January 17: MLK Day was a kinda long one in 2022

Things started out perfectly today with a couple more pancakes at Bernardos-Pavilions this morning around 10 but got a little more complicated shortly after we left Sacramento around noon.

Siri was trying to tell us something but we weren’t listening. She was trying to shepherd us down Interstate 5 but we ended up on the 99 until…

…until we realized there was a big ugly accident on the 99 just north of Bakersfield. The words “expect long delays” had us scrambling and we ended up making our escape SW from the 99 via the highway 198.

This was actually Ok for 50% of the passengers of the car, the one who found a new and unknown road amusing and a tiny bit of adventure in an otherwise bothersome delay.

We finally popped out onto the 5 at the garden spot of the Central Valley also known as Kettleman City. This reminded me of why I prefer the 99 over the 5.

Sure, Kettleman City is home to every fast food restaurant you’ve ever heard of (in addition to a Denny’s) but they’re all crammed on to one off ramp and the resulting crush of humanity we found at McD motivated us to scurry across the road in horror to the all but deserted Carl’s Jr.

It was the right move and then some. The Carl’s Jr. staff was great and their dining room was sparsely occupied. I downed my usual Western Bacon Cheeseburger and a free ice water before we were on our way again.

The rest of the ride was easy, again, for exactly 50% of the passengers. The weather was a tad wet off and on but mild. Even at the summit of the Grapevine it was still a warmish (for a January evening) temperature of 48 degrees.

I’m home now. A Russian WWII movie called On the Road to Berlin is on Prime Video (my bet is the Russians win) and I am trying to gracefully slide away from the challenges of the day that came before.

I’m going to need another drink pretty soon to ensure I’m ready for bed.

Thanks for reading.

January 17: MLK Day was a kinda long one in 2022

January 16: Sunday in Sacramento

Like I said, this has been a quick trip. Maybe too quick when you think about the numbers of miles to & fro but you know what they say about beggars.

Our Sunday started out slowly with breakfast at Cafe Bernardo’s-Pavillions. There are a couple others Bernardo’s in the chain but this location is my favorite, especially when it comes to their fantastic pancakes. Today’s were sublime; tender, good buttermilk flavor, not over or undercooked and the perfect thickness. I got by with one cake but I would have been able to devour four if self-preservation hadn’t gotten the better of me.

Later, we took a ride out to the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael, in the same park as the Ancil Hoffman golf course I mentioned yesterday.

The nature center has a number of trails that meander along and around the American River. As on the golf course there are deer everywhere as well as wild turkeys. The air was just crisp enough to keep a jacket on even with the sun out.

Afterwards, I noticed a brewery in nearby Rancho Cordova that I wanted to check out called Fort Rock. Everything was just a little disappointing. It was too loud (the 49ers were playing Dallas), the tap list was a little blah as was the strip mall ish location. I tried the Lights Out IPA. It was Ok but far from soul-stirring. Maybe I was expecting too much or maybe the relentless din from the TVs and the football fans tweaked my tastebuds. I hate to scratch a brewery off the list after trying only one beer but I may have to in this case.

Ah, but dinner! Dinner was at Obo. Now why the hell can’t I have an Obo in Los Angeles? It’s Italian and it’s fantastic. I went all in with spaghetti & meat balls and it was good as it was last summer, the winter before that and so on. They also have a full bar, a small but well-curated tap list, and a $10 rye old fashioned.

Are you kidding me?

We were celebrating a birthday (not mine) so I had two old fashioneds and the three of us split a slice of cheesecake, chocolate mousse and a chocolate-dipped cupcake that took a ride home with the lucky birthday boy.

It’s HGTV again tonight as we wind down but least it’s Home Town and not the drivel I subjected myself to last night. Nope, I didn’t come up with any ideas for my next book. Maybe tomorrow. I’m not even any more relaxed than when we left Los Angeles but at least we had us some fun and were blessed with good company and a wonderful host.

Tomorrow will be 388 easy miles and a return to reality. I can’t say I’m looking forward to either but I’m glad we made the trip.

Thanks for reading.

January 16: Sunday in Sacramento

January 15: Sacramento

Thank goodness for the MLK holiday. It gave us a little time to make our way to Sacramento for a very quick getaway and a opportunity to dodge Omicron outside of Los Angeles County. I like this place. It’s not perfect but then again, neither am I. It’s not hard for me to confess the two big things that help me like it here.

The first is the welcome availability of quality golf that’s not crazy expensive. The 27 hole complex at Haggin Oaks was one of the best municipal facilities I had ever played until I was lucky enough to play Ancil Hoffman in nearby Carmichael. This last summer found me sitting on the patio at Ancil Hoffman drinking the biggest $8 Captain & Diet Coke you’ve ever seen. It is a beautiful layout that was in fantastic shape for the middle of summer, or any time of year for that matter.

Of course, that was summer and this is winter. It’s colder here than it is in SoCal. Worse, even though there’s no rain in the forecast the air is incredibly heavy, making tonight’s 43 degrees at 10pm feel quite a bit colder.

