Monday, December 31, 2007

Day Six: Los Angeles - Beverly Hills and The Grove


First and foremost; a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year to you all.

Yesterday we went to the equivalent of Jerusalem for American Jewish women: Beverly Hills. Specifically, Rodeo Drive.

We started the day at Nate & Al's for breakfast, which is my wife's favorite restaurant on the West Coast. It is the mother of all Jewish delis. I've eaten there many times in the past and yesterday was the first day I didn't see Larry King. I has the scrambled eggs with salami and stuffed cabbage. That might not sound right on paper, but it makes perfect sense at Nate & Al's.

After that we cruised around Rodeo for a while. The Wife amazed me and didn't purchase a thing, although she I gave her full license. I give her a hard time but at the end of the day, she is pretty pragmatic. Alas, wish I could say the same for myself. I bought myself a sweet ass special edition, Japanese import hoodie from North Face that was far too expensive. You can't go to Rodeo Drive though and not purchase something.

After that we cruised to The Grove, which I had never been to previously. It's a combination enormous mall/enormous farmers market, but in my opinion it was nothing special and way too crowded. Wish I could say more but it merits not much more than a sentence or two. We headed home and The Wife took the kids to the Santa Monica pier, which they loved.

I went for a run to Venice, my normal run when I am in LA, when I encountered the coolest thing. As the sun was setting. I noticed that there were about a hundred or so people gathered on the beach. I ran over to see what all the commotion was all about, and it turns out to be a massive drum circle/hippie dance/sun saluation dance/jam. Think Grateful Dead parking lot, circa 1968. When you run smack into a drum circle, there's only one thing you can do: jump in and freaking dance. So that's exactly what I did.

California, baby.

Happy to be alive.

Happy New Year y'all.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Day Five: Santa Barbara-Ventura-Los Angeles




I would have to say that if any place has "disappointed" me on this trip, it would probably be Santa Barbara. In fairness though, because of time our visit was mainly limited to Main Street, so I am sure that my view would change had I seen more. The other element to it is I've heard such great things, and I think as a result it was a little built up in my head. All that being said, it's certainly a cool and beautiful town. It reminded me in certain respects of Santa Cruz, though I think I liked the vibe a bit better in the 'Cruz. The other part of it is we didn't really have any sites to see ala Hearst Castle, Aquarium, Big Sur et al. I will say that my run along the ocean was pretty darn nice. We found an outdoor store with a climbing wall and the kids hit it full on. The Little Boy climbs once a week and I expected him to be good but the Little Girl is really something. She even had the climbing folks in the store nodding their heads and laughing. She is going to be a great athlete.

After cruising around for about half the day, we took off and called an audible to stop in Ventura (it wasn't in our original "itinerary" -- not that we really have/had one). Anyway, on a lark I asked the Wife if we could try to find Patagonia headquarters. I recognize fully how dorky that makes me sound, but as I stated previously, I am obsessed with that brand and for me, a trip to where it all began is the equivalent of a retail Haj. Lo and behold, thanks to my handy dandy Motorola Q, we found it without too much trouble; attached is a photo of me in front of the original building. One of the dudes who worked there took me around back and showed me the original ironworks toolshed that Yves ran prior to founding the company. I also saw the daycare center that they have for their employees. It was definitely pretty cool for me, even though the Wife spent a considerable amount of time rolling her eyes. I also must say that the coast line along Ventura was absolutely off the hook; maybe the prettiest line of coast we've seen, which is really saying something.

After that we rolled into LA. The Little Girl in particular was for some reason particularly stoked to get to LA. I think she has the shopping gene, much like her mother. We are staying at The Georgian Hotel here in Santa Monica, which is where I stay virtually ever time I come to LA for business, which is a lot. They rolled out the red carper for us, which I greatly appreciate. They have an amazing staff here, which is a major reason I've been coming here for more than three years.

So, we've finally arrived in our final destination. Today we hit the mean streets of Rodeo Drive, but I'll save that for tomorrow.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Day Four: Cambria-Santa Barbara




Sorry for no post yesterday; by the time we pulled into Santa Barbara we were just exhausted and for the first time during this trip our hotel didn't have wireless access.

So, yesterday morning started with a nice run around the beach at Cambria, which was terrific. One of the nicest aspects to this trip is the Wife and I are both waking up early and going on His and Her runs while the other watches the kids. Yet we're still managing to get out the door around 9 am so it has no impact on our day.

First and major activity yesterday was a trip to Hearst Castle. I honestly wasn't really relishing this visit, as I viewed it as a tourist trap (which it kind of is). I also can't really deal with crowds.. Anyway, I was actually very pleasantly surprised: I found the tour to be utterly fascinating and it very much exceeded my low expectations. William Randolph Hearst was a larger than life character -- I imagine he was some sort of cross between Rupert Murdoch/Donald Trump/Hugh Heffner and I interested in learning more about him.

The house itself is absolutely beyond belief. Pictures attached are the grand pool (the indoor one is even more amazing), and the entrances to both the castle and into the Assembly Room (where guests assembled for cocktails prior to dinner). I could have stayed there all day, except that it was a little lost on The Girl, and I ended up having to carry her through most of the Tour. We went on the five room tour: The Assembly Room, Dining Hall, Billiards Room, Movie House (as big as a modern day theater) and the indoor pool. We also walked through one do the guest houses as well, which were mini mansions unto themselves.Each room was more grand than the previous and it really was a site to behold.

After that we walked around downtown Cambria and I was very, very impressed. Though Cambria has a tiny population and is kind of in the middle of nowhere (unless you consider Paso Robles and/or San Luis Obispo to be "somewhere") it's being heralded as the "new Monterey" and the downtown area is as charming as you can imagine. It's a cross between the artsiness/galleries of Monterey/Carmel, yet it has a real Western saloonish-ish, goldmining flavor. We were lucky enough to catch the Friday afternoon farmer's market, which was definitely another highlight (featuring the best dates and snap peas I've had in a while).

We got a late jump on things and didn't roll in Santa Barbara until late. I'll save that for the Day Five post.

With the exception of occasionally poorly behaved kids (and in fairness to them, they aren't really being all that bad) this trip is one of the most enjoyable and interesting ones I have been on in quite some time and I recommend it highly.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Day Three: Carmel-Big Sur-Cambria




Another beautiful day in Paradise.

Day started off perfectly: Wife woke up and ran, then I went for a run. One of the great things about running is that it's a terrific way to experience a new locale. I got lucky and picked up an amazing trail -- The Monterey Historic Trail -- and it was incredible all the things I was able to see during a five mile run.

After that it was back to Carmel, where we took the kids to the beach. The beach was magnificent and in certain respects reminded me of Stinson Beach. It's a shame Northern California waters are so cold, because the beaches really are amazing. After that we drove through Carmel again, and then headed up to Cambria, which is where we are now. I can't tell you what kind of town this is as we pulled in late, but the downtown is very charming. We are literally across the street -- as in about fifteen feet -- from the Ocean and evidently it's a popular surf break, called "Beatles."

Surf breaks have the coolest names; the other day we passed by the infamous "Ghost Trees" break in Monterey, where a big wave dude died two weeks ago. Evidently they were breaking about forty feet and he got pinned.

Without question, the highlight of today's trip was the drive through Big Sur. Big Sur is hard to define; it's not really a town per se, it's more like a region or County. It goes for about 50 miles or so and has a very, very small population. That all said, it might be the most beautiful region I have ever seen; it is virtually untouched. I could not get enough of the views. We stopped to check out the Ventana Inn, which is very popular and on the way to Cambria, we stopped to see the Elephant Seals at Point Lomitas, which was quite a site.

All in all a solid day. The kids were actually pretty well behaved for the most part, until they started flicking boogers at each other earlier this evening.

The Boy is reading over my shoulder and proofreading.

He wants everyone to know his favorite part of the day was watching High School Musical II for the eleven millionth time. He says that he also really enjoyed going to the aquarium and tomorrow he looks foward to seeing Hearst Castle.

I"ll post a lot more pictures tomorrow. We are in no man's land and I am barely getting a cell signal, thus pictures are very slow in downloading.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Road Trip Day Two: Monterey and Carmel-By-The-Sea








So, Day Two of our little road trip and wouldn't you know, for the first time in about five years the Little Boy comes down with an ear infection. Or so we think. We'll probably know for sure after tonight. To be on the safe side, we found a clinic and are prepared to head out there early in the morning.

I'm increasingly convinced that kids are put on this planet solely for god's entertainment.

Anyway, health issues aside we headed to the Monterey Aquarium this morning, which was pretty rad. The highlight for me was the only great white shark in captivity; crappy picture attached. I thought that was super cool. They have a million plus gallon talk that featured some wicked fish, including a couple of four hundred pound tuna. One mans tuna is another's sashimi.

