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Wednesday, February 29, 2012


COMMON SENSE/2012--it is time for American consumers to band together to fight overnight “wildcat” hikes in gasoline prices. Today, few of us understand the reasons for these economic muggings. As a nation of consumers, we need (at the very minimum) to demand the common courtesy of advance reasoning (notice) before such economy-wrecking price increases are dictated onto the consumer.

Consumers need a national leader or leadership to lead the negotiations with big government and big oil to explain the need for these tyrannical price hikes. The House and Senate of this nation must convene a board to once again investigate the causes. And, do it quickly. Previous efforts by Congress have not worked. Go back to work gentlemen and ladies until we have real answers.

Until then, citizens at the national level need a leader like the late Walter Reuther. He made the auto industry accountable to the people. [List of his accomplishments below]

In 1939 labor leader Walter Reuther said in order for the U.S. labor movement to be successful they needed discipline. Reuther must be remembered for these words: "We must demonstrate that we are a disciplined, responsible organization; we not only have power, but that we have power under control.".

As President of the UAW (1946-1970), Reuther led his union during one of the most prosperous periods for workers in U.S. history.

As American consumers, we have power via the ballot box but we have not demonstrated that we have power under control.

Our political leadership has failed to explain to us in a simple and convincing manner why oil hikes continue to rise in wildcat fashion.

Reuther was staunch in recognizing that labor goals were met by negotiations.

American consumers have been screaming for a decade at the rolling hike in gasoline prices. This basic cry has been unheeded by all Presidents AND Congresses since 1973! If you disagree go look at the price on your neighborhood gas pump right now.

Also it is sad, that the average citizen does not believe there is a leader representing them in any effort to stabilize gasoline price gouging. If there is such a person or entity representing us now in this matter, we need their name(s) in order to fire them.

BOTTOM LINE: The only way we can defend ourselves is for each one of us to write at least one elected official and simply ask…what are you doing on behalf of the American consumer to explain or provide leadership to halt wildcat price hiking by the oil industry…ALSO the Taliban card is no longer an acceptable answer in this poker game.”

If only ten percent of us take the time to write a letter, we can make a difference. Email campaigns are too easily sabotaged, but when our elected officials see that we mean business one written letter at a time, then and only then can we expect action. We have been given this right—let’s use it. One stamp at a time for economic liberty.

BLOGGER’S OPINION: The Presidential candidate who makes reforming price gouging at the pump a priority will garner my vote—no matter what party that leader belongs to.

SIDENOTE: In the mid-1950s Walter Reuther as head of the United Auto Workers, delivered contracts for his membership through brilliant negotiating tactics. Reuther would pick one of the "Big three" automakers, and if it did not offer concessions, he would strike one manufacturer and let the other two automakers absorb its sales. Besides high hourly wage rates and paid vacations,

The UAW negotiated these benefits for its members:
1. employer-funded pensions (beginning in 1950 at Chrysler),
2. medical insurance (beginning at GM in 1950), and
3. supplementary unemployment benefits (beginning at Ford in 1955).

His name was Walter Reuther. Where are you Walter Reuther as this nation sadly turns its lonely eyes on you?

Image: Wikipedia: July 20, 1955 edition of Time magazine

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


CHECK OUT TOP KITCHEN DESIGN—A 12-kitchen tour that runs from North to South County is set for Sat. Mar. 10, 2012. Please save the date. Organized by the local chapter of the National Kitchen & Bath Assn., the 10 am to 5 pm tour is open to the public.
Tickets are $20 ea. or two for $30. Portion of the tour proceeds are going to Veteran’s Village of San Diego.

The dozen kitchens show off the talents of members of NKBA San Diego members. Attendees are entered into an opportunity drawing, which includes prizes such as a Lenova Entertainer Sink; Rohl Modern Lux Pull-down faucet and a Frigidaire Wine Cooler.
If you are thinking of re-doing your kitchen this tour is a great way to see design options and to meet our town’s top kitchen pros.

For project locations and online tickets and questions go to Email contact:

To speak to a human being about the show contact Donna Tran at 619-793-7096.

In fact see Donna on Youtube giving a preview of the upcoming tour:

Monday, February 27, 2012


SAVE THE DATE—Looking ahead to next month, the San Diego Museum of Man will host its Inaugural Annual Charity Golf Tournament on Mon, April 9, 2012 at Morgan Run Golf Club, with proceeds from the event to benefit the museum.
Golfers of all skill levels are invited to compete in a four-person scramble format. All team members for other prizes, gifts and events, as well as an event gift bag and SDMoM Golf Shirt. 

