Archive for November, 2008

Educated Guess – Cabernet

November 25th, 2008

Yesterday afternoon, Lisa and I enjoyed an early dinner at the Barrel Room.  We ordered a bottle of a 2005 cabernet called Educated Guess from the Roots Run Deep Winery in Napa Valley.  The restaurant charges $26 for this bottle, but you can purchase it online for about $17.

Our Thoughts:

It had a pretty label/bottle.  It was a dark cherry red in color and had a strong oaky bouquet.  It was a very strong and complex finish.  The wine had long legs.  It wasn’t the best of wines and we were not very pleased.  However, it was a drinkable wine–if we had to.  We ranked it 4 out of 10, and we would not order it again if given a choice.

Winery Details:

Oh, and everyone wants to know about our unique label. Our label was designed to tell the story of how you can make an educated guess in winemaking, not to give you nightmares about your high school chemistry class. It shows you actual winemaking formulas that are either induced or naturally occur during a specific winemaking process. For those of you who aren’t chemists and want to know more about what the 5 formula strings on the label mean, please email us and we will happily send you more information. For the rest of you, drink up and enjoy!!!

2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
100% Napa Valley
85% Rutherford, 15% Yountville/Oakville
Cases Produced
Napa Valley Varietals

85% Cabernet Sauvignon 12% Merlot
2% Petite Verdot 1% Malbec
Rich, ripe and focused with juicy blackberry and
boysenberry fruit, all tied together with a creamy
french vanilla middle and a lingering finish.
12 months in French and American Oak
Suggested Retail Price

A Day Without Sunshine

November 24th, 2008

A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.

-Steve Martin

Rap Battle Gone Bad
(With Translations)

November 21st, 2008

How Far We’ve Come

November 20th, 2008

Waking up at the start of the end of the world,
But it’s feeling just like every other morning before,
Now I wonder what my life is going to mean if it’s gone,
The cars are moving like a half a mile an hour
And I started staring at the passengers who’re waving goodbye
Can you tell me what was ever really special about me all this time?

I believe the world is burning to the ground
Oh well I guess we’re gonna find out
Let’s see how far we’ve come

– Matchbox Twenty

2480 Cabernet Sauvignon

November 19th, 2008

Last night I went to the Barrel Room in Rancho Bernardo with Lisa and enjoyed a bottle of wine.  We had a 2005 Cab from the Hollywood and Vine Cellars of Napa Valley.  The BR price was $94, though it retails for $75.  We had the bottle decanted.  The wine is made by 2008 wine maker of the year, Celia Masyczek.

Our thoughts on this wine:

The color was a deep, opaque red.  The wine was very easy to drink and held a very smooth finish.  Our waitress put it well when she said that it was one of her favorites because “It is very fruity tasting for a cabernet.  And depsite its fruity jam like tastes, it is complex and really holds its cabernet muscles that you would expect from a cab.”

We ranked this wine as an 8 out of 10, yet the best review something can get, is that yes, we would order this wine again.

The Wine Spectator gave this vintage of wine a 92 point score and wrote:  “A big, rich, hearty mouthful of Cabernet, but not without its measure of elegance and refinement, offering ripe, plump, sumptuous layers of blackberry, black cherry, currant, sage and spice. Keeps a tight focus through the long, persistent finish.”

Below is the makers review of this wine:

We are privileged, once again, to be harvesting fruit from some of the finest vineyards in the Napa Valley; both hillside and mid-valley benchland fruit. Our winemaker, Celia Masyczek, has performed magic in blending this powerhouse of a wine.

2480 – 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting Notes
             100% Cabernet Sauvignon

VINEYARDS: The Hollywood & Vine 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested from five very unique growing regions, all within Napa Valley. The fruit comes from the highest reaches of Mount Veeder, the exceptional terroirs of the Oakville and Rutherford Bench, and from the steepest Spring Mountain slopes.  Harvested in separate small lots between October 3 and October 31, 2005, the vineyards were kept entirely separate in barrels for the first 6 months, then judiciously blended and allowed to “marry” for several additional months of aging before being lightly filtered for clarity, previous to bottling in May of 2007.

BARREL AGING: Fermented on skins for approximately three weeks, then transferred to barrels (60% new French oak). The wine was aged in small oak for approximately 20 months.

ANALYSIS: Alcohol: 14.9% by volume

CASES PRODUCED: 1380 – 12 x.750ml cases, 119 cases – 12 x 375 ml , 50 cases – 6 x 1.5lt., 24 – 3lt.