After that, we walked down Cannery Row, which was made famous in several John Steinbeck books. A bit of a tourist trap but you can really sense the history of the area. After that we let the kids blow off some steam at the Dennis The Menace park, which was one of the best parks I've ever seen. The Boy in particular really dug the climbing wall.

Late in the afternoon, we took a cruise around Carmel. Holy cow; I used to think La Jolla was my favorite place on the planet, but no more. Not even close, actually; this place is off the charts beautiful. Only thing is I think you need to have an eight figure net worth to be able to afford it. But ma is it beautiful, bucolic, charming and any other adjective you can think of.

After that a terrific dinner at a great local joint that cooks only using locally grown foods and now we're all in our hotel room watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Now that we are over yesterday's driving debacle, this is shaping up to be a nice little trip.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Road Trip Day 1: Marin to Monterey



Woke up this fine Christmas morning and scored a quick 20 mile bike ride with Dave. If anyone sees my frozen toes on Camino Alto, I'd love to have them back. It was a great ride, but a tad cold. Big ups to the Wife for allowing that one.

Hit the road to Monterey just after lunch and the drive was just magnificent. Alas, the two children in the back: not so magnificent. I thought 2 1/2 hours wouldn't be so bad but man was I wrong. FIghting, fighting and more fighting. My favorite is when they fight over one looking at the other the wrong way. You'd think they were freaking bloods and crips or something.

Anyway, we got into Monterey at around 3:30, just in time to do the infamous 17 mile drive around Pebble Beach. No question you all need to add this one to your "life list" -- it's simply that magnificent. As I told The Wife, I've never been so happy (enjoying the craggy ocean views) and miserable (listening to whining kids) at the same time.

The attached two photos (these are the ones from my iphone; I'll attach ones from my camera over the next day or so) are of the sunset over Pebble Beach, and the other one is the Lonely Cypress, which is a famous tree that sits alone on a bluff right over the water.

Tomorrow is the Monterey Aquarium and more siteseeing. And hopefully better behaved kids.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Road Trip


Just returned from a very Jewish Christmas eve; movie (National Treasure -- not half bad) and Chinese food. For all you Christian friends out there -- Merry Christmas by the way -- a movie and Chinese food is a Jewish tradition that dates back almost 3,000 years.

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My main boy Dave is in from Chicago with his wife and two kids. I've been razzing Dave for almost a year and a half about moving to the West Coast. Every time I go on a Paradise bike loop ride I stop in one particular sport and email Dave a photo with some variation on the message "Come West Young Man." I'm not trying to give him a hard time; just trying to provide the impetus to move as I know he likes it out here and he loves to bike. Anyway, I was super stoked to go on a ride with Dave this afternoon. It was a beautiful 60 degrees (60 degrees during Christmas?!) and were were just loving life. So anyway, we stopped for a photo, attached, at the same exact location. That was pretty cool.

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Tomorrow the Solomon's head out on a six day road trip down South on the infamous Highway One. We plan to spend the first two days in the Monterey area hiking and visiting their world-famous aquarium. Following that is a brief overnight to Cambria, where we plan to stop and tour Hearst Castle. From there, it's on to Santa Barbara, and then onward ho to Anheim (Disney) and Los Angeles to chill, and according to my wife, shop at Fred Segal. Anyway, presuming the kids behave (a big presumption) this should be a really cool trip. I plan to bring the computer and post photos regularly.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Day Three


All is somewhat normal on the lice front though the wife has become slightly obsessed. She is literally consumed by/with lice. She's washed the Girl's hair countless times, treated her with olive oil (!) twice, got her a hair cut and my house has never been cleaner (the one upside to all this). I do believe (hope, pray) that the Great Lice Debacle of 2007 is over.

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We went to a very nice holiday party last night at our friends house. Stayed up a bit too late, woke up early and ran a gnarly ass 20k (12.4 though it was actually 12.8 miles). This one was just as hard as last week - maybe worse as it was longer -- but boy oh boy were these trails spectacular. I brought my iphone and had every intention of taking photos but alas, I was too focused on not falling to take pictures. I did manage to get one though: attached is a photo of me and my friend Hope (you all might remember her as my partner in crime at the Big Kahuna half ironman) at the start.ed This was Hope's first trail race and she absolutely rocked it. I think Hope is coming to terms with the fact that she is inevitably going to run an Ironman. My prediction: 2009.

This was my final race of the year (presumably). Here's the race tally for the year:

Way Too Cool 50k
Big Kahuna Half Ironman
Vineman Sprint Triathlon
20k Rodeo Beach Trail Run
17k Muir Beach Run
17k Angel Island
12k Bridge to Bridge Run
10k Race to the Far Side

A bit lighter from a racing standpoint than year's past, but not too shabby considering I've been dealing with cancer at varying intervals throughout the year.

Word.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Saga Continues

Day 2 of Lice Watch, 2007.

Gotta be real careful what I say here: while the Wife was mildly bemused by yesterday's post, tempers are growing shorter and shorter with each passing minute.

The day started at 5:45 am with showers, combing and frantic and furious calls to our friend Liza in NY. I was listening from bed as instructions (yet another set) and directives were given.

The Girl had to go to Lice Patrol at school and managed to pass muster. She was allowed to go to class.

The Wife went for professional examination and passed muster.

The Boy passed muster.

Came home tonight to surgical procedure/lice remnant removal #2, which lasted for about 1.5 hours. The Girl then got her hair doused with olive oil, which she evidently needs to keep in her hair for 12 hours to ensure the Death of all Eggs; she is currently sleeping with a hair net. Not only does none of this bother her, I believe she is relishing in the attention. The visuals that have been occurring in this household over the past 24 hours will remain with me for many years to come. The best one: watching walk around at Walgreens (fwhere she got a little toy for being a good patient) in her PJ's and hairnet. And don't ask me for an explanation for the olive oil, I'm just the messenger.

Hopefully, we are nearing the end of this debacle. For the Wife's sake, I certainly hope so; tomorrow is her b-day. Joking aside, she definitely deserves a break.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Attack of the Hair Bugs

A bit of background about The Wife: she's a pretty tough broad. Been through cancer herself and of course mine. Two c-sections. She's been uprooted and moved twice. Two cute but somewhat pesky kids. Has to deal with my sorry ass on a daily basis. As I said, not too much fazes her.

So imagine my surprise when I get a call this afternoon and hear her sound like never before. Her voice is breaking and all I can make out is "It's the Girl. There's a problem at school."

A million scenarios immediately run through my head. DId I miss an earthquake? She bite another kid? She eat three fruit roll ups for lunch again?"

With The Girl, it could really be anything.

She continues.

"Sit down for this. She has head lice."

Ok, head lice. Certainly not words one wants to hear. Probably a notch either above or below public lice or crabs I imagine, depending on your age bracket and social status.

Pain in the ass? Yes. End of the world? Doubtful.

The Wife goes on.

"I'm freaking out. I don't know what to do. I don't think I can handle this."

A bit more background on the Wife: she's not a big bug person. In fact, she has a crazy insane reaction to bugs of any kind. Which kind of sucks for me considering we live in the damn woods.

So I tell her to calm down, take it easy, it will be ok.

One hour later I call back to see how things are.

Her: "Can't talk now, I'm in the doctors office."

Me: "Did you make an appointment?"

Her: "Appointment? Are you insane?"

And so it was shortly confirmed that the Girl did in fact have a few 2-3 mm (that's millimeters, people) lice. She calls me on the way home.

"I think we have to move. Tonight. And leave all our belonings home."

So I tell her once again to calm down, everything is going to be fine. I head out to a business dinner. Halfway through, I get The Call.

"You know I'd never do this but I really think I need you to come home."

So, I head home. I *really* enjoy The History of Howard Stern on Sirius, because I have a strong sense of what I'm coming home to. I drive 22 miles an hour the entire way.

Halfway home, phone rings, it's my buddy Dave. Dave is coming this weekend to visit for a week. He tells me a story about his night.

"Dude, I had a business dinner tonight. About halfway through I get a text from my wife. She NEVER texts me -- maybe once in her life. My immediate thought: something is wrong with the kids. I excuse myself, look at my iphone and it's a three word message, 'Summer Has Lice."

Word is out. It's' public. We're in full defcom four mode now.

Me: "Yeah dude, I was going to have The Wife break the news to you before I did. Don't worry, everything will be cool by the time you get here."

I conclude the call and pull in the driveway. Go in the front door and my house has been converted into a .. surgery room.

She's got a little mini bed out, she's set up a super bright light, she's wearing magnifying glasses on her head like she's about to perform neurosurgery and her "patient" (my five year old) is splayed out beneath her. I say hello and ...

"Do not talk. I am concentrating. Thisi requires concentration. Tremendous concentration."


I don't talk. I don't move a muscle. I do look around however and note that the house is turned inside out. Every blanket, pillow and head baring surface has been stripped and in some cases, eradicated.

The phone rings. It's a mother from The Girl's class, checking in (four other kids have them too). Other phone rings, it's a nurse (a nurse?) calling with instructions. Phone rings again; yet another mother. It's the mother of all kaffeeklatches. High stakes drama.

