Ripped From the Headlines #2

An article on CNN stated that on Tuesday the NCAA proposed that athletes receive unlimited meals and snacks. Shabazz Napier, a star player from UCONN told reporters that he sometimes goes to bed “starving” because he can’t afford food. Mary Mulvenna, a Legislative Council chairwoman stated they were taking action to provide student athletes with meals.

Get a job?  LOL.  I'll just wait for my millions.

Get a job? LOL. I’ll just wait for my millions.

Uh, what about other students? Regular kids don’t go to bed hungry? Or are they not as important as student athletes? I am not going to get into the age-old argument about student athletes and whether they actually earn their grades. I realize these students are accepted to a particular school to do one thing: play sports. I understand sports is big business and it’s not going to change any time soon. I also love sports too.

What I don’t understand is why the athlete (or celebrity) is so important. Why are they idolized? Why are they special? Because they are talented at throwing a ball, running or jumping? Why aren’t genius kids given unlimited meals? A genius has to eat too. If there’s a grad student working on an innovative method to reduce dependence on oil, why doesn’t he get to eat free? Rhodes scholars? Fulbright scholars? Nobel Prize candidates?

Shabazz Napier is a senior at University of Connecticut. He led his team to win the 2K Sports Classic Title and was named the Tournament MVP. He also was a candidate for the Wooden Award, Bob Cousy Award, and Naismith Award (all sports awards). UCONN Huskies defeated Kentucky for the championship in 2014. Napier was named Most Outstanding Player. (Source: Wikipedia)

Lindsay Lee, a Rhodes Scholar, is a senior at University of Tennessee, Knoxville with double majors in Mathematics and Spanish. She has done research at the National Institute of Mathematical and Biological Synthesis. She volunteers for the homeless at a children’s hospital. She has been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. (Source:

Without referring to either student’s economic situation, who gets to eat free?

You know what? Forget them. Who cares about awesome basketball player and/or a student who wants to develop a fair and reasonable method for healthcare? Both of them are probably on scholarships anyway.

Can any of you throw a 60-yard spiral?  No?  That's why those bowls are empty.

Can any of you throw a 60-yard spiral? No? That’s why those bowls are empty.

What about elementary school kids going to bed hungry? According to an article in Forbes Magazine, the USDA suggests that 1 in 1000 children is hungry on a daily basis.  Some might have deadbeat parents, but a 9-year old child cannot do much to change his fortune. He can’t work, but a college student athlete can. Yes, I know he has to practice and go to class, but the struggle is real and every day all able-bodied working folk have to hustle. You know what college student athlete can do that a 9-year old can’t? He can also take out a loan—just like millions of other college students. Understand me—I absolutely loathe student loans and would never want anyone to go into debt, but that is the nature of our university system. Twenty-two year old kid trying to get ahead in life took out a loan to finance his medical degree. Mister Hot-Shot Basketball Kid can’t take out a loan to eat?

Created a feasible and affordable vaccine for HIV.  Discovered definitively the secret of the universe.  Pays for his own meals.

Created a feasible and affordable vaccine for HIV. Discovered definitively the secret of the universe. Pays for his own meals.

I’m only trying to figure out why the athlete gets special treatment. Twenty-two year old working on his medical degree could end up something as simple as being my general practitioner. Or, he could end up doing something amazing as curing a devastating disease. College basketball kid could play through college, have a good time, graduate and move on. Or he could end up in the pros. Don’t both deserve equal opportunities to follow their dreams?

I’m not really concerned about able-bodied adults, whether they can sing, dance, shoot hoops or do math problems. Everyone who has a dream should go for it, but realize you might have to take a detour in order to do what needs to be done.  Shabazz Napier and Lindsey Lee will probably go on to excellent careers in their respective fields.  Both of them, and everybody in between can get their own meals.  When we take care of the 1 in 1000 children starving daily, then you can talk to me about some basketball player.