Cost is $150 per person, which includes entry into all events, 18 holes of golf, riding cart, dinner, and awards for the various contests. 
The festivities will begin with registration at 10 a.m., with tee-off at 11 a.m.  Guests will have a chance to mix and mingle afterwards with dinner provided by Morgan Run Catering.  Special items will also be auctioned and raffled off with all proceeds going to the museum.  Info & registration is now open at
About SDMoM: AAM Accredited and Smithsonian Affiliate  
Located beneath the ornate 200-foot California Tower, SDMoM is the city's only museum devoted to anthropology and archaeology. With its Spanish colonial and mission style architecture, the landmark building was originally constructed for the 1915 -16 Panama-California Exposition. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012


GUEST BLOG/By Raymond Chandler

“…There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch.

On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks.

Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”

—Raymond Chandler, "Red Wind"

Saturday, February 25, 2012


ART OF JOHN BALDESSARI—Museum of Contemporary Art/San Diego is currently exhibiting conceptual artist John Baldessari’s extensive printmaking career. The 80-year-old National City native is returning to MCASD (last exhibit 1960) showing more than 100 works made between 1973 and 2010 in media as diverse as lithography, etching, photogravure, aquatint, photo intaglio, embossing and silkscreen. Baldessari took on printmaking in the 1970s and has continued unabated. His forte is altering and cropping photographic images into his visual adventures.

Exhibit runs now through May 13 at MCASD La Jolla, 700 Prospect Ave., 858-454-3541,

Image:  Person with Guitar (Red) 2005 5 color screenprint mounted on sintra 35 x 41 inches Published by Gemini G.E.L. Edition of 45 © Baldessari. From MCASD website.

Friday, February 24, 2012


BIG CRAFT BEER EVENT—“Best Damn Night of the Barrels” is set for Saturday Night, Feb 25 at Downtown Johnny Browns (Civic Center, 1220 Third Ave.) Hosted by Best Damn Beer Shop (downtown) and West Coaster Magazine & Website, the event features beers by Cantillon, Fifty Fifty, Goose Island, The Bruery, The Lost Abbey, Firestone Walker, Nebraska, Deschutes and others (see mega list below!).

ALSO: Hess Brewing will re-launch on tap and cask “West Coaster IPA,” which was custom brewed for West Coaster magazine.

PLUS: A secret keg will be tapped!

Pre-sale is $45 for ten 3 to 4 oz pours.
Day of event price is $55 at door.

Limited capacity.
Buy tickets at
Or stop by Best Damn Beer Shop, 1037 Seventh Avenue, Downtown, 619-232-6367,


The Bruery Black Tuesday;
The Bruery Melange #3;
The Bruery Cuir;
The Bruery Marron Acidfie and The Bruery Coton

Fifty Fifty Eclipse Evan William Barrels 2010;
Fifty Fifty Eclipse Elijah Craig 12 yr Barrels;
Fifty Fifty Eclipse Elijah Craig 20 yr barrels;
Fifty Fifty Eclipse Four Roses Bourbon;
Fifty Fifty; Eclipse Brandy Blend;
Fifty Fifty Eclipse Grand Cru Brewmasters blend;
Fifty Fifty Eclipse Rittenhouse Rye;

Hanger 24 Pachuca’s Cobra Barrel Roll Bourbon Imperial Stout.
Hair of the Dog Bourbon Fred

Deschutes Abyss 2010 & 2011;
Deschutes Black Butte 2011;
Deschutes Dissadent 2010

Cantillon Rose De Grambinus 2010;
Cantillon Kriek 2008;
Cantillon Iris 2007;

Mikkeller Nelson Souvigion Brut;
Mikkeller Chipotle Chocolate Porter

Nebraska Hop God Belgian Style IPA Aged Chard Barrels;
Nebraska Black Betty Imperial Stout Aged Whiskey.