Defcom five mode.

Worse than Defcom five, actually; it's World War Three. Only the enemy isn't a nazi but rather a 2 millimeter mite.

It's 10:15 pm as I type and things have calmed down.

I've learned that we have a gameplan for tomorrow. Get the kids out of bed early (the Boy is clean by the way), another round of head shampoos, another round of combing, another round of washing, just to make doubly sure.

I'm on standby to pick the Girl up if she doesn't pass muster at school as the Mrs. is going to a "professional" (I kid you not) to get herself checked out.

I tell you: we're in a full fledged war, people. But I have a feeling the good guys are going to win this one.

I just know it.

Damn my head itches.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rescue Dawn

I'm a big movie fan. Actually, it seems pretty dumb to write those words. I mean, really, who doesn't like a good movie?

If I could, the Wife and I would go to a movie every weekend. Alas, with two young kids, that ain't happening. So, I generally wait for them to come out on video. And when I do go to movies, I generally tend to orient towards the lowbrow; think Farrelly brothers. I have so much stress in my life between work, dealing with two whiny kids, cancer, et al. that when I go to the movies I generally want to decompress.

But I digress.

A few months ago I read a positive review in the New York Times about Rescue Dawn, a new movie by acclaimed director director Werner Herzog, starring Christian Bale. It seemed more intense than the above described Farrelly movies, but it caught my eye while at Blockbuster and I figured what the heck. Anyway, I watched it last night and in one word: wow. It is definitely the best movie I have seen this year, though I hasten to add that I haven't seen any of the Oscar-contending movies.

In a nutshell, it is the true story of Dieter Dengler, an American Navy pilot who's plane was shot down during a black opps mission over Laos. After a brief evasion, he was captured and sent to a Laotian prison in the jungle, where several other Americans were also being held captive. The basis of the movie is about their daring escape and the ensuing 23 days he spent in the jungle. I won't say any more but it is absolutely riveting, and brilliantly directed by Herzog. It's a cross between Rambo (for lack of a better example) and The Great Escape. If you like war movies (Jeff S!), or tales of survival, this is the one for you. I've long felt that Christian Bale is one of our greatest and most under-appreciated actors, and his performance here is absolutely Brando-esque. I really hope he is nominated for an Academy Awards for this performance; I think he has an outside shot. I'm certain though that if he doesn't win one for this movie, he will for another.

I was so blown away by this Dieter Dengler that I picked up my computer while watching the movie (as stated previously, I am the mother of all multitaskers) and started doing research. I was quite surprised to learn that after returning home, he lived in my new hometown here in Marin County. I thought that was pretty cool.

Anyway, if you're renting movies for the holiday season, I recommend this one very, very highly.

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In the event any of you ladies out there are looking for new workout gear, or if any of you dudes are looking to buy your significant other a nice gift, The Wife wanted me to write that she is crazy in love with Skirtsports products (www.skirtsports.com). Basically, it is -- yes, you guessed it -- workout skirts for women. She thinks it is the greatest product in the world. The company was founded by pro triathlete Nicole DeBoom, who seems like a super cool lady, so I am happy to lend an endorsement on behalf of the Mrs.

Monday, December 17, 2007

2007 Products of the Year

I'm stuck at home today with a touch of the stomach flu -- thanks for the holiday gift, kids! (they both had it last week). Boy, do I hate being sick. But I am comforted by Michigan's hiring of a new football coach, Rich Rodriguez, formerly of West Virginia. That search took much longer than anticipated and Michigan nation was getting very restless, but at the end of the day I don't think we could have done any better. I can't wait to see what he does; for the first time in a long while I am very excited for an upcoming season. That said, I think Florida will destroy us in the Capital One bowl on January 1.

Anyway, on to my list of top products for 2007:

6. Sirius.

I know Sirius isn't new, but it still rules all the same. If you spend more than a half hour a day in the car, what are you waiting for? Special props to their mobile device, the Stiletto.

5. Apple iPhone Bluetooth Headset

I know I sound like an Apple fanboy, and I guess that I am, but this bluetooh headset really rocks. It fits perfectly, isn't obtrusive, and most importantly, it seemlessly pairs with nearly any phone. I think this is one of Apple's finest products yet I think it's gotten a bit lost in their lineup and therefore hasn't received the accolades that it deserves. if you are in the market for a bluetooth headset, this is the one.

4. Tie Between Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader.

I do not own either product, but I likely will in 2008. I've long been a fan of both products and I think they both have their unique attributes: the Sony has a terrific design (note that Sony is one of my clients though I don't represent the Reader product), while the Kindle is smartly designed, particularly with its built in wireless capability. The next generation Kindle will be worth taking a hard look at.

3. Windows Mobile 6.0

I wrote about this before but I am super impressed by WM 6.0. With the exception of a few minor things, it is a dramatic improvement on 5.0 and it has exceeded my expectations. Blackberry now has real reason to be concerned.

2. Motorola Q9

I'm definitely a "phone guy" and have tried them all. While I thought the first version of the Q was a straight up dud, they nailed this one. It's got everything and the GPS feature is a terrific added bonus. Sadly, since I got this about a month ago, my iphone has been somewhat sidelined. Which brings me to number one.

1. iPhone.

The only reason I have iPhone ranked first versus the Q is because it is revolutionary, versus the Q, which is evolutionary. The iPhone really is brilliantly designed and executed, but it still has two very severe shortcomings: the EDGE network sucks no matter how you look at it (and there simply aren't enough open WIFI networks to compensate) and no ability to link with Outlook email, thus rendering it freaking useless for corporate purposes -- which really bugs the hell out of me. I thought this would have been worked out months ago. That said, it is still one terrific device.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Uncle!

I'm an Uncle again for the 6th time! Congrats to my little bro Neilie, my sis-in-law Julie, and little Josie on the birth of their daughter/sister Mandy Rose Solomon. I don't have the deets as she was born just a few hours ago, but I hear she's healthy, with a full head of hair. I couldn't be happier for the Crooklyn Solomon"s -- but boy Neil, that's quite a bit of estrogen you have in your life now, eh?
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I ran the Muir Beach 17k (just shy of 11 miles) this morning. Without a doubt this was the hardest 10 miler I have ever done; it featured 3,300 feet of climbing. Some of the hills were so long and steep I was literally laughing. That all being said, walking up the hills aside, I felt pretty darn good and finished in a respectable time of 1:54 (respectable for a race with this type of elevation gain, that is). Actually, I didn't really finish, or start for that matter. The race was sold out but I know the race director and she told me it was cool to run as a "bandit." Some of the prettiest trail ever, and with the fog in full effect today, it was really a spectacular run. Next week I am planning to do the Rodeo Beach 20 or 30k; I am still undecided.

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Lastly this is post number 200! When I started this thing I wasn't sure I was going to make it to 10 posts, so this is quite an accomplishment. Hope you continue to enjoy these pages. And for whatever it is worth I am contemplating a change of name/URL, in lieu of feedback from y'all coupled with results from my last scan.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Blunnies

Another confession: I am a dude who likes to shop for clothes. I am arguably worse than my wife. Which is saying something. I think I got this habit from my father of all people, who is a bit of a clotheshorse himself. I think it's in our genetics: my Grandpa Willie was one natty dude. Unlike my old man, however, I am know for actually buying and wearing new clothes (that is kind of an inside joke that I will save for another day).

Anyway, I like all clothes, but I've really got a thing for shoes. I read once that a gentleman is judged by his watch and shoes; the rest is superfluous. I've taken those words of wisdom to heart; I'll post another time about my watch obsession.

That all being said, I had a friend and training buddy back in my Chicago days named Aussie Tom. He was/is a great dude and he's back in Australia now. He's known to frequent this site from time to time. If you are reading this Tom, hope all is well, 'mate. We all miss you very much.

Anyway, I vividly recollect Tom waxing almost poetic about his Blundstones, which he called "the national shoe of Australia." Even though they are a boot, he told me in Australia they wear them everywhere and anywhere: from weddings to hikes, with formal wear and with shorts.

So last winter I was looking for a good waterproof boot and I stumbled on a store than carried "Blunnies" (as Tom referred to them). I later found out that they were one of two stores in the Bay Area to carry them.

They looked pretty sharp and I thought it would be a great way to remember my boy Tom, so I purchased them. They took about a week to break in, but man oh man was Tom right -- they are just about the best shoe/boot I have ever owned. They look awesome with jeans and/or khaki's, they are tremendously comfortable and they are virtually indestructible.

So all you dudes out there (and ladies too - I am pretty sure they carry them in ladies sizes); if you are in the market for a pair of boots to get you through the Winter (and fall or spring for that matter), I strongly suggest you find your local Blundstone retailer.

I like them so much I'm going to get another pair for myself this weekend in brown.

