OK, so I’ve been a bit quiet lately. Busy. Sorry.

For those who asked, the upstairs remodeling was done just when my dad came to visit at the beginning of the month. I have pictures but they will have to wait until I’m back in Taipei. While my dad was in town we went to Wulai to a hot spring resort, and also on a bus day trip to southern Taipei county mountain areas. At dinner there was a mostly full leftover bottle of 12-Year Canadian Club Whiskey that I got to take home. My dad brought back the Winnie The Pooh doll Emily left at his house and a bunch of Disney DVDs. Emily is really into Snow White now. My dad also got me a set of Pimsleur CDs and Maggie some Kiehls lotions.

I’ve still got a runny nose from my cold but most other effects are gone. I always seem to keep a runny nose for a long time after my colds are over. I’ve been trying the ‘new’ phenylephrine decongestants now that you practically need a background check to buy pseudoephedrine. It seems to work OK, but they don’t have a time-release version yet.

On Sunday for lunch Rick and Anna invited me to go to their Red Egg party for their daughter Erin at Todai in Pleasanton. That night I went to go see Pom and his family and they took me to Red Robin.

On Monday I drove out to El Dorado Hills near Sacramento to visit Chris and Jen and see their new son Duncan, and we had some pizza for lunch. Then I drove out to Sparks, a suburb of Reno to visit with Michael for a few days, and who is building a new post-production facility there. By the way, Reno is COLD in the winter. It’s a desert, so I was expecting something else. Oh, and the Black Bear Diner is really nice.

On Wednesday I drove back to El Dorado Hills to spend a night at Chris and Jen’s house. The drive back through the mountains was gorgeous with lots of snow covering the mountains. (It was after dark when I drove there on the way.) Chris brought out a couple of wonderful bottles of wine from his extensive collection which we enjoyed with a nice dinner. They also sent me home with a couple of bottles as well.

The next morning I left after breakfast to drive to Santa Barbara. Going down 5, things were pretty hazy, though despite ‘CAUTION HEAVY FOG’ warnings on the electronic signs, it never got less than 1 mile visibility. I got in just in time to go to Ken’s holiday party. There was a gift exchange for which I brought a gift basket of three wines picked from my wine collection. Gift baskets were a popular choice, though all the others were pre-packaged ones. I got a audio book on CD collection “Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” in exchange.

Friday for dinner we went to Downey’s, a restaurant I hadn’t heard of before until it was ranked #1 in SB by Zagat. I had a watercress, spinach and endive salad which also contained hazelnuts and raspberries, then boneless beef shortribs in balsamic sauce. For dessert I had something with a fancy French name that I forgot but had a bunch of cream and raspberries between two layers of pastry. The raspberries in the salad were quite good, so I had no choice but to get the dessert with raspberries in it. Mmm, raspberries.

This morning I had breakfast with Ken and George at Jeanines, a bakery on State Street near Ontare. I had a swiss cheese bagel and hot chocolate. Then I went shopping for some odds and ends at Smart and Final, Longs, and Wallgreens and then went out to Freebird’s to get lunch. I had my usual meal: Plain Cheese Quesadilla, and a Regular Chicken Burrito, no rice, black beans, sour cream and BBQ sauce.

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