RELEASE DATE: April 2008

WINEMAKER: Celia Masyczek

WINEMAKER NOTES: This ultra-ripe Cabernet shows the complexity of its multi-faceted origins.  Juicy black cherry and raspberry notes from Oakville and Rutherford dominate the aromas, as Spring Mountain’s trademark purple plum, mocha, and sweet black olive notes add complexity.  Structurally, while the wine shows the density of hillside fruit from Mt. Veeder and Spring Mountain, part of the identity of the 2005 vintage seems to be a slightly more elegant and approachable tannin profile, supplemented by the silky qualities of the Rutherford and Oakville benchland vineyards.


A General Website of Wine Terms

Waiting In Vain

November 18th, 2008

From the very first time I blessed my eyes on you, girl
My heart says follow t’rough
But I know, now, that I’m way down on your line
But the waitin’ feel is fine
So don’t treat me like a puppet on a string
Cause I know I have to do my thing
Don’t talk to me as if you think I’m dumb
I wanna know when you’re gonna come – soon

I don’t wanna wait in vain for your love
I don’t wanna wait in vain for your love

-Bob Marley

Tommy’s Got His Six String In Hock

November 17th, 2008

This kid is so talented then I could ever be at guitar even with years and years of practice.  Amazing. 

Crazy Cool Medallions

November 17th, 2008

Justin Timberlake is extremely talented–and that could be an understatement.  The man can do almost no wrong.  He even got a free walk during “wardrobe malfunction.”  Not only had he had a succesful singing career–with 2 different groups–, but he is also an actor, great at sketch comedy, a great dancer, and is a 6 handicap golfer who wants to make the PGA tour.  And of course he is good looking.   Like they say about James Bond, “Every woman wants him and every man wants to be him.” He has done a variety of SNL bits and commercials, that I thought I would post them here for enjoyment.


The Barry Gibb Talk Show 1
Was not embeddable:

The Barry Gibb Talk Show 2

Superbowl Pepsi Commercial

Espys:  Intro

Espys:  Why I Love Sports

Espys: The Year in Sports

SNL:  Hosting a Full Show In 2 Minutes

SNL:  Single Ladies

 SNL:  Homelessville

D**k in a Box:  Uncensored Version

The Love Guru:  Promo

The Love Guru:  Sings Celine

My Love Video

My Love & LoveStoned @ Victoria Secret

What Goes Around

NSYNC:  Bye Bye Bye

A Doctor, a Mutation and a Potential Cure for AIDS

November 15th, 2008

I came across this article this week.  This is awesome and amazing.  I hope we can find cures for all diseases.  This article came from the Wall Street Journal.  If you click on that link it will take you to the article.  But just in case that link ever goes away, here is the article in its entirety.

  • NOVEMBER 7, 2008
  • A Doctor, a Mutation and a Potential Cure for AIDS

    A Bone Marrow Transplant to Treat a Leukemia Patient Also Gives Him Virus-Resistant Cells; Many Thanks, Sample 61

    The startling case of an AIDS patient who underwent a bone marrow transplant to treat leukemia is stirring new hope that gene-therapy strategies on the far edges of AIDS research might someday cure the disease.

    The patient, a 42-year-old American living in Berlin, is still recovering from his leukemia therapy, but he appears to have won his battle with AIDS. Doctors have not been able to detect the virus in his blood for more than 600 days, despite his having ceased all conventional AIDS medication. Normally when a patient stops taking AIDS drugs, the virus stampedes through the body within weeks, or days.

    [Dr. Gero Hutter] “I was very surprised,” said the doctor, Gero Hütter.

    The breakthrough appears to be that Dr. Hütter, a soft-spoken hematologist who isn’t an AIDS specialist, deliberately replaced the patient’s bone marrow cells with those from a donor who has a naturally occurring genetic mutation that renders his cells immune to almost all strains of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

    The development suggests a potential new therapeutic avenue and comes as the search for a cure has adopted new urgency. Many fear that current AIDS drugs aren’t sustainable. Known as antiretrovirals, the medications prevent the virus from replicating but must be taken every day for life and are expensive for poor countries where the disease runs rampant. Last year, AIDS killed two million people; 2.7 million more contracted the virus, so treatment costs will keep ballooning.

    While cautioning that the Berlin case could be a fluke, David Baltimore, who won a Nobel prize for his research on tumor viruses, deemed it “a very good sign” and a virtual “proof of principle” for gene-therapy approaches. Dr. Baltimore and his colleague, University of California at Los Angeles researcher Irvin Chen, have developed a gene therapy strategy against HIV that works in a similar way to the Berlin case. Drs. Baltimore and Chen have formed a private company to develop the therapy.