Good call Aussie Tom.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sad Day

What a bummer of a day. In no particular order:

-- In the event you are living under a rock, The Mitchell Report on steroids in baseball is out today, and it's not a good day for the Bronx. Among those included in the report are Roger Clemens (not a surprise), Andy Pettite (surprise) and a bunch of former Yankees. Whatever. Time for baseball to move forward.

-- Jessica Alba is pregnant. Guys across the globe are weeping.

-- Jodie Foster is out of the closest. I've long had a crush on her. Not sure who's more bummed out by this news: me or John Hinckley Jr.

-- Ted Corbitt, the father of modern ultrarunning, passed away this week at the age of 87. RIP, TC.

In the better news front, I bowled a 157 at my holiday party last night and the new Wu Tang Clan album is out. So I got that going for me......

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Top Ten Albums of 2007

Here it is: my first "Best Of" posting of the holiday season. Next up after this is "Best Products" followed by "Best Books." But first, let's address music.

Before I get into my list, a bit of background and a few caveats:

1. I will be the first to admit my musical tastes are somewhat primitive. I grew up in the days of The Clash and punk rock. Lyrics -- and the power of the music -- are more important to me than nuance and complexity.

2. As a corollary to the above, and simply put: I like music that rocks.

3. 90 percent of the time in which I am listening to music, I am doing so either while on my Computrainer or while running. Therefore, 90 percent of the time I like to listen to music that is inspirational and keeps my legs moving. The other 10 percent of the time I am listening to music while on a plane. In those instances I am generally looking for music that will help lull me to sleep.

So with that as a backdrop, without further ado, my top ten:

10. Yeasayer: All Hour Cymbals.

I've only started to listen to this one over the past few weeks, but I am enjoying it immensely; so much so that I suspect that within the next few weeks it will move its way up this list. I sincerely don't know how to even beging to describe these dudes (I presume they are dudes) but they have a really interesting, captivating sound. Pitchfork describes them thusly, "Packed with similar moments of walls of pan-ethnic spirituality filtered through walls of echo and layers of gossamer synch." Classic Pitchfork pretentious bullshit. Would someone kindly explain me what in the hell "goassamer sych" means?! But I digress.

9. Black Kids: Wizard of Ahhs

I almost did not include this one because it is really just a three or four song EP, but holy smokes are those few songs fun. They've got a ton of deserved buzz on the Internet and I cannot wait to hear their full feature album, which will hopefully be out next year. I think you can download this one via their MySpace page.

8. Jay Z: American Gangster

Jay-Z is back in the house after his last album, which was a tad weak. I thought I was going to rate this one higher, but having listened to it for more than a month, I am starting to realize that the annoying songs outweight the good. That said, the good ones are very, very good.

7. Linkin Park: Minutes to Midnight

A lot of you probably view Linkin park as a bit declasse, but I don't care. They freaking rock and Chester has a voice like no other. This is far from their best work, but it is still very solid. And I will alsways say this much: when I am suffering on the bike or getting ready to race, nothing gets me inspired like the Park.

6. Perry Farrell: Ultraloaded

I am an unapologetic Jane's fan and I will eternally hold Perry in high regard, even if he is a full on freak (and a bit annoying at times as well). I am mystified why this one didn't get better reviews. It is typical Perry: fun, experimental and a bit goofy. But it has moments of sheer brilliance. I thought it was utterly disrespectful that Pitchfork didn't have the courtesy of reviewing this album.

5. Feist: The Reminder

What can you say? This one is a classic. Perfect for said airplane, as mentioned above. I predict this one will win lots and lots of Grammy's and will be on nearly every music reviewers top 10 list.

4. Les Savy Fav: Let's Stay Friends

Another one that I can't really describe, but that's super listenable from start to finish. In a weird kind of way, they remind me somewhat of early Clash. Speaking of The Clash, the Joe Strummer biopic that is garnering critical acclaim is available to Comcast customers via On Demand. It starts a bit slowly but picks up steam and is highly recommended.

3. Daft Punk: Alive 2007

My main man Beno said this one doesn't count because it is a live album, but I don't care. This is arguably the best freaking techno album of all-time and is without question, the current number one in my rotation. If I had the benefit of a few more weeks, I dare say it would be number one. It is nuanced, fun, funny and stone cold rocking. I know some of you have puchased this on my recommendation and are unsure (Dave, Todd, et al). All I can say is give it another shot and listen to it straight through.

2. Eddie Vedder: Into the Wild

A seminal album by Eddie and one that positions him as the heir apparent to The Boss. An instant classic that gets better and more rich with each listen.

1. Radiohead: In Rainbows

One word: brilliant. I've always wanted to be a Radiohead fan, but just didn't fully get what all the fuss was about. I do now: this is the album showed me the way.

Other notables: Burial, Untrue (not sure of what to make of this still but boy oh boy is it interesting); Pinback, Autumn of the Servant; Joan as Policewoman, Real Life; Robert Plant and ALison Kraus, Raising Sand (will also win lots of Grammy's and I predict this one will be on literally every reviewer's top ten list), Justice, Kanye West, The Graduation.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Stratego

A bit of background.

Back in my college days, I was not the greatest student, to say the least. While there is no need to rehash the past (though I am sure my father won't hesitate to jump in on this topic), almost 20 years after the fact, I feel comfortable coming clean. I admittedly spent about half my time engaging in quasi-illicit activities that I don't need to spell out in detail for these family-friendly pages. The other half of my time was spent engaged in another, more legal "pasttime" - playing games. More specifically, Stratego.

For the record, from 1984-1988 I was the undisputed University of Michigan Stratego champion. I played hundreds -- nary, thousands, of games -- and cannot recollect losing a single time. I am sure my man Scooter will weigh in on this shortly with a sharply worded rebuttal.

Since graduating, I've played a heck of a lot less Stratego, but I have been biding my time until I could buy Stratego for the Boy, and teach him how to play a real man's game. This year he turned eight, and he is a pretty precocious kid, so I felt the time was right.

So I delivered Stratego unto him on the second night of Hanukah and to say the least, I was stoked. I spent an hour in advance explaining the rules of the game, which he seemed to grasp. Clearly, Stratego was dialed into his DNA. He asked a few questions, I answered, I taught him about the notion of strategy and finally, we were ready to go.

Game on.

I delicately unwrapped the board, all the while explaining to him how much this game meant to me, and we quickly went about our business of setting up our respective boards when .... WTF???!!! I could not believe my eyes -- they changed the value of the pieces!!!!

My beloved "1" was now a "10". Gone were the low value, but ever resourceful miners ("8"), now reduced to mere "3's. The only piece that retained the same value were the damn flag and spy.

Unfreakingbelieveable. And disconcerting, to put it mildly.

Explain to me, please -- someone -- how you can take one of the few perfect games in the freaking world, and alter it for no good reason. I can accept the notion of "change" in life as correlates to nearly anything -- except Stratego. It just makes no sense.

Before I hit "submit" on the email I am writing to the CEO of Hasbro, I would appreciate it if any of you can offer a decent explanation for this travesty.

In the meantime, I am trying to get my head around all these new values. But sadly, it just ain't the same game.

This all being said, I hasten to add that 20 years after the fact, my undefeated streak remain intact, though The Boy seems to share my love for this wonderful game and I am proud to say he is coming along like gangbusters. Just last night he whupped his five year old sister (who put her flag in the second row, which I actually thought was a fairly clever move).

Maybe in another 20 years he'll manage to actually break my winning streak.

Maybe.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Laying Down the Pipe






I've always fancied myself a skateboarder. I skated a bit as a kid, but nothing really notable. But I've always been down with the skater ethos.

I had planned for a while that this year's "big" Hanukah gift for the Boy would be a real skateboard. His friends are starting to get into skateboarding and he made it clear he was interested in giving it a shot. So as a surprise, I took both the Boy and the Girl to our local skate and surf shop (this place is the real deal). I selected a board (and for the record, it wasn't cheap) and the dude at the front counter had a Jeff Spicoli-ish line, "Dude, awesome. A grom board."

The Girl wanted in on the action, so we picked her up a ahort board and off we went to the local skate park, where we ended up spending yesterday afternoon and the better part of today.

I have to give both of them credit; they got right on it. The Boy, who is a bit tentative about most things, warmed up to it pretty quickly and within an hour made his way to the half pipe. While no one was confusing him for Tony Hawk, he didn't do half bad for the first time out and most importantly, he was pretty stoked. The Girl was too for that matter. I have to say that I think the Girl is going to be a fantastic athlete.

I know I talk up the Bay Area a lot, but man, it's nice to finally live in a place where in December the kids can skate all day outside and where I can go for a nice 20 mile bike ride and swim outdoors.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Numbers

I was contemplating a post explaining my week, but I think the numbers say it all:

(Approximately) 27: Number of times children under the age of eight have thrown up in my house over the past 72 hours

3: the number of times they made it to the toilet bowl

24: Number of times it landed on the bed or floor

3 and 2: Number of hours The Wife and I slept on Monday and Wednesday night respectively

6: Number of pajama changes for the Girl in one night alone due to vomit issues

52: Approximate number of Spongebob Squarepants episodes viewed during said convalescence

4,298: Collective whimpers from the two of them

99%: Odds that this virus will strike The Wife or I at some point this weekend

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Clean Scan!

