Monday, June 28, 2010


On Saturday, June 26th, I ran the Seattle Rock & Roll Marathon. The full 26.2 miles. To say it was incredibly difficult is an understatement. I pushed on through the pain, through the exhaustion. It was a mental game the last several miles. My body screamed STOP, but my mind forged ahead. It was worth it. I ran for all those who cannot. For all those who are fighting the battle against leukemia now. For those who have lost. I ran for my mother, who could not be here today. I ran for myself, to prove that I still have that drive, that will, that power to persevere. And I ran becaue I wanted to see if I could. Now that I know I can, I will probably not try again. (!)


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

17 miles!

So on Saturday, May 15th I ran almost 17 miles. It took me about 3-1/2 hours. I cannot imagine running 26.2 miles. My legs were sore for 3 days. I need to do some serious training if I'm going to do the full marathon.

It was a nice run in Napa, starting near the water. Long roads winding through the vineyards. Foggy an hilly. I was fueled by Powerbar GUs and Gels. And some hummus!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Last Saturday (April 17th) we did 12 miles. That's getting close to a half marathon. It put things in perspective. At this point, I am not ready to do a full marathon. But I have another 2 months to train, so that's good.

It was a beautiful run in Healdsburg, where I grew up. Rolling hills and a warm sunny day. My legs were getting pretty tired toward the end, but I made it.

(picture is not us)

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Coast Run

3.27 SAT - On Saturday we met our team at Point Reyes main station off HWY 1. Mara and I carpooled and ran together. We did 10.5 miles along a hiking trail that ended at Arch Rock. It was beautiful. If I think about the marathon and equate it to that run, I see that it is something tangible. Essentially, I would have to do that run 2-1/2 times. There, back, there, back and there again. I think I can do that.

Seattle here I come!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Sunday Run

3.21 SUN - My team ran 10 miles last Saturday. I couldn't make it because I was watching Lila. So on Sunday, I went to Spring Lake and did 3 laps around the lake. I think it was almost 8 miles. I ran for 2 hours (3:1) It felt GREAT! Yesterday (TUE) I met with a few teammates for a buddy run - we went up Round Barn, a big hill. I feel good, though I still need to lose about 35-40 lbs if I'm going to be able to do the full marathon. It's so hard for me to lose weight..... even when I'm exercising and watching what I eat.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Back Out There !

3.15 MON - I finally got back out there today! WOO-HOO !! With my new Ironman watch, which has an interval alarm, it was easy to keep track of the run/walk timing. I have it set to count down 3 mins, then 1 min and so on. The workout was easier than I had anticipated. And no burning shin pain! I think it's because I'm about 10 lbs lighter!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


SAT March 13
I knew this was going to happen... I ended up sleeping in this morning. The team meets every Saturday for a long run - usually between 1-2 hrs. Of course, I missed it. Right now I'm doubting my ability to be able to train for this thing. And when I start doubting, I start stressing. Then I start missing workouts and eating too much and stressing some more. BUT I AM NOT GOING TO LET THAT HAPPEN!

I'm going for a run this morning by myself. I will go for an hour. Then tomorrow I will do it again. I CAN DO THIS! I am not going to fall behind. Literally.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Marathon Update

3.12 FRI - OK, so I haven't updated in quite awhile. Sorry folks.... I had surgery on FEB 19th and have just gotten the OK from the Dr to start exercising again. I saw him on Wed, March 10th and he told me I could get back out there. I had my tonsils removed and had a "uvulopalatal flap" done. This was done to open my airway because of severe sleep apnea. I can finally breathe again during the night. It has made a big difference. On Wed, I went for a jog/walk. It was cold and wet and my throat hurt a bit, but I'm OK. Tomorrow we have a training run with the group and I'm planning on being there. It feels like I'm starting over which is a little frustrating. Anyway, I will try to update more often.....

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Marathon

What Was I Thinking?

Maybe I wasn't.....
There are certain decisions you make in life that turn out to be life changing events. Deciding to run a marathon just might be one of those decisions. I have committed myself to train for a marathon this June as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's "Team In Training." We're raising funds to help stop leukemia and other blood cancers from taking more lives. I am running in honor of a coworker who was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia several months ago. I'm running in memory of my mother, who lost her battle with breast cancer several years ago. I am also running for everyone else who has been affected by these cancers.

On June 26th, 2010 along with thousands of other teammates, I will be attempting the Seattle Rock'n'Roll Marathon. Never in my life have I run more than a few miles at a time, so running 26 miles is going to be an incredible challenge. But I am absolutley committed. (Or maybe I should be committed) I ask only that you help with any donation you can afford so that we can help those in their fight against cancer.