    Back in 1996, when “cocktails” of antiretroviral drugs were proved effective, some researchers proposed that all cells harboring HIV might eventually die off, leading to eradication of HIV from the body — in short, a cure. Those hopes foundered on the discovery that HIV, which integrates itself into a patient’s own DNA, hides in so-called “sanctuary cells,” where it lies dormant yet remains capable of reigniting an infection.

    But that same year, researchers discovered that some gay men astonishingly remained uninfected despite engaging in very risky sex with as many as hundreds of partners. These men had inherited a mutation from both their parents that made them virtually immune to HIV.

    The mutation prevents a molecule called CCR5 from appearing on the surface of cells. CCR5 acts as a kind of door for the virus. Since most HIV strains must bind to CCR5 to enter cells, the mutation bars the virus from entering. A new AIDS drug, Selzentry, made by Pfizer Inc., doesn’t attack HIV itself but works by blocking CCR5.

    About 1% of Europeans, and even more in northern Europe, inherit the CCR5 mutation from both parents. People of African, Asian and South American descent almost never carry it.

    Dr. Hütter, 39, remembered this research when his American leukemia patient failed first-line chemotherapy in 2006. He was treating the patient at Berlin’s Charité Medical University, the same institution where German physician Robert Koch performed some of his groundbreaking research on infectious diseases in the 19th century. Dr. Hütter scoured research on CCR5 and consulted with his superiors.

    Finally, he recommended standard second-line treatment: a bone marrow transplant — but from a donor who had inherited the CCR5 mutation from both parents. Bone marrow is where immune-system cells are generated, so transplanting mutant bone-marrow cells would render the patient immune to HIV into perpetuity, at least in theory.

    There were a total of 80 compatible blood donors living in Germany. Luckily, on the 61st sample he tested, Dr. Hütter’s colleague Daniel Nowak found one with the mutation from both parents.

    To prepare for the transplant, Dr. Hütter first administered a standard regimen of powerful drugs and radiation to kill the patient’s own bone marrow cells and many immune-system cells. This procedure, lethal to many cells that harbor HIV, may have helped the treatment succeed.

    The transplant specialists ordered the patient to stop taking his AIDS drugs when they transfused the donor cells, because they feared the powerful drugs might undermine the cells’ ability to survive in their new host. They planned to resume the drugs once HIV re-emerged in the blood.

    But it never did. Nearly two years later, standard tests haven’t detected virus in his blood, or in the brain and rectal tissues where it often hides.

    The case was presented to scientists earlier this year at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. In September, the nonprofit Foundation for AIDS Research, or amFAR, convened a small scientific meeting on the case. Most researchers there believed some HIV still lurks in the patient but that it can’t ignite a raging infection, most likely because its target cells are invulnerable mutants. The scientists agreed that the patient is “functionally cured.”

    Caveats are legion. If enough time passes, the extraordinarily protean HIV might evolve to overcome the mutant cells’ invulnerability. Blocking CCR5 might have side effects: A study suggests that people with the mutation are more likely to die from West Nile virus. Most worrisome: The transplant treatment itself, given only to late-stage cancer patients, kills up to 30% of patients. While scientists are drawing up research protocols to try this approach on other leukemia and lymphoma patients, they know it will never be widely used to treat AIDS because of the mortality risk.

    There is a potentially safer alternative: Re-engineering a patient’s own cells through gene therapy. Due to some disastrous failures, gene therapy now “has a bad name,” says Dr. Baltimore. In 1999, an 18-year-old patient died in a gene therapy trial. Even one of gene therapy’s greatest successes — curing children of the inherited “bubble boy” disease — came at the high price of causing some patients to develop leukemia.


    Gene therapy also faces daunting technical challenges. For example, the therapeutic genes are carried to cells by re-engineered viruses, and they must be made perfectly safe. Also, most gene therapy currently works by removing cells, genetically modifying them out of the body, then transfusing them back in — a complicated procedure that would prove too expensive for the developing world. Dr. Baltimore and others are working on therapeutic viruses they could inject into a patient as easily as a flu vaccine. But, he says, “we’re a long way from that.”

    Expecting that gene therapy will eventually play a major role in medicine, several research groups are testing different approaches for AIDS. At City of Hope cancer center in Duarte, Calif., John Rossi and colleagues actually use HIV itself, genetically engineered to be harmless, to deliver to patients’ white blood cells three genes: one that inactivates CCR5 and two others that disable HIV. He has already completed the procedure on four patients and may perform it on another.

