Wine tasting trip to Paso Robles

Vineyard sunset 1024x384We took a trip to Paso Robles in late August to get away for a long weekend and try some new wineries and places to eat.

When we got to Paso Robles, and had settled into our hotel, we headed into town to find dinner and ended up at Blue Moon Grill – and yes I had a Blue Moon beer. Solid Mexican food.

We started Saturday at Eberle Winery. Their grounds were very nice and there was a good sized crowd tasting. There were a couple of the wines we liked and ended up buying. They do tours of their underground cellars, but we just missed one and did not feel like waiting for the next one.

Our second stop was Via Vega. It was off the beaten path. Just when you think you are lost, you find the sign for the winery. The road pretty much ended at their winery.
Their theme is very much adia de los Muertos vibe. When you walk into the tasting room it is dark – a big shock when coming in from the bright sunshine. But once your eyes adjust you can see that the ‘warehouse’ they are using for a tasting room has an eclectic interior.
There is a small Airstream trailer that has been converted to a mini-Tikibar, a music stage, and stacked barrels. Go here if you want to see if for yourself.

And while tasting, the 15-year old daughter of one of the ladies pouring got up on stage and sang several songs from different Broadway Shows. She has a great voice and is collecting tips to buy a guitar. It was relaxing to listen to her while sipping wine.

We took a break for lunch and based upon the recommendation of the folks at Via Vega we went to Fish Gaucho just off the downtown square. I had awesome fish tacos and Bev had a BIG burrito.

The first stop after lunch was at Chronic Cellars on the west side of town. They also have a dia de los Muertos vibe, but not nearly as dark. Lots of cool artwork on the walls and found a couple of wines we liked.

Our final stop was Vines on the Marycrest. We were the only ones there and had a great time talking to the guy doing the pouring. Interesting back story, which you can read about here.
We tasted 6 wines and liked six wines. Liked them so much we became members and came away with almost a full case of wine.

For dinner we were craving sushi and tried Goshi Japanese Restaurant. Hmmm, sushi. Tried some new combinations and enjoyed them all.

Overall it was a great trip to Paso Robles and we will definitely plan on going back – hopefully sooner than later.

What 3 Words

What3words logo files previewHere is an interesting way to identify a specific location.

If I wanted to give you directions to meet me at a specific location I could give you a street address or a GPS location.
The street address works if the location is in a city – it should get you close enough.

But what if we were going to meet someplace that does not have a street address. It could be a location in the wilderness, a spot in a park, connecting at a festival/concert, etc. The current solution would be to send you the GPS address – 37.4223918,-122.1376213,19.71. Something that is easy to remember and communicate – NOT.

Well now identifying a location is as simple as 3 words.
What3Words has broken the world down to 3 meter by 3 meter squares and assigned each of them a unique 3 word identifier. I would go to the app or website, find my location, and send you the 3 words.
If you go to their app or website and enter the 3 words you get a precise location of where to find me.

So telling you to meet me at wisdom.moons.tube is simpler than a long GPS coordinate pair.

Will this replace GPS – probably not. But it is an interesting way to identify a location.

WWDC 2018 Thoughts

Wwdc 2018This week is Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference and the keynote was on Monday.
The keynote is an opportunity for Apple to share what is coming from the Software teams this year. This year there were updates on iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS – no hardware was presented this year.

Here are the things that stood out to me and my thoughts after one viewing of the Keynote:

iOS
Siri Shortcuts – Now we know what the Workflow team that Apple bought awhile back has been working on. The current versions of Workflow or IFTTT give users the ability to string together a bunch of commands/actions do to automation – but is not simple and there is a steep learning curve. One that the average user probably does not try to tackle.
Shortcuts are Apple’s take on making automation simple for the masses. The challenge will be having simple samples that someone new to automation can use to see the power of the tool and then get started making their own.
Oh – and it needs to be reliable and predictable. I am excited to try it out.