Oh my am I relieved: just got the call from my new endo. TG is undetectable and my ultrasound looks clean. He said there was a little something at the area of my incision, but that he was fairly certain it was only scar tissue.

Wow.

For some reason, I wasn't feeling terribly optimistic about these tests. Those of you who know me know I am generally pretty darn positive, but I just had a sinking, foreboding kind of feeling. Man am I glad I was wrong.

I am for the first time starting to feel like the worst of this might finally be behind me.

If I wasn't totally exhausted (the girl was up all night throwing up; two nights ago it was the boy) I would be jumping through hoops right now.

Word.

Double Word.

100 miler here I come.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah everyone.

As some fo you might know, the hard truth that Hanukkah is, according to the Jewish religion, a "minor" holiday, I like it all the same; more so now that I have kids. Part of its appeal is that it (obviously) fits in squarely with the holiday season. I also like the accompanying "pageantry": the lighting of the candles, watching the kids play dreidel, reciting the story of Hanukah (and for the record: this is about as "religious" as we get) and the little game we play each evening in which the kids hunt for their gifts.

So ... for the most part it is all good.

Which brings me to the part that I don't really like. The presents.

Now don't get me wrong. I like presents just as much as the next guy. And my kids certainly like presents. And I like giving my kids presents.

But eight nights in a row is simply too much. And that excludes presents from both sets of grandparents. No kid really needs that many presents. I don't mean to sound like the holiday Scrooge, but the bottom line is that it really spoils the hell out of my kids (anyone experience the same?). Come the "ninth" night (and for the record there is no such thing as a ninth night) the kids are lined up, expecting their next toy. I much prefer Christmas: get it all over with in one fell swoop.

Anyway, this year we are going to do something a little different. We are going to celebrate seven nights, and on the eight night we are going to donate our toys to a local charitable organization.

It's not much, but it's better than nothing and hopefully the kids will understand the lesson (thought they sure didn't sound happy about the idea tonight).

(Ps. Tonight the Boy got a Rubick's cube and a pack of baseball cards; the Girl got a doll set replete with bed, high chair and stroller, and I got a decanter. Alas, the Wife struck out but hopefully I'll make it up to her tomorrow -- or some time soon).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Howard Stern, Again

It seems as if whenever I'm not in the greatest mood in the world (today's bad mood courtesy of a sick eight year old who puked on the floor at 4:30 am), Howard Stern is their to pick up my spirits.

Say what you will about Howard Stern, and I recognize that most of you are probably not fans, but the thing that truly makes him King of All Media is that he is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest interviewers of all time. I know that might sound ludicrous, but there's many people out there who would probably agree.

Take today's interview with Martina Navratolova as a case in point. As luck would have it, I listened to it both to and from work today. On the way home it struck me that this was one of the most brilliant interviews of all time. For starters, he interviewed her about 45 minutes, and dedicated the better part of about three minutes to her tennis career. The rest was focused on her sex life (he is Howard Stern after all). But here's the thing: while he certainly "pushed the envelope" he was simultaneously very respectful and took care not to offend her. The conversation was funny, interesting and most importantly (from my standpoint) entertaining. But from a pure communications standpoint, it was almost artful in terms of how deftly it was handled.

Do I sound like too much of an acoloyte? I don't make apologies if so; as stated in a previous post, he makes my commute the most enjoyable and relaxing part of my day, and his outlandish humor has provided a welcome respite from many dark days.

Monday, December 3, 2007

"Waiting, Is The Hardest Part"

Thanks everyone for your well wishes; much appreciated.

Well, I got to UCSF at 8:30 am and was finished with scans and bloodwork by 9:30 am. That place is the model of medical efficiency.

I tried to read the sonographers body language, and of course I asked her if she "saw anything" but they, by law, are not allowed to say anything being that they aren't MD's.

So, we wait. I am not going to get too worked up over this. As the old saw goes: it is what it is. Not much I can do to control it so I might as well chill.
________________________________________________

In sporting news, Michigan draws Florida at the Capital One Bowl. Egads. We have to face the (soon-to-be) Heisman Trophy winning QB who is a running and passing threat? That is our worst nightmare. I predict he amasses 500 total yards against us, and that they beat us by at least 24 points. It is going to be ugly.

These are sad days indeed for Michigan football, especially as we don't seem to be knocking them dead in our search for a new coach. I think much of Michigan nation is disappointed that we won't be getting Les Miles. But as the A-Rod saga demonstrated, it's not over until it is over (boy, how many more tired cliches am I going to use in this post?).

Lastly, I am *really* hoping that the Yankees get Johan Santana, but the way my sports world has been going the past 24 months, I am prepared to concede him to the dastardly Red Sox. Man, if they get him, forget abot it: Beckett, Santana, Schilling is unbeatable. They will win three more championships with that rotation.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Scan Day

While in Chicago earlier this week, my main boy Scooter asked me if I think of cancer every day. The answer I gave him was a truthful one: yes, I do (I suspect most cancer survivors do) but I am absolutely not consumed by it, and I have my head around it for the most part. I also told him that that only time I tend to get a little nervous is around key scans. Nervous might be the wrong word for it, actually. Apprehensive might be more like it.

So with that being said, tomorrow is a big scan day (neck ultrasound) followed by blood work. I should have results later in the week, presuming my new doctor will talk to me about results while over the phone. My actual appointment with him isn't until early January. so until then, I will keep my fingers crossed. Please think good thoughts and send positive vibes as this test is a biggie.

Friday, November 30, 2007

New Books

I bought two new books this week: The Boys of Everest and No Shortcuts to the Top by Ed Viesturs, who is one of my heroes.

I'm not exactly sure as to why, but I am very much drawn to climbing books. I have great respect for climbers, but due in part to my struggles with high altitude, it's not something that is terribly high on my "to do" list. That said, some of my favorite books of all-time, are about climbing. Maybe it's the sense of adventure and/or the great outdoors, maybe it's the story(s) of man's indominatable spirit, which is the leitmotif of most climbing tales, or maybe it's just that they are simply interesting, but give me the heads up about a good climbing book and I am in. I also am an avid reader of business tomes (though I find most to be pedantic and unoriginal) but I have to say that in certain respects, I've learned more about business from climbing-related books.

Anyway, I plan to start first with the Viesturs book and will post a review by end of week.

In other news, I put that Motorola Q through the paces these past few days and boy, do I remain impressed. It's pretty close to mobile phone perfection, though the jury is still slightly out on the GPS features. Man, am I a tech dork or what?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Random Thoughts and Musings

Just back from a whirlwind, less than 24 hour trip to Chicago (apologies to peeps I did not get to see but this was a literally land last night, return this afternoon type of trip) and so tired I can't think straight, so just a few random musings from the peanut gallerty:

-- how could season two of Sleeper Cell (Showtime) be SO good only to blow in on the last episode, which was beyond ridiculous? That said, the season was still good enough to rent, especially for any of you 24 fans. Something weird though about watching a show about terrorists while on a plane.

-- how could it possibly take 5.5 hours to fly from Chicago to San Fran? That's the same amount of time it takes to fly coast-to-coast. But, that's how much time I was in the air tonight. The pilot said they were up against 150 mile an hour winds. Conversely, yesterday the same trip only took 3.5 hours.

-- how bummed will Yankee Nation be if the Red Sox get Johan Santana? Conversely, how psyched will we be? He is the missing link for us so far as I am concerned. If we add him to the rotation we will give the Sox an excellent run for their money next year. And if it costs Hughes, Kennedy or Melky, so be it. You gotta expect to pay a high price if you want the best pitcher in baseball.

-- how much do I miss the Chicago weather? Uhhhh -- not much. It was in the low 20's and it's not even December yet. No thanks. I'll take by 64 degree California days, thank you very much.

-- A couple of you have purchased that Daft Punk Live on my recommendation and seem wishy washy. My suggestion: keep with it. And be sure to put in on while running or biking. It will definitely help you pick up the pace.

-- Lastly, got a big ultrasound coming up this Monday. Thoughts and good vibes are appreciated.

A Call to Community Action

Greetings from Chicago. I flew in for a quick in-and-outer so that I could attend a dinner event for one of my main buddies, Steve-O.

Both he and his father (who I regard as my "Chicago father" and is a man I have just tremendous respect for) were honored by a local Jewish organization, Shalva, which provides much needed aid and services to women who are the victimes of domestic violence.

