Archive for May, 2008

Handy MobileLite Card Reader

I like this handy, compact MobileLite 9-in-1 USB Card Reader from Kington Technologies.  The reader accepts SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, MMCmobile, RS-MMC, microSD, and miniSD, MMCmicro cards.  It is compliant with USB 2.0, SD 2.00, SDHC and MMC 4.1 standards and includes a tiny lanyard to prevent the cap from getting lost.  It works great, fits in your pocket and retails for around $10.  Its available from many online retailers, including amazon.com.

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ASPCA Safety Pack for Pet Owners

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is offering a FREE Pet Safety Pack for pet owners that includes a window decal to alert safety and rescue workers that there is a pet/pets in your home. The pack also includes an ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center magnet—a great way to keep the APCC’s toll-free emergency number handy at all times!

To order your FREE Pet Safety Pack just go to the ASPCA website and enter your mailing address.  You’ll receive your safety pack by mail in 6-8 weeks.

If you’d like to make a donation to the ASPCA, click here.

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Up to Mt. Diablo

Today we drove to Mt. Diablo State Park for my first-ever (can you believe it?!) view from the summit.  The weather was excellent– around 65 degrees and sunny, with some haze.  Get more information on Mt. Diablo State Park from the official website.

The views from the winding roads leading to the summit were really spectacular.  Who knew?

At the summit, they even had a Visitor Center with a gift shop for some retail therapy after the drive.

But the main attraction was the view– beautiful, in every direction. 

Happy Memorial Day!

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Where is that Drink?

Where is that drink?

That drink is…

A set of martinis at the expansive Lobby Bar at the very luxe and stunningly renovated Hotel Adlon Kempinski in Berlin, Germany.

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Today’s Cartoon

Credit: The New Yorker

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Today’s Quote

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

   –Mark Twain

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Rub it On

This is a tasty rub that works well on chicken and other foods– brought to you by the folks at Made in Napa Valley, who also have a great selection of other products, such as sauces, marinades, tapenades and mustards.  Great for your own summer grilling or a terrific gift idea.

The rub retails for around $6 and is available from specialty food stores or the Made in Napa Valley website.

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Office Refresh

At last, a re-fresh (aka makeover) of the home office is near-complete, with thanks to FLOR (for cool carpeting), Smith-Noble (for new solar window shades), Calico Corners (for new upholstered cornice), Golden State Flooring (for new hardwood floors), Sherwin-Williams (for great paint, called Foothills 7514), Mario Salinas General Contractor (for contractor services), and Homeclick.com (for commerical stainless steel wall-mounted shelving).  Other, existing furniture provided by Sonrisa Furniture, of Los Angeles, who specializes in metal and mid-Century furnishings.

In the photo below, the flooring and repainting are completed, and a few items from Sonrisa have been moved back into the office.

The two desks are back in place, along with a “welcome” martini.

Here, Lucy is closely inspecting the new carpet (called Passage Way, Chocolate) from FLOR.  After consideration, Lucy approves.

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Where is that Drink?

Where is that drink?

Photo 1:

Photo 2:

And the drinks are…

1.  Vodka martini and scotch on-the-rocks at the Club Room in the InterContinental Hotel Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand, January, 2005.
2.  Myanmar beer in the Lobby Bar at the Parkroyal Yangon Hotel in Yangon, Myanmar, January, 2005.

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Asian Martini

Get an Asian twist on the classic martini using ginger-infused vodka and your favorite sake.  Here’s what you need to do:

Ingredients:
1.  One part sake (pick your favorite);
2.  Three parts ginger-infused Vodka (see directions below);
3.  Cucumber slice and pickled ginger for garnish.

Directions:
1.  Combine sake and ginger-infused vodka in a shaker and shake well with ice.
2.  Strain into a chilled martini glass.
3.  Garnish with a cucumber slice (and pickled ginger, optional, on a toothpick).
4.  Serve and enjoy!

To make Ginger infused vodka:
1.  Peel piece of fresh ginger to fully remove outer skin;
2.  Slice ginger crosswise into 1/4-inch thick pieces;
3.  Pour desired amount of vodka into a clean container/bottle with a cover or cap to seal;
4.  Add ginger to vodka (around 6 slices per cup of vodka);
5.  Cover or seal vodka and allow to infuse for 48 hours or more;
6.  Strain or remove ginger slices to minimize clouding.  Serve as desired.

To read previous posts on Cocktails, click here.

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Where are the Feet?

Where are the feet?

The feet are…

Enjoying the ride in the huge ferris wheel located at the Hep Five Shopping Center complex in Osaka, Japan, December 2007.

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Today’s Cartoon

Credit: New Yorker Magazine

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Aid for Survivors in Sichuan Province

On May 12, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale hit Sichuan Province, a mountainous region in Western China.  The toll from the quake includes over 50,000 dead and over 5 million people homeless (roughly equivalent to the populations of Chicago and Houston, combined).

