Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A glass of wine with friends

The inability to use my computer, has added a layer of stress lately. I tried several times to start it from the “last known successful configuration”, but it continues to freeze up. There is a fear that the longer I delay, the less impact my "reporting and photos" from Washington will have. (It's a rather bold assumption that they would have an impact in the first place!) We too quickly move on to the next story (or distraction.)

Went next door to check if, in my absence, the UPS parcel from "MoveOn.org" (the travel expense gift cards) had arrived. Charlene said it hadn’t. But she and Henry wanted to talk to me about rent: they decided to deduct $100 from my rent, explaining that the original rate was rather arbitrarily set. I resisted, but they made such a compelling case. "Sure!"

Drove over to my storage unit to pick up a computer docking station, monitor and other paraphernalia. They may help determine if hardware is to blame for my laptop trouble. Rode home with the large monitor precariously strapped to the back of the motorcycle.

***

I was invited to join friends Russ, Lisa, Mark and Armando for dinner at “The Dead Fish” restaurant tonight. I thought I would pass, given the computer fiasco that has been sucking the life from me. Then, late in the day, decided to join the party.

On "auto-pilot", I drove over the Carquinez Straits, but approaching the opposite shore, something didn't look right. “Wrong bridge”. I was in Martinez, the restaurant in Crockett. Since the bridge traffic looked too heavy to return the way I came, I wandered unfamiliar neighborhoods in search of another way to Crockett.

After a half-hour detour, I found my way to Crockett via Highway 4 and the "Cummings Skyway". My old travel buddies Russ and Mark were seated at the bar, awaiting the Alvaro Coelho & Irmaos gang. Lisa was fighting a bug and couldn’t make it tonight.

Armando Coelho, Luis, Armando Magalheus and his wife Morilia arrived soon after. We had fun with Armando C., who is now married, a father, a homeowner, lost his driver’s ("racing") license and has to behave now. My, how the world changes!

I learned that his wife, Yuki Rodrigues, is a pianist with the San Marcos (Italy) and San Carlos (Portugal) Orchestras.

As is typical when wine industry "professionals" get together, there was plenty of "product" to sample: six bottles, by my count. Even with assistance from the staff, we did not drink all the wine. Armando M.'s own 2001 "Andrade" Cabernet Sauvignon stood out as a particularly fine wine.

In the Portuguese tradition, we shared large platters of shellfish, then I moved on to an excellent "petit filet".

Mr. Coelho insisted the dinner was "his treat". It was an unexpected yet kind gesture. It was a real pleasure to again spend some time with these friends.

Despite some wine, I was able to find my way home, without detour.

***

Some interesting stories in the news today:

Scientists accused the Bush Administration of down-playing the threat of Global Warming.

Arlen Spector said: “I respectfully submit to the President, he is not the sole decider.”

Six members of "CODEPINK" were arrested for refusing to leave the office of Hillary Clinton. Clinton refuses to speak out against the Iraq War “Surge”.

I heard an excerpt from a 2004 Frank Luntz interview. He advised campaigning Republicans that “no speech about Iraq should begin without a reference” to 9-11. (See my "Spin Meister", January 9th post.)

"Exxon-Mobil" has reported the highest profits ever for a U.S. corporation.

And, sadly, author and political commentator Molly Ivins died today. A real loss for this country.

In a July 2004 interview, she quoted three rules that have guided her when looking at the rhetoric of candidates: “look at the record, look at the record, look at the record.”

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