It was really a fantastic evening and I am glad I came in to surprise my friend. I was beyond proud of him (in Yiddish we would say "I was kvelling"): he and his father both were awarded a lifetime award for service to the Jewish community. This is especially staggering in Steve's case given that he is only 41. As part of the introductions they went through a list of his accomplishments and organizations he has either led or been a part of and it was beyond impressive that someone so young could give so much of himself to various important causes.

All that being said, it was also a very good reminder to myself (and hopefully other attendees as well) that giving back to the community should be one of the more important things we do in life. It also made me realize that on a personal level, I am not doing enough. So with that, I am going to look to get more involved with an organization that is closer to my heart: ThyCa. I've long felt that I need to support the cancer community and shame on me for not doing anything about it. But that will change as of now.

So, congrats, Steve-O and Neil-O: you are both terrific people and role models and it was an honor to be part of last night. Thank you for all that you have done for the Jewish community and thank you for inspiring me into action.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New Toy: Motorola Q

By now most of you know that I have a pretty strong predilection for gadgets, with particular emphasis on phones and mobile devices (see my countless posts earlier this summer regarding my iphone)

Anyway, I recently received a new toy (actually, it really is more of a business device), the new second-generation Motorola Q replete with Mobile Windows 6.

I am going to save my long review for later this week after I have fully field tested this bad boy, but having used it for about 72 hours thus far, my early impression is very favorable. In fact, I am pretty damn stoked on this thing.

A bit of background: I am one of Blackberry's original users. I mean that almost literally. I was Ruder-Finn's beta Blackberry user and up until the last year, I have owned literally every single AT&T and T-Mobile blackberry ever produced. Literally. I was a Blackberry acolyte, to say the least.

Then, one fateful December year ago, about one year ago, my Blackberry blew a gasket and died. I will never forget that day or the fact that I was compelled to go almost 48 hours without a mobile device. I'm just getting over that now.

Given how much I travel, my IT guy, who's also a good friend, encouraged me to abandon Blackberry and try a Windows Mobile (WM) device instead. After a bit of hesitation and much research (I research new tech offerings like a freaking talmudic scholar. As the Wife can attest, when it comes to new devices, I can spend days on the computer) I decided to go with the Cingular 8525, primarily based on the fact that it was one powerful little device that could act like a mini PC while I travelled, thus allowing me to leave my laptop at home.

I must say that upon first use, I was pretty impressed with the 8525: I loved the 3g speed, which is faster than my home PC, and I liked the fact that WM 5 was essentially an extension of my Outlook, enabling me to toggle back and forth seamlessly between PC and Mobile device.

That being said, there were a lot of things I eventually grew to dislike: the battery life on the 8525 is truly atrocious. It NEVER made it through a full day without needing to be recharged, which is a real pain considering I am on the road at least five days a months, if not more. This is a key reason why I bought the iphone; to serve as a backup phone. Also the form factor of the 8525 is terrible (read: it's a damn brick) and while I saw the promise of WM5, it was/is buggy as hell and felt more like a beta software version than ready-for-prime-time. Among its many problems, I had to manually reboot it multiple times a day as it would freeze up on me for no apparent reason -- even when it wasn't in use.

Anyway, after one year of usage, the negatives were starting to outweigh the positives and I was strongly considering moving back to Blackberry.

But then I came upon the Motorola Q.

As I said, I will save my full review for later in the week (I am headed out of town in the am for two days so this will give me a good sense of how this thing performs while on the road), but I have to say that thus far, this is nearly a perfect device: it has so much functionality built in it is incredible (including GPS!), it comes with THREE batteries (and single battery life is far better than the 8525), including an extended version and most importantly, in typical Microsoft fashion they have quickly worked out the warts and WM6 rocks (great interface, very stable relative to WM5, easier to navigate, enhanced functionality, etc).

More on this later but I have to say that if I owned this thing a few months earlier, I would not own an iPhone (though I hasten to add that I would own an ipod Touch instead) and I'd be completely ok with that. In fact, if this thing hold up, there is an excellent chance I will cancel my iPhone service and just use it as an (expensive) video ipod.

Bottom line: while I still like Blackberry a lot, but methinks the good folks in Waterloo have a lot to be worried about with Microsoft coming on this strong.

More later. Next post I'll try to send from the Q, live from the road.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Point Reyes, Ca



Yesterday the Little Boy and I joined Payro and his family on a tour of Point Reyes National Seashore, which is one of the coolest spots in the Bay Area. It's on the far end of Marin and features amazing trails, Ocean views and more. It is also home fo the epicenter of the San Andreas fault and we went on cool hike literally on the fault line. As part of this, in one area you could see how much the ground shifted (21 feet to be precise) during the big 1906 quake.

The coolest part is that Payro's brother-in-law is an ornithologist with National Geographic and showed us a number of really cool birds. Point Reyes -- and most of Marin for that matter -- is considered an important area by birdwatchers.

It was very cool and made for a really memorable experience; even the Little Boy enjoyed it immensely. Thanks to Payro and the family for having us along.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Perfect Day

Today was nearly as perfect a day as I could imagine. Woke up early, breakfast, then a quick bike ride with the kids. Then my Main Boy Payro and I headed down to the famed DIpsea Steps, and ran from downtown to Stinson Beach; the hardest seven mile run you could imagine (ok, maybe not quite but it is up there, with approximately 3,000 feet of climbing). Through Muir Wood, up and over the famed Cardiac Hill, down to Steep Ravine into Stinson Beach. It took us approximately one hour and thirty minutes and featured a bit of walking. The Wife and Kids mets us in Stinson and we had lunch at the fabled Parkside Cafe. After that, we went down to the Beach and played for an hour or so. It is utterly surreal to me to have 70 degree, perfect weather in late November.

If I haven't said it before, the Bay Area rules.

I'll post pictures from the Epic Run tomorrow; right now we are off to the Cajun Cookoff. More on this later.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Way To Go, Nana

My Number One Mother in Law finished her radiation treatments today for breast cancer and I wanted to give her a public shout out (hope you don't mind, Nana!).

It's been a very tough eight weeks for her; on top of everything else, she got the shingles not once, but twice. But she's a super tough lady who's as stoical as they come. She didn't complain once, didn't let it slow her down (she went to Europe less than one month after her diagnosis) and she continued in her inimitable style to put family first. Congrats Nana and may this forever behind you. We are all very proud of you. And may no one else in this family ever become a member of our little club, eh?

Many of you who read this pages know Nana (aka Ann Silk) and many of you don't, but how about y'all give her a little love and leave an "atta girl" in the comments section. I would appreciate it and I know she would too.

On the topic of cancer, I just a few moments got back from my weekly track workout. It was one of those days when I was really just feeling it and I felt like I was eighteen years old again. As I was coming through my last quarter mile interval, I couldn't help to think how a mere seven months ago I was completely levelled -- I am not at all exaggerating when I tell you that I could barely make it one lap around the block. I am not saying this to brag at all, but there's a lesson here for all of us: if/when the chips are down (and I of course hope this never happens to any of you) don't ever give up hope: with a little hard work and perserverance you will come back BIGGER, STRONGER FASTER, BETTER (that's a nod to Daft Punk -- and Kanye West too I guess -- which I was just listening to on my ipod).

And on that note, for you runners out there or anyone who's into the gym, go to itunes NOW and download Daft Punk Live 2007 and ask questions later. if you don't like it, I will refund the $11.99 (but you will have to submit a 500 word essay on why you don't like it).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is without question my favorite holiday and day of the year. I love every aspect to it and wish I could stretch it out to two days.

As part of my own little tradition, I wake up early and try to find some sort of Thanksgiving Day run. This year The Wife, myself and my boy Payro plan to do a local 5k in San Francisco, which we have done together the past few years. Afterwards, wo do the traditional Thanksgiving thing: get a little fire going, put on some NFL on the tube, eat some great food. This year we're having some good friends over (at lat count we expect to have seven or eight kids in the house, which should be interesting) so it should be an extra good time. Not to mention, I've been saving some special bottles of wine for the occasion and have picked up a bottle of the Nectar of the Gods (16 year Lagavullin to be more specific. Matt G, if you are reading this, you are welcome to come back out and enjoy a glass!).

More than all that, though, as a cancer survivor, the word Thanksgiving has truly taken on new meaning for me. This year, I'm thankful to have my health (with a big knock on wood as I am scheduled for a big battery of tests in two weeks) and to have a great family. Not to get all sentimental, but I've learned that is *really* all one needs in life. All the other trappings - money, material possessions, etc. -- are nice to have but to use a Thanksgiving Day metaphor, are merely gravy.

Anyway, though it's only Monday, Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New Beginnings

As many of you who follow this blog know, there are two sports teams that I follow passionately: the New York Yankees and the Michigan Wolverines. Both have long illustrious histories and until recently, featured a manager/coach who will forever be linked with both programs. Both programs, though, have stumbled upon difficult times: the Red Sox have superseded the Yankees as the premier team in baseball, and Ohio State has done the same to the Wolverines, evidenced by the whupping they gave us yesterday. And now, both coaches appear to have moved on. Joe Torre is now a Dodger and as of tomorrow Lloyd Carr will soon be enjoying his retirement.