To make a contribution, call or visit the website of any of the following organizations.  (List Source: New York Times).

AMERICARES
88 Hamilton Avenue
Stamford, Conn. 06902
(800) 486-4357

GIVE2ASIA
China Earthquake Relief
P.O. Box 193223
San Francisco, CA 94119-3223
(415) 743-3336

HALF THE SKY FOUNDATION
Room 2703, 27/F, Shun Feng International Centre
182 Queen’s Road East
Wanchai, Hong Kong
+86 (10) 8532-3042

INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES
P.O. Box 372
CH-1211 Geneva 19, Switzerland
+41-22-730-4222

MERCY CORPS
China Earthquake Relief
Dept. W
P.O. Box 2669
Portland, Ore., 97208-2669
(888) 889-7146

THE SALVATION ARMY
615 Slaters Lane
P.O. Box 269
Alexandria, VA 22313
1-800-SAL-ARMY

SAVE THE CHILDREN
China Earthquake Relief
54 Wilton Road
Westport, Conn. 06880
(800) 728-3843

WORLD VISION
P.O. Box 9716
Federal Way, Wash. 98063-9716
(888) 56-CHILD (562-4453)

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Pacsafe Strap for Cameras & Gadgets

I discovered this cool strap/lanyard, manufactured by PacSafe, that provides a safe, secure way to carry your digital camera or other gadget.  The strap is fully adjustable in terms of length and is made of a strong, flexible cable that cannot be cut or pulled apart.  It also comes with two short straps that get tied to your device, allowing you to switch the lanyard between devices, with a simple snap.  The product retails for $9.95 and is available on the PacSafe site, as well as other retailers, such as REI.

PacSafe also manufactures a variety of other travel, business and personal accessories, with a focus on security.  Check out their website for more information.

If you wish to read previous posts in the “Gadgets, Gizmos, Gear” category, click here.

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Lucy Goes to Napa

Lucy took a road trip this week to Napa for a stay at the pet-friendly Napa River Inn, a charming boutique hotel situated along the peaceful Napa River. 

Lucy got settled in Room 101 located in the Embarcadero Building, which is one of three buildings on the property. 

The hotel kindly outfitted the room with a wonderful amenity basket for Lucy– complete with welcome letter from the General Manager, food and water bowls, placemat, dog blanket, healthy treats, and doggie bags.  In the photo below, Lucy admires the amenities from Napa River Inn.

In the afternoon, Lucy took a stroll on the walkway around the perimeter of the hotel property in order to admire the sensational view of the Napa River.

As part of her afternoon of retail therapy, Lucy picked up a new furry toy from Vineyard Dog, a stylish pet boutique in Downtown Napa. In the photo below, Lucy is checking out her new toy back at the hotel room.

After touring through Calistoga, Yountville and Napa, Lucy took a break at a small park in St. Helena.  In the photo below, Lucy is surveying the park from one of the tables and admiring the natural beauty of Wine Country.  Aaaahh…

After a full day, Lucy and I headed to Angele, an intimate restaurant located on the grounds of the Napa River Inn, specializing in Provencal cuisine.  Here, Lucy is waiting patiently for her server while seated at one of the outdoor tables that provide a pleasant view of the river.  It’s a great place to enjoy a meal and to admire the last bit of sunshine for the day.

And, patience finally paid off when beverages (and food, too, of course) arrive at the table.  Mmm…. that beverage sure looks tasty and refreshing!

After a restful sleep, Lucy was ready to depart the Napa River Inn, but not before taking a final look around the property, including this up-close inspection of one of the handsomely pruned potted topiaries outside the hotel room.

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Animals on Broadway

The Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF), founded by baseball manager Tony La Russa and his wife, Elaine, in 1991, sponsored the 8th Annual Animals on Broadway event in downtown Walnut Creek on 5/18/08.  The day-long festival included contests, dog washes, entertainment, and dozens of booths from retailers and other firms serving the pet industry.  Although it was a hot day (around 90-degrees), there was a large, enthusiastic crowd– and lots and lots of dogs.  Plus, there were plenty of complimentary doggie treats and samples of different dog foods from the booths.  Who could ask for anything more?

Lucy and Peggy are busy trying to decide which booths to visit at the Animals on Broadway celebration.

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Two Bugs in a Rug

Snug as two bugs in a rug.  Well, actually, it’s two dogs in a sleeping bag.  Here are Peggy and Lucy, snuggling in their sleeping bag, this morning.

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Where is that Drink?

Martini at the Lobby Bar in the Wynn Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV, January, 2008.

At Roy’s Restaurant in Scottsdale, AZ, March, 2008.

