The coronavirus news is not good. As a now-retired and mostly fixed income person, I’ve been pretty happy with the gains of my savings/holdings in the stock market the last couple of years. But the last three days of COVID-19-driven market collapse have wiped out pretty much all that. It’s hard to watch. My brothers and I may have to break out our masks again (feature picture above).

Unusual weather in our part of Socal lately. Dry and hot – 80 degrees most days this week. Sure doesn’t feel like February.

I absolutely love this article in The Atlantic. In depth, multi-media and thoughtful coverage. It speaks to me in particular because I dedicated 4-5 days of my life in 1977 to helping folks recover from a terrible flood of the Tug River around Williamson KY, the same area as in the article. We shoveled deep muck, pumped out basements, delivered food, slept in the back of trucks and the occasional homeowner’s floor. We were wet, filthy and tired for the entire time, but we  endured, in part because we knew we could leave after a few days and the people who lived there would have to stay. These kind of floods are a real tragedy, and kudos to The Atlantic for documenting it.

After a few days of feeling normal this week, I got whacked with a full-body arthritis (?) attack yesterday. Everything hurt, severely, so much so that I was pretty much incapacitated for a day. If I can figure out what activity brought it on I’ll sure avoid it – don’t want any more days like that.

A big congratulations to my friend Robert at Blue Heron Blast on his favorable health diagnosis! Sometimes the good guys do in fact win. Robert is a really interesting person and a champion blogger/photographer.

Finally, as much as I love dogs, this seems like a really bad idea. A dog or a person is more than just their physical shell, and cloning doesn’t recreate that persona, just the shell. What do you think? (Reply in comments.)

Cabo redux

Now that we’re home from Cabo I can recount the final couple of days there. Three things stand out.

One, this was a very unusual Cabo trip for us. We were sick the entire trip, ranging from moderately ill in the first few days to mildly ill toward the end. As a result we did no walks on the beach, no swimming, no lounging around the pool with drinks, no walking trips through the town or marina. We pretty much just stayed in and watched whales from our patio and rested.

Two, speaking of whales, we saw 100s of them over the week and saw some new behaviors. We saw lots of spectacular breeches, which was only new in their frequency. I remember that being a rare sight, but this week we saw it a lot. But the new behavior we observed on the final days was a mother and calf pair happily tail-slapping just offshore. The calf would jump a bit and slap tail as well as breech, but the mother splashed around constantly using her tail in a way I haven’t seen before. It went on for maybe 30 minutes. Each tail slap was a big splash and very audible from our spot on shore.

Third, the weather was not great. We’ve always had good weather there in February, but this time a cold front came through on Tuesday and mucked up the whole week. The air was noticeably cooler than normal, which actually made it easier to stay in and rest.

The other memorable part of our final two days in Cabo was our Valentine’s Day meal at Manta. Like bears in hibernation, we only left our lair to eat. I had read a lot about Manta; it has a big reputation. So I had high hopes, and surprisingly, Manta was as good as its reputation. We had one of the top five, maybe top three, meals of our lives.


Manta is perched high above the Sea of Cortez shore, part of a ritzy development called The Cape. It is visually stunning, and we had premier seats outside on the rail overlooking the beach, El Arco and the lights of Cabo some 3-4 miles away. A good start.


We each chose the five-course tasting menu, so by coordinating our choices we effectively had a ten-course meal. Each course was small, but perfectly presented and spectacular in flavor. Our courses were complemented by a stellar 2015 Casa Madero Shiraz, one of the best wines I’ve had in years. (Trivia item – Casa Madero in central Mexico is the oldest winery in the western hemisphere, started in 1597!).

Ironically, this bottle of wine was and is my only negative about Manta. They charged 4-5x retail for the bottle, which is insulting. I expect 2x and can live with 3x in the right venue, but this was unreasonable. I bought the bottle not knowing how much it had been marked up, and considering how much we enjoyed the wine I’m glad I did. But in retrospect I implore Manta to reconsider their wine pricing – it’s unnecessary and insulting.

But back to the food. Our favorite course was probably the grilled octopus, cooked perfectly. K had never had octopus cooked properly, so it was a real revelation for her. Here are all the courses we enjoyed, from their full tasting menu.

  • Sashimi, ají amarillo, sesame and wasabi    
  • Fish ceviche, leche de tigre, celery, habanero      
  • Scallop, shiso, soy sauce, cucumber, avocado purée   
  • Watermelon salad, tomato, raspberry and hibiscus chamoy    
  • Octopus anticucho, chorizo mayo    
  • Black miso fish tacos, cabbage, flour tortillas    
  • Aged prime new york strip, “shishitos toreados”    
  • Organic fried chicken with aji amarillo dip    
  • Suckling pig “cochinita”, steamed bun, cilantro, habanero (2 orders)

So…great service, a seaside view, my lovely wife, fantastic food and a perfectly paired wine. All in all a very successful Valentine’s Day dinner outing. And after that we well-fed bears went back to our den to rest.