All I can say, is that new beginnings are oftentimes a good thing. Though I respect and admire both of these men immensely, and think that they both define the words "classy" and "gentlemen," in both instances I believe that a regime change is necessary and rather dwell on the past, I look forward to the future.

In regards to Michigan, please let us get Les Miles. I am guessing he will win the national Championship, and as a result will feel compelled to return to LSU despite his strong ties to Michigan. If this occurs, I might cry. I am not quite willing to hand the keys to the proverbial kingdom to an "up and comer" such as the Cincinnati coach, which is a rumor that is picking up buzz. Not our football program. Though I embrace change, I still think a Michigan man should coach a Michigan football team.

The next few week should be really interesting......

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Governator


So I was at the LA Auto Show earlier today on behalf of a client and I ran into this dude -- literally. There was a throng waiting outside the Staples center for the Governor to give a press conference and award the "Green Car" of the year. It was about 85 degrees and after about 45 minutes of the withering heat I decided to bail and walk back to our booth. On my way back inside I literally ran smack into the Governator and I nearly stepped in front of the CEO's of Audi and Chrysler (Robert Nardelli) who were waiting to join him for the press conference. I am pretty sure that I will be in the background of an AP photo tomorrow. While I didn't get a chance to shake his hand, he gave me a head nod.

Word.

Say what you will about Ah-nold, the dude is a *very* good Governor and he is immensely popular in California. He's focused, knows what he wants to accomplish yet at the same time he's self-deprecating and well, funny.

But the thing that impressed me most? The Dude is a freaking pimp. You should have seen him; he was wearing the sickest Audemars Piguet Offshore Chrono in Gold (has to be a $20,000 watch, easy) that was stone cold pimping. He had a big ass diamond pinkie ring and he was wearing alligator shoes.

Straight up pimp. He looked good, too, his waxy demeanor aside. A colleague and I agree that he almost doesn't look human. In fact, I think he might be a cyborg.

In other matters, as you are probably aware, it looks like A Rod is going to be a Yankee. Over the past few weeks I had a feeling the market was going dark against him (collusion, anyone?) and I had a nagging suspicion that he might come kiss the Steinbrenner's ring. I've been so crazy busy the past 72 hours I haven't had time to process this; more on this subject over the weekend.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Album Review: Jay Z, American Gangster

Despite the title, I'm not going to write an album review per se. I don't have the time in my life to review each song and get into a lengthy analysis. I'll leave the (pretentious) reviews to Pitchfork Media. Pitchfork, by the way, is probably the first site I visit each day simply because of the sheer volume of their reviews, but holy obnoxiously pretentious, Batman. Three quarters of their reviews are virtually unreadable.

Al that being said, the new Jay Z is one of the better rap albums I have heard in a long while. I've listened to it about three times through now, and it gets better and better. I see this one being a mainstay in my ipod. And while I lam a big fan of rap/hip hop/gangster, i say this adding the caveat that I have not historically been the biggest Jay Z fan, though I've started coming around the past few years. The thing that I like about Jay Z is that he doesn't have the best voice per se, and his lyrics don't stand out against other rappers such as Lil' Wayne, but all in all, he is the complete package. And as Pitchfork artfully said, he's the master of the pregnant pause. You'll have to give the album a listen to understand what this means.

Anyway, on a 1-10, I rate this an 8 and I think it's my third favorite album of the year next to Eddie Vedder and Radiohead. Top songs include Roc Boys, American Gangster, No Hook, and Ignorant Sh*t.

On the same subject, has anyone seen the movie AMerican Gangster yet? If so, thoughts? It's so rare I get to the movies I have to pick them very judiciously.

The other album that I plan to buy and review soon is the new Seal, unless anyone has given it a listen and suggests otherwise.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Michigan-Ohio State

Well, I may as well get this out sooner versus later. Here's my prediction: Michigan 24, Ohio State 17.

I'm not just saying this because I'm (obviously) a homer of a Michigan fan. I just thing that our seniors, particularly Hart, Henne and Long, do not want to go down as four times losers to OSU. I think they will will themselves to victory. Not to mention, the game is at home, which counts for a lot and I think the big kicker will be the announced retirement of coach Lloyd Carr, a rumor which is already lighting up the blogosphere.

I'll tell you what: if we can't win this year's game, we will never beat this team. Unless Les Miles (LSU coach) comes to the rescue.

Anyway, I make this prediction with tremendous trepidation. Tressel really seems to have our number, so I wouldn't be surprised if he pulls another rabbit out of his hat.

I'll say one thing: it's not our offense I am worried about. Our defense looked absolutely abysmal against Wisconsin (not to take anything away from the Badgers because they flat out beat us, but I think we gave that one away knowing that Saturday's showdown versus OSU was for all the beans) and they are really going to have to step up their game if we are going to be competitive.

Anyway, even though I am down on Michigan football and have been for a while (a three loss season is a disaster in my book --not to mention we have two games yet to play), there is nothing like Michigan versus Ohio State.

To conclude, all I gotta say is this: Let's Go Blue! If the rumors are true, and it makes perfect sense that they are, let's send out the very classy Lloyd Carr in style, boys.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Killer Party

We went to an amazing party last night in Tiburon in celebration of a friend's 40th birthday. This party was completely off the hook; maybe the best party we've been to since moving to the Bay Area two-plus years ago.

I won't go into all the details but I think my favorite part, aside from the house, which is brand new and absolutely beautiful, was the bagpipers. The birthday boy is half Scottish, and his wife -- who's an absolute hoot - hired bagpipers to celebrate that part of his heritage.

Despite it being a multi-scotch night, the thing that really struck was meeting two fellow cancer survivor's; one had cancer of the mouth, the other breast cancer. And though I didn't ask, I suspect neither was older than 40. Another reminder that cancer does not discriminate based on age, race, or socioeconomic status. Another observation; there is nothing quite as bonding as meeting another survivor. Even if they are a complete or relative stranger, it's amazing how this shared experience can bring people together.

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On a brighter note, after much back and forth, it appears as if we have decided on a 100 miler: details here. So far it's me, Payro, Wiley and I think Phil. Anyway else interested in joining us for our little jaunt? The good news is we all have about a year to get ready.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Oil Spill

Well, my race was cancelled today as a result of the oil spill, which I presume you all know about. They pulled the race directors permit, as it both started and finished at Stinson Beach State Park, and they closed all the area parks because of the spill. I had a chance to walk to the beach and check out the water. It didn't seem bad but there was someone there from a federal agency (EPA maybe?) who said the level of contamination was very bad. What a bummer. This oil spill is really bad news and I think it is going to have a very significant effect on the marine environment for the entire region.

So, the race was shut down; would have been great to have known about this earlier, as I was out late playing poker and up early but such if life. My coach Phil and I decided to run anyway as the course was marked. I headed up and out and was reminded how tough this course is: the first several miles were literally uphill. It was beautiful though: I think we passed three waterfalls in the first few miles alone.

About ten minutes after we started the rain started coming down in buckets; enough so that I decided to bail and just do the 12k course, with two added on at the end for good measure. All in all a good time, but the trails were pretty slippery and I ended up going down hard two times.

I came home in time to watch Michigan get decimated by Wisconsin. I fear next weekend is going to be even worse.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Race Tomorrow

Just got back from physical therapy for my back. First time I have ever been to PT and I must say I was really impressed. For all you Bay Area denizens, be sure to check out Presidio Sports if the need ever arises (which I hope isn't the case).

I told me therapist that I was planning to do a hilly trail 20k tomorrow and she just rolled her eyes -- but she didn't say no!

So, that's what I am planning to do tomorrow. 2300 feet of climbing inside of 12.7 miles; should be a good old fashioned sufferfest. Not to mention, I am playing poker tonight with the boys, which promises a fairly late evening.

I expect to suffer greatly.

Have a good weekend y'all.

(Ps. Downloaded the new Jay-Z last night. At first listen it is really good. More on this later)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thursday Night Lineup

It's been a while since I've written about TV. Couple of random thoughts:

-- in my humble opinion, DirtySexyMoney is the runaway winner of this new season. I am *really* glad I stuck with this one; I'm in hook, line and sinker. It's got a great premise and a very strong cast and I think it hasn't quite yet reached its potential. If you haven't watched, I would give you a window of two or thee weeks before the plot layers become to complex.

-- Thursday night lineup is still the strongest, simply based on the strenth of the Office and 30 Rock. That said, it definitely needs a strong drama in the 10-11 pm slot (9-10 for my central standard friends) ala what ER was back in the day. I'd love to see DirtySexyMoney moved into this slot.

-- Tuesday night's are very much on the heels of Thursday, though, and will probably surpass it once American Idol kicks off. House and Boston legal are a terrific combination and I still stand by my statement that pound-for-pound, Boston Legal is still the best show on TV.