The American Dream

Fuck bitches, get money


Apparently, I’m in the wrong business.  You got college girls doing porn, making bank enough to pay for an expensive education at Duke.  Now you got pimps making more than $1.5 million a year.  What kind of fool am I to do things the “traditional” way?  Graduate high school, go to college, get a job.  There are some statistics that point out many college grads aren’t getting jobs.  There are more statistics that state college grads aren’t getting jobs that were worth their degrees.  I’ve never run the numbers myself but I started wondering if this whole thing isn’t some big scam.  Go to college to be a doctor or a lawyer, spend most of your life trying to pay off the loans.

In no way am I advocating becoming a pimp or porn star.  These things are short-lived.  Looks fade.  Pussy fades.  Money don’t roll in like when you were young, tight and 18.  Pimps get beat down, shot, stabbed up or arrested.  End up in body bags from a disgruntled prostitute or another pimp what caught you on his turf.  I think the moral of this graphic is that whatever hustle you can come up with to make it through the game is what you should shoot for.  Be a doctor, if you want to be a doctor.  Be a porn star if you really want to be a porn star.  Don’t just do shit because they said you have to.  College is not for everybody.  Pimpin’ ain’t for everybody either.

Cubicle Death #17: Follow Instructions

Ellen hard at work.

It’s been awhile since I ranted about office problems.  I figure now is as good a time as any.  I’ve probably changed jobs a hundred times since the last rant, but really, it doesn’t matter where you work.  Some of these issues are universal.  Many of you will understand.

I now work for a very large company (I will call it Large Co.), which is broken down into business units and sectors and further broken down into programs which are broken down into departments.  It’s all very complicated and a little bit irrelevant, but it helps to get some context.  My program is mid-size, but there are only two people in my department:  me and my employee.  It’s not really impressive to say that I’m the lead of a two person department.  For a long time I was the only one here until Large Co. hired my employee (and I had no input), whom I’ll call Older Completely Clueless Lady Returns To Work Force.  For short, we’ll call her Ellen.

Ellen is really nice, but she is older.  This is not some discrimination thing, because I don’t have a problem how old or young you are, as long as you can do the job, which Ellen cannot.  She is sadly out of touch with today’s technology.  Many days she has trouble even turning on the computer.  For example, just this very morning it took her almost half an hour to figure out why her logins didn’t work.  (The caps lock was on.)  After a number of password resets and a visit from the tech guys, they got it all figured it out, but I had to go on a coffee break because I was getting frustrated.  I needed her to get into her system so she could recall this fucked up ass email she sent out on Friday. 

I really like that Ellen is working with me, because it was lonely in here by myself.  I like to talk and so does Ellen, but Ellen’s problem is that SHE DOESN’T FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS.  Like, at all.  In order for her to do the work in the way it should be done, I often have to write long detailed instructions, which she doesn’t follow or will repeatedly ask questions as if she did not understand.  For example, if I say, Step 1. Turn on the computer, she will ask, “Did you want me to turn the computer on first?”  Or she will turn the computer on and then turn it back off, not understanding that I wanted the computer to stay on.  Or she will not do anything at all and wait for me to return to confirm that I actually wanted the computer on.

It has been incredibly busy in this office the past few weeks.  We’d been so dead and then suddenly all this work fell from the sky.  Last week, we got a big job.  It was so big that I handled it first, then I sent it on to her as a backup because when the job is big like that you can’t really do good work on your own.  You need two sets of eyes.  I wrote out lengthy instructions on how to complete the job, including the due date.  The shit was so big I had to ask the customer for an extension.  The customer agreed that instead of Wednesday, we could return the work on Friday.  I told Ellen how particular this customer is.  This customer is not the one you bullshit, and I really felt I impressed this upon Ellen.  This was Thursday.

I don’t work Fridays, and when I came to work on Monday I saw an email from Ellen to the customer indicating that she was finished with job and attached was her work product.  I was flabbergasted because there was no way Ellen could have finished that work so quickly.  And I was right.  Let me quote exactly what you she wrote to the customer:

Hello Customer,

Attached is your work product.  Absolutely wonderful job on your work product.  I didn’t go through the entire work product myself, but I did the best I could.  Very perfect.