Cabo 2020

Even with both of us sick, we decided to go ahead with our annual week at our Cabo resort. We both really wanted to see the place again (we missed last year), and even sick we figured we could handle the main activity of whale watching from our beachside patio. We were right.

The whale watching the first couple of days was spectacular – whales any direction you might look and lots of full-body breaches. We made good use of the new Canon image-stabilized binoculars and just enjoyed the show. We rested up those days, trying to get ready for our traditional Tuesday fishing expedition.

Both Monday and Tuesday we were treated to spectacular Cabo sunrises.


The Tuesday outing was a mixed success. We each caught a nice fish – Kathryn caught a big one, twenty-five pounds or so, picture above – but they were both roosterfish, not particularly good eating. So we didn’t get shut out but we also didn’t bring home any fish for sashimi and subsequent meals. We released both roosterfish, and that felt good.

During the fishing day a strong cold front moved through the area, what the locals call a “norte”. I think that had something to do with the poor fishing, and it definitely affected whale watching the next 2-3 days. The whales pretty much disappeared on Wednesday and began to return Thursday, though still pretty far offshore.

There was a Mexican fiesta one night at the resort, and while we didn’t attend, I got some good pictures of the performers.



oA4c+kO0TyCby0E7DvJMZw_thumb_cc83.jpgDuring all this time our also-traditional meal explorations were limited. We ate simple meals at the resort just because it was easy. We cancelled a Monday reservation at El Farallon, a place I’ve wanted to go for a while. We just weren’t feeling good enough to enjoy a night out. We did manage to make it to an old favorite, Los Tres Gallos, on Wednesday evening (pictured below). The chicken mole was as good as we remembered, and the place has friendly, spectacular service.


We had another memorable mini-meal at the Las Brisas bar at the neighboring Grand Sol Mar. The Las Brisas is a small bar at the north end of the resort, right on the beach. It’s the best waterfront bar on the Pacific side of Cabo, bar none (so to speak). We had a nice Guadalupe wine with a couple of rounds of sushi and enjoyed the ocean sunset. Pretty hard to beat.



On Friday, Valentine’s Day, we’re going to Manta, a restaurant we’ve read a lot about but never tried. More stories and photos after that.


OK, this is some scary shit. In Scientific American, no less. Great, now I won’t be able to get on a flight without wondering about the incomplete physics of it. Perhaps flight is simply a matter of belief, and if we quit believing, it won’t work any longer.

In better news for science, turns out there is a scientific explanation for why you can only get great buttermilk biscuits in the south. I’ve often wondered about this, and here you go. I’m relieved that I’m not quite the kitchen klutz I thought.

Last week we had some interesting work done on our home. We knew we had a bee hive in our roof, and it got in the way of installing the new fire suppression system. We did the right thing and hired a beekeeping company to come out and move the bees rather than kill them. What we (they) found when they peeled back the roof was a huge hive and what must have been a lot of honey. See picture above. It was expensive, but I’m glad we got them removed from the eaves – they would have just kept on filling space with their comb – and glad we saved/relocated some thousands of bees. Win-win.

The political news of late is so depressing I don’t even know where to start. I’ve kept to my rule of not discussing politics on this blog – the subject is so divisive – but I’ll break it to mention Trump and Barr’s recent actions to completely undermine the rule of law. A court and jury sentenced Roger Stone to nine years in prison. That should be the end of it.

Then Trump weighs in hard via Twitter about how “unfair” the sentence was, and the DOJ decides to intervene and “reconsider” the sentence. All four prosecuting attorneys then resigned, having been undermined so completely by the Executive branch. And now the world awaits to see what the newly-elevated monarchy will decide the sentence should be, if any. This is just wrong on so many levels. Trump’s unchecked escalation of the powers of the Presidency is at least as frightening as the Cold War of the 50s and 60s. Where does it end?

In other fun news, the coronavirus outbreak just keeps getting worse. 200+ deaths per day now, and tens of thousands reported as infected, primarily in China. Both these figures are likely under-reported, and if infection rates keep progressing as they have the last month…it’s very bad news. My personal fear is that the virus will enter the US in a big way soon and effectively shut down air travel. Trouble with that (aside from the obvious big picture issues) is that I want need to get to KY in May to see my new grandson and family. And yes, I know that’s pathetically self-centered and parochial. But there it is.