Firestone 14th
Firestone 15th
Firestone Parabola 2010 & 2011; Firestone Abacus 2011;

Anchorage Bitter Monk Belgian Style IPA Aged Chard Barrels;
Anchorage Love Buzz Saison Barrel aged in Pinot Noir

Allagash Interlude 2009 Barrel Aged in Pinot Noir;
Allagash Confluence dry hopped sour;
Allagash Victor Ale Brewed With Grapes

North Coast Russian Imperial Stout Aged Bourbon Barrels 2009;
North Coast Old Stock 2009 Cellar Reserve Aged Bourbon Barrels;
North Coast Grand Cru Nectar Agave Aged Bourbon

Iron Fist The Resistance Aged in Chardonnay Barrels

Ale Smith Wee Heavy Bourbon Barrels

Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper bourbon aged 2010;
Port Brewing Older Viscosity

Avery Immitis Aged in Zinfindel Barrels Avery Rumpkin Aged in Rum Barrels

Xyauyu Silver 2006 Barleywine

Lost Abbey Angels Share Bourbon 09,10,11;
Lost Abbey Angels Share Brandy 09,10,11

Uinta Cockeyed Cooper Barleywine Aged in Bourbon 2010;

Alpine Ichabod Pumpkin White & Red Wine Barrels 2009
Alpine Token Imperial Porter Bourbon Barrel Aged 2011

Goose Island Bourbon County Imperial Stout 2010

Marin Old Dipsea bourbon Barleywine 2009

New Belgium Le Terroir Aged in Wooden Oak Barrels
New Belgium La Folie French Oak Barrels 2011

Lost Abbey Deliverance
Lost Abbey Cuvee De Tomme 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012


FREE MOON SHOW/By NASA’s Astronomer Dr. Tony Phillips-- Note to sky watchers: Put on your winter coats. What you’re about to read might make you feel an uncontrollable urge to dash outside.

The brightest planets in the solar system are lining up in the evening sky, and you can see a preview of next Saturday night’s show—tonight. 

Go out at sunset and look west.  Earth’s neighbors Venus and Jupiter pop out of the twilight even before the sky fades completely black.  The two brilliant planets surrounded by evening blue is a beautiful sight.

If you go out at the same time tomorrow, the view improves, because Venus and Jupiter are converging.  In mid-February they are about 20 degrees apart.  By the end of the month, the angle narrows to only 10 degrees—so close that you can hide them together behind your outstretched palm.  Their combined beauty grows each night as the distance between them shrinks.

A special night to look is Saturday, Feb. 25th, when the crescent Moon moves in to form a slender heavenly triangle with Venus, Jupiter and the Moon as vertices.

One night later, on Sunday, Feb. 26th, it happens again. This arrangement will be visible all around the world, from city and countryside alike.  The Moon, Venus and Jupiter are the brightest objects in the night sky; together they can shine through urban lights, fog, and even some clouds.

After hopping from Venus to Jupiter in late February, the Moon exits stage left, but the show is far from over.

In March, Venus and Jupiter continue their relentless convergence until, on March 12th and 13th, the duo lie only three degrees apart—a spectacular double beacon in the sunset sky. Now you’ll be able to hide them together behind a pair of outstretched fingertips. 

There’s something mesmerizing about stars and planets bunched together in this way—and, no, you’re not imagining things when it happens to you.  The phenomenon is based on the anatomy of the human eye.

"Your eye is a bit like a digital camera," explains optometrist Dr. Stuart Hiroyasu of Bishop, CA. "There's a lens in front to focus the light, and a photo-array behind the lens to capture the image. The photo-array in your eye is called the retina. It's made of rods and cones, the organic equivalent of electronic pixels."

There’s a tiny patch of tissue near the center of the retina where cones are extra-densely packed. This is called “the fovea.”

"Whatever you see with the fovea, you see in high-definition," Hiroyasu says. The fovea is critical to reading, driving, watching television. The fovea has the brain's attention.
The field of view of the fovea is only about five degrees wide. Most nights in March, Venus and Jupiter will fit within that narrow cone.  And when they do—presto!  It’s spellbinding astronomy.

Standing outdoors, mesmerized by planets aligned in a late winter sunset, you might just forget how cold you feel.  Bring a coat anyway….

Note: To subscribe to NASA’s free Scientific email news copy the following address into your browser:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


QUICK LEARNER--Today marks the birthday of George Washington, who we all know led our colonial army to victory in the American Revolution. History, shows Washington wasn’t always so smart on the field of battle. Twenty years earlier in 1754 as a 22-year-old Colonel in British Army, George was soundly defeated in a skirmish with the French and Indians near Uniontown, PA. BTW: Washington was not a U.S. citizen at birth. See below.

Washington had been sent in 1754 to protect British trading interests in the Ohio Valley, near Pittsburgh then called Fort Duquesne. His job was to drive away the pesky French and Canadian troops.

George had marched in from Virginia, but his coalition of colonial militia and British regulars never reached the Ohio River. He was tracked down by the French and local Indian allies.

Outnumbered, Washington hastily had his men build a compound in an open field that he proudly called Ft. Necessity.