News – Meh, starting to use the current version to become familiar with it and see how relevant it is to me, but it is not my primary method to get news – RSS feeds are.

Do Not Disturb – Liked the new features. Looking forward to having finer control over who can break through Do Not Disturb. The ability to deactivate Do Not Disturb after a set period of time or when leaving a location sounds great – but demos always sound great, I need to see how does it work in the real world.

Notifications – Liked the recommendation feature identifying notifications to deactivate – and then ability to modify the notification rules right from the notification. Also the grouping of Notifications and the ability dismiss multiple notifications at once is a time saver.

Memoji – Meh. Seems like something you do a couple of times because it is cool/fun, then never to use again. I have used animoji maybe 2-3 times. I don’t see myself using Meoji – not that vain 😀. Also feels like a copy of Samsung’s personal emoji that they introduced awhile back. Different style and maybe more granularity when creating your Memoji, but similar feature.
New animoji are meh.

Group FaceTime. I don’t ever see myself participating in a FaceTime call with 32 people 😉 , but could see using for calls with my parents, siblings, and/or kids. Not often but a possibility.

watchOS
New activities – Like the new hiking activity

Workouts – Like the idea of automatic workout detection and the ability for it to ‘remember’ what you had already done and apply it to the workout. And also the ability to auto end the workout. But when ‘automations’ meet the real world they don’t always perform as expected. I am hopeful this works as presented, but need to see how accurate and consistent it is.
Alerts to start and end workout give you the choice to start/stop based upon what it thinks it wants to do. They seem not as challenging to implement so they may be more accurate.

Walkie Talkie – Great demo and a feature that sounds great at first but I have some questions. Can anyone ‘walkie talkie’ you at any time? Do I have the option to accept the audio before it plays? I can see the audio going off in less than optimal times. Need more details on this one.

Siri – The ability to raise your wrist and just talk is pretty cool talk. I know not having to say two words – ‘Hey Siri’ – does not seem like much, but every syllable counts. 😏

Podcasts This one I am really excited about. I listen to lots of podcast using Overcast. Overcast had an appleWatch app but it was pretty much useless – so much so the developer removed the feature.
But if the new apis give the developer the ability to significantly improve the experience – adjust volume, sync podcasts, stream podcasts – this is a huge win.
Currently if I go walking and I want to listen to podcasts I have to take my phone – no more if this feature delivers. 🤞

tvOS
Zero sign on – Awesome if you provider is supported – which Comcast is not. So will not be able to take advantage of this feature.

Screen saver – They are now identifying the locations of where the screensaver was shot. It is a question I always have when I see a cool scene. There are websites that tell you where they were shot, but the ability to get the info while you are watching the scene is handy. And the new Space Aerial videos look really cool. Sometimes I just sit and watch the scenes unfold – now there are even more scenes to watch.

macOS
Dark Mode – Not sure why I like dark mode so much – maybe because it is easier on the eyes? But I really like the feature on a number of the iOS apps that I use. Having that functionality brought to macOS is great. But (you knew there was a but coming) how pervasive across the system and 3rd Party apps will it be. Having it work in some apps but not all of them can be jarring, especially if you are working in the dark and all of the sudden you get a bright white screen.

Screenshots – Taking screenshots is something I do almost daily. Any improvements to the flow are much appreciated. Like the ability to markup the screenshot without having to go to a separate app (Preview) to make the edits.

iOS apps on macOS – There were lots of rumors about this feature. We now have 4 apps ‘ported’ from iOS to the Mac – Stocks, Notes, Home, and News. I am not a bigger user of these apps so I might check them out. Interesting to see how the development tools handle the ‘merging’ of iOS and macOS.

Those are what caught my attention. What did you see that you liked?

Mike Rowe’s thoughts on the Boys Scouts of America

BSA LogoMike Rowe, an Eagle Scout and a Distinguished Eagle Scout, shares his thoughts on the current state of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

His experiences as a scout mirror my experiences – I very vividly remember playing British bulldog, learning First Aid, shooting rifles, tying knots (I can still a bowline one-handed with my eyes closed), and lots of hiking and camping. The fact that our experiences are similar should not be a surprise — he is only 2 months older then me.