Please make a donation to support my participation in the marathon and help advance The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's mission.

To donate, please visit my FUNDRAISING PAGE
I hope you will visit my web site often. Be sure to check back frequently to see my progress. Thank you for your support!

For more info, please visit:
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Team In Training

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Marathon

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Windows 7 God Mode

From "Beyond B1nary" by Ina Fried

Although its name suggests perhaps even grander capabilities, Windows enthusiasts are excited over the discovery of a hidden "GodMode" feature that lets users access all of the operating system's control panels from within a single folder.

By creating a new folder in Windows 7 and renaming it with a certain text string at the end, users are able to have a single place to do everything from changing the look of the mouse pointer to making a new hard-drive partition.

The trick is also said to work in Windows Vista, although some are warning that although it works fine in 32-bit versions of Vista, it can cause 64-bit versions of that operating system to crash.

To enter "GodMode," one need only create a new folder and then rename the folder to the following:


Once that is done, the folder's icon will change to resemble a control panel and will contain dozens of control options. I'm not sure it's my idea of playing God, but it is a handy way to get to all kinds of controls.

Friday, August 14, 2009


My buddy Tim builds rockets and flies them in the desert. Here's his latest adventure: Aeronaut 2009, Black Rock, Nevada

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Virtual Desktop

The sexy silver virtual PC cube

There’s a lot of buzz in the IT industry at the moment about ‘desktop virtualisation’, which is predicted to boom next year because virtual desktops can help businesses cater better for home and remote workers, improve security and are cheap to deploy and maintain. They can also cut the carbon footprint of a traditional PC desktop environment.

Desktop virtualisation is the hosting of virtual computers on a central machine or data centre. The ‘desktop’ and all its applications are then streamed to all the PCs on the network. Nothing resides on the actual physical desktop and and all the data input by the user is sent back to the central machine.

The big players in this market are VMware, Citrix and IBM but one smaler new product caught Greenbang’s eye this week, with Nebulas Solutions is touting the Pano virtual desktop cube (pictured).

The shiny, silver Pano cube connects keyboard, mouse, display, audio and USB peripherals over an existing IP network to a virtualised server - meaning the unit itself has no memory or operating system. Nebulas Solutions claims the total cost of ownership of the virtual desktop cube could be up to 70 per cent less than a traditionanl PC over three years, and as it consumes only three per cent of the power used by a PC it will also cut electricity bills.

The Pano relies on a virtualised server infrastructure and can be managed from a central point either by an in-house IT team, a data centre or remotely - meaning desktops can be upgraded and installed centrally. On the security front if the cube is stolen the device itself holds no local data, applications or files.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Today's Lesson

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.

Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.

Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.
Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.
Live simply and appreciate what you have.
Give more.
Expect less

NOW ...........

Enough of that crap . ... The donkey later came back, and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him. The gash from the bite got infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.


When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass, it always comes back to bite you.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Heck Cellars (Bakersfield)

Pics of Korbel's facility in Bakersfield where all the brandy juice is stored and distilled.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

Kamchatka: Remote Secret

Taken from "Kamchatka: Remote Secret"
by Ciel Yogis

In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Westerners and other outsiders were permitted for the first time in over half a century to visit Kamchatka, one of the most mysterious regions of the former Soviet empire. Kamchatka is a 900-mile-long peninsula roughly the size of California, yet only 400,000 Soviet persons were allowed to live there, and all with special military clearances. The reason for the secrecy was Kamchatka's far eastern location: A little bit west of the Aleutian Islands, the peninsula was just far east enough to eavesdrop on the United States during the Cold War.

While Kamchatka was shrouded in military secrecy, its animal population was left to flourish. Some of the largest grizzly bears in the world roam Kamchatka's interior, while tens of millions of salmon invade its undammed streams and rivers each summer, just as they have for thousands of years. Kamchatka is also one of five major geothermal areas in the world, making it a main link in the Earth's "Ring of Fire," a circular pattern geologists have named for the location of volcanic fissures in the Earth's crust. With more than 200 volcanoes, 30 of them active, Kamchatka is a prime spot of study for the world's vulcanologists.

Although Kamchatka has been a Russian secret until fairly recently, the land mass does have quite a history to speak of. The Russians were among the first to discover Kamchatka, but not nearly the last to make use of its abundant wildlife for trade and survival. Three hundred and fifty years ago, a Cossack explorer named Fedor Alexeyev discovered this bubbling geyser of lava and abundant animal life involuntarily; he is thought to have been stranded there for quite some time, although his ship and crew were never found. Small huts still stand in Kamchatka today that are believed remnants of this first traveler. The first to erect a flag of ownership was another Cossack by the name of Vladimir Atlasov. Reportedly, Atlasov was incredibly cruel to the native Itelmens and Koryaks people, forcing them to pay respects to the Russian empire by providing a surplus of animal furs. Anyone who refused to pay the price was killed, their village burned down. It is no surprise that Atlasov was killed by his own crewmembers in a mutiny.