It wasn’t long before the French arrived. Immediately they noticed Washington had built the fort within musket range of the nearby woods. Instead of attacking in the traditional linear manner, the French and Indians took potshots all day from behind trees at the defenseless British until the French literally got bored. Besides it was raining and everyone was tired--so it was the French who suggested “Voulez-vous parler?” Let’s talk, George.

Reason for the lax attitude toward their vanquished foe, the French and British were not yet at war. The Seven Years War was on the horizon so the French did not want the headache of having to tend with prisoners of war before war was officially declared.

The subsequent surrender deal saved Washington’s bacon. The Brits and colonials were sent back to Virginia—if they signed a surrender contract and took down that bright red flag.

Humiliated, Washington learned a valuable military lesson. During the American Revolution, Washington used hit and run tactics pioneered by the French and Indians instead of frontal assaults. George became keenly aware of adequate supply lines and making sure his men had maximum advantages of terrain knowledge before going into battle. Washington learned to pick his battles and if guerilla style warfare suited the situation, he used it.

Moreover, by constantly harassing the British troops, the Colonials were able to win enough battles, which in turn impressed the French to join the war on the American side.
In the end, the France was Washington’s early battlefield teacher and in the end his winning ally.

Remember history is like a river.

The Americans returned the favor downstream by liberating France from Hitler’s Germany. To this day, the most pro-American Europeans are found in Normandy, France. Deep down the two nations have an affectionate bond, albeit sometimes it’s damn hard to recognize.

TOURING THE FORT--The 900 acre Fort Necessity National Battlefield and park is open daily from sunrise to sunset on a year-round basis. The Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., except on major holidays (including today George Washington's birthday). Fort Necessity National Battlefield is located 11 miles east of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, on US 40. We were there in late June and the weather was still spring-like.

Images: Ft. Necessity photo by Phyllis Shess, July 2011 and Washington atop Mt. Rushmore.

Historical Note: George Washington was a British subject at birth as were most of our earliest Presidents because they were born before the USA came into existence (after 1776).


Additional reading: "George Washington's First War," by David A. Clary, Simon & Shuster, 2011

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


LIKE NIGHT & DAY--If Americans lived alternating 24-hour lifestyles there would be less congestion on our roadways, at malls, cellphone stores and maybe even the Dept. of Motor Vehicles.

Obviously, there will be more of us in the future. And to make room for more humans on the planet we might start using our off-hours to our advantage. There are plenty of night owls up at all hours to support 24-hour living centers.

If there were services available in the wee yours like an open post office or dry cleaners then night alternative hours living would work. And this could happen quickly.

Here’s a thought: It is high time for the 24-hour mall. There should be a major mall open in every city that’s open 24/7.

In San Diego, for example, let’s take a shopping center that maybe isn’t doing as well as others and retool it for 24-Hour Alternative Hours Living.

At this 24-Hour Mall (like College Grove or Horton Plaza for example) have at least one area of the mall devoted to all the basic human shopping needs: Post Office, Traffic Court, full service department store, Ace Hardware, dry cleaners, a bright and cheery Internet café; adult education school; auto parts store; pet store (damn are we out of dog food, again); Sprint or Verizon store and we’d include many of the existing 24-hour operations as well Seven/Eleven; Denny’s; Ralph’s and a medical clinic that could take the load off of ER services in the wee hours.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a 24-hour DMV or social security or mortgage loan office actually open when working folks could go there?

Since musicians are up at that hour anyway, there could be a Casino style concert hall and maybe even a first run theatre that serves food.

The parking lot would be well lit with plenty of security staff patrolling the mall and the lots. Can you believe Bob Baker’s crew is up late selling cars? It’s nice to be nice even at 5 am.

There could be a chapel for late night weddings. KPBS would have longer hours to run its fundraisers.

And, finally, a place where you could see a real person at the bank. And, if I could get a 3 a.m. dental appointment, I’d take it right now.

It’s worth a try. The infrastructure costs are minimal. It would create new jobs. Think about it national chains offer up one of your stores to the 24-hour urban center. Let’s start with our own expanded public services at federal, state, county and municipal level.

We really can’t expect retailers all over the city to start working longer hours. Just doesn’t make sense. But let’s think about a 24-hour shopping mall? And who knows maybe the difference in rush hour traffic could be like night and day.

What business do you wish had longer or evening hours?

Images: Mustafa website and wikipedia. Mustafa Centre (top, left) is one of Singapore's 24-hour shopping malls. Traffic gridlock courtesy of a freeway nearby.