This is what happens when I leave Ellen alone for too long.

Uh, what the fuck?  You didn’t go through the work product yourself?  You did the best you could?  Why would you tell the customer that?  I was furious because it makes our whole department (all two of us) look bad.  Plus, it is in writing that you didn’t do your job.  Way to bring us all down with evidence!  This is why I wanted her to recall the email, but she couldn’t log in her computer because she didn’t realise the fucking caps lock was still on.  She got locked out and then the stupid ass tech guys had to come because she couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  By then, the customer had already seen the email.  We tried to recall it but too late now.  The customer has not responded yet, probably because she’s sitting on her end of the computer foaming at the fucking mouth.  She probably cannot even come up with the words necessary to cuss Ellen out.

Also, I don’t understand why Ellen praised the customer’s work.  I don’t even know what that is about and I can’t ask because every time I think about it I want to shit myself.  I think Ellen is a nice person but she needs to get with the program.  The reason I started writing long detailed instructions is because she could not understand my verbal commands.  She would get really confused and then not to do any work because she needed clarification.  I realise that I tend to bark or scream everything so I thought writing it down would help, that it would be less aggressive.  She told me she preferred the list of instructions.


Ripped From the Headlines #1

I am amazed at today’s teens’ sense of entitlement.  It’s like kids get out of bed, feeling like the world owes them something.  Where do they get this from?  Where does this feeling begin?  How do you become a person who says, “You know what, everything is about me.  You all owe me!”

Rachel Canning, spoiled brat

I just read an article on CNN  about an 18 year old girl named Rachel Canning.  Ms. Canning is suing, yes, suing, her parents for the remainder of the tuition at her exclusive private high school, living and transportation expenses, legal fees and her college tuition.  Ms. Canning no longer lives at home.  According to her, she was forced to leave the home due to “abuse.”  The parents say she refused to live by their rules so she ran away.  Ms. Canning and her boyfriend were suspended from school because they were skipping classes.  When the parents learned of this, they punished her by taking away her car keys and her cell phone.  Ms. Canning got pissed, skipped more school and then ran away from home–according to the parents.

Ms. Canning claims she was abused.  Allegedly, her mother frequently called her porky or fat.  She said that her father threatened to beat her.  Threatened, Ms. Canning said.  She does not say if he actually beat her.  She said she had to leave in order to end the abuse.

This is just what I read from the article.  I don’t know these people, but let’s say that Ms. Canning is telling the truth about all that is going on in the house.  Her daddy threatened to beat her because she skipped school with some dude.  Girl, you’re lucky he only threatened your ass.  Your parents can afford to send you to some fancy ass private school, but you ditch class with some boy.  Let me repeat that:  you go to an exclusive private school and you cut class with some hormone-raging boy and your daddy only threatened you.  Most teenage girls I know would have got uppercut already, not merely threatened.  I don’t know any family that’s like, “Oh, just ditch out of this expensive ass school we can barely afford to pay.  It’s cool.  Yes, run off with some boy.  Please, give him a reach-around by the dumpster on 7th Street.  That’s cool.  We’re okay with that.  Just be home for dinner.”

One of these better be the Porsche I asked for.

All they did was, according to the parents, was take away her phone and car.  Not enough punishment for me, but how is that even abuse?  Really?  So, let’s move on to the next allegation.  The mother called her porky and fat.  Ms. Canning is on a cheerleading team, so it is more likely she isn’t porky or fat.  No, I don’t really condone putting someone down like this, especially white teenage girls.  They’re real sensitive about their body image.  I’m sure Ms. Canning already has her own self-built complex and it wouldn’t make things better if her own mother calls her a porky.  I don’t think that’s a reason to run away though.  Running into one’s room, slamming the door and binging on Ben & Jerry’s is sufficient response.