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The Visitor

I saw The Visitor (2008) this week and thought is was a compelling and thought-provoking film, with tender and affecting performances by the the four  leads (Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman in an amazingly understated performance, Denia Jekesai Guirra and Hiam Abbass), in a film written and directed by Thomas McCarthy.  It touches on some very moving (and topical) issues– emotional isolation, US immigration policy in a post-9/11 environment, American xenophobia, the universal language of music, and the healing and restorative power of love.  In spite of its many darker and sobering messages, I found it very hopeful and life-affirming. 

Get more details on the movie from IMDB or read various reviews from Rotten Tomatoes.

To view a previous post with my list of Top 10 (Favorite) Movies, click here.

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Make Mine Manhattan

Why is the Manhattan cocktail so beloved?  I think it’s because of the wonderful combination of flavors– smokey, warm and sweet, but not overpowering.  And for me, it was one of the first cocktails I tasted– and still one of my all-time favorites.  Some reports indicate that the cocktail was originated at New York’s Manhattan Club in the 1870’s for a banquet in honor of Presidential candidate Samuel Tilden.  Other reports say that the cocktail was invented in the 1860’s by a bartender named Black at a New York bar on Broadway, near Houston Streeet.  Regardless of its origin, it’s mighty tasty!

The recipe for “A Perfect Manhattan” is:

INGREDIENTS:

1 part Sweet Vermouth
1 part Dry Vermouth
4 parts Blended Whiskey
Dash Angostura Bitters

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Fill shaker with ice
2.  Combine ingredients in shaker and shake vigorously
3.  Strain and pour into a cocktail glass
4.  Garnish with a cherry or lemon twist
5.  Serve, enjoy and repeat, as needed

Of course, there are many other variations on the classic Manhattan.  So… go ahead and experiment!  Cheers!

To read previous posts on Cocktails, click here.

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Today’s Quote

It is not length of life, but depth of life.

   –Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Remembering Myanmar

As I read about the recent (and continuing) tragedies in Myanmar, I thought about the Burmese people and their long and difficult struggle for political reform, freedom of speech, and a better life.  I also remembered the wonderful experiences I had while visiting Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan in 2005, where these photos were taken.

Two young monks seated outside a temple in Mandalay.

Taking a bicycle taxi ride in Mandalay.

Waiting to board a boat to cross the Ayeyarwady River (formerly called Irrawaddy River) in Mandalay.

Opposite one of the hundreds of maginificent old temples in Bagan.

Refer to my earlier post for information about making a contribution to help the survivors of Cyclone Nargis.

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A Handy Travel Outlet from Belkin

The Belkin Travel Surge Protector is a great accessory for travelers who tote around lots of gadgets, since most hotel rooms have a limited number of power outlets, particularly at the work desk.  The surge protector features a 360-degree rotating plug with three AC outlets and two USB outlets so you can charge your smaller devices, such as iPods, phones, etc.  It’s lightweight and easy to pack and carry.  Retails for $24.  It’s such a good idea– what took so long?  Get more information from Belkin at http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Product_Id=400738# or order it online from amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-BZ103050vTVL-Surge-Protector-Charger/dp/B0017HF3XO/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1210722825&sr=8-2

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Helping Victims of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar

An estimated 2.0 million people across the Irrawaddy Delta in Myanmar are now facing a huge hunger and health crisis due to lack of water, food and medical aid following the devastating effects of Cyclone Nargis which struck the region on May 3rd.  The following agencies are providing assistance and contributions may be made by mail or online.  (List Source: New York Times)

ACTION AGAINST HUNGER
247 West 37th Street, 10th Floor
New York, NY
U.S.A. 10018
(212) 967-7800

AMERICARES
88 Hamilton Avenue
Stamford, Conn. 06902
(800) 486-4357

AMERICAN JEWISH JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE
Myanmar Cyclone Relief
P.O. Box 530
132 East 43rd St.
New York, N.Y., 10017
(212) 687-6200

AMERICAN JEWISH WORLD SERVICE
45 West 36th Street
New York, N.Y. 10018
(800) 889-7146

CARE
151 Ellis Street
Atlanta, Ga. 30303
(800) 521-CARE (521-2273)

CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES
Southeast Asia Natural Disaster
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, Md. 21203-7090
(877) 435-7277

INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS/RED CRESCENT
P.O. Box 372
CH-1211 Geneva 19, Switzerland
(011) 41-22-730-4222

INTERNATIONAL ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHARITIES
P.O. Box 630225
Baltimore, Md. 21263-0225
(877) 803-4622

SAVE THE CHILDREN
Myanmar Cyclone Response
54 Wilton Road
Westport, Conn. 06880
(800) 728-3843

U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES
For U.S. residents: USA for UNHCR
1775 K St., NW
Suite 290
Washington, D.C. 20006
(202) 296-1115
(800) 770-1100

U.S. FUND FOR UNICEF
125 Maiden Lane
New York, N.Y. 10038
(800) 4-UNICEF (486-4233)

WORLD FOOD PROGRAM
Friends of the World Food Program
1819 L Street, NW
Suite 900
Washington, D.C. 20036
(866) 929-1694

WORLD VISION
P.O. Box 9716
Federal Way, Wash. 98063-9716
(888) 56-CHILD (562-4453)

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Mojito Madness

Try a vodka spin on the traditional rum-based Mojito for a nice, refreshing change of pace.  Perfect for Summer (or Winter, Spring or Fall) enjoyment!

