Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ohaio Gozaimas

After reading some baseball-related news posts, I finally figured out why the A's haven't posted part of their spring training schedule, especially during the part of March during which my trip is scheduled in Phoenix: They're negotiating to play in Tokyo that weekend against a Japanese team.

The season-opening two-game series at Tokyo Dome, in which the A's would play the Red Sox, would take place March 22-23. And then there's travel time, practice time, getting to know a new stadium time.

Wouldn't you know. It'll be thrilling to watch on T.V., I'm sure. But it sure messes up my schedule (as well as the schedule of many A's fans, I'm sure). We won't know for sure until after the owners' meetings in mid-November.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Baseball Season Right Around the Corner

So, tonight is Day One of the World Series, where...

Oh, who cares. The only reasons to watch the Fall Classic this year is to (1) enjoy High Definition, where I can see the grass on the cleats, and (2) to continue my hatred of Tim McCarver, who states the patently obvious too much to get paid for reporting on baseball.

I read today where Lew Wolff, the very patient owner of the Oakland A's, was trying to explain for the 1,000th time why the team can't stay in Oakland. Get over it, folks. The team either goes to Fremont, or it goes to Omaha. No, we don't know the title yet. No, we haven't made any headway on environmental issue. I don't know why he bothers to take questions. Maybe so he can convince the doctor to increase his blood pressure medication.

The A's haven't made any player trades, at least anything since the end of the season. They have hired some coaches, but those weren't any surprise: they're all friends of Bob Geren, the manager. I am hoping for some really big moves in the offseason. Otherwise, I have to say, I don't think we have much of a team in 2008.

But that doesn't stop me from making my spring training plans. However, and this is just an aside, I don't understand why it takes the Oakland Athletics so frigging long to put their spring training schedule together. They are the LAST of any team to do so. I know 90% of the Atlanta Braves' schedule, which helps me set up my plans for the first week in March at the Disney World of Sports complex. It'll be a great long weekend there, as they're playing four great games at home (WDW) against some terrific teams (e.g., Detroit, Chicago Cubs).

My weekend in Phoenix is less sure. It looks, however, as I am going to have to pass on the Tucson game, which is Friday, I believe, in the only game that weekend they have scheduled, and substitute a San Francisco Giants game at Scottsdale instead. It's the same thing I was forced to do this year.

In the meantime, it sure would be nice for Billy Beane to work some beaneball magic and make some trades. Shake up the team. Do I think any player is untouchable? No, not in BeaneLand, but in my mind I would hate to lose Dan Haren or Joe Blanton or Mark Ellis. I actually think only one of those is a possible trade.

The spring of 2008 can't get here too soon. First, we have to get rid of 85-degree weather we're having in the Bay Area. And also get rid of McCarver's whiny voice telling us all about how the delay may affect the Rockies. Sheesh, who cares.

Bring on 2008!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


There are moments in life where you have to take a chance. Jump into the chasm of darkness where snakes may be.

No, I'm not talking about gambling or love. I'm talking food.

My Sweetie took me to Ortolan the other night for the most amazing gastronomical experience I have ever had. The "ortolan" is a small bird much like the bobolink. Believe me, if the little ortolan had eaten at Christophe Eme's Ortolan, it would be dead by now, its eyes bulging with excess, but with a happy little smile on its expiring face.

It was a birthday celebration, a quiet one, and, I thought, only she and I knew about that. Except that strange and wonderful things kept happening.

I did not spot owner Jeri Ryan as hostess, knowing that she was probably working late on Shark in order to beat the writer's strike as well as her increasing waistline (she's pregnant by husband Eme'). But next-best-thing Christophe, genius that he is, kept looking in on us.

This happened for about the first four (out of ten) courses. We chose the chef's menu, which are small plates - mere tastings, on the most part - of the most wonderful food and imaginable pairings thinkable. M. Eme' would say to us: " (French) (French) ....smoked with charcoal and (French)." I couldn't understand most of what he said, as I leaned in closer on the butter-colored leather lounge, but it was charmant just the same. And he would come back several times, and start by saying, "Me again..."