Reading his thoughts got me thinking about todays role of the BSA.

Some background –
I am an Eagle Scout, my dad is an Eagle Scout, my dad’s brothers are Eagle Scouts, my brother is an Eagle Scout, and one of my sons is an Eagle Scout.
I spent 4 summers working at Scout camps.
My Grandfather served as Scoutmaster of Troop 40 in Hartford, NY for decades, my dad was Scoutmaster and spent years as a volunteer, and I was Cubmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster for my boys Pack/Troop.
So you could say I have some history with the BSA.

It is challenging to sum up Mike’s thoughts in a couple of snippets, but my take aways are that he believes that

our country’s current obsession with “safe spaces” is destroying character faster than the Boy Scouts of today can build it.

And

if Scouting could somehow recapture that combination of risk and wonder and pride and personal accountability – I believe their ranks would swell with the sons and daughters of millions of anxious parents, desperate to expose their kids to a program that prepares them for the real world.

All Baby Boomers remember riding our bikes around the neighborhood with no one watching us, walking to school or the store by ourselves, playing sports and not being given a ‘participation’ trophy, having free rein of the fields and farms around where we lived, getting punished for pointing an unloaded air gun at a passing car (if that seems pretty specific it is because it happened ‘to a friend’ of mine), or getting hurt playing, getting patched up, and back at it again.

The world has changed since I was a kid, but I think we have gone too far and are to protective of our children – scared by what we see and hear on the news of all the bad things that could happen.
I don’t deny bad s#!t can happen, but we should not be paralyzed by fear.
If kids are not pushed out of their safe spaces by their parents — how do they grow and be confident adults. And if the BSA is not willing to fill that role — who will be?

We need to teach boys (and girls) the life skills they will need as adults and challenge them to help them grow — aka push them out of their safe zones. I think the Boy Scouts of America is a great resource for that challenge.

Since I was a scout we have seen significant changes in the BSA. Two that come to mind are the policy changes regarding gay leaders and scouts, and the recent news regarding the expansion of programs for girls.
I think these were positive changes and show that the BSA is aware of the cultural changes in the 21st century and is trying to adapt. The challenge BSA leadership has is how do they adapt to societal changes but not lose the core of what they are – an organization

to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

You know you are getting old when …

Lightbulb
Was taking out the trash and noticed the light by the back door was burned out.
Headed back inside to get a new bulb.
Stopped in the kitchen to get a drink.
Got to the back of the house (where lightbulbs are) but could not for the life of me remember why I was there. I knew it was something important but was drawing a blank.
I figured if I went back out to the area I was in previously I would remember.
And sure enough when I got outside and noticed the light was (still) out – THAT was what I was doing.

Getting old sucks some days.

Auckland to New York – the long way

1200px Boeing 314 Clipper croppedGreat article about an around the world trip in a Boeing 314 (a Seaplane) at the start of WW II.

the Boeing 314 was (and remains) one of the largest aircraft ever to take to the sky

The adventure started in San Francisco and was supposed to end in Auckland. But then the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and it was not safe for them to return to San Francisco via Hawaii.

the crew of Pan Am flight 18602 were forced to do something almost impossible: return to America the long way round.

Their adventure took them across Australia – a risky move considering you have no landing gear.

To the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia),

To Trincomalee, Sri Lanka,

To Karachi, Pakistan,

To Bahrain,

To Khartoum, Sudan (requiring a river landing),

To Leopoldville (requiring a river landing),

Across the Atlantic to Natal, Brazil,

And then up the Atlantic coast of South America and the US to New York City

Quite an adventure considering Pan Am did not have a presence in most of South Asia – so no maps, no radio info, no maintenance support, no refueling stations, etc. for a good chunk of the trip.

The article is 3 parts and a medium long read – but so worth it. IMHO.

