Category Archives: Personal


What have I been doing lately? Housekeeping!

I’m not talking solely about the physical kind. Sure, I have enough of that to do after 3 years of deferred maintenance while living abroad, but with today’s digital world the amount of housekeeping required has multiplied!

Lately I have been cleaning out the “messaging” threads on various services such as: FaceBook, LinkedIn, Messenger, iMessage, WhatsApp, etc. Each one of these services comes with it’s own communication system and idiosyncrasies. For example, does LinkedIn really need to message me when someone I actively friended accepts my friend request, purely to suggest I “wave” at them (or is that FaceBook that does this? See, I get confused there are so many). I mean really, I was the one that initiated the contact, sheesh.

So here I am, cleaning out my “inbox” on who know’s how many services….

The passing of my father

So here I am, just hours after learning of the passing of my father unexpectedly. Sitting in an airport lounge, halfway around the world (literally), waiting for my flight home to be with friends and family which will hopefully make things easier….

I learned of my fathers death from my uncle, who had called and left a message on my phone for me to call. He had also called and left the same message for my sister. As many families, we had our differences and didn’t necessarily get along, but in the end we were family.

While my father and I might have had a strained relationship, due to many factors, some outside either of our control, we talked and those other things never got in the way. When we would talk, it was always a good conversation, even if it was one of those difficult times and the conversation was superficial. No matter what, we always had something to talk about, even if it was just college sports.

My memories of my father are vast. As they say, you really only remember the good times, and there were many! Here are some examples:

  • I remember sledding down the hill in the backyard of our house on Chestnut Hill Rd. and making it only a couple feet from the house, I must have been maybe 3 at the most.
  • strange, but I really do think I remember him changing me as a small child (same house as above), on the counter of the bathroom with pink wallpaper and koalas. I must have been maybe 2..?
  • He used to take me to sports events, and if it was outdoor, it was guaranteed to rain. We went to some doozies! I got to see Muhammad Ali, shot hoops on the floor of Madison Square Garden, you name it. Going to the Army Navy game at Westpoint was a regular thing growing up!
    • At one Army/Navy game, the guy next to me had an umbrella so I was dry. My father sitting in the rain getting soaked, sat there the whole time since I was dry and having fun.
  • Helping my sister get her clog unstuck from the mud at the nature preserve in Westchester.
  • Him turning green after my sister and I insist he ride a ride with us at Playland.
  • Attending shows at Westchester Premier Theatre growing up. I got to meet everyone (list is too long, but let’s just say met Frank several times and sang with Dianna Ross).
  • Early in my life, he always had the coolest cars: a series 1 Camaro (yellow with black stripes), a Saab Sonnet 3, etc. Maybe this is where I got my love of cars…?
  • I remember helping him put his sock on when he had his knee fixed and was in a cast from hip to toe
  • Later in life, it was my father who took me on my college tour to see where I wanted to go.
  • In college, he used to call just to tell me a joke and would then end the call.
  • he gave me a bunch of “bad jobs” growing up to teach me what I didn’t want to do for a living (working in the gas fields of Kentucky, a coal mine (stip mine, not deep mine), just to name a few)
  • took me to Vegas for my first time, well before I could gamble. I remember standing next to the table and watching him gamble (that’s how long ago it was, I was allowed in the casino)!

And that’s just a short list…. so many more memories!

With the passing of my father, not only is he gone, but so is a whole trove of family history I never had a chance to get from him. My grandmother passed only a couple months ago, and of course I was thinking, “I can always ask my dad about X ancestor”. Now that opprotunity has passed….

The last time I saw my father was years ago, but again, we talked. He turned 79 only a week ago, to the day of his death, and I talked to him just after his birthday (I was traveling and in the air at times when I could call). We actually chatted for quite a while, it was a really good call.

At the end of the call, we both said “I love you” (those were our last words), so it’s not like those relationships where you hear folks last convo’s were a fight, etc. It ended well and he knew I loved him and he me, in our own dysfunctional way.

Bye dad. It was to early and I am not prepared for your loss. I would have liked to have many more conversations. I’ll still talk to you I’m sure, I hope you are listening, but I’m sad you won’t answer!

P.S. I’m sure there will be edits to this!

Ad Blocking Backlash – Can the User Tell Good From Bad?

Been reading a lot about the new ad blocking feature in iOS 9 and this post from John Gruber at Daring Fireball stood out. He comments, “Are we fighting ads, or are we fighting garbage?”

John, I would argue that we are fighting the latter, the problem is that for the layperson, they don’t know the difference since they can’t tell which ad service is doing nefarious things and which are good (like the one you use). Therefore, with this new feature, users are opting to just block everything since they have no way of knowing the difference.

Los Angeles Police/Courts are Broken!!!

