Monday, November 29, 2010


Life is full of lessons, some big, some small. This past long weekend we managed to scoot away for a couple days for ourselves and on the agenda was a trip to the Rancho Sisquoc Winery. I have wanted to go here for years as I am in love with their Chardonnay ($15.99 @ Whole Foods and $20 @ the winery). My first introduction to Rancho Sisquoc was actually their Pinot Noir of some year that eludes me now.

After investigating it turns out that Rancho Sisquoc is quite a bit east of the 101 in an area called the Foxen Valley Wine Trail. We left the 101 in the rain and meandered down the small one lane roads past fields of broccoli and cauliflower until it gave way to vineyards. Miles and miles of vineyards. The first winery we stumbled upon was the Cambria Winery. Cambria winery is quite a distance from Cambria the town but the two have much in common. Friendly people, good music and good wine. It turns out they had a fellow (Ray, local boy) their playing acoustic guitar who was great, it was a real party atmosphere with huge 3 oz pours. I highly recommend stopping here if you get a chance as the staff is very friendly, knowledgeable and with a nice depth in their tasting menu. We walked away with some of their Chardonnay (always a favorite of mine) and an incredible bottle of their Clone 23 Pinot Noir.

As we continued down the trail my excitement grew - at last, Rancho Sisquoc. The place was crowded with people 3 rows deep at the tasting area. $8 for tasting with no free tasting if you buy anything. I was highly disappointed in the entire experience. The staff was cranky and just poured with wine with no explanation or help. You picked 11 from their tasting menu and you could do it however you wanted. I suppose choice is not a bad thing but a little kindness goes a long way. Of the 11 wines I only liked two, one was my stand by - the Chardonnay and the other was a Meritage. Frankly, I probably only really bought the Meritage because I wanted to love it..... Did I set myself up for disappointment by expecting too much? Isn't that what "looking forward" to something is all about?

We shrugged off this disappointment and followed our new friends (Francis and Rick) to their favorite winery - Foxen Vineyards. Foxen vineyards blew me away. Perhaps a pleasant surprise is better than having your expectations met? Their wine is not cheap, frankly none of the vineyards we visited were even close to reasonable in price - but generally speaking Foxen was great. We walked away with a four pack and that's only because we were being frugal. Don't miss this area for tasting next time you're in Santa Barbara or Santa Maria - you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Solar Installation - Day One

Today was Day 1 of our solar installation. Yes, we're going green. Sungevity is our solar provider and they've contracted the install out to a local electrical company. The fellows from the installation company are awesome. Friendly bunch of guys and they don't have any problem with Dena popping up on the roof every hour or so to take pictures and check on them and of course, the quality of the installation. Perhaps Dena can get a new career out of this as a solar project manager or something.... The guys were telling Dena that homeowners normally never pop up on the roof to check the work out which amazes me because it's your roof, your property and you should know everything that is going on and being installed in/on your house.

So far I am happy except for one thing, the inverter and the cut off switch and all the boxes on the back of my house stick out like a sore thumb. I'm not sure why they couldn't put them all on one side but I guess it's too late to bitch about now. There are 3 boxes and a conduit running under our windows connecting them all. An eyesore to be sure. We'll have to get some little trees or something in pots to hide it. Interesting that you would think the solar panels would be the eye sore but they are almost completely hidden and part of me was all proud driving up to my house with just a little corner of a solar panel peeking out from my pitched roof.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Conversations At Scrapbooking

At a scrapbooking weekend normally the conversations center around family, the latest scrapbooking tools, where in your home is your scrapbooking room and which store has the latest embellishments. My how times have changed.

During the first day while walking around saying hello to fellow scrapbookers and catching up, the conversations all took a surprising turn. Instead of "how are your kids?" the question is "how long have you been unemployed?" Are you on your first Federal extension yet? At one point a woman jumped up and yelled, "I just got a job!" Everyone in the room applauded. She'd been unemployed for two years. People are exchanging tips on where to find part time work and how this is great for your unemployment benefits as it actually extends them. We clarified that part time work is very different from full time (short contract) contract work. If you get one of those jobs, forget it, your unemployment is gone forever.

I started to ask some of them if they'd ever thought they'd be experts on unemployment insurance and the unanimous response was that they never thought they'd ever have to collect it let alone be an expert at the mind boggling maze that it is.

Of course, as is becoming readily apparent in the American Society in general, there has become a great divide in the scrapbooking room between the rich and the middle class. The middle class has less and the rich scrapbookers couldn't care less. It's a brave new world we live in.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Social Media Revolution - Facts

Social Media isn't a fad, it's a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.