It was not until 1724 that the Tsar Peter I of Russia commissioned the first official expedition to Kamchatka. His chosen leader of the expedition was Vitus Bering, a Dane who served in the Russian navy for 20 years. Bering was sent to discover whether there was a land bridge between Asia and America to the north, and although his mission did not achieve this particular goal, it was successful in bringing Kamchatka to the attention of the world's scientists. Aboard Bering's ship was a man by the name of Georg Wilhlem Steller, whose expertise in the area of concocting medicines from Siberia's plant life saved hundreds of crewmembers' lives from scurvy. Unfortunately, Steller could not save Bering, who died of scurvy in 1741. Steller's most recognized success, however, was on Kayak Island, one of the Aleutian chain, where he was able to describe 160 plant species. Steller died at the age of 37 in 1746.

Steller was the first to ignite an interest in the vast mystery of Kamchatka and the Bering Sea area, but the first full account of the peninsula was recorded by a natural scientist named Stepan Krasheninnikov. This Russian-born professor and explorer succeeded in describing the religion, myths and beliefs of the natives, their customs and their language. He experimented with the land by trying to grow grain, and lived in a house full of plant and animal collections that he studied. He got along extremely well with the indigenous peoples of Kamchatka, a friendship that was given full value in his book "An Account of the Land of Kamchatka," published after his death in 1755.

In Krasheninnikov's footsteps came the tyranny of fur hunters, aroused by the world's interest in this strange and vacant land. The peninsula's primary wealth lay in its sable, silver and red fox, kalan sea otter, fur seal and the brown bear. In less than 100 years, the seemingly inexhaustible resource of fur was nearly exhausted. By the mid 19th century, the kalans and walrus had nearly disappeared. Despite the overkill, the hunters only slowed their massacre in some places. Finally, in 1934, the Kronotsky Nature Reserve was set up by a natural conservation act. Today, it remains one of the largest nature reserves in Russia, covering more than a million hectares.

Throughout the discovery of Kamchatka, there was significant struggle for power between the Cossacks and the indigenous peoples of the peninsula. Many violent incidents occurred due to the indigenous Itelmens' pride and refusal to be humiliated out of their culture. Countless Itelmen suicides took place due to Cossack cruelty, and many Russian occupants were speared and burnt to death in traps. The last rebellion in Kamchatka was in 1731, when the Russian government held an enquiry and punished Cossack officials who mistreated the indigenous peoples. Although an unsettled peace came over the peninsula, the native peoples were brutally hit by an infection of small pox. The Itelmen and Koryak populations were so severely diminished that together they amounted to little more than 10,000 people. Today, most of Kamchatka's inhabitants grew up on the Russian mainland and emigrated to Kamchatka later in life. Although the mass of land is nearly the size of France, only 400,000 people live there, three-quarters of them residing in the capital, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Kamchatka - полуостров Камчатка

My friend Aram is going to Kamchatka in the summer of this year. I had never heard of this place, a peninsula in the Far East portion of Russia. I became intrigued and wrote to my friend Thomas, who calls Moscow home, trying to find out more about it. Here was such a huge land mass, one that I did not even know existed, suddenly presented to me. It is a place of arctic tundras, volcanoes, acid springs, rugged terrain. How could I have missed all of this? It was as if an entirely new world was suddenly thrust into existence.

So I Googled it, I asked Aram about it, I emailed Thomas. Turns out that Thomas is currently working for a company who has a client based out of Kamchatka. Well whaddya know? The client builds some of the largest helicopters in the world. (More about them later)

I started to read more about Kamchatka. The following is what I found out...

Friday, January 30, 2009

WOW. A New Update

So it's been several months since I've updated the site. I guess it was Thanksgiving, when I decided to cook paella. Actually I updated the site one night when I needed to print out a picture of our kitchen sink. I was getting ready to replace it (or have it replaced because I'm so lazy) and I needed a picture of it to bring to Home Depot. The pictures looked like crap 'cause our printer was low on ink so I posted them on the blog and had Home Depot look at it online. I left the pics on the site for a few days with the title "Kitchen Sink" and someone left the comment, "Yep. That's a sink allright"

What's been going on? We have a new president. A new chapter in our history has begun. Literally. The first black president. Is this a big deal? I think so, but it hasn't seemed like such a big deal around our parts. Sure, all my friends are glad, but no parades or parties... maybe it's because I live in a predominantly white section of the state or country. Left wing whitey is happy but soon forgets and goes back to business as usual. I guess that includes me too. My daughter was with me in line at the supermarket the other day when she suddenly shouted out "OBAMA!"