He offered us oysters. I demurred, and he told me he would give me all things tomato. At least I think that's what he said. Sure enough, it was heirloom tomato five ways: consomme', coulis, carpaccio, emulsion, and parfait. Very red. Very small. Very tasty.

We would finish one course, wait about 15 minutes or so in lazy conversation, and the
next course would arrive. We tasted our one glass of champagne, knowing that we didn't want to confuse this feast with too much alcohol, and I was very much glad we had decided on that early on.

My favorites? Ah, where to start. Let's start with the course I did not care for as much. I say "as much" because I still ate them. There were a few I did not finish, however. The duck. I think it's safe to now say I do not like duck -- and yet, gosh, I loved the duck confit, rolled together with rhubarb in a cigarette, mixed with the peach. I did not care for the crayfish, but I could still appreciate its succulence, and the clever way the spaghetti was rolled around it. And I did like the watercress cream in a pool beside it.

What did I like. Ahhh. Every course came with its own silverware, mostly with more than I needed. On its own specially designed plates, very functional, usually on platforms for display. Presentation is so much a part of the pleasure here. Even if you didn
't want it, you could admire it.

The first thing they brought us was the soup. The soup was in test tubes. Two, in test tube holders, just like in a lab. Not on the menu, but brought to us to enjoy. Two soups in each tube. One had cauliflower soup, very smooth, and the other pumpkin. Smooth.

I don't like fish. What a laugh....the smoked sea bass with turnip was very special. The roast scallop with ricotta ravioli (with fig and blood orange reduction) a revelation.

I have never had foie gras -- truffles -- until now. With a quince gelee, an apple compote. It tasted like the best dessert I've ever had.

But the best was something I had never tried, would never try, until now. And if
I had seen it beforehand and had time to ponder, I might not have taken the step. "Egg and caviar cooked in hot ash." Big black rock, cut open to reveal a cracked egg filled with whipped cream, vanilla, and a touch of caviar. You eat past that cool delight to discover the hot, freshly cooked yolk of the egg. I can't describe the way my taste buds finally came to attention.

At the end of dinner, the dessert courses started. First, the herbed goat cheese with olive oil. Then the apple thingie: Sweetie described it as a deconstructed caramel apple. And so it was ... sliced apples, salty caramel ice cream, crumble. Then the chocolate torte and coffee ice cream.

And then we started to breathe. But....not yet.

We looked around and nobody else was getting the same treatment. Sure, the French sommelier would visit tables and chat up his wines, but no chef visits. We finally figured out that Sweetie must've tipped them off when she first called.

And what really clued us in was the last thing: a display of chocolates with "happy birthday" written on marzipan poster board. The chocolates had long plastic toothpicks with which to enjoy them. One small candle begged to be blown out as I made a wish. I did.

I had wished for "chocolate." I got so much more.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Volunteerism - Raising the Bar

I have three friends, three former co-workers, who
are on meaningful volunteer paths. One is a senior
ombudsman in the Vallejo area, meaning, he helps advocate
for seniors who are being abused, etc. Another helps
give his time towards the Make-a-Wish foundation in
Georgia, and is also helping out with the Combined
Federal Campaign by raising funds. And still another
is volunteering her time by helping teach kindergarten
kids at one of our Bay Area schools. And she just

So, three of my friends have challenged me. Oh, they haven't pointed to me and said, YOU! They wouldn't do that. They lead by example. I admire them greatly.

We've all worked at least 30 years at a job that absolutely drained us. Obviously, my friends are applying the same dedication and energy to this new job that they've each found.

I'm not sure what will happen with me. I've having the time of my life already. And yet, there might be room for the right kind of volunteering job. We'll see what develops.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Walk for Hope 5K on Oct 13th - Help Me!

I am $120 short of my goal. If you'd like to help me reach it, go to:

Look for Linda Burnett in the San Francisco 5K.

The Walk for Hope is sponsored by the City of Hope for fighting breast cancer. October is our month to rally the cause.

And thanks to all of you who have already donated!!