Thetta redlast

Img 3201Was reading a post from Dave Williams – a photographer that lives to travel, and travels to take photos.

When he was in Iceland he learned the term Thetta redlast. It means:

everything will turn out fine. Things happen, you have no control over them, and whatever is happening just know that it’ll all work out and everything will be alright.

Aka – don’t worry be happy.

Thetta redlast – a good life philosophy to have.

Pooch Pack – a dog suitcase

Muttmover light timbuk2 700x700Soon you too can get a Pooch Pouch – aka a dog suitcase.

And I don’t mean a suitcase your dog can use to carry his toys – I mean a suitcase to carry your dog in. In other words – a Dog Suitcase, not a Dog‘s Suitcase.

I am sorry – I can’t see any of my dogs tolerating being in a suitcase. The Labs were pretty big  and Stella is waaaaayyyyy to hyper.

Essential phone design

04 blog ocean depths 1Great article with lead designer of the Phone from Essential.
She talks about some of the design decisions that went into the ceramic back and titanium sides. Turns out doing colors in ceramic is not easy.

In order to get the ocean depths color just right, the plant made almost 40 iterations of it until Jiang was satisfied — but they only made one chip of each color per day

The Ocean Depth Phone with the copper sides looks really sharp in person – and I should know, I have one.

I think we are doing graduation wrong in the US

Norway FlagNo to sex on roundabouts – that is a headline that will get your attention.

And it follows with this opening sentence

Norway’s high school graduates should refrain from running naked across bridges and having sex on roundabouts lest they give drivers “too much of a surprise”

It is in reference to the post-graduation period called “Russ” for Norway’s graduation Seniors – Which I have heard can get a little wild.

RSS – I am not quite dead, I am feeling better

RssI started using RSS (Really Simple Syndication) years ago – I am guessing the early 2000s. It was my primary means of staying on top of what was happening on the websites I followed. Websites that ranged from tech to toys (big boy toys) and photos to funnies.

Really Simple Syndication is a type of web feed which enabled me to easily access updates to the websites I followed. I used a variety of “news aggregator” apps to automatically check the RSS feed(s) for my favorite sites – saving me from having to go to each of the sites every day to see if there was something new.

In the mid-2000s until it was shut done in 2013, Google Reader was THE aggregator. We poured one out when it rode off into the sunset.

I think the world of RSS took a hit when Google Reader was shut down, but RSS never went away. I found other solutions to feed my addiction – I mean interest – to too many websites.

I could see what I wanted to see, not what someone told me I should see.

And now RSS is making a comeback

… anyone weary of black-box algorithms controlling what you see online at least has a respite, one that’s been there all along but has often gone ignored. Tired of Twitter? Facebook fatigued? It’s time to head back to RSS.

I can get lost in a good map

Coittower1I love a good map.

Found this awesome map that is focused on the history of place names in San Francisco.

For example did you know that Coit Tower was named after Lillie Hitchcock Coit.
Famed for her history with San Francisco’s volunteer firefighters, Coit became a “mascot” for Knickerbocker Engine Co. No. 5 at the age of fifteen. She willed one-third of her estate to the city of San Francisco, which used it to construct two monuments: Coit Tower and a statue of firefighters in Washington Square Park.

Yay Firefighters.

I could spend hours exploring the history of the places of the City by the Bay.

Space crafts phone home

DSN LogoGreat long read about the Deep Space Network (DSN), the system that talks (and listens) to all the space crafts. Started in late 1963, it has been supporting space craft 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for over 54 years.

The DSN has many vital roles, but one of its biggest is to serve as the communication link between Earth and its robotic emissaries in deep space — anything from the moon and beyond. Every image we’ve ever received from deep space, every relay of scientific data, even those famous words the Eagle has landed, was collected by the dishes of the Deep Space Network.

The DSN faces many challenges, but their biggest one might be the current funding crunch they are experiencing. It is hard to point to concrete benefits of the program, but the information we have learned about our solar systems and the amazing photos that have been sent back I think justify their budget of approximately $200 million a year.