-- Friday nights are pretty solid too with Friday Night Lights (haven't watched yet Finkel, but I promise I will get to it) and Vegas.

-- And for the record, I gave up on Dancing with Stars (sort of) and don't get Gossip Girl, which is The Wife's favorite show of all-time, short of Laguna Beach and The Hills (I think my wife aspires to be a 19 year old SoCal girl).

Any important shows I am missing?

-- For all you 24 fans out there, I strongly urge you to rent or download season one and two of Showtime's Sleeper Cell. It is totally and completely off the hook.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Epic Run: 100 Miler

So, I have been giving some thought as to my 2008 race calender. Every few years, I feel a compelling need to do something "epic." Back in 1999 it was Ironman Lake Placid. In 2002 it was my first ultra, a 50k. In 2004 it was a 50 miler with my man Payro. Since then, I have dealt with a number of distractions (moving from Chicago to SF, dealing with cancer) that have made my goals more modest and less of a priority.

That being said, I am starting to once again feel the call of the wild. I'm thinking there is really only one "biggie" left for me to do: a 100 miler (actually, that's not exactly true. I'd like to swim the English Channel. But we'll save that diatribe for another day).

So, I am officially using this forum to declare that I am in for a 100 miler in 2008 -- anyone care to join (seriously -- I am going to need pacers)?

The only thing that will get in my way is health issues (we'll have a good idea of where I stand next month when I undergo my next battery of tests) or if I get into Ironman Hawaii via lottery, which based on my track record ain't happening. I feel no compulsion whatsoever to do another Ironman -- the training is much too great a commitment for what I am at in life right now -- but I do feel the call of Hawaii.

So, its official -- I'm in. Payro?

Now I just have to go find the right race. Might make sense to break the news to The Wife as well.

It goes without saying that I will also use this as an opportunity to raise funds for ThyCa.

And while I am on the subject of declarations, I will also state that after this race, I plan to officially retire from Endurance sports.

(And if you believe that, I have some great property for you in Brooklyn that I am willing to sell for next to nothing.....)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Music

I've got a serious case of the Monday's which I think it has a lot to do with daylights freaking savings time (which is one thing when the weather stinks, like when we lived in Chicago and is entirely different when the weather is actually pretty darn good). Anyway, nothing that a good trip to Napa (which is where I am headed tomorrow) can't cure. By the way, for those of you that have never been to Napa, it alone is worth the trip to NorCal, even if you aren't a wino.

My father asked me today why I haven't written more on Michigan football. While I am pleasantly surprised by their turnaround -- they have shown a lot of (Mike) Hart -- I refuse to get excited until post Ohio State game. If we lose to OSU again the season is a disaster; if we win, it is salvaged.

Anyway, following is a list of my top ten albums of the year so far. The new Jay Z breaks tomorrow and if it is as good as the early reviews, I can see it being added to the list.

10. Black Kids: This one isn't so much an album but a four song EP but it is amazing. I think the songs are available via download at their Myspace page. Get this one immediately. The only reason it comes in at ten is because it's not a full-fledged album

9. Feist, The Reminder. Not my typical cup of tea, but there is no denying that this is an amazing album. She has an ethereal, gripping voice.

8. Joan as Police Woman. Real catchy and listenable. Gets better each time.

7. Linkin Park, MInutes to Midnight. Maybe not their finest work but I am no longer embarrassed to say that LP rocks and their is NO better music to listen to while running or on the bike.

6. Perry Farrell's Satellite Party. See Linkin Park above and substitute "Perry Farrell" for Linkin Park.

5. Pinback. I am not even sure how to describe this one but it's quickly becoming a favorite.

4. Robert Plant and Alison Kraus. I just picked this up last week and am blown away. This will win Grammy's. Lots of Grammy's.

3. Kanye West, Graduation. Say what you will about Kanye -- and I think he is a bit of a stroke - but he is unquestionably the biggest talent in the world of hip hop. This album gets better with each listen.

2. Eddie Vedder, SOundtrack from Into the Wild. I finally saw the movie on Saturday and was alittle disappointed. Then again, it's 2:30 hours, we went to alate viewing and I was exhausted. That said, I think the soundtrack was better than the movie. This is a classic.

1. Radiohead, In Rainbows. For the record, I am not a Radiohead fanboy. On the contrary: I've always appreciated them, but never really "got" them. That's history, now. This album is utterly brilliant and it will without question endure the test of time. Best album of 2007, hands down.

Others of note that I need to listen to a bit more, but show promise: Akron/Family (Megan, if you are out there you will like this a lot); Devendra Banhart (ditto this); Jens Lekman, Justice and Vampire Weekend.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Big Sports Day

Today was a big sports day. On top fo the "traditional" sports (baseball, basketball, football) I'm also a huge fan of "alternative" sports as well: running, triathlon, track and field, swimming, etc.

ANyway, big news today was the Men's Olympic Championship qualifier, which was ran in Central Park, my old home course. In A A day that shoul;d have ben a celebration of the emergence of some of our younger runners, Hall (the winner, in 2:09), Dathan Rithzenheim and Brian Sell, was marred by the tragic death of 28 year old emerging star Ryan Shay, who collapsed and died at the six mile mark.

Life really is astonishing: here you have a young, fit runner running to qualify for the Olympics. One moment he is at the start line; less than 45 minutes later he is dead. Thoughts and prayers with his wife and family.

On a brighter note, kudos to my friend Chris Hauth on his 9th place finish at Ironman Florida. I was emailing with him last week and he wanted to go under 9:00 hours; he finished in 8:38. Tyler Stewart, who coached my e-cycling class, finished third in the women's race. In a very strange manner, Tyler may have saved my life. I took her ecycling class and it broke me down physically and I came down with a nasty chest cold; a cold nasty enough that I was compelled to go to the doctor. And it was that visit that they found a bump on my neck. The rest, of course, is history. Anyway, congrats to Tyler on another great race. I am convinced that she is going to one day win Ironman Hawaii.

In the world of more "traditional" sports, Michigan won a nail biter against Michigan State. I have to say, this team is showing a lot of character. But a big showdown looms in two week in Columbus.

In other "sports" news, I ran for a back pain free hour today, which I am excited about, and managed to bike for around 40 minutes with the Little Girl (she has a little bike thing that attaches to my mountain bike which she absolutely loves) . ALso played baseball with the Little Boy for 2 hours. ANd last but certainly not least my first "coached" athlete (more on this in a future post), Nick, ran eleven miles today.

A great Fall sports day iall-around. And on top of all that, it was a picture perfect day her in Marin County: 74 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Survey Time

Greetings from hot and humid Dallas. Is it never hot and humid in this town? Anyway, I'm here for a quick business trip and am typing this from the iPhone so it is going to be a short post today. Here is the big question on everyone's mind: should I keep the name of this site or change it to something else. I will let you, my adoring public, decide. And on yeah - I am very open to suggestions.

So - what do you say?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween and Another Earthquake


Thank you everyone for your concern about how the Solomon's weathered the earthquake on Tuesday night; it's very much appreciated. In the event you are unsure, yes, that was dripping with sarcasm.

On a serious note, that was really something. It struck at 8:00 pm while I was reading the kids a story. The Wife was in the shower and missed the whole thing but boy was that was quite the experience. While it only lasted around 10-15 seconds, it was exceptionally violent; it's hard to describe, but it felt like the house was pitching to its side. The kids did not react well at all - the girl in particular really freaked out and was inconsolable until she fell asleep. I'll say one thing: now that I've experienced two earthquakes, I don't feel any desire to experience a third. And this one at 5.6 was relatively small.

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Obviously, today was halloween. Our town really takes this holiday seriously: the day starts off with a parade at the kid's school and a little show in which each class comes up and sings a song. I hate using words like "adorable" but it really was something close to that, particularly the girl and her kindergarden crew. The Girl, by the way, was a Dragon (kind of appropriate) while the Boy was .. get ready for it .. Derek Jeter. This is a kid after my own heart.

We went to a friends house for dinner and then headed downtown. There is a three or four block radius that *really* gets into the halloween spirit: haunted houses, spooky music blaring from speakers, extensive decorations, -- the whole nine yards. Then the high school kids come out and cause all sort of craziness. All in all, it's a really good time.

One weird thing happened though: an adult -- a freaking adult -- got in the Boy's face and started spouting off about how the Yankees sucked. Yes, he was a Red Sox fan and yes, he was serious. It was kind of bizarre; he kept going on and on about how they were in disarray, and welcome to their world of suffering and blah, blah, blah. It was really weird. I said to him, dude, he's a kid, he doesn't get this stuff but it didn't really seem to resonate.

Damn Red Sox fans.

One thing I don't like about halloween -- and I do not mean to sound like a curmudgeon now -- but if you think about it, the whole candy thing is really idiotic. The last thing in the world these kids need today - mine, especially - is 14 pounds of freaking candy. Actually, make the 12; the wife just ate two pounds worth.