Monday, February 20, 2012


ON PRESIDENT’S DAY--So, there we were driving on a recent summer vacation thru the heart land of Pennsylvania with “my” heart set on visiting, Gettysburg, Fallingwater, Pittsburgh and the Hershey Chocolate Factory.

However, just outside of Lancaster, I’m asked to pull over to take a quick looksee at “Wheatland,” the home of James Buchanan, our 15th President. Well, the peek happily lasted for hours.

Catherine, our amazing vintage tourguide, who was dressed in mid-19th century haute couture, greeted us at the front house of our nation’s only bachelor chief executive. At a leisurely, pace she unveiled the reason why the Prez never married. Buchanan’s lost love epic is a tearjerker tale right out of true romance novels and one that makes Romeo & Juliet come off as a comedy. You’re going to have to Google this on your own. A good place to start, however, is going to American Heritage Magazine’s website and find the 1955 article “The Lost Love of a Bachelor President.”

The Presidential grounds, on the other hand, are a showcase of how upper middleclass America lived in the Antebellum North. The tour and the bookstore were well worth the visit. We’ve come away with a new appreciation of Federalist architecture and
I’ll never take indoor plumbing for granted again.

The home’s decor is sophisticated and fitting for a President. Our guide Catherine, furnishings, interior architecture, table settings and portraits from Queen Victoria all combined to make the visit memorable.

Also, we learned how the term “first lady” came into use. Up until then, Presidents’ wives were simply called Mrs. Adams, etc. But because Buchanan was unmarried, his niece Harriet Lane eagerly became the “first, first lady” of the country, a role she relished. The term stuck.

You’ll note we chose to wander through the President’s home instead of his complicated one-term in office. But for a good primer on the politics of the era go to the White House’s bio of Buchanan:

Later, in Gettysburg, another tour guide, offered what he readily admitted was Civil War gossip involving Buchanan. The unconfirmed story points out just before the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1, 1863) President Buchanan was rumored to be a target of marauding Confederate army brigades advancing toward Harrisburg, the state Capitol. The alleged goal was to kidnap the ex-President and hold him for ransom. The rebels wanted to cause havoc in the North in order for England and France to recognize the south as a legitimate (nation) cause, plus they needed the cash.

The kidnap plot didn’t materialize mainly because Union militias prior to Gettysburg burned the only bridge over the Susquehanna River making a crossing of the mile wide river too much trouble. Confederate General John Brown Gordon did try to put out the bridge fire but to no avail. His men were called back to Gettysburg and the South never made it to visit James Buchanan or Harrisburg or the North ever again.

Much has been made recently that our nation's only single president was perhaps gay. Good for him if he was, but I think he was more likely refreshingly honest when it came to his romantic side. Having lost his one true love, my call is he was constantly searching but never found another woman, whom he could devote himself to as a husband. He was quite the ballroom dancer and party-goer, especially as an Ambassador and there never seemed to be a shortage of companionship at all the various affairs of state that a President attends. My opinion matches Those of the tour guides at the Buchanan museum: he simply never found another soul mate to the woman he lost.

The James Buchanan House, Wheatland, located at 1120 Marietta Ave., Lancaster, PA, has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Wheatland is open April - Oct, Mon thru Sat from 10 am to 4:30 pm, and Nov- Dec, Fri and Sat from 10 am to 4:30pm. From Jan to March, weekday tours are available by appointment. The site is closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Eve. Tours generally begin every 30 minutes. The first tour begins at 10 am (noon on Sun) and the last tour begins at 3:30 pm. An admission fee is charged. For more information visit the Wheatland website www. or call 717-392-8721.

Images by Phyllis Shess: Clockwise from upper right: Parlor of President Buchanan’s home in Lancaster, PA. On the wall are portraits of Queen Victoria and Consort Albert, which were gifted to President Buchanan by the royal family; Tour guide Catherine is wearing mid-1850s attire and Exterior of Wheatland is an example of federalist architecture in brick.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


GUEST BLOG/William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

Summary—Yeats returns to Coole Lake and is caught up in the gentle pain of personal memory (how war has changed the world at 1900 compared with 1919). His memory contrasts sharply with the swans, which are treated as symbols of the essential: their hearts have not grown old; they are still attended by passion and conquest.

About the Author—William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865–28 January 1939) was an Irish poet and dramatist and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. In 1923, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Nobel Committee described as "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation;" and he was the first Irishman so honored.

Sources: Poem, public domain via Google. Biography via Wikipedia.