Even if all these things are true, how does Ms. Canning come to the conclusion that her parents owe her anything?  She’s not out of high school yet, so they should at least help her finish school.  That doesn’t mean she’s entitled to go to some fancy private school either.  Send that ass to public school.  There’s a real punishment.  Find the worst inner city public school and make sure her ass is there every single day.  But beyond that, the parents don’t owe her anything.  There’s no law that says parents have to pay for their kids colleges.  I don’t know why parents started doing this in the first place.  I guess a lot of parents feel like they want to give their kids all the things they never had.  This is great.  Buy them an XBOX; don’t pay for their college.

My parents paid for my college and look what I did.  I dropped out.  Clearly, at that age I did not appreciate anything they did for me, and neither will Ms. Canning.  Do not pay for her college.  Make her pay her own way.  If she wants to be grown and play the game, show her just how fucked up the rules are.  Take the car away.  Sell the bitch, then give her a bus pass.  Stop paying her cell phone bill.  According to the article, Ms. Canning has an after school job.  Good.  She can pay her own cell phone.  Better get her ass to Metro PCS and get one of those pre-paid things.

No one really owes anybody anything.  I’m sorry your mother called you fat, Ms. Canning but she’s probably not the first person to put you down and she won’t be the last.  That doesn’t mean you get a free ride through life.

Sued by their kids, now look at them.

I’m going to follow this case.  So far, it looks like the judge has some sense, but the law is the law.  According to New Jersey law, you’re not automatically emancipated at 18 years of age (Ms. Canning is 18).  You’re only emancipated if a person has “left the scope of the parents’ authority.”  She ran away from home, so it seems to me that she’s not in their scope, but the judge must also consider exactly why she left the home.  Is there abuse for real, or is she just being a skank brat?  It will be interesting to see what happens.  If the judge rules in Ms. Canning’s favour this open the door for a lot of ill-mannered teenagers to truly abuse their parents and make them pay for it.  Ms. Canning sounds like she has wealthy parents so they can afford all the bullshit their child is putting them through, but what about regular middle class folks with shitty, whining kids who don’t want to pull their own weight?

Mr and Mrs Canning, if the judge rules in your daughter’s favour, remember that you don’t have to send her back to private school.  If you end up having to pay for her college, may I suggest some low-budget community college?  Or worse, University of Phoenix.  I’m sure the judge won’t stipulate you have to pay for some Ivy League shit.

Bizarre Dream #12

Recently, I’ve been having bizarre nightmares.  I can’t tell you where these visions are coming from.  I don’t do drugs.  When I drink, I don’t really dream.  I try not to watch things that are too scary.  But lately, I’ve had these dreams where people I know are dying, tornadoes, other natural disasters.  I wake up in a cold sweat, and even though the dream was completely farfetched it just seems so real.  Maybe I need therapy.

Last night I dreamed that he and I were sitting here watching TV as usual.  Then he said he wanted to go to the store, so we went.  Nothing spectacular happened; we bought a few things and came home.  As we pulled up to the house, he said that he wanted to get some things out of his car so he wouldn’t have to come back out later.  It was getting very cold.  It was still daylight, though, like maybe 1 or 2 in the afternoon.  I stood outside waiting for him because even though it was cold, it was warmer than it had been in recent days and there was actually some sun out.  The sun started to disappear after a few minutes.  It started to get really dark, like nighttime dark.  Then I saw a Spanish woman running down the street.  She was screaming in Spanish.  My limited Spanish skills were enough to know that she was petrified of something, a beast.  When I looked in the direction she came from there were other people running and screaming.

The sun was setting very quickly.  You know how in winter the sun is so far away and at sunset it can look like a teeny little ball?  Well, that’s what I saw in the dream, and then so randomly, this dragon just pops out of the horizon and eats what was left of the sun.  Yes, I know, it doesn’t make any sense but this is  dream–not real life.  We both start screaming.  We drop everything we’re carrying and run into the house.  In the dream, no one else lives in the house, I’ve got the whole place to myself.  So we’re upstairs and able to look out the window.  The dragon is golden, with red eyes and big leathery wings.  He is sitting on top of someone’s house.  People are screaming.  Then it blows fire at a house and it is engulfed in flames.  The dragon flies around for a little bit and then actually eats one of the houses across the street.  People run out of the house but the dragon sets them on fire and they are all dead.  All this carnage is going on but the dragon does not seem satisfied.  It seems to be looking for something or someone.