My friend Aram Sohigian, fellow Armenian and old high school chap, is going to Kamchatka with his girlfriend. Why do I know this? Because I joined Facebook a month or so ago and suddenly I'm conversing with everyone from high school 25 yrs ago. But Facebook is not what I want to talk about; I want to talk about Kamchatka. And I will.....

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Paella

I made Paella for Thanksgiving this year. A delicious Spanish seafood & rice dish. Pops brought over his paella pan..... We convinced him to leave it with us.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Speaking softly, smoothly, quietly
I walk this road, I stay this line
Slowly heading towards the brightness
Leaving breadcrumbs for you to find
Follow me, my one true love
Follow me and ride the tide
Dancing, gliding, soaring higher
We are together, you are my guide
My mouth is still, my ears alert
I stop and listen to your voice
All my consciousness is focused
I'm here with you and I rejoice
We're swept away in love, my love
Swept away into the bright
We have each other, forevermore love
We hold each other close and tight
You and yours are my life too now
You and yours are now mine too
We are a family, a close-knit clan now
A loving group, a stronger crew

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My 2nd Office

Here's a pic of my new diggs. This is where I come to escape the confines of my veal fattening pen in our main building. This is where I get to work on PCs and laptops. This is where I get to look out windows. This is where I get to listen to my own music. This is where I escape !

Friday, January 18, 2008

My Tooth

I broke my tooth late last year on a Chinese sparerib. We had taken the girls to a Chinese retaurant and I bit into this bony little rib with very little meat. Unfortunately, I bit down pretty damn hard and hit solid bone (on the rib, not the tooth) Apparently the sparerib was tougher than my tooth because my tooth gave way before the sparerib did. The tooth cracked and felt like it was going to fall out at any moment. Luckily there was no pain (root canal done 15 years ago) I made an emergency dentist appt and got in that night. My dentist patched it up temporarily with some sort of tooth cement.

Several dental apppointments later, I had a post drilled in and connected to my original tooth. That lasted a few months until my tooth essentially disintegrated and fell out. I then had a fake tooth made and attached to a retainer which I wore for a few more months. I made an appt with an oral surgeon to have an implant done. The retainer lasted a few months and then I lost it. Damn thing just disappeared one day. I have a sneaking suspicion I left it on the table of our local IHOP.

So I am now toothless and scary looking until I get back in to see the oral surgeon and get the implant. I look like a pirate. Implants are not covered by most dental insurance plans and it's only going to cost me about $3500 ! Yipee!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Name

The name Sarkis means Protector; Shepherd.
It is Armenian in origin.

I recently booked a flight to Moscow to visit an old college friend of mine from the hazy Chico days. He requested the flight information so he could pick me up at the airport in Sheremetyevo.

The official itinerary had my name listed as I had used it to book the flight. I always use my legal first name whenever I travel to avoid confusion. He wrote back asking what the deal was with the name "Michael"

So here's what I told him: Michael is my first name. It was my father's first name and his father's before him. I have always gone by Sarkis, my middle name, except for the three years I lived in Narragansett, Rhode Island. I went by Michael there because nobody in Rhode Island can pronounces their 'r's. So when I told people my name was Sarkis, they would say, "SAAHKUS?"

"No" I would say, "My name is SAR-kis."

And they would say "Yeah, OK..... SAAHKUS."

It was so annoying that I finally just said "Fine, my name's Michael." And so for three years while I lived in Rhode Island, my name was Michael.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

To My Mother

I wanted you to see your granddaughter
Lila Judith
At least once, in my arms
I wanted you to hold her tight
And love her as your own
Which I know you would have done

I wanted you to live until a ripe old age
Just as you thought you would
A hundred years and more

You were the strongest person I have ever known
You helped me through so many times
When I was hurt or scared, in pain and in despair
Your strength, your will was so profound

Your courage in those final years
Was immense, immeasurable, unlimited
You never showed your pain
You never once broke down and cried
As I would have done so easily and so often

And though you are gone from this life
You still are with me
You visit me in my dreams
And talk to me
And love me still

And as long as you are with us
In our thoughts and memories
Your spirit lives on
With all of us
With each life you touched
And as long as you are with us
You will not be forgotten
And so you are not gone

I love you mom

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Cold dry wood
Gnarled and unmoving
Withstands the wicked force

Of salty wind
Against it's bark
A harsh wind
A driving force
And the sand
Asleep along the outer edge
Of the rhythmic ocean
And whips against my face
With tremendous sting