It covers everything from maintaining the dishes to the ongoing upgrades to the antennas to paying the 300-plus people who work at the dishes around the world. For comparison, the total value of all the robotic missions currently in deep space is around $25 billion and growing.

For something really cool check out DSN Now to see the status of the satellite dishes at the 3 DSN locations (Goldstone, California; Madrid, Spain; and Canberra, Australia) and see which ones are actively downlinking and uplinking data in real time and to which space craft. The squiggly lines are mesmerizing.

Pippen – Apple’s attempt at a gaming system

Pippen Good backstory on the game system Apple tried to build in the 90’s.

I was at Apple during this period – I was working in a large centralized Quality organization that tested most all of the hardware and software that came out of Apple. I knew of Pippen, but was not aware of the behind the scenes stuff.

I remember this coming to us for testing and we had to keep it in a secret lab (aka a conference room with the window covered). But I don’t recall the testing lasting very long or every reaching a shippable state.

Free range parenting – aka How my generation grew up

20000923 DCP 0459Last week in Utah a law was signed into effect that “would allow kids the freedom to walk to and from school, wait in parked cars (while their parents run errands in a store, for example), and visit playgrounds solo

Or what most of us did growing up.

While “it’s not explicitly unlawful for kids to play or walk alone outside; the bill, however, makes it harder to penalize parents for allowing their kids to do so“.

I remember as a kid in 3rd grade my brother and I would walk from home to the stables to ride our pony (yes I had a pony when I was a kid and my sister had horses – we were so spoiled). Distance was 1-1.5 miles.

I remember walking home from school when I was in in 5th and 6th grade in Utah. Distance was about 1.3 miles.

I remember going out to play in the forest across the street, at the school down the street, or at my friends house. All places we went to by ourselves.

Mom knew where we were and made sure we made safe choices, but we had the freedom to explore and be independent. I am not sure if all the things we are afraid of today existed back then but were not publicized, or it was really a different time.
I like to think it was somewhere in between. There were dangers but we made smart choices regarding where we went and who we were with.

A happy dog day

Stella But all is not sad in the Gibson household when it comes to dogs.

Last summer we fell into an opportunity to rescue a dog – a small German Shepard mix. We named her Stella (or Stella Blue if you ask Beverly).

We are guessing she is 1-2 – she sure has the energy of a puppy. She is wicked smart and extremely loving. She loves going to get coffee and gas with me, or to the pet store with Beverly.

Oh – and chasing balls. She LOVES to chase balls. I think if we did not stop she would keep going until she collapsed.

The Stella Flickr album

A sad dog day

Guinness HeadshotAll dogs are special – but our black lab Guinness was really special.
He came to us via a breeder in the UK. He was 3 years old at the time and he had had some medical issues that we never got all the background on.

For the past 10 years he has been an integral part of our family and was strongly bonded to Beverly. He traveled with us to Utah, to Oregon, and loved going to Mavericks (a beach near where we live). Like all Labs he loved to eat, sleep, go for walks, then eat some more.

Unfortunately old age, and maybe some of his preexisting conditions, caught up with him. Guinness’ last day was March 11. He will be missed beyond words.

A Flickr Album of Guinness photos

Santa Clara Police Blotter for April 12

If you are going to give a false name, probably should make sure it does not already have a warrant out on it.

Warrant Arrest – Misdemeanor

An officer conducted a vehicle enforcement stop in the area of El Camino Real and Kiely Blvd. He contacted the driver who provided him with a false name. The false name came back with a warrant hit. The driver was removed from the vehicle and arrested. When the driver realized her attempt to hide her true identity may land her in jail, she confessed and told the officer her real name. Unfortunately for the driver, she also had two outstanding warrants. She was arrested for the warrants and for providing false information to a police officer.