Ingredients:
Vodka
3 TBL fresh lime juice
2 TBL fresh lemon juice
1 TBL sugar
3 sprigs fresh lime

In a glass, muddle the mint, sugar and fresh juices.  Add crushed ice and fill with vodka.  Serve with a lemon twist garnish.  Very tasty!  And refreshing.  With Vitamin C, too!  Who could ask for anything more?

To read previous posts on Cocktails, click here.

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Where is that Drink?

 

Tasty beverages are served everywhere around the world.  But where are these?

Photo A:

Photo B:

Photo C:

Photo D:

Photo E:

Photo F:

Photo G:

And, the drinks are…

A = Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka, in the Lobby Bar at the Sheraton Krakow, Krakow, Poland, April, 2007.
B = Martinis at the Martini Bar, aboard the Celebrity Infinity cruise ship, May, 2006.
C = Dagon Beer, in the Lobby Bar at the Mandalay Hill Resort, Mandalay, Myanmar, January 2005.
D = Bintang Beer, on the balcony of the hotel room at the Inter-Continental Bali Resort at Jimbaran Bay, Bali, Indonesia, February, 2006.
E = Bintang Beer, in the hotel room at the Champlung Sari Hotel, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, February, 2006.
F = Martini in the Lobby Bar at the Hotel Bristol, Vienna, Austria, April, 2007.
G = Martini in the Lobby Bar at the Lodge at Koele, Lanai City, Hawaii.

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Where are the Feet?

Those Feet Are Getting Around…  Where are they?

Photo A1 and A2

Photo B

Photo C:

Photo D:

Photo E:

Photo F:

Photo G:

Photo H:

And the feet were…

A = Standing inside an interactive exhibit at the Jewish Museum, Berlin, Germany, April, 2007.
B = Resting in a hotel room in the Park Hotel, Tokyo, Japan, December, 2007.
C = Standing on fallen Ginko Leaves in downtown Osaka, Japan, December, 2007.
D = Relaxing on the lawn outside the Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria, April, 2007.
E = Floating in the Pool at the Fours Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay, Bali, Indonesia, January, 2007.
F = Enjoying a (very) hot soak in the outdoor mineral foot bath at the Hakone Open Air Museum in Hakone, Japan, December, 2007.
G = Walking around the lobby of the Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, January, 2008.
H = Resting on a bench outside historic Osaka Castle, Osaka, Japan, December, 2007.

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X Shot is X-cellent

In case you haven’t seen or tried this product, called X Shot, it’s an excellent camera accessory and an idea that is long overdue.  The X Shot attaches to your camera and allows you to take a shot of yourself (or your group) with you in it!  Plus, it avoids those shots of your arm and shoulder when you try to take you own photo by extending your arm.

Check out the X Shot at www.xshotpix.com or order it from www.amazon.com.

 

 

 

Check out the X Shot at http://www.xshotpix.com/

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Vesper Martini

My new favorite martini– the Vesper– has regained popularity as a result of the James Bond film, Casino Royale.  In the film, Bond invents a new drink and names it after Vesper Lynd. 

To make the Vesper, measure 1/2 part Lillet, 1 part vodka, 2 parts gin.  Shake with ice, strain, and serve in a cocktail glass garnished with a twist.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s the finished product– tasty and refreshing! 

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Peggy Does Cambria

In February, Peggy took a mid-week road trip to picturesque Moonstone Beach in Cambria, CA.  We stayed at the Fog Catcher Inn, a small pet-friendly hotel, located directly opposite Moonstone Beach.  The Inn features large rooms with beamed-ceilings and fireplaces. 

The Inn is just a few steps away from famous Moonstone Beach.  Get more information about the charming Fog Catcher Inn at http://www.fogcatcherinn.com/.

Above, and below, Peggy checks out the boardwalk along Moonstone Beach.

We traveled a few miles South to see beautiful Morro Bay and to get a close-up view of Morro Rock.

At the foot of Morro Rock, tucked away out of view, is a large secluded sandy beach, where Peggy was able to run in the sand.

Peggy highly recommends Morro Bay and the coastal area around Cambria.  Get more information about Morro Bay at http://www.morro-bay.net/.  For more information about Cambria, go to http://www.cambria-online.com/.

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