Posted tagged ‘Santa Rosa’

Giving a “Thumbs Up” to Wine

August 4, 2012

Do you or someone you know love wine? I was born and raised within 15 minutes of the Napa Valley so of course I have a soft spot for wine and the wine industry. But, just because I grew up in the region, doesn’t mean I’m a wine connoisseur.

When it comes to picking out wine, I need just as much help as the rest of you. I look at all the websites for reviews, but in reality (at least from what I’ve found) it’s all just jargon and industry speak. Here’s what I want: to find a bottle of wine, preferably inexpensive, that’s going to 1) taste good and 2) pair nicely with my meal.

Like me, are you tired of endless websites giving you “professional” wine reviews that quite frankly are just too boring and don’t reach you on a personal level? How come we can’t just find a couple of everyday guys who aren’t going to tell me what they think I want to hear, but instead, the wine I should buy that won’t cost me a whole week’s paycheck?

Well thankfully a website made just for you does exist. Let me introduce you to Joe and Matt of Thumbs Up Wine.

Here’s a quick introductory video:

Thumbs Up Wine provide tools including video reviews, a mobile app and more to help people find the best supermarket or warehouse wines. They make it simple for you, the everyday consumer. As their website says: “No one wants to know whether the wine has “notes of Cavaillon melon.” But everyone wants to know whether it will go with the steak/chicken/pasta that they’re having for dinner.” Does that sound like you? Well…it sounds like me, my friends and my family.

Furthermore, the guys on Thumbs Up Wine go out and taste the wines that you can actually find, tell you what’s good/what’s not, and actually make sense of it all. The site completely independent – they are not paid by, or affiliated with, any winery. Their mission is simple: to pair consumers with the best bottle of wine that you can find at your local grocery store, based explicitly on what you’re looking for.

As most you you already know, sometimes I don’t have the world’s greatest attention span. It’s because of this that I love their series of videos. On the site, you can find the good, the bad and the ugly.

Here’s a couple of quick examples of Thumbs Up reviews of a Fetzer Riesling 2010 and a Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon 2009:



They’ve already got more than 100 videos but I hear that they’ve got another 10 – 15 entertaining ones that will be released over the next few months. Can’t wait!

Did I mention they have a mobile app? Of course they do. Everyone does these days. But this one will really help you out when you’re looking for just the right bottle. Appropriately named “The WineFinder”, this app matches you with the best wines in the store you’re shopping in, based on the perimeters you’re looking for. Even better: it’s updated every week.

So, if you’re looking for that perfect bottle of wine tonight and don’t want to go through the hassle of reviewing boring website after boring website, be sure to check out Thumbs Up Wine. Down-to-Earth reviews made specifically for you. Who doesn’t want that?

Check them out on Facebook  and follow them on Twitter at @ThumbsUpWine for more information.


Another Update…

August 10, 2010

Sitting at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, awaiting my brother’s surgery tonight. He’ll go in about 7:45 p.m. (PT) and it should be over by 11 p.m.

They’re going to do the hip and pelvis tonight and hopefully remove a bone fragment for the cyatic (spelling?) nerve.

That’s the update for now 🙂


August 8, 2010

My brother Dan is doing better than he was 24 hours ago, but is still in the ICU.

Dan is on the far left...

He is preparing to have multiple surgeries this week to fix his right leg and hip. The doctor said that in the accident, the right femur went through the hip, causing it to shatter. They’ll need to put two plates in.

He still has bruised lungs, which were caused when his sternum was crushed and is having difficulty breathing.

On the positive side, he has no internal bleeding and his lacerated liver is healing. This will be a very busy week so time will tell how quickly he will heal.

I think the worst has past, but I’ll be sure to drop in for some updates.

Thank you for all of your prayers and well wishes!

Please Say a Prayer…

August 8, 2010

I know I’m not a religious man, but if you could say a prayer for my little brother today.

He was involved in a terrible car accident this evening (Saturday) and had to be airlifted to a trauma center in Santa Rosa, CA.

Last we heard, he had a crushed sternum, broken collarbone, broken and dislocated hip, broken leg, broken ankle and a lacerated liver.

I’m with my mom and family at the hospital and we will probably be here for quite some time.

It always seems that events like this is what it takes to bring families together. We’re holding together well but it’s probably going to be a rough couple of days.



“Deep Throat” Dead at 95

December 19, 2008

W. Mark Felt, also known as Deep Throat,  who helped bring down President Richard Nixon by resisting the Watergate cover-up, died today at the age of 95.

From the New York Times:

His death was confirmed by Rob Jones, his grandson.

In 2005, Mr. Felt revealed that he was the one who had secretly supplied Bob Woodward of The Washington Post with crucial leads in the Watergate affair in the early 1970s. His decision to unmask himself, in an article in Vanity Fair, ended a guessing game that had gone on for more than 30 years.

The disclosure even surprised Mr. Woodward and his partner on the Watergate story, Carl Bernstein. They had kept their promise not to reveal his identity until after his death. Indeed, Mr. Woodward was so scrupulous about shielding Mr. Felt that he did not introduce him to Mr. Bernstein until this year, 36 years after they cracked the scandal. The three met for two hours one afternoon last month in Santa Rosa, where Mr. Felt had retired. The reporters likened it to a family reunion.