So we all know that I got a ticket the other day crossing the street in downtown LA. today I called to try to resolve/pay the fine. I went through the automated phone system and the one online and it had no record of me or the citation (I guess that’s good), so I opted to wait on hold for half an hour to speak with an operator.

When I got an operator, she said that she had no record of it and that it would take up to 21 days for my citation to be in the system. But what about traveling for the holidays, etc.? I told her that I won’t be around then and I’d like to resolve this sooner. Again, she said that she had no proof of the ticket (citation #0578636) but I told her I did, it was in my hand.

When I asked her for her name, she said, and I quote, “Now you are just playing games sir. You signed the ticket saying you would appear, so you have to. Goodbye” and hung up on me….

So here’s the question… should I go downtown to the courthouse and pay/resolve the citation, whether or not it’s in the system? And if it’s not in the system for 21 days, half of the time that I am allowed to get this resolved, and I try to resolve it but they have no record of the ticket, what’s next? If i am going out of town yet they can’t process the citation ’cause of their system, why should I be penalized for their incompetence?

As a former software guy, you have got to be kidding that citations don’t show up in the system for 21 days… What is the officer doing and why does it take 3 weeks for me to be able to give the city of LA money…?

LAPD Have Nothing Better To Do…?

I was downtown today with and as I crossed the street, the walk sign just started flashing as I stepped into the crosswalk, I was given a ticket. The officers involved were standing quietly behind a post, in the alcove of a building entrance, private property by the way, and asked if they could talk with me. They asked with such a quiet voice that I said, “excuse me?” and they repeated themselves and I stepped over to them….

At that point the two officers expressed that I was going to get a ticket for crossing against the light, etc. I’ve gotten many a ticket before, but never for crossing the street. What gets me is that the police officers were really rude… OK, one was quiet and didn’t say anything, it was obvious that he was the junior if not still training (the other officer told him what to do, how to fill out the ticket etc.).

The one female officer really had a power trip going on. When I asked her about this, she was belligerent. At this point I figured I better start documenting this, so I took a picture of the two officers. I also started recording the conversation on my iPhone via the voice memo feature. I asked her for a business card and the badge numbers of both officers and they were reticent to give them out. I had to ask multiple times for the information and only after they were finished writing me up would they give the the info, and then they wouldn’t give me their badge number. They insisted that a serial number is all that I need…. What’s a serial number for a police officer? I now from Adam about that, having been ingrained in all of our heads for decades, get the badge number. I had to look at their badges and get the number myself, they did not volunteer it.

Just for reference, the officers were:
Officer Alvarado – serial #39795, badge #20947
Officer Haro – serial #23019, badge #8699

While they are writing me the ticket, one of the officers had asked me to “stand there” and pointed, and I moved to the spot…. while I was talking with her and asking for badge numbers, etc. she kept pointing to other places that she wanted me to stand. I moved, then moved again, each time, all of about one foot. She was just having fun making me move around…. When she asked me to move once again, I said that I am standing exactly where she told me to and that I hadn’t moved, why do I have to move again, that’s when she called for a car and a sergeant came to the scene with another officer.

So in the end, I got a ticket for using a crosswalk when the no crossing signal was flashing. Don’t LAPD officers have more important crimes to deal with than folks crossing the street? Wouldn’t it benefit the officer from not having a power trip and making me move from place to place. BTW, the reason stated by officer Haro why I had to wait to get their info was so one officer could write and the other could be on “look-out”… but remember there were now 4 officers there, she was just doing that power trip thing again!

And folks wonder why the police are so monumentally disliked…. Maybe if they treated folks the same way that they liked to be treated their job would be easier!

The Start of a New Wine & Food Season

menu_xiv.jpgSo it’s the beginning of a new season of a group of gentlemen that have been dining and drinking together, many of them for decades…. They have been gracious enough to allow me into the fraternity, which was far more nerve racking than it was in college, and last night’s event starts the new season. It was an evening of wine from Scholium with Abe Schoener (the winemaker) in attendance held at Michael Mina’s XIV.

For the wines, I can say little more than fantastic. I was introduced to Scholium wines a couple of years ago by a friend, and am very glad that he did. I have bought a number of his wines for both drinking and cellaring, and have enjoyed them all. Abe does some really great things with a grape and takes risks and chances that many don’t, often to spectacular results. Here is what we drank with the meal….

While nothing is ever perfect (a couple of the wines were poured “backwards” and I got a bit lost as to what was what and got re-poured) the wine service was really nice and they did a great job juggling what was a gazillion glasses. We started with the champagne which was very unique. It comes from some clippings of Pinot Noir from England that was brought to Napa and then moved into the whites that went with the first three courses. We then had the next two wines with the halibut and the salmon, and finished the meal off with the reds…. The Babylon Tenbrink is a BIG wine, one of the biggest you’ll drink.