Finally, in much better news my beloved KY Wildcats have won two straight tough games against Vandy and Tennessee and may finally be coming of age. Coach Cal always does an amazing job shaping a bunch of high school stars into a cohesive, fun-to-watch team by February each year. Here’s to hoping this bunch fights their way all the way into the Final Four. Go Big Blue!


Nashville, 02/02/2020

I took some good pictures of Nashville last week and thought I’d post a few. The feature photo above is from Luke’s (I’ll assume Luke Bryan, though my actual knowledge of country music is pretty thin), a disco-rock-country glittery honky-tonk that was fun to look at but not worth a sit-down stay.

And, focused on the post title, note that this trip included  a palindrome day, the first such date in about 900 years!

We had a little more time than usual Nashville, so we did some interesting things. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that we took a bus tour of celebrity homes one afternoon. Cheesy and cliche, yes. But, surprisingly OK – we saw parts of the Nashville area we never would have otherwise, some beautiful countryside, and some of the most ostentatious mega-homes you can imagine. Nothing says America like two people living in a 15,000 square foot house because they can. I have little room to criticize in this case, but still – it was pretty extreme.

We took in some excellent music on a night or two. Our very first trip over to Broadway we ran into this person who calls herself Misy. We didn’t so much run into her as we heard her being broadcast a block away and followed the voice into a small bar. She has one of the purest voices I’ve heard in a long time, and we both really enjoyed just sitting listening to her. I’m inclined to like solo singer/songwriters a lot, so Misy was in my strike zone. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her make it big.


We ducked into a few other bars trying to find/hear someone as good as Misy, but no luck. Lots of good voices and groups, but nothing else really great.



Another notable music excursion was our outing at The Bluebird Cafe. The Bluebird is pretty unique, and with less than 100 seats per show, reservations take some advance planning. I scored two nice seats for the Saturday night show, an acoustic “in the round” featuring four artists, where each artist takes turns playing and singing, round and round three or four times. Great music, great venue and a thoroughly good time. And the picture below was taken with no zoom, so you can see that everyone is very intimate with the musicians. We liked our seats.


Finally, no Nashville trip is complete without some foody adventures. We had two memorable meal stops – Husk, and Pelican and Pig. Both were recommendations from my should-have-been-a-food-critic daughter Emily, and both were superb. I liked Husk as well as anywhere I’ve eaten in years – the quality just oozes from the place. Apparently having a James Beard-recognized chef actually means something.


Pelican and Pig was a cool little restaurant that revolves around its wood-fired ovens and massive amounts of stacked hardwood. The vibe was trendy, but service was good and the food was excellent. I think we messed up by not have more (or only) side dishes, because every one we saw being served looked great. My pictures at P&P weren’t very good, but here’s one looking in toward the open fire ovens.


All in all this was a nice little trip. We learned a lot more about Nashville and made some great memories. Until next time, Music City.


Happy New Year

Yeah, I know, I’m about a month late. But the month of January was lost to me – lost in travel, stressful life changes for my Dad, airplanes, bad hotel beds and oddball Airbnb stays. Twenty-six days of the last forty-five on the road, all in Kentucky (and a little in TN). I decided somewhere along the way this past month that I would declare the end of this trip as my de facto “New Year”, so it starts for me on 2/4/20. Woo hoo!

But it starts with a thud. In one of the Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry movies (Magnum Force, 1973), Clint has a line “A good man always knows his limitations” *.  Well, I haven’t been a good man, because I’ve definitely exceeded my limitations. Too much stress and too much travel. After a completely sleepless night last night in another crummy Hilton room, I started the day feeling wrecked. Everything hurts, my brain at about 20% efficiency, blurry eyed and rapid pulse. That’s a tough way to start a travel day, even headed home. So as New Years’ Days go, it’s stereotypical – starting tired and hurting, though not due to drinking.

* From IMDB, the screenwriters for Magnum Force are Harry Julian Fink, Rita M. Fink, John Milius and Michael Cimino. Can’t forget those writers!

Intellectually I know all the travel has been worth it, but physically it’s hard to make that case. We’ve created and collected some great memories the last month and a half, including:

  • Working with my brothers to clean Dad’s garage and attic
  • Working with them again to move them from the house to the apartments
  • The satisfaction of knowing that we’re doing the right thing, every time I thought about it
  • The satisfaction of knowing we found them the right place to be at this point in their lives
  • K and I going to the Bluebird Cafe for a concert in the round
  • Driving with Em to and from Nashville
  • Spending time with Hudson, who is growing so fast
  • The weirdness of knowing my buddy Mike is going through pretty much the same thing at the same time

But all that’s behind me now, so on to the logical New Year. I intend to:

  • Read a lot
  • Write a lot
  • Improve my golf handicap
  • Claw back some of my health

And in general, lay pretty low for a while. I’m very much looking forward to those simple things, starting right now.