    One big hurdle: doctors can’t yet genetically modify all target cells. In theory, HIV would kill off the susceptible ones and, a victim of its own grim success, be left only with the genetically engineered cells that it can’t infect. But so far that’s just theory. All Dr. Rossi’s patients remain on standard AIDS drugs, so it isn’t yet known what would happen if they stopped taking them.

    In 1989, Dr. Rossi had a case eerily similar to the one in Berlin. A 41-year-old patient with AIDS and lymphoma underwent radiation and drug therapy to ablate his bone marrow and received new cells from a donor. It is not known if those cells had the protective CCR5 mutation, because its relation to HIV hadn’t been discovered yet. But after the transplant, HIV disappeared from the patient’s blood. The patient died of his cancer 47 days after the procedure. Autopsy tests from eight organs and the tumor revealed no HIV.

    Write to Mark Schoofs at

    Corrections & Amplifications

    The Foundation for AIDS Research, which uses the acronym amFAR, is the name of the nonprofit group cited in this article. The name of the group was incorrectly given as the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

    DDS..a dentist, did I use the phrase improperly?

    November 15th, 2008

    "I am a dentist, couldn't be prouder! I am a dentist, yell a little louder!!"

    I haven’t had much luck with dentists over the last few years.  It seems that when I finally find one that I like and trust, that my insurance at work changes.  When that occurs, I have to start the process of finding a new dentist.  Due to time and energy and priorities, this will often take me upwards of 6 months.  I will then finally get an appointment.

    My goal is to get on a regular professional cleaning schedule, say once every 6 months.  But when you go to a dentist for the first time, they often do not want to do a cleaning the first visit, but merely a consultation.  It seems like, much of the rest of the business world, that they just want to make an extra buck, and an extra visit gets them paid extra.

    One thing that dentists try to get an extra buck on, is something they like to call a “deep cleaning.”  I have had friends of friends of dentists say that a deep cleaning is just a hoax in an attempt to extricate money from the patient.  I have had this experience twice. 

    I went to a dentist once in Rancho Bernardo.  This dental experience was a sham from the moment I arrived.  I walked in and they wanted to charge me a $5 co-pay.  Mind you, it wasn’t a co-pay that my insurance required, but merely the dentist. 

    I get myself into the chair, of course, for just the inspection and not a cleaning.  As the dentist is peering into my gaping mouth, he is breathing on me, and it is despicable smelling breath.  After his review of my periodontal offering, I was told that I would need a deep cleaning.  The was the last time I visited that dentist.  After another 6 month period of trying to find a new dentist, I finally received the cleaning I wanted.  That next dentist I went to, told me that my teeth looked great and took care of them.

    As things have gone for me, my insurance coverage shortly thereafter changed.  I was back on the dentist street, having to fend for myself.

    About 6 months ago, I went to a dentist in Carmel Mountain Ranch.  I loved the potential of a dentist not too far from my office.  I went there, did my typical bleeding, and once again was told that I would require a “deep cleaning,” and it would cost me about $1,200 out of my own pocket.  The last time I went to that dentist.

    This last week, I finally went to a dentist again.  I sat there in the waiting room and my mind was taking notice of everything in the room, everything on the walls.  All of the plaques and certificates and cancellation warnings.  And then I noticed the piece of paper on the counter top.  The words jumped off the page:  “DEEP CLEANING.”  I was doomed again I thought.

    I was not impressed with the office as they took me back to the chair.  Even when I was getting my teeth x-ray’d, they had to slide things out of the way on the floor with their feet.  This was not going well.  And then the dentist surprised me.  He said that my teeth were in good shape, and that despite my troubles in creating the habit of flossing, that my gums were in decent strength as well.  And then he said that he would do a cleaning that day.  The best part was that I did not hear the words “deep cleaning.”

    Now I did the cleaning, and I even filled out the postcard to remind me of a visit 6 months from now.  But there are factors that I will still have to consider.  The first factor that I haven’t mentioned, is that the cleaning seemed really quick, and not very well done.  They did not floss my teeth, there wasn’t a heavy polishing (though, they did do this briefly), and there definetly wasn’t any t.l.c or mouthwash.  The second factor that I will have to consider, is that my dental insurance is changing again as of the first of the year.  I will more then likely have to start the search all over again.

    Since I’m blabbing on about the bad dentists, I must say that the best dentist I have ever had local to the Poway/Rancho Bernardo area, is a dentist that is in the Twin Peaks shopping center–to the right of target.  With a busy work schedule, it was nice that that dentist, twice a week, would stay open till 9pm.  It was very convenient.  I went to that dentist for a couple years while I worked at Tierranet.  And then, of course my work insurance changed.

    This Week I'm Thinking About: Jonathan Wilt