As for the food, you can click through to see the entire menu, it was good. It’s hard to cook for a group of 30, so a couple of the things came out luke warm, but the taste was always there. A couple of outstanding winners: the sweet corn soup, Kobe shortrib and the explorateur. When it came to these dishes, they are some of the best of their kind that I’ve had. Truly outstanding examples.

In the end it was a great evening and I really enjoyed myself and the company, and I hope that the others enjoyed themselves as well. There will be about 9 more events throughout the season and I’ll try to post about ’em as we go. I will be co-chairing an event in January, with a Spanish theme…. 🙂

2005 Bordeaux Tasting

I was invited to a tasting of 2005 Bordeaux’s tonight by the International Wine and Food Society. It was the 449th gathering of this particular chapter. A great group of people and a lot of fun. The food was quite tasty and the wine was even better!
Below is a wine list of what we tasted, their ratings and the retail prices. The event was sponsored by Bob Myerson of the Wine Warehouse, and to him I say thank you. There aren’t many opportunities to drink at a tasting like this and compare this many wines, yet alone wines of this caliber!
The tasting was done blind, and if I said I wasn’t a bit intimidated doing it blind, I would be lying. At the end of the tasting, you were to rate what you thought was your top five, they tallied up the scores and announced them later on.
Again, it was a blind tasting, so you didn’t know what was what…. My score card that I turned in rated them in the following order (1 to 5 as my top five)… E, F, C, J, A. The winners, after all scores had been tallied were: J, E, I, F, H
So to put it into real terms….
1. Chateau Mouton Rothschild (J) — which I rated as 4th
2. Chateau Pavie (E) — which I rated as 1st
3. Chateau Palmer (I) — which didn’t rate 🙁
4. Chateau Monbousquet (F) — which I rated 2nd
5. Reignac (H) — which i didn’t rate 🙁
So all in all, I didn’t do too bad…. got some, missed some. If you want to know what was what and the full list, their RP ratings and retail prices, click on the pdf image below and you can see our tasting list that was given out afterwards, so we knew what we drank.
An amazing evening that I am very, very happy that I was invited to!
2005 Bordeaux Tasting

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff luncheon

While I get to go to a lot of cool events due to my “past life” in the concert business and my mother’s really cool job as President of Town Hall Los Angeles, of which this was one of her events, I must say that this was one of the cooler!
Admiral Mullen was very well spoken, had a knowledgeable command of the topic, whatever it was as many questions were asked from the audience, and was in general (no pun intended) just a really nice guy! He spoke/responded about the Middle East, the Sub-Asian Continent (Afghanistan, Pakistan and India), Veterans Affairs. When a former Colonel who had been discharged due to medical reasons recently from active duty asked about what can be done re: veterans, etc. Admiral Mullen was open and straightforward and even told the gentleman that he should contact him directly via email and he’d look into it, as he reads and answers all his own email. I thought that was pretty impressive for such a high ranking official to be that approachable.
At the end of the event, for those high schoolers that were there (Town Hall Los Angeles always invites students) he handed out a number of “coins”. they carry the seal of the Joint Chiefs and say “presented by Adm. mike Mullen” and are really, really cool… I didn’t get one :-(. Was actually told now, they were for “special folks”. My mother got one though, so I guess that’s coming later in life with her hockey puck that Gordy Howe gave her :-)… He did offer something else that is even more cool than the coin, but you’ll have to wait to find out about that one….
Yes, that’s the Chairman as my mother was introducing him… See how close I was (and yes, I got to talk to him (and joke) quite a bit when the event was over… a really nice man!)
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People Really do Read This Thing!

Who would have ever thought that people actually read this blog/site/thing…? I went to pick up a friend for dinner and there it was, in all it’s glory, this site on the computer screen. I got the response, “well, I googled you and now I’m reading up on you.” Isn’t that just embarrassing :-)….
What can I say other than, I’m surprised. I am also glad that I write carefully, not mentioning any of those bits that could prevent me from getting a job, get me fired from a job, or worse yet, prevent me from getting a date :-)! I have always tried to write in a manner that only deals with me, and doesn’t “tell” abut others… kind of like the way at the end of a film it says, “names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Well, since I try to be careful about who I wrote about, I don’t have to change any names. That’s a good thing ’cause I probably couldn’t remember them anyway, yet alone after I change them!
As for other things going on right now… I’m watching the markets implode like the rest of you. I am involved in a couple of new start-ups, but again, so is everybody else it seems. I’ll keep you posted how it goes…. Oh, and I start the second of 5 wine classes tonight, hopefully on my way to a certificate in wine.