So, it’s cold, the days are short, what’s to do? There are great indoors are here aplenty. THat brings me to the second thing I love about Sacramento; the scores of great restaurants and bars. There are also tons of micro breweries around here though I must admit the pale ale I had from Berryessa Brewing this evening was not very good, but those are the breaks.

However, the cheddar burger at Hook & Ladder Manufacturing was superb. Stupid name for a place that is supposed to have an educational vibe (teacher’s desk inside the front door and school auditorium seats for use while waiting for a table).

But wait, am I so simple that burgers, booze and decent golf is enough to get me to relocate to Sacramento? Who knows, but I wouldn’t rule it out. Tomorrow I am hoping to write down some ideas for my next book. I hope you’ll be here to read them.

Sorry, no writing soundtrack tonight. Some idiotic home improvement show on HGTV is filling in, and doing a lousy job of it, I might add.

January 15: Sacramento

January 14: Talk about coincidences

Yesterday I got this comment on my blog:

“Hi Paul…… I certainly have fond memories of when we worked together with Roger M. While I find your daily invasions annoying… I can’t stop …your writing is addictive…you have turned me onto a few great artists as well… All the best my friend!”

The writer was a friend and business associate of mine from way back when. How far is way back? I’m pretty sure the last time we were in the same room year year began with the number 19.

Yup, way back when.

Bobby was in town, after CES I think, and we went out to share a couple cocktails after dinner since he was staying somewhere in Pasadena. At some point he made a comment about how little green there was in SoCal. Having spent my share of time in the midwest and a little on the east coast I knew he was right. But still, what he said took me back a little. Not enough green?

Winter is not exactly SoCal’s colorful season. A few weeks or so from now this canyon may have some color to it, if we luck out with rainfall. It was a fascinating coincidence for me to hike this gray canyon the same day that I heard from Bobby and recalled his comment about our lack of green.

Even in relatively wet years the green comes quickly and leaves even faster. It’s just something we get used to. Who knows? Maybe we treasure the little bits of green we get all the more?

I can remember being on this fire road only a few weeks earlier. The short season grasses were as green as rye and flooded onto the fire road itself. By late February, when this photo was taken, those grasses were already well into retreat. At least the oak leaves bring a little green to the scene.

We’re off to Sacramento this weekend. I think they’ve been getting some rain and I know the Sierra snowpack is off to a good start. Still, I’m not looking forward to seeing much in the way of green.

Maybe someday I’ll get back to upstate New York and Bobby can show me what green really looks like. I would enjoy that but mostly I would enjoy the chance to spend time with him. I miss Bobby and all the other good guys from the high end game. Those were interesting days and the good guys, like Bobby, were some of the best guys ever.

By the way, even though I’m on vacation for a few days, the blog is not. I’ll be writing on my iPhone (always a joy) so my posts won’t be long but since there are 365 days this year I’m writing 365 posts.

Plus, how could I miss out on a chance to annoy an old friend?

Wait, I almost forgot about today’s writing soundtrack. It’s the 2020 release of Brian & Roger Eno’s Mixing Colours. It’s gratifying that folks like the Eno brothers can still create this kind of atmospheric music with such freshness and style after all these years.

January 14: Talk about coincidences

A couple beers from Sacramento (and Bakersfield)

Do you really need to know why we end up in Sacramento a couple times a year?

No, you don’t.

Just know that in the summer Sacramento is a very cool place to play golf, drink craft beers, check out local wineries and to generally chill out. Since I click all of those boxes with enthusiasm it’s pretty easy to see why I like Sacramento.

But wait, this trip found us making a quick stop in Bakersfield. How can you say bad things about a place that has streets named after Merle Haggard and Buck Owens?

The answer is, you can’t.

Turns out that Bakersfield is home to a bunch of good craft brewers. We tried to stop by Temblor (second worst name in town) but the place was swamped on a Sunday night. Impressive, but not in a hey, I really want to elbow my way through the teeming, unwashed masses of Bakersfield for a pint of suds kind of way.

So, we rolled over to Ming Avenue to check out the Marketplace location of Lengthwise (winner of worst name in town). The place is hidden at the back of a pretty nondescript mall. The vibe inside and out was very cool. Plenty of the local gentry were there watching the World Cup. First up was their Red Ale which was excellent if a tad bit more hoppy than I think it needs to be. The color is a deep, rich red with just a touch of amber.

Red

Next up was their Razzberry Wheat. I was looking for something approximating my brother’s amazing Watermelon Berliner Weisse. The Razz was close but had a touch too much berry flavor.

Raz

Upon making this comment out loud the guy at the end of the bar said, “I was gonna warn you about the Razz; the Strawberry Wheat is much better.”