Image: Pencil drawing of William Butler Yeats in 1908 by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). In public domain via Wikipedia.

SUNDAY REVIEW—A new online literary review appearing exclusively on Pillar to Post (


HOW IN THE WORLD?--OK, I understand make a coffee latte consists of the pouring of steamed milk (thickly frothy) into a shot or two of espresso. Got that. But what I can’t see to fathom is how to generate a pattern or design on the surface that brings oohs and ahhs from the significant other and/or selected guests.

Other baristas have mysteriously mastered being a true designer by being able to create beautiful creations out of whipped milk.

Not me.

Café latte design is obviously an acquired art form that I recently learned by observing and asking questions of one of the professional baristas at Caffe Calabria in North Park.
Caffe Calabria is one of the treasures of North Park. We have great coffee houses, collectively better than most, however, in North Park Caffe Calabria is where excellent coffee is roasted on the premises. And, all those outdoor café tables on the sidewalk are so Euro. Love it.

In the meantime, if you insist on doing it yourself, here are two web connections showing you via YouTube-style videos on how to make those beautiful designs atop café lattes. They make it look so easy.

To see videos it’s best to copy below addresses and paste them into your search box as links from my blog to the rest of the world are not connected.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


SAN DIEGO AFTER DARK—By Carissa O’Connor--If there is one thing I know from personal experience, it’s that being a single woman in this city is fabulous at times, but when the weekend rolls around, many of downtown’s clubs and bars become infiltrated with all sorts of douchebaggery. You don’t need to search far to find this male breed; they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and almost always attack when least expected.

Well, if you’ve had it up to here with the typical nightclub creep-fests, grab your gals and sip your way through these hot spots. From dinner and drinks at Little Italy’s newest addition, Prep Kitchen, to dancing your booty off into the wee hours at El Dorado, here are my top 3 picks to keep you steering clear of these obnoxious “mantourages”.

Always a top pick when meeting up for drinks with my girlfriends, Craft & Commerce, located on Beech St. in Little Italy, showcases a stellar bar scene and fantastic food program to boot – did I mention they were recently named one of Food & Wine’s Top 50 Bars in America? Word to the wise: forget about ordering a vodka-based cocktail, as the powers that be have banished it from their establishments.

However, with their incredible selection of handcrafted libations, combining fresh ingredients and strong flavors, the experts behind the bar will have you trying new cocktails in no time! If you’re with a group, I highly suggest ordering up a signature Craft & Commerce punch bowl. These 38 oz. cocktails are served in bulk and sipped out of adorable little teacups. Craft & Commerce is open daily offering lunch, and dinner and recently rolled out a new weekend brunch.

The new Little Italy hot spot, and largest addition to the Whisknladle family, opened doors earlier this month. It’s easy to fall in love with the venue’s cute, kitchy design, spacious bar, and airy atmosphere.

The restaurant, offering lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, serves up the same artisanal, seasonal and handcrafted selections as the other locations and also features a killer daily happy hours from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and late night happy hour from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Did I mention, the bar serves $3.50 tapas from 4 p.m. to close each day, I’m there!

Tucked in between 10th and 11th on Broadway, this timeless East Village dive is known for a high-quality, expertly crafted cocktail experience, and you’ll find the personalities behind the bar to be as unique and refreshing as the cocktails on their menu. Built floor-to-ceiling by an ownership team of three brothers and a close family friend, the bar’s rustic aesthetic pays tribute to classic Western saloons of yesteryear.

The modestly-hip venue has garnered international recognition and an underground local cred for consistently showcasing up-and-coming DJ talent with near-nightly live sets. El Dorado is open nightly but be sure to stop in before 9 p.m. to take advantage of $5 cocktails!

About the Author—San Diego native, Ms. Carissa O’Connor, is a marketing and communications specialist based downtown.

Images: Punch bowl cocktail from Craft & Commerce; Buffalo & Juke from El Dorado.

Friday, February 17, 2012


MAKING HISTORY—Saturday night in Balboa Park just got a lot livelier. The “Taste of San Diego Craft Brews 2012” is taking over the SD History Center in Balboa Park to celebrate history making San Diego brews.

Being served at the fun and fund raising event for the History Center are beers by Rock Bottom, Ballast Point, Pizza Port, AleSmith, Karl Strauss and Stone Brewing.

All attendees will be treated to award-winning beer samples and exquisite food pairings and have the chance to bid on one-of-a-kind auction items.