It goes on like this, houses getting set on fire, people getting set on fire, houses getting eaten.  Then the dragon notices that we are watching it from the window.  It flies above our house where we can’t see it.  I tell him that I think we should get into the basement.  We run down the stairs just as the house is set on fire.  Smoke is everywhere.  We can’t see anything.  We’re coughing and choking.  We huddle into a corner in the basement, and I’m pretty sure this is the end.  But the dragon eats the top of the house and now he can see us.  The dragon doesn’t want me; he wants him.  I tell him to run away, even though we both know he wouldn’t get far.  He tries to run but the dragon scoops him up.  I start screaming.  People outside are screaming.

I felt so paralyzed.  I couldn’t do anything.  Then I started crying because I felt helpless, which is bizarre in and of itself because I never cry about anything.  Then I woke up.

And the shit seemed so real…. because people get eaten by dragons almost everyday.

Optional, For Use On Longer Entries #14

I felt like today was as good as any to start writing again. 

I think 2014 is going to be one of those years.  Everything happens in cycles for me.  2011 was meh.  2012 sucked balls.  2013 was great.  2014 might be shitty affair.  January started off so great but February took a dive.  It’ll be March in two days and I really don’t see how things could get better–only worse. 

That’s life though.  I guess.

The Road Less Travelled #10

Madonna Estates Vineyards


Instead of Baywatch Cafe I headed across the street to Mel’s Diner, despite warnings from the front desk guy that it was an evil chain.  It is a chain but only in California, and not even all over California.  They give you plenty of food but it’s crowded in there so service is a little wonky.  I don’t need anybody to dance attendance upon me while I’m scarfing down an omelet and coffee so it didn’t really bother me.

Now it’s time to start exploring.  Instead of bothering with that confounded 511 website, I just used Google maps to find my way around.  So much faster and less of headache.  Google maps told me to walk up to Jackson Street to catch the bus.  And by up, they meant UP.  My goodness.  These hills.  It’s a workout, that’s for sure.  How you San Franciscans get on with it everyday is beyond me, but I guess it’s what you’re used to.  It made me wonder if the city was very accessible to the disabled and elderly.

It took me about 15 minutes to go a quarter of a mile up that hill.  I’m sadly out of shape, I know.  The bus took me to the Castro, San Francisco’s gay community.  Previously, I always thought of San Francisco as one BIG gay community.  I don’t know where I got that impression.  At any rate, I always like gay communities because there is such an emphasis on community.  I’ve never been to a gay community that is run-down, ramshackle or derelict in some way.  There’s always interesting shops and curious things to do, and San Francisco really exemplifies that.

If you’re funny about such things, I really wouldn’t worry about it.  It’s not like everyday there’s a gay pride parade, just people going about their business.  There are some interesting stores with names like Rock Hard, Sit’n’Spin and Hot Cookie.  I can’t remember what Rock Hard is, but Sit’n’Spin is a laundry place and Hot Cookie is well, a place that sells cookies.  And their cookies are great, let me tell you.  They do also sell chocolate dipped macaroons in the shape of men’s parts, in case you were interested.

There were better variety stores in the Castro, and the souvenirs were a lot cheaper.  I collect snowglobes and a friend of mine collects magnets.  I was able to get a snow globe (not one of the cheap ones, either), two magnets, and some postcards for about $6.  You’ll be lucky if you could find such a deal in Fisherman’s Wharf.

After the Castro, I took the street car back down Market Street so I could transfer to Stockton Street to see China Town.  I’ve been to China Town in NYC, Honolulu and Philadelphia, you might ask yourself why I’d be so interested but I just can’t stay away.  Besides, China Town is really the only place you can get pineapple stuffed buns.  If you ever read my Hawaii trip report you may remember the mad hunt for pineapple stuffed buns.  It’s something I used to eat as a kid when I lived in Japan, and whenever I am in China Town anywhere in the world I have to find them.  I found three different bakeries with pineapple stuffed buns, so I bought one from each to taste test.  I also bought red bean paste bread and other carb-filled junk I don’t need.

