God’s Wine Country

Living in California’s wine country is living in God’s country. That’s what we tell ourselves. Obviously, God’s plan was to pull out all the peaches and apples and hops and prunes and pears, and plant grapes in their place. In wine country, the price of grapes, especially the price of grapes in Napa versus Sonoma, is headline news. There is a friendly competition between these two wine-growing regions. Sonoma likes to make fun of Napa; Napa does not recognize the existence of Sonoma.

Q: How do you make a small fortune in the wine business?

A: Start with a large fortune.

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On the Road

After years of traveling for work, I am planning my next career move: I will become the all-powerful, unquestioned dictator…

… my first act will be to mandate that all hotel plumbing be exactly the same. Every room in every hotel will have the exact same type of fixture that turns in the same directions to turn the water on and off, or to switch the diverter from tub to shower, or to adjust the water temperature. That will save the scalding/freezing surprise that comes from moving the mixing lever/knob in the wrong direction. And all sinks will have the left handle for hot and the right for cold.

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Time Zones

Over the years of my business life, I’ve spent many nights at the University Inn in Seattle. Some time ago, it became part of Pineapple Hospitality Company. Pineapple has several properties in Seattle, one in Portland and, most recently, in San Francisco. Not long ago we spent a getaway weekend in The City – natives always use capitol “T” and capitol “C” – and stayed at Pineapple’s Hotel California.

In the lobby, they helpfully display three clocks, so one can immediately check the time of day in any city where Pineapple has a hotel.

Lobby of Hotel California
Hotel California Lobby – San Francisco

 

Shred Everything!

You may not recognize the name Frank Abagnale, but Leonardo DiCaprio may be familiar to you. Leonardo played Frank in Steven Spielberg’s movie “Catch Me If You Can,” based on the autobiography of the same title. Tom Hanks was the co-star. A musical version opened on Broadway in 2011.

Beginning as a teenager, Frank impersonated a Pan Am pilot, a medical doctor and others. Along the way, he cashed $2.5 million in bad checks. All this before the age of twenty-one.

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The Years of Robert Caro

I got hooked on Robert A. Caro when his first volume of The Years of Lyndon Johnson was published in 1982. What I thought was going to be trilogy began with The Path to Power. I received it as a gift and was soon completely absorbed into it. Mr. Caro took me into the Hill Country of Texas, and made me feel what it was like to be a settler there and how that formed LBJ. The further I read the more I appreciated the painstaking research behind it.

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Soul Queen of New Orleans

While Kanye West was being stupid at the Grammys Awards show, I was at a local venue taking in “Blues at the Crossroads: The Soul of the Blues.” For me, the featured performer was Irma Thomas, who came on in the middle of the show, between Alecia Chakour, paying tribute to Etta James, and Lee Fields, channeling James Brown. Ms. Thomas returned to the stage to close the show, with the others backing her up on “Time Is On My Side.”

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