VIP Event: 6 PM - 7 PM, limited guests and special tastings
General Event: 7 PM - 10 PM, tastings and auction
Cost: $65 VIP Ticket / $39 General Ticket

Ticket info:

Human Being Contact: Jessica Schmidt LaFave
SDHC Membership and Development Manager
(619) 232-6203 ext 102

Image: History Center Website

POST EVENT UPDATE: Restaurants, food, craft beer, exhibits and history: the event was big success for a wide cross section of attendees.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


COSTUMES OVER THE TOP--“The Marvelous Wonderettes” grabbed a review from the UT’s theatre writer James Hebert that matched the enthusiasm of the 50s & 60s retro musical now playing at the North Park Birch Theatre, 29th & University. Running through Feb 26, the opening live production of the San Diego Musical Theatre is “sassy” according to Hebert.

Hebert likes the show that includes more than 30 hits from the 50s & 60s. And, he also has high praise for the four stars of the production calling them “…strong performers all. (And all veterans of the show’s off-Broadway staging)..."

Mark your calendars: “The Marvelous Wonderettes” Feb. 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, at 8 pm; Feb. 18, 19, 26, at 2 pm.

Make a night of it in North Park. Hot live musical; fabulous new and established restaurants (Urbn Pizza/Bar, Ritual, Linkery, Wang’s, Casa de Luz, Smoking Goat, Alexanders, Sea Rocket, Carnitas Shack and plenty of Asian fusion around. For cocktail action afterwards hit Toronado, Urbn , West Coast Tavern, True North and the slinky Bar Pink. And dessert at nearby Heaven Sent or Claire de Lune coffee.

The Birch is at 2891 University Ave.; for more info and tickets, visit and/or 858-560-5740.
Image: Courtesy SDMT website

For all of James Hebert’s review copy link to your browser

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


GUEST BLOG/By Yvonne Nienstadt, Nutrition Director Rancho La Puerta Spa. Here are four recommended-- but easy and basic--ways to start the day. Now, you’ll have no excuses not to start your day on a healthier note.

Four Power Breakfasts from Rancho La Puerta Spa
Prepared by Yvonne Nienstadt, Nutrition Director

Breakfast Burrito
Whole grain tortilla (brown rice, sprouted multi grain, or whole wheat)
1 – 2 eggs scrambled
2 tablespoons cooked black or red beans
Pico de gallo (tomato, onion, jalapeno) or other salsa
¼ avocado sliced
1 cup mixed baby greens
Fresh lime juice

Super Fruit Salad

2 cups fresh, seasonal fruit
½ cup low fat cottage cheese, low fat ricotta or Greek yogurt or dairy free alternative
2 tablespoons chopped nuts or unsweetened coconut

Nut Butter Surprise
1 slice whole grain toast (sprouted multi grain is my favorite)
1 tablespoon nut butter
1 tablespoon fat free ricotta , fat free cream cheese or dairy free alternative
1 small banana, sliced
2 teaspoons raisins or dried berries

Power Smoothie
1/2 cup milk or dairy alternative
½ cup yogurt or dairy alternative
1 scoop unsweetened whey powder or rice protein powder
2 cups fresh seasonal, or frozen fruit
1- 2 teaspoons flax oil

Located in Tecate, Mexico since 1940, Rancho La Puerta has been named world’s best destination spa in 2010 and 2011 by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine.

Image: Rancho La Puerta website photo gallery.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


GUEST BLOG/By Holden DeMayo—Guys, if you’re reading this now, you’re one step away from singing “O, solo mio” again. Obviously planning ahead is as foreign to you as Outer Mongolia. But, if you’re open to suggestions (the only way is up) here’s some recent gender research. This blog asked six fine women of all ages as to what would make them smile for St.Valentine’s Day.

L. from Carlsbad: “…a surprise, any surprise - just to know you are thinking! Flowers are always wonderful, plan something. ANYTHING! A walk in the sand in the moonlight, bottle of wine/champagne ..... sing a special song - even if off key - just making the day memorable in a way that I know that you are thinking of me and wanting me to be happy - reap rewards later!

A. from Ocean Beach: “The things that always made me the happiest was having a nice bouquet of flowers and having a delish homemade dinner. Just simple but thoughtful. Obviously a little gift is always nice too. Nothing too expensive, a cute charm to put on a necklace/ bracelet or a gift certificate to get a pedicure/manicure are two things you can never go wrong with…”

P. from North Park: “…Can't make up for 364 days of being a ho-hum partner by one glorious, extravagant Valentine's Day...not gonna happen. For me, the best Valentine's Day is just to spend time with my sweetie, doing things that make us a strong team and that we enjoy. (OK, so I picked meeting with our financial planner as a romantic couple-bonding experience...but he happily said yes and added a little dinner afterward, so mission accomplished). Flowers die quickly, expensive dinners are forgotten, and card makers are getting rich off guilting people into $5 cards. Be there for your partner. Be certain he/she knows they come first. Be loving and considerate. Be impeccably groomed. Repeat daily.