China Town is full of junk, but there are some random curious wonders if you care to spend half an afternoon looking for it.  If you need ginseng or oolong teas, this would be the place to get it.  The trick is to shop where the locals are shopping.  You don’t see the locals buying China girl looking dresses, or those cheap $5 slippers, or “silk” pajamas and handbags.  Yes, I bought all of these things.  There’s really no rhyme or reason.  I felt like I needed them.  I’m sad to say that my China girl slippers snapped the next day.  : (

After China Town I went back to the hotel to rest a little bit.  This is the advantage of staying in the city.  When you get worn down you can come back to your hotel, rest up a little bit and then head back out again.  Besides, you need to be close by so you can stash your souvenirs.  You don’t want everyone to know how pounds of pineapple stuffed buns you bought.  It could be humiliating.

In one of those brochures at the front desk I saw an add for the Winery Collective that is down in Fisherman’s Wharf.  Warning bells should have gone off in my head but either I wasn’t paying attention or they weren’t loud enough.  They offer wine tasting and all this other wine related stuff, so I thought it would be interesting.  It was actually quite expensive.  It was $25 for six pours, and you really couldn’t mix and match unless you gave this impression you were about to buy something.  All of the wines were priced higher than my budget allowed for, so I ended up just tasting.

The woman who poured for me was really nice though.  We had a long chat about teaching abroad.  Apparently she was teaching English in Sendai, Japan when the big quake over there happened.  It was interesting to hear her perspective.  She gave me a few tips on applying to teach abroad, something I’ve been thinking about lately.

After the Winery Collective, I went to ride the cable cars.  What a disaster.  I only did it because it seemed like the tourist thing to do.  The queue was ridiculous.  I stood in line at the terminus on Hyde Street for about 30 minutes before I gave up.  I walked up Hyde and saw that there were additional stops, so I waited at one of those.  Three cable cars went past me because they were full.  I’m sure locals don’t ride the things because they are horribly expensive ($6 each way) and a completely ineffective and inefficient way to travel.  While I was waiting a limo pulled up and offered to take all of us for $5 each.  Nobody took him up on his offer.  The only reason I continued to wait is because I was on the phone with someone and didn’t realise that an hour and 15 minutes had passed before I was able to ride on the car.  Then I was stuffed in with about 30 other passengers.  It was madness, and just to go a few blocks up the street to Hyde Street Seafood House.

Dinner was excellent.  If you’re looking for seafood, I’d give Hyde Street Seafood House a try.  The prices are reasonable and it’s not all stuffy and over the top fancy.  There were quite a few other people in there dining alone.  I started with grilled calamari followed by garlic shrimp.  Really good.  They specialise in en papilotte (I think I spelled that right) where they wrap everything in a paper and bake it, or something.

I got back on the wretched cable car to go back down to catch the bus only because the cable car was RIGHT THERE at the door.  Otherwise I would have walked.  I wish I would have then I would not have witnessed such a grand display of rudeness from the grip guy (or whatever they’re called).  These Japanese tourists got on with me, but they could not understand the instructions that were being barked at them.  The operator wanted the man to come around to the right side, so that me and the woman could sit down on the bench.  Obviously they did not speak or understand English so they kind of stood there looking lost.  The operator just screamed at the guy, “Come around, or you’re gonna get left!”  Eventually he seemed to understand, so he came around but then he didn’t get that you’re not supposed to stand directly behind the operator.  So the operator just basically shoves him into the correct place and says, “All you have to do is say excuse me!  Geez!”  And then everyone started laughing.  I thought it was so rude.

When you work in a position like that, one that sees hordes of tourists everyday, I get that it grates on your nerves.  Tourists are looking for the perfect vacation and we’re not easy to deal with when we’ve plunked down a crapload of money to enjoy ourselves.  But that’s really no excuse to talk to people like that.  They were older and foreign, so maybe apply just a little bit of patience.  If you don’t like your job, quit.  There’s many in the unemployment line that will be glad to take up where you left off.