Time: 0730 
Case Number: 16-3470

Santa Clara Police Blotter for March 19

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 – Weapons – Location: 4900 Marie P. DeBartolo Way 

Security at Levi’s Stadium contacted Public Safety Dispatchers after a male subject attempted to enter the facility with a three foot samurai sword and requested to speak with stadium management. The blade of the sword was sheathed and the subject did not make any threats. The subject refused to put the sword down. After a brief struggle, the subject was transported to a local hospital for a medical evaluation.

Time: 1018 Case Number: 16-2582

Connor’s photos go national

Sports Journal Logo

For the past several months Connor has been one of the staff photographers shooting Bay Area sports for The Sports Journal. He has shot the SF Giants, the SJ Sharks, and the SJ Earthquakes.

The Sports Journal is primarily web based, but they do publish a physical magazine. In the October 2015 issue an article titled ‘Drafting a Dynasty’ about the SF Giants included one of Connor’s photos !!. The pdf of the magazine is here, His photo is on page 57 of the magazine (or page 29 of the PDF).
I could not find a permanent link to the specific issue, so if the Oct issue is no longer available on-line, drop me a line and I can send you the PDF. 

Way to go Connor !! Hope this leads to more awesome photo opportunities.

Landon gets published

PPIC Logo

It has been what, 16 months since my last post. What could it possible be that would motivate me to do a post.

Well, I have been thinking about starting to make an effort to post on a more regular basis – where more regular means more than do a couple of posts . . . wait a couple of years . . . do a few more posts . . . repeat.

But the catalyst today is this article published on the Public Policy Institute of California’s web site – Nursing Homes in California. Other than the fact that I am getting along in years and may need the service of a Nursing Home someday, the reason I call this out is that this is the first solo published article of an up and coming public policy expert – one Landon Gibson.

Gotta say, it is pretty special and makes one proud when you see someone you care for continue on their path to success.

Vacation Time

IMG 0233 It is that time of the year – vacation time.
And this year the whole family went to Bend, Oregon for a week and stayed at Sunriver Resorts in a house we found online.

We have definitely arrived in the middle of a ‘heat wave’ – normal temps this time of year are in the 80’s, but all week it has been in the 90’s. Just means we do stuff in the morning or in the evening and rest and recover in afternoon.

The first event of the week was the Paulina Plunge Adventure – a combination of mountain biking (6 miles total) and 3 stops to ‘plunge’ into the Paulina River. The first part of the mountain bike ride was a little challenging and the hikes up from the river were short but steep. But the water felt great on the hot day.
The final ride of 3 miles was gentle single-track through the woods – it was over too soon.

On Thursday the boys and I headed to Crater Lake to check it out. I think the thing that stood out for me the most was the size of the ash cloud/destruction when the mountain blew it’s top to create the basin that is now Crater Lake.
There was a graphic showing the size of the Mt St Helens fallout compared to the Crater Lake fallout – the Crater Lake fall out was at least 100 times greater. I remember what happened at Mt St Helens – multiplying that by 100 makes for some pretty spectacular damage.

The rest of the time it has been Landon riding single track trails in the Deschutes forest, Bev and I going for walks in the morning and evening with Guinness (the dog not the beer), playing card games in the evening, and doing a whole lot of nothing the rest of the time.

We did a run in to Bend to check out the Old Mill area and grab lunch and pick up a few things at REI.

Bend is on the short list of places we want to live when we are no longer working (we don’t use the ‘r’ word) and I think so far it is at, or near, the top of the list. Need to come back in the winter to see what is like that time of year.

If you want to see some more pictures from the trip you check them out at my flickr account.

Putting the GM ignition switch fiasco in perspective

Gm logoGreat opinion piece in this morning’s Quartz Weekend Brief.

The take away – yes the lives lost (13 or 74, depending upon who ask) are tragic – but

From 2003 to 2010, the period in question, 287,586 people died in the US in car crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s 98 people every single day.

If we spent a fraction of the energy we have spent chastising GM on improving overall traffic safety we would have have saved way more lives. But then that is not as exciting of a news story.