K. Pacific Beach: “I'm not a big Valentines Day's a greeting card holiday. I like flowers and chocolate allll the time. So they don't really seem "special" that day-just somewhat forced. I think a nice glass of wine (or 2 or 3....) and a sunset would be great. Or, grabbing take out and eating outside under the stars.

J. from University City: “…"I'm not big on dining out at with hordes of other couples doing their obligatory Valentines dinner; it all feels so manufactured. I'd rather take a bottle of nice champagne somewhere overlooking the ocean to watch the sunset. My favorite spots are the cliffs around the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Torrey Pines. (Be sure to conceal that bottle! No sense courting trouble.) Maybe stop at Whole Foods on the way for take-out. Keep it simple and avoid the craziness…”

E. from Orange County: “…ahhhh, St. Valentines Day... haven't had a valentine since senior year of high school when I showed up to class and he was there with a long stem rose for me, wearing a shirt that was painted it would make me shine if you would be my valentine with a big sun on it. Now it sounds very cheesy but it was actually really cute and at the time I couldn't be happier.

I'm not one of those girls that haaaates the holiday, (and let me tell you, the majority of girls my age despise it if they're single). I happen to love Valentines Day. It's a reminder to acknowledge all those you love—not just lovers.

I personally don’t think Valentines Day needs to be a huge production, I mean, you can't ignore it or else it's just awkward. I like doing something special on valentines night and by special I don't mean expensive or overdone, just something
thoughtful. It's so cliche, but it really is the thought that counts. I LOVE creativity.

For more views of St. Valentine’s Day, CNN: Has posted a blog “Why I hate St. Valentine’s Day.

Image: Thanks to North Park Community Assn for borrowing your blog heart

Monday, February 13, 2012


TOMORROW IS YOUR DAY—St. Valentine’s Day is straight ahead and there’s still plenty of time to check your local bottle shops for craft beer brewed with hints of chocolate. Like love some chocolate hints are bigger than others. Most Choco brews are available at top of the line local bottle shops. Bottle shop list at end of this blog courtesy of’s excellent directory.

Also in this blog: Update on the Beer & Chocolate Valentine’s Ball with Karl Strauss and Chuao Chocolatier. See end of this Blog. Plus 99 Bottles Valentine’s Ella Fitzgerald Tribute.

BREWS WITH CHOCOLATE (short gift idea list) selected by Holden DeMayo, America’s Finest Freelance Blog Writer.

Chocolate Bock
By Samuel Adams. The brewery has a nice video on Chocolate Bock:
Double Chocolate Stout
By Rogue Ales
Chocolate Stout
By The Ft. Collins Brewery

Here are two California chocolate beers that placed very high at the 2010 United States Open Beer Championship:
Bison Organic Chocolate Stout
By Bison Brewing,

Chocolate Porter
By Lost Coast Brewery,

SAN DIEGO BOTTLE SHOPS (for entire list go to
--Best Damn Beer Shop, 1036 Seventh Ave., downtown, 619-232-6367
--Bottlecraft, 2161 India St., Little Italy, 619-487-9493
--KnB Wine Cellars, 6380 Del Cerro Blvd, College Area, 619-286-03221
--Olive Tree Marketplace, 4805 Narragansett Ave., Pt. Loma, 619-224-0443

1. Valentine’s Day Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong at 99 Bottles, 2400 Kettner Blvd, Little Italy, 619-255-7885. $29 per person tax/tip not included; regular menu also available.
2. Beer & Chocolate Valentine’s Ball: The Omni San Diego Hotel is partnering with award-winning Karl Strauss Brewery and Chuao Chocolatier to host their first-ever Valentine’s Day pairing event. Singles and couples are invited to gather together for beer and chocolate pairings while enjoying a display of paintings and fine art pieces, and a brewmaster from Karl Strauss Brewing Company will also provide an interactive lesson on craft brewing and beer pairings. Cost is $20. The Omni San Diego Hotel will be donating a portion of all proceeds to San Diego Art Institute: Museum of the Living Artist. For more information or to RSVP, please visit the hotel’s website or call 619-645-6524.