This friendly and full-bearded fellow was wearing a hat and shirt from Bike Dog Brewery in West Sacramento. I told him we’d be in town the next day and would be sure to check it out. Sadly, the WestSac brewery was closed Monday-Wednesday so we had to go to their Broadway Taproom which was fine and dandy but lacked the slight industrial grit that I feel adds the last little bit of flavor to a good beer, plus it was freezing inside.

Being on a red ale kick I tried their Klunker Red Ale which was nice on a warm evening at 5.5% ABV. It was less hoppy than the red ale at Lengthwise and a touch closer to the ideal red I’m always searching for.

BD
Bike Dog…get it? OK, so everyone’s pretty much running out of catchy names in the craft beer realm.

My rating for Lengthwise and Bike Dog and the beers I tried is:

Three Beers

 

A couple beers from Sacramento (and Bakersfield)

A Lesson from the Past: Trump & Schwarzenegger

While I was watching the election results it came to me: Donald Trump is to the United States as Arnold Schwarzenegger was to California. Arnold became governor after the citizens of California voted to recall Gray Davis way back in 2003. This left a choice between Cruz Bustamante and Schwarzenegger. If you’re unfamiliar with Bustamante just imagine Hillary Clinton as a paunchy latino who was never a first lady but was the 45th Lieutenant Governor of California. Schwarzenegger had money and a dazzling level of name recognition. But, more than this, he had answers to everything wrong with California. He promised to, “pump up Sacramento.” He said that Gray Davis had terminated hope and that it was now time to terminate Gray Davis. The Governator won the election by 1.3 million votes.

Then reality crashed down on him.

Schwarzenegger had difficulty passing a budget which led to him likening California legislators to kindergarteners who needed a time out. His most memorable line was branding those same legislators as girlie men. A couple years later, after watching his popularity tumble further, he changed his tone. The very same unions Arnold had earlier dismissed so readily showed why they have been such longstanding houses of power in this state.

In the end, it turned out that Arnold’s fame and money didn’t mean he had the answers to everything that was wrong with California.

And now there’s Donald Trump…

He has money, but no one’s quite sure how much. He has experience in business, but he also had a $200,000,000 head start. And, like Arnold, Trump says he has the answers to everything that will help make our country great again. Yet, he never told the electorate when exactly the country was previously great and what had robbed its greatness.

Like Arnold, he’s adept at identifying enemies but not so quick to identify allies or to show an interest in building consensus. For that matter, he has done and said little to indicate that he thinks consensus is even something of value.

Say what you want about Schwarzenegger. He was born with nothing and built his fortune by capitalizing on his gifts. In the end, he learned some hard lessons in his time as governor. The longer he held office, the less bombastic he sounded.

We will have to wait to find out whether Donal Trump the president will be a different man than Trump the candidate. I suspect he won’t like the job. He won’t be able to free himself from the relentless schedule. There will be no reality TV shows, no openings of hotels and golf courses just the constant pull in all directions that have plagued every president since Washington.

Then, there’s his age. He’ll be the same age when he’s inaugurated as Reagan was when he took office. Trump displayed great energy throughout the campaign. But a campaign is, by its nature, founded on rhetoric. That’s Trump’s strength. Being president is a grind of details that is not something Trump would seem to enjoy, just as Reagan did not. I’m not even going to talk about the beating Trump’s golf handicap is bound to take.

Then there’s his money and his business. Even though the Trump family seemed blissfully unfamiliar with the concept of a blind trust during the campaign they will surely know all about them by the time Trump takes office. Trump’s term in office will mean he won’t be able to trade stocks or be anything like the head of his own empire that he’s been for decades.

Instead, Trump will be like Eisenhower, giving orders that no one follows.

I also think Trump will find that TV time is a lot more difficult to get when you’re president than when you’re running for president. This is man who needs attention like most men need oxygen. He’ll get plenty, but I’m quite sure it won’t be the kind he likes. His ideas, such as they are, will have to turn into actions at some point. And, when they do, they will be questioned by the press corp, the democrats, the people and inevitably by members of his own party.

Donald Trump doesn’t like being questioned but presidents are questioned endlessly.

I wish Trump luck in renegotiating trade deals, which may have been made without the interests of American workers’ jobs or wages taken into account. I wish him luck in dealing with our county’s immigration issues, but I know that his is the party of cheap labor and I know that minimal control of immigration helps to preserve low wages. I wish him luck dealing with foreign powers though I think he’ll soon learn that Vladimir Putin’s interests don’t align with Trump’s interests, or America’s interests, quite as often as he hopes they will. I wish him luck in lowering taxes but know that doing such constitutes a path this country has gone down before, and that it’s a path that led to massive debt and budget shortfalls. I wish him luck in battling our country’s foes. He has said he can defeat them all easily yet the forty-four presidents who came before him tried to do the same over the last two hundred and twenty seven years. Still, America has never seen a sunrise without a host of new enemies to replace our many vanquished foes.

Still, I don’t need to have faith in any one man to maintain my faith in our republic.

It will long endure beyond the time of Trump and me.

 

A Lesson from the Past: Trump & Schwarzenegger