Mr. Felt played a dual role in the fall of Nixon. As a secret informant, he kept the story alive in the press. As associate director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he fought the president’s efforts to obstruct the F.B.I.’s investigation of the Watergate break-in.

Without Mr. Felt, there might not have been a Watergate — shorthand for the revealed abuses of presidential powers in the Nixon White House, including illegal wiretapping, burglaries and money laundering. Americans might never have seen a president as a criminal conspirator, or reporters as cultural heroes, or anonymous sources like Mr. Felt as a necessary if undesired tool in the pursuit of truth.

Like Nixon, Mr. Felt authorized illegal break-ins in the name of national security and then received the absolution of a presidential pardon. Their lives were intertwined in ways only they and a few others knew.

Nixon cursed his name when he learned early on that Mr. Felt was providing aid to the enemy in the wars of Watergate. The conversation was recorded in the Oval Office and later made public.

4 Pacific Union Students Killed in Weekend St. Helena Crash

November 17, 2008

Four Pacific Union college students were killed late Saturday night when their car collided with an oncoming pickup truck north of St. Helena, this according to the California Highway Patrol. I drive this road every time I travel to my mom’s house in Hidden Valley Lake, a small town where two of the victims lived.

From the Press Democrat:

The students died at the scene of the accident on Deer Park Road, just a few miles south of their campus, a Christian liberal arts school.

The four left campus shortly before midnight. According to the college, the students had just finished playing basketball at the gym and were on their way to the Safeway in St. Helena to grab something to eat when the accident occurred.

They were identified as Luke Kotaro Nishikawa, 22, of Hawaii; Chong Whon Shin, 20, of Aloha, Ore.; and Boaz Joshua Pak, 20, and Simon Chulmin Son, 19, both of the Ventura County community of Hidden Valley.

Officials said all the young men were well known and liked on campus.

The driver of the pickup truck, Sandalio Martinez, 28, was taken by ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in serious condition. He was in serious but stable condition Sunday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

A third driver rear-ended Matinez’s pickup after the initial collision. That driver Rio Ortiz, 20, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

“It’s a real hard time,” said Doug Wilson, director of student activities at Pacific Union College, a Christian liberal arts school in Angwin, a town built around the college.

Hundreds of students, faculty, staff and community members – along with the families of two of the victims – gathered at 5 p.m. in the Seventh-day Adventist church on campus to mourn the four young men.

The students were killed Saturday night when their speeding car skidded out of control and collided with a pickup truck north of St. Helena. They were identified as the driver, Boaz Joshua Pak, 20, from Hidden Valley Lake and passengers Luke Kotaro Nishikawa, 22, from Honolulu; Chong Whon Shin, 20, from Aloha, Ore.; and Simon Chulmin Son, 19, from Hidden Valley Lake. Friends said the students had just finished playing pickup basketball at the college gym and were on their way to a Safeway in St. Helena to get something to eat when the accident occurred about 11:45 p.m.

The men were apparently well-known and liked on campus. Shin was involved in youth ministry at the Rohnert Park Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church. Nishikawa was the leader of a campus outreach program called Homeless Ministries, and had been out working with homeless people early Saturday morning.

The Pacific Union College community “mourns the loss of four wonderful young men who were already giving service back to the community,” said college President Richard Osborn. “Our entire campus is grieving along with their families.”

The accident took place about 5 miles from the 150-acre Pacific Union College campus at the bottom of Deer Park Road, the winding, two-lane road that heads down the mountain into St. Helena on the floor of Napa Valley. The drive is a regular one for on-campus students.

Bill Melendez, Peanuts Animator and Voice of Snoopy, Dies at 91

September 4, 2008

Bill Melendez, the animator who gave life to Snoopy, Charlie Brown and numerous other “Peanuts” characters in  movies and television specials, died today at the age of 91. Being from Sonoma County, California, I, like many others grew up with the Peanuts gang. Charles Schultz was from Santa Rosa, a neighbor to my hometown of Petaluma. I feel as though a part of me died today as well, with the loss of Bill Melendez.

AP Photo/Nick Ut

Credit: AP Photo/Nick Ut

From the Associated Press:

Melendez’s nearly seven decades as a professional animator began in 1938 when he was hired by Walt Disney Studios and worked on Mickey Mouse cartoons and classic animated features such as “Pinocchio” and “Fantasia.”

He went on to animate TV specials such as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and was the voice of Snoopy, who never spoke intelligible words but issued expressive howls, sighs and sobs.

Melendez took part in a strike that led to the unionization of Disney artists in 1941, and later moved to Warner Bros., where he worked on Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and Daffy Duck shorts.

Melendez met “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz in 1959 while creating Ford Motor Co. TV commercials featuring Peanuts characters.

The two became friends and Melendez became the only person Schulz authorized to animate his characters.

Melendez founded his own production company in 1964 and with his partner Lee Mendelson went on to produce, direct or animate some 70 “Peanuts” TV specials, four movies and hundreds of commercials.

The first special was 1965’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The show reportedly worried CBS because it broke so much new ground for a cartoon: It lacked a laugh track, used real children as voice actors, had a jazz score and included a scene in which Linus recited lines from the New Testament.

However, the show was a ratings success and has gone on to become a Christmastime perennial.