOTA is the Black Rock City Department of Tethered Aviation, my freaky family from all over the world who gather each year at Burning Man to create art, chaos, hang out and, most importantly, fly kites. This is a tribute to the kites of DOTA over the years and the artists who make and fly them. (in no particular order at all)

Tim Elverston made this Cursor kite in 2005.

Mort and Ginny Linder created this steel kite sculpture in 2004 and it's become a camp icon.

Mark Ricketts built our mylar Spirit Kites in 2004.

Tristan models Ty Billings' tie-dyed kites.

The Red Line Project kite was designed and built by Dean Jordan, sewn by members of DOTA in 2005. This 200 sq. foot kite with a tail approaching a quarter of a mile has been flown many times in many places since.

Our Ghost kites were designed by Dean Jordan, built and sewn by DOTA members and flown in 2005 and 2006.

The Man- designed and built by Chris Shultz in 2006.

The Morpho kite, designed and built by Tim Elverston and Ruth Whiting.

The Red Line is launched at Marina Green in San Francisco.

The Red Line high in the sky.

Me flying the Man.

Morphos at sunset.

Ghost kites and the Man kite fly over Burning Man at night.

Spinflight bus built by Mar Ricketts in 2003.

Katri flying Dean Jordan's Airform kite.