Sea Breeze over Madras

Our Holiday weekend in Southern California is ending by the pool in a hotel in Santa Monica. I return to work on the morrow, by going into our Santa Monica office.

It was cocktail time, for it was six o’clock, albeit in a different timezone.

My wife was stumped on what to drink. She recalled a beverage from our stay in Hawaii last year – the Sea Breeze. I looked it up on my iPad app (Can you believe that I have a dedicated application for cocktails?) and reminded her of the ingredients; Vodka, Cranberry, Grapefruit. She thought for a moment and said she would like that, but with Orange Juice in place of the Grapefruit.

I caught the attention of the poolside waitress and asked if she knew what a Sea Breeze was, she replied in the affirmative. I said I would like one, but with the OJ substitution. She said that is a Madras.

I checked when I returned to my lounger and that is indeed the name of that drink. I was impressed. My wife loved the drink.

For my part, I had an Indian Summer, a refreshing mix of Gin, Dry Vermouth, Grapefruit Juice, Simple Syrup, and Basil. This was from the pool menu. My app is silent on the subject and there was no wifi poolside, so I shall have to wait to find the proportions.

Published in: on 6 July, 2014 at 19:24  Comments (1)  

Happy Birthday

Yesterday was 4th of July, the day that the US celebrates its Independence; although thus date is the anniversary of the Congress approving the document making that declaration. John Adams thought, at the time that the 2nd July, would be the date that would be celebrated; as this was the day on which the decision to declare independence was taken. To coin a phrase “You know nothing John Adams.”

We went to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, something my wife and I had done for a 4th July when we first met, sixteen years ago.

The first part of the concert was assorted stirring and patriotic music performed by The LA Phil. The second part was a Bluegrass concert. The lead Banjo player, Steve Martin, had a great line in funny repartee. Mark my word, if playing the Banjo does not work, he has the potential for a career in comedy.

The night ended with a firework spectacular.

Published in: on 5 July, 2014 at 13:51  Leave a Comment  

The Language is Called English

Last week we did the tour of Alcatraz with some friends who were visiting from out of town. There is an excellent audio tour, but I was a little perturbed by the board with instructions at the start. It showed information in various languages. Each section had a flag to illustrate the language, the flag of France for French etc. In the case of Portuguese, there were two flags – the Brazilian and Portuguese flags. The Mexican and Spanish flags were also paired up, as were those for the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan.

There was but a single flag for the English language section. No British flag sat aside the Stars and Stripes. Anti-British discrimination at its worst. 

Published in: on 10 June, 2014 at 6:00  Leave a Comment  

Learning a Language

I took French in school and failed it miserably. I lived in Portugal for over two years and whilst I picked up a wide vocabulary of useful nouns, I never grasped the language. 

No one ever mistakes me for a local here. I still pronounce words like router, beta, and garage correctly and not the American way. I have changed my spelling in documents I write at work, dropping ‘U’ from assorted words and reversing ‘E’ and ‘R’.

In comparison with my lack of foreign languages, I am comfortable with assorted computer languages.

BASIC (Assorted dialects)

On Monday, Apple announced a new language for programming Macs, iPhones, and iPads. I have taken learning that language. I am recording my experiences and observations in a blog. Since I do not imagine that those who read this blog have an interest in the details of Generics and other such topics, I have created a new blog.

The title of the blog seems an appropriate description of computer programs and comes from a quote by the author of Gulliver’s Travels.


Published in: on 4 June, 2014 at 6:51  Leave a Comment  

How Wrong Can You Be

On Memorial Day we met up with a couple of friends for lunch at a restaurant in Pleasant Hill. I enjoyed the meal, despite an initial impression caused by the cocktail menu. A single item managed to have four errors in its description. 

IMG 2283

The Classic Martini item is a travesty against all that is proper in the world. A classic Martini is made with Gin and not Vodka. A classic Martini is stirred, not shaken. A classic Martini should have an odd number of olives. A classic Martini should have Vermouth, otherwise it is neat Gin or in the case of this abomination Vodka.