It’s amazing how the wind just randomly picks up in the evening.  By the time I got back to the hotel I felt frozen through.  Definitely need another crepe and hot mocha from Squat’n’Gobble.  I think I’ve eaten there three times since being in San Francisco.

Next morning I was still freezing so I could not go out for my morning run.  Instead I went to one of these neighbourhood gyms and paid an astronomical $25 guest fee just to be able to run indoors.  It’s one of those gyms where everyone is already slim and attractive.  They don’t go to get in shape; they just go to prance around in coordinated exercise outfits and designer water bottles.

I had my tour with Extranomical scheduled for today.  I did Muir Woods and 3 wineries.  Very nice.  I really enjoyed it.  The tour guide was funny and informative, but I do have to say that he was a bit long-winded.  I think most of us just wanted to have a nice relaxing ride but he went on for quite some time.

I liked Muir Woods but I think after Yosemite and Mt. Hood, I was pretty much all hiked out.  It’s still cold to me, so after a quick go around the trail I sat in the gift shop until it was time to go.  If you’re coming here on your own without a tour, I’d get here very early.  Extranomical got us there before the other tour buses arrived but as we were leaving it was like a plague of tour buses coming down the hill towards Muir Woods.  The guide said the best time was middle of the week in the morning.

My tour group consisted mostly of foreigners.  There were only about 5 or 6 Americans total.  One crazy guy called me “Queen of the trees” and we hadn’t even started drinking yet.  I thought he was Ukrainian but turns out he was from Croatia.

We stopped at Gloria Ferrer first where they gave us a glass of sparkling wine.  I didn’t really care for this winery so much.  We didn’t really taste anything, it was more of “look at our show room and buy stuff!”  Second, we visited Madonna Estates.  This was my favourite. This is a small family owned organic winery that dates back to before Prohibition.  They were able to survive Prohibition because they sold to the Catholic Church.  The woman there was extremely informative.  I took gads of notes.  I didn’t buy anything but I think I will join their wine club just as soon as Maryland lifts its ridiculous restrictions on mail order alcohol.

Lastly, we visited Cline Cellars.  I felt rushed here but this place is much bigger.  They said they’re family owned but it felt corporate.  I hardly had time to contemplate one pour before I was given another.  I couldn’t take any notes or even remember the names of whatever I tasted.  I did buy from them though and only because I didn’t want to go home empty handed.  A bought a Zinfandel and a blend, and some chocolate wine sauce, because I really need chocolate wine sauce.

At this point, several of us are a little tipsy.  Everyone is much friendlier by now.  It was still a little bit early by the time we headed back to SF, so the tour guide rode us up to the Headlands so we could get pictures of the bridge.  Finally!  A clear shot.  This whole time I was never able to get a good picture but in the afternoon the fog is gone and I could see the whole thing.  Nice.

I had dinner at New Country Sky, some Chinese spot across from the hotel.  I had to do a quick dine’n’dash because I had tickets to Rigoletto at the War Memorial Opera House.  I am a huge fan of opera and I kept seeing the signs all over the city.  I did a quick search on the website and found there were still reasonable tickets left.  It was a great show.  I won’t bore you with all the details because I know opera is not everyone’s cup of tea.  I had a great time.  I met some nice people and we had a great discussion on opera during intermission.  I think this was the best time I had in the city.

The next day I slept in a little because it’s time for me to move on.  Only two hours to Monterey but the hotel said they were strict about the check in time.  I tried to go to Lori’s Diner because the Extranomical Tour Guide said it was way better than Mel’s but I had an issue with parking.  I found a metered space.  I got out, read the meter carefully.  Read all the signs and proceeded to put my money in.  This guy comes running out of a hotel and says, “Don’t park there!  They will tow you!”  I was really confused by this because according to the signs I was good, but if a local gives you a warning you should heed it, otherwise it would have been a very expensive breakfast.

Whatever, it’s time to go San Francisco.

Coming up:  Monterey, Morro Bay, Paso Robles and the end of our adventure