  • 96% of all Gen Y have a social networking page.
  • social media has overtaken porn as the number one Internet activity.
  • one out of 8 recently married couples met on social networking sites.
  • It took 13 years for TV to hit 50 million households, 4 years for the Internet and only 9 months for Facebook to hit 100 million users and 12 months for 200 million users.
  • If Facebook were a country it would be the 3rd largest in the world.
  • 80% of companies are using LinkedIn as their primary tool to find employees.
  • The fastest growing segment on facebook is the 55-65 year old female
  • 80% of twitter usage is on mobile devices, people update anytime, anywhere, imagine what that means for bad customer experiences
  • in 2009 Boston College stopped issues email addresses to new students, Gen Y feels email is passe
  • YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world.
  • Studies show that wikipedia is more accurate than the encyclopedia Britannica.
  • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations.
  • Only 33% of 18 - 34 year olds have ever viewed a show on a DVR - they hulu it

Thanks to the youtube video on social revolution for reminding me of the fundamental shift in communication that we are currently living in. If you're looking for a job and you're not on LinkedIn then shame on you. Do you know what wikipedia is? Do you Yelp? Even my hairdresser asked me to review him on Yelp the other day. Where are you in the social revolution? Have you been trying to play catch up, are you right in the thick of it all or have you been left in the dust?

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The "Hell No" Party

I just have to throw some more comments out there about the Republicans last two years strategically speaking, how it's hurting this country and it's people, and driving the United States further into economic oblivion globally. We don't have the time to sit around and watch Washington get nothing done for another two years. China is done nipping at our heels, now they are pulling limbs off. India is done being our call center dumping grounds and is now becoming a major force in the global economy. Their economic engines are stoked and running at high rpm's while the US is an engine overhaul.

Here are my excerpts:

The Huffington Post:
Republicans in the Senate, with dimmer prospects of gaining control, are plotting a much simpler course. Their platform, to the degree they have one, is to offer themselves as an even bigger roadblock to the Democrats than they are now.

Another from Huffington:
Democrats, including Reid, have said several times in recent weeks that jeopardizing the recovery seems to be exactly what the GOP is trying to do. "It wouldn't do their electoral prospects any harm for there to be more economic misery in America before the election, let's put it that way," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
John Boehner and Eric Cantor asked. “The purpose of the minority, is to become the majority.” Boenher and Cantor laid out a bold plan, the New York Times reports. Boehner told his troops to be not just the party of no, but the party of “Hell, no.”

Frankly it's all just depressing....
Here's more depressing articles
GOP vote count and commentary
Some video excerpts:

Friday, November 05, 2010

Now You're Mad?

After 8 Years Of The Bush/Cheney Disaster, Now You Get Mad?
  • You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.

  • You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed energy company officials to dictate energy policy and push us to invade Iraq.

  • You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.

  • You didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.

  • You didn't get mad when we spent over $800 billion (and counting) on said illegal war.

  • You didn't get mad when Bush borrowed more money from foreign sources than the previous 42 Presidents combined.

  • You didn't get mad when over $10 billion in cash just disappeared in Iraq.You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

  • You didn't get mad when Bush embraced trade and outsourcing policies that shipped 6 million American jobs out of the country.

  • You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

  • You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden.

  • You didn't get mad when Bush rang up $10 trillion in combined budget and current account deficits.

  • You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.

  • You didn't get mad when we let a major U.S. city, New Orleans, drown.

  • You didn't get mad when we gave people who had more money than they could spend, the filthy rich, over a trillion dollars in tax breaks.

  • You didn't get mad with the worst 8 years of job creations in several decades.

  • You didn't get mad when over 200,000 US Citizens lost their lives because they had no health insurance.

  • You didn't get mad when lack of oversight and regulations from the Bush Administration caused US Citizens to lose 12 trillion dollars in investments, retirement, and home values.

  • You finally got mad when a Black man was elected President, and decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick.

Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, job losses by the millions, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, and the worst economic disaster since 1929 are all okay with you, but helping fellow Americans who are sick...Oh, Heck No!!

And let me add - You're thrilled that the Republicans just spent the last two years with a political strategy that is basically, just say NO. They have spent two years building and maintaining roadblocks in congress and the senate when what this country really needs is representatives spending time fighting for the people and way less time worrying about getting a republican back in the white house.

*** shamelessly stolen from this article in the comments section ******

Monday, November 01, 2010

I'm Tired.....

***** Warning ****
This is a depressing blog entry.

I'm tired of having nothing to celebrate. I want to have some awesome events to celebrate, an event that warrants a bottle of champagne. Like Dena getting a job or me getting a raise or my company winning a bunch of bids. It's hard to keep a positive attitude and just keep plugging along when you're not winning but just keeping your head above water. I don't want to think when I hand out Halloween candy how much it's costing me. I don't want to see adults lining up with their kids mooching candy off of me. I don't want to covet an iPad from afar anymore, I want my own. I'm tired of watching benefits slip away that you know you'll never recover. I'm tired of wondering who will be laid off next.

Who is fighting for the American middle class? I can tell you right now before you vote tomorrow, no one. Not the Democrats (they have been castrated), not the Republicans (all they can do is trash people's ideas, they have none of their own) and it certainly isn't going to be the Tea Party. Will it take a revolution of some sort or will we just quietly slip into oblivion wondering who was supposed to save us?

I remember the good old days less than three years ago when the United States was foot loose and fancy free. Without a care in the world we lived in our consumer based capitalistic society and just waited for our next raise, the next new gadget and our higher 401k statements. I loved those days. When can we have them back? I want them back now. I'm tired of waiting.

Who wants to start a revolution? Is John Stewart on to something?