Fortunately, the description of the Sazerac was far more in line with what I would expect. The Rye used is well regarded, although not one I had previously tried. I would have preferred if the bitters and Absinthe were identified, but I went ahead and ordered it. It was well balanced and went some way to placating the pedantic rage that was burning within.

Published in: on 2 June, 2014 at 19:20  Leave a Comment  

Bridge Tolls

Most of the locals pay $5 every time we cross one of the local bridges; I pay just half that because I have an electric car. The toll covers the cost of maintaining the assorted bridges in the Bay Area.

I am sure that the toll would be lower if the Golden Gate Bridge was not destroyed by rampaging aliens/mutants/monsters. Today we saw it broken yet again in Godzilla. Please leave it alone.

Published in: on 31 May, 2014 at 18:12  Leave a Comment  

Continuity Problems

There are several continuity problems with X-Men:Days of Future Past; not the least of which is Professor Xavier being alive after being disintegrated by Jean Grey in the third movie. But the issue that bugged me was a groundskeeper painting lines on a baseball pitch at RFK stadium in 1973. The Senators had left for Texas two years earlier and the stadium was used exclusively by the NFL team with the offensive name by 73.

Published in: on 26 May, 2014 at 18:54  Leave a Comment  

Lofty Ambition

We went for dinner and a movie on Saturday evening. We finished dinner and decided that we were not really in the mood for a movie. As we drove home through the rolling golden hills that separate Vallejo from Fairfield we decided to take a drive to enjoy my wife’s new car. We turned onto Red Hill Road and followed it as it curved alongside the freeway and finally brought us to the waterfront town of Benicia. We parked and wandered along a pier, enjoying the sunshine and cooling breeze. A couple of Canadian Geese were ignoring the notices that said “Keep Out” of the environmentally sensitive area, and human couples were cuddling in parked cars. 

We then strolled up First Street; until my wife spotted “The Loft Wine Bar” across the road. We headed over and took a look at the menu which listed a varied collection of wine available by the glass, half glass, bottle, or retail. The owner came out, introduced himself, and explained the bar’s mission; to offer wines of which you had not heard. He had picked wines that appealed to his personal taste. He asked us what we liked; recommended a white to my wife and pointed me at the flight of five wines in reaction to my indecision.

We sat outside as the waitress, who seemed every bit as enthused by the choice of wines as the owner, brought be five generous pours. There was one good wine and four outstanding wines. I had heard of two of the vineyards, although in the case of Stags Leap, I did not associate them with Petite Sirah. The sad truth is that whilst you can get pleasant wine for under ten bucks a bottle, these truly complex and individual creations are the other side of fifty. 

I would happily return there and drink any of the wines by the glass or share a bottle. The menu also looked appealing, even for two people who had just eaten. A delightful way to watch the sun go down over the Carquinez Straits, made doubly so by the unplanned nature of the visit.

Published in: on 24 May, 2014 at 20:26  Leave a Comment  

Farewell My Friend

I moved to the US in July 2006. In December of that year I purchased my first US car, a Lexus IS350. It was a dealer demo with 15,000 miles. Seven and a half years later we sold it. I had added less than 60k miles, mainly due to my walking commute and the acquisition of Sophia the electric Fiat in November.

It was sad to see the car go, despite last week’s repair bill, the first in our acquaintance. We got our asking price, and have a good offer on my wife’s car. I had no sadness on letting my very first car, a Ford Escort, go, but my first car here in the US was such a blast to drive that I shall miss it.

Our Memorial Day weekend will probably involve looking for a new car for my wife.

Published in: on 23 May, 2014 at 22:04  Leave a Comment  

All Grown Up

Our niece moved up to Northern California to attend school. She has just finished her first year and is staying with us for the summer. Just over a week ago she passed her driving test. On Thursday we went to collect her first car, a second hand, low mileage Toyota Yaris. This is the second Yaris with which we been involved in purchasing in the last twelve months; as we helped my mother-in-law buy one whilst she was staying with us last summer.

Seeing my niece in her very own car reminded me of this TV advert.
TV advert

Published in: on 23 May, 2014 at 